Week 3 Sunday Night Single-Game NFL DFS: Top FanDuel & DraftKings Plays
Welcome to the Showdown breakdown for Week 3 Sunday Night Football, which pits the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Las Vegas Raiders in a matchup between two 1-1 teams with large aspirations in the AFC. The Steelers, off a thrilling victory on Monday night football, will be without wideout Diontae Johnson, but their stifling defense, the engine of the squad, remains relatively intact. The Steelers are favored by just one point on the road in this 44-point total game, so let’s break down the different strategies we can utilize in single-game DFS contests.
This chart represents the general offensive strategies for each team when the game outcome is still in question (win probability between 20% and 80%). The final two minutes of each half are also excluded. We’ll include last year’s statistics through Week 4 of the regular season. Teams in the upper-right quadrant pass more often and play faster than the average NFL team in neutral game scripts, and conversely, teams in the lower-left quadrant play slower and run more often than the average NFL team.
Steelers (-1, 22.5) @ Raiders (+1, 21.5); Over/Under 44
The Steelers seemed to start the season with a desire to be more aggressive on offense. And yet, despite that aim, they've found it so challenging to sustain drives that it’s difficult to really know the team’s true aggressiveness. With the way their defense has been performing, as long as the game remains close, we have to assume they will rely on a more ground-and-pound approach than Weeks 1 and 2.
In Las Vegas, the Raiders have continued to show a pass-first approach amid the switch to Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. While they tend to opt for a slower, methodical pace, the Raiders' balanced attack concentrates on just a few skill players, making it quite fantasy-friendly. It's hard to imagine the Raiders, given the expected game script, becoming more pass-heavy, though it's possible they begin to alter their pace of play more often if the game remains close.
While there may be 22 people on the field for every play, each play and game is heavily dictated by the performance of each team’s quarterback. While efficiency isn’t everything for quarterbacks, it is the best indicator of future performance, so we use a trio of metrics to suss out top performers at the position compared to lackluster ones. xDrive Success %, or True Drive Success Rate, is a measurement of a quarterback’s ability to turn drives into scores weighted by sample size. EPA or Expected Points Added, is a measurement of the QB’s contribution, both running and throwing, to the team’s scoring and production vs. the average NFL team. Completion % over Expected (CPOE)represents the accuracy and efficiency of a quarterback’s passes compared to league expectations.
Steelers' quarterback Kenny Pickett deserves serious scrutiny for his performance to start his career. Yes, it's still relatively early, but as he approaches a full season of play, his efficiency metrics are well below average on a per-pass, per-drive, and per-game basis. The production has been poor, worse, and we’re not seeing improvements and the Steelers' receiving corps is already down a key player. The Steelers spent 1st round draft capital on Pickett, which likely means a longer leash before he's pulled, but he’s making poor decisions and not able to lead scoring drives. Pittsburgh also has a capable backup in Mitchell Trubisky. Pickett faces a Las Vegas defense that ranks 14th in PFF’s team coverage grade.
In contrast, Jimmy Garoppolo has maintained above-average performance levels and has consistently looked strong in terms of per-pass efficiency metrics dating back to last season. He ranks in the top ten for completion percentage vs. expected and remains fairly reliable in converting drives into scores. His transition to the Raiders has been smoother than most transitions, and this week, he gets back Jakobi Meyers, who had two scores in Week 1 before leaving with an injury. Facing the ferocious Pittsburgh defensive line, it’s hard to rely fully on Garoppolo as a surefire Captain play, but he’s still a top-three option. There’s just a bit more risk than the projection implies.
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