DFS Optimal Values, Locks and Fades: Week 3

Sep 24, 2021
DFS Optimal Values, Locks and Fades: Week 3

In this article, we walk through the process of constructing an optimal lineup that will dominate your cash games on the main slate of Week 3. We start with the optimal lineups for FanDuel and DraftKings determined by the Lineup Generator. Then, we identify the players that are irreplaceable and should be locked into your lineup. For the remaining players, we discuss the main alternatives that you can swap in to make a winning team that best fits your own style.

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More Cash Game Strategy: FanDuel Breakdown | DraftKings Breakdown | Core Plays | WR/CB Matchups

FanDuel Week 3 Optimal Plays


  • Austin Ekeler ($7,000) gets the best possible matchup for running backs this week. The Chiefs have allowed over 200 rushing yards per game. 77% of the touchdowns they've allowed have come from the running game.
  • Antonio Gibson ($6,100) is our fourth-best value at running back. It's not an inviting matchup as the Bills typically force their opponents to pass. So far this season, the Bills' opponents are throwing at the fourth-highest rate. That said, Gibson is averaging 19 touches per game and has accounted for 75% of the rushing yards. He's in a good position to find the endzone as well as the Bills allowed the fifth-most rushing touchdowns last year.
  • Justin Jefferson ($7,400) has received 19 targets over the first two weeks. The Vikings are averaging the eighth-most passing yards per game while the Seahawks defense has allowed the 11th most passing yards per game.

Potential Build

Lamar Jackson ($8,400) is our top value play at quarterback. However, to gain salary, we could look at a few cheaper options just below Jackson. Josh Allen ($8,000) has been a top-three value each of the first three weeks. He's yet to have a ceiling game but has shown a steady floor with back-to-back games of 17 fantasy points. Washington is allowing the ninth-most passing yards per game. Another option is to pay way down for rookie Justin Fields ($6,500). He gets a Browns defense allowing the ninth-most passing touchdowns and they sit right behind Washington in passing yards allowed. It's also noteworthy that Fields ran the ball 10 times when he entered the game after the Andy Dalton injury.

Saquon Barkley ($6,000) appears to be trending in the right direction in terms of getting healthy. In Week 2 his snap counts jumped from 48% to 84%. This week he gets a Falcons defense allowing the 10th most rushing yards per game and the Giants are home favorites. If Barkley concerns you or you want to differentiate from what will be a popular play, the dip to Fields at quarterback would allow a move up to our preferred values.

Nick Chubb ($7,800) has the fourth-most FanDuel points this season and he hasn't even had a 100-yard rushing game yet. The Browns rank fourth in rushing play percentage but it is a tough matchup against the Bears. A bit cheaper than Chubb is Najee Harris ($7,500). Harris has had at least 15 touches in both games played and found the end zone last week. Teams are running the ball at the ninth highest rate against the Bengals' defense.

Tyreek Hill ($8,700) leads the NFL's best offense with 31% of the team targets and 41% of the team's air yards. However, it is a tough matchup. Teams are throwing at the second-lowest rate when playing against the Chargers. With the Chiefs and Chargers ranking one and two in terms of allowing teams to run the football, perhaps this won't be the shootout environment it looks like. Instead, our third-best value, DK Metcalf ($7,200), has upside that could be more appealing. While Tyler Lockett has been smashing, Metcalf has still received 16 targets and had 50 receiving yards in each game. The Vikings are allowing almost 300 passing yards per game and the sixth most passing touchdowns.

Similar to Metcalf, Stefon Diggs ($7,700) has been fed targets but he's yet to have a monster game. However, the floor is steady as he's totaled 22 targets and had at least 60 receiving yards in back-to-back games. Our top pay-down option is Mike Williams ($6,000). He also has received 22 targets but he's averaging over 85 yards per game and has scored twice. An interesting contrarian option in this same price range is Robert Woods ($6,100). The Rams offense is top 10 in passing touchdowns and passing yards. Cooper Kupp is getting all the love but Woods did just receive nine targets and played 98% of the snaps.

T.J. Hockenson ($6,300) is our second-best value play behind Travis Kelce. He's pretty much a lock play if you have the salary. If you can't quite fit him in, Mark Andrews ($6,000) is our fourth best value play and he has received at least five targets in every game.

DraftKings Week 3 Optimal Plays


  • Lamar Jackson ($7,800) is top value play at quarterback and he is averaging the fourth-most fantasy points per game on FanDuel. This game sets up perfectly for the Ravens offense as opposing teams are running against the Lions at the third-highest rate. Lamar is averaging 96 rushing yards per game.
  • Dalvin Cook ($8,400) is averaging 25 touches per game and gets a Seahawks defense allowing the second-most rushing yards per game.
  • T.J. Hockenson ($5,200) is our top value at tight end. He is averaging nine targets per game and has scored a touchdown in each game.

UPDATE: Dalvin Cook looks like he's going to sit out. Our optimizer recommends paying down at running back with Clyde Edwards Helaire ($4,800) and Leonard Fournette ($5,000). Lamar and Hockenson are both still locked in.

Potential Build

Just like on FanDuel, Antonio Gibson ($5,900) stands out as a top value play. You may be surprised to see that Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($4,800) is our second-best value play. I touched on it earlier but the Chargers will essentially beg the Chiefs to run the football. The Chargers' defense is allowing 160 rushing yards per game, the third-most in the league. Joe Mixon ($6,300) gets a Steelers defense allowing the 10th fewest rushing yards per game. However, Mixon is playing 80% of the snaps and is averaging 25 touches per game.

Tyreek Hill ($8400) is our top value at wide receiver on both sites. If looking to move down a bit, Cooper Kupp ($6,800) and Robert Woods ($5,700) get the Buccaneers pass funnel defense. Against the Buccaneers, teams are passing a league-high 74% of the time. On the flip side of that game, Chris Godwin ($6,100) has totaled 19 targets and has scored in both games played. With Mike Evans likely getting Jalen Ramsey treatment and Antonio Brown on the COVID list, Godwin should feast.

A few low-end values that stand out are Mecole Hardman ($3,900) and K.J. Osborn ($3,500). Osborn has received at least six targets in each game and should benefit from a potential shootout environment. Tyler Boyd ($4,700) would be the one to benefit if Tee Higgins ends up sitting out. Boyd is averaging 80% of the snaps and received nine targets last week.

UPDATE: Hill and Kupp are still our top values with Boyd and Marvin Jones ($4,900) rounding out the lineup. I would consider bumping down Jones to a Hardman or Osborn and upgrading Fournette.

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