Week 2 wasn’t a banner week for chalk selections. The game between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints proved to a dud for fantasy purposes, and several of the week’s higher-priced wide receivers delivered less than stellar results. In short, those that were prescient enough to stay away from those two scenarios set themselves up for success if the rest of their selections panned out.
While we’re all well aware that there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to fantasy football, it’s nonetheless awfully disappointing when a game that appears to be a can’t miss in terms of points - i.e. last week’s Giants-Saints game - proves to be less than fruitful. Once the initial sting wears off, we have to take it for what it was. Quite simply, it happens, and we’ll chalk it up as yet another lesson that we need to have our guard up when things look too good to be true.
For this week, we have two games that look to be potential fantasy bonanzas. Both games check in with projected totals of greater than 50 points, and there are skill players aplenty to choose from. Should we take last week’s disappointing result from a game with the highest projected total as a sign to fade these games? Absolutely not - but - those that use multiple lineups as part of their strategies can employ a hedge by creating at least one roster absent those players.
For those that roll with a single lineup, you’ll likely want some exposure to these games. However, you can also limit it so it doesn’t sting as bad if it doesn’t work out - and gain the upside you need if the matchup goes off. An easy way to make this happen is to stay away from the signal callers in a game with an over/under greater than 50 points, and narrow your exposure down to wideouts with heavy target volume, and running backs that are either workhorses or have a large role in the passing game. Players from both categories will likely deliver acceptable production even if the scoreboard doesn’t get lit up like a Christmas tree, and the upside is there if a shootout develops.
Let’s take a look at the two games on everyone’s radar for Week 3.
San Diego @ Indianapolis
This is an intriguing early season matchup between two clubs that have had their share of injury concerns. On the Chargers side of the ball, Philip Rivers demonstrated last week that it doesn’t matter who he’s slinging the rock to. The upside is there for Rivers and the team’s passing attack nearly every time they hit the field, but we’ll still obviously use caution when they have a tough defensive matchup on the docket. That doesn’t look to be the case this week against the Colts, and we can expect Rivers and company to be heavily targeted in DFS this week.
For the Colts, Andrew Luck came back to earth against a tough Denver Broncos defense in Week 2. That was generally expected, and it’s also expected that he’ll get back on track in a potential shootout against the Chargers. Entering the game, we know that Phillip Dorsett will have a larger role in the passing attack due to the injury to Donte Moncrief. He’s reasonably priced and has the skill set to succeed, and we can expect him to be pretty popular this week.
The DFS world loves shiny new toys that are projected to have large roles, and there’s a good reason for that. Stellar production at an affordable price is hard to find, but there’s also something to be said for using caution. Similar to the fact that there’s no guarantee that this game will turn into a shootout, there’s also no guarantee that Dorsett’s increased targets will translate into production that we simply must have. It certainly could, but he could also just as easily underwhelm in his first game with more responsibility, and need a game or two as a bigger cog in the offense to get up to speed.
For this matchup, the best approach may be as we outlined above: find the targets and touches, and leave it at that. Rivers and Luck both look like solid selections, but there’s also plenty of other quarterbacks in good spots this week. If we can roster one that has similar upside at a lower ownership percentage, we’ll provide our lineups with some differentiation.
As for who to target from this game, Melvin Gordon stands out for two reasons: touches, and the Colts have been dreadful against opposing running backs. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are both attractive options, but we’ll lean towards Benjamin, who has hauled in 13 of his 14 targets so far this year. For the Colts, we could look towards Frank Gore from a contrarian perspective, and T.Y. Hilton as the tried and true way to gain exposure to the offense.
Atlanta @ New Orleans
This game will only apply for those playing a slate that includes the Monday Night affair. The main slate on DraftKings features Sunday only contests, but there are other slate options in which you can gain some exposure to this game, namely the Sun-Mon or Primetime slates. As for the game itself, the current projected total checks in at 53.5 points. A quick glance back at last year’s results shows us that the two divisional foes combined for 52 points in Week 6, and 37 points in Week 17.
The shootout potential is always high when the Falcons and Saints square off, and we can easily make the case for having some exposure to this game. For primetime slates, it’s a no brainer. For the Sun-Mon slate, that’s where we’ll want to pay attention to the caution flags and find the targets and touches, and take a pass on the signal callers. To take it a step further for this matchup, we can dig deeper on the opportunities.
While most DFSers will be inclined to target Julio Jones and Brandin Cooks, a prescient choice may be to look towards the second options in both passing attacks. Mohamed Sanu and Willie Snead come in at much more affordable price points, and have received a similar number of targets as their more expensive brethren through two games. However, the upside potential of Jones and Cooks by comparison makes this an approach that’s not for the faint of heart.
Let’s see if we can narrow down some of the week’s other chalk selections by position, and go through some viable alternatives that will make for fine pivots.
QB Ryan Tannehill, $6,200
Tannehill is not the first name that comes to mind when we’re discussing the top signal callers in the league, but he’s a pretty popular choice for this week in a game in which the Dolphins are expected to have their way with the Browns. He’s affordably priced, and appears to be an excellent candidate to meet or exceed value. The Browns have allowed a pair of passing touchdowns in each of their games thus far, and that sounds like a reasonable expectation for Tannehill and the Dolphins passing attack this week.
All that being said, there may be better options on the table - and at a similar price point to boot. Marcus Mariota checks in at $5,900 for this week, and he has a tasty matchup against the Oakland Raiders on the docket. The Raiders have been sieve-like against the pass this season, and Mariota brings the upside of making things happen with his legs to the table.
RB DeAngelo Williams, $7,500
This is our last chance to take advantage of Williams role in the Steelers offense - at least for the time being - as LeVeon Bell will return next week. Williams has been absolutely stellar through two games, and he’s basically at no brainer status whenever Bell is out of the lineup. We can expect interest to be high on him for his final go round as the Steelers lead back, and also view him as an investment that looks well worth it.
There’s no glaring reason to bypass Williams outside of uniqueness for your lineups, and there’s plenty of value to be had this week that will make his salary pretty easy to fit into your lineups. We can look north on the salary scale and find David Johnson at $7,700, and look south and find C.J. Anderson at $7,300. Both players offer similar upside and should be slightly lesser owned. Another approach would be to save money at running back altogether, and look to low-priced options such as Melvin Gordon at $5,800, and DeMarco Murray at $6,300.
WR Stefon Diggs, $5,100
When we see a highly-targeted wide receiver put forth a stellar effort under the primetime lights, we can be certain that player will have a healthy ownership percentage the following week. That’s the situation for Stefon Diggs this week, and even a tough matchup on paper against the Carolina Panthers will not quell the enthusiasm too much. That could be a wise choice for this situation. In theory, the Vikings will be behind and playing catch-up, which would lead to plenty of opportunities for Diggs to meet or exceed value.
Diggs looks like a solid selection for this week, but if you believe that the Panthers will crush the Vikings and hold the passing game under wraps, feel free to fade him. There’s plenty of other options at similar price points that can deliver a similar return, namely Travis Benjamin at $5,200 and Mike Wallace at $5,000.
TE Dennis Pitta, $3,400
Target data holds a special place in the heart of DFSers, and that will lead to plenty of man-crushes throughout the course of an average NFL season. Dennis Pitta is one of this week’s objects of affection, and his 16 targets through two games makes him look awfully appealing at a price of $3,400. He’s coming in off of a fantastic game in which he produced 22.2 points, and we can bet that interest will be high in his services in Week 3.
While Pitta is certainly intriguing, he also looks like a solid fade candidate for this week. There’s plenty of viable options at tight end this week, and many of them have better matchups on paper than Pitta does. For a little more money, we can find Eric Ebron at $3,700 against a Packers squad that has allowed two touchdowns to tight ends so far.
D Miami Dolphins, $3,000
As we mentioned when discussing Tannehill, it’s widely expected that the Dolphins will have their way with the Browns this week - on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins delivered a nice defensive effort in Week 1 against the Seahawks, but followed that up by allowing 31 points to the Patriots. They come in at an affordable price, and have a matchup with a rookie quarterback in the form of Cody Kessler on the docket.
The Dolphins look like a solid option, but their ownership percentage is likely to be through the roof. While everyone else is paying down, we can look to pay up. The Seahawks at $4,100 and the Panthers at $3,800 both have fantastic defensive matchups in front of them, and we also know full well the upside they bring to the table. While they’ll have their fair share of supporters as well, it will likely be less than a normal week without such an enticing low-cost option.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 3. Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.