Betting the NFL Spread Week 3: How the Bad Luck Turns

by Shervon Fakhimi · Betting & Props

The good news from Week 2 is we improved our record from 4-11 to 6-9 on the week. The bad news is 6-9 is still unacceptable, and we had five teams (Browns, Saints, Rams, Ravens, Raiders) all covering for the majority of the game until the bitter end. Those are the breaks, unfortunately. What could and should have been a great 11-4 week to get back to .500 was left with disappointment, sadly. But, that’s what Week 3 is for, right? Our luck can’t get much worse, can it? Let’s hope not. This is Betting the Spread Week 3 and fantasy notes for each matchup!

Houston Texans (+2.5) vs Chicago Bears

Over/Under: 40.5

Pick ATS: Houston Texans

Raise your hand if you have as many receptions this NFL season as Cole Kmet! Also, raise your hand if you had just as many receiving yards as Darnell Mooney last week. Congratulations! For reasons I’m unaware of, the Bears coaching staff has decided to abandon the notion of throwing the ball. Why? I don’t know. The Bears have thrown the ball 28 times through two games which is easily the lowest in the NFL.

The next lowest team has 52 pass attempts! It made sense Chicago didn’t throw a lot Week 1 in a monsoon. It was a close game they led, but that wasn’t the case in Week 2. They were down two scores in the entire second half! Yes, they had success running the ball (6.7 yards per carry), but that is asinine. Especially with a new regime coming into town that needs to know what they have in Justin Fields.

Advanced stats put Chicago’s unorthodox approach in an even less glamorous light. All that is to say, you can’t start Darnell Mooney or Cole Kmet. Kmet is droppable for some other tight end options I’m sure we’ll get into. Justin Fields ran for a touchdown and only scored 8.8 fantasy points last week. Eight of those fantasy points came on the ground. Until Chicago commits to the passing game to some degree, David Montgomery is the only start-able Chicago Bear and even he won’t run for 8.1 yards per carry as he did in Week 2.

David Montgomery Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) vs Tennessee Titans

Over/Under: 45.5

Pick ATS: Las Vegas Raiders

I hope no one tailed my Raiders pick from last week because holy cow what a bad beat (we had a lot of those, unfortunately). They have a good chance this week against the Titans on a short week, however. I particularly like Davante Adams. Did you see what Stefon Diggs did to them on Monday Night? The Titans’ secondary looks rough especially without ascending corner Kristian Fulton.

Through two weeks, the Titans rank No. 26 in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA metric. Sure, they just played the almighty Buffalo Bills, but Daniel Jones completed all but four of his passes against Tennessee in Week 1 and threw at an 8.95 yards per attempt clip. Josh Allen threw for 8.34 yads per attempt. Tennessee has allowed an expected completion percentage of 71-percent in both games this season according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Derek Carr (who gets the Broncos and Chiefs the two weeks after this) is a solid buy-low option for any Trey Lance managers. I’m buying a big Davante Adams bounce-back week.

Davante Adams Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) vs Indianapolis Colts

Over/Under: 49.5

Pick ATS: Kansas City Chiefs

As a PlayerProfiler employee, I feel contractually obligated to tell you all two things. One, sell Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He salvaged Week 1 by scoring twice and Week 2 with a breakaway 52-yard run. But explosive runs are not Clyde’s game; throughout his entire career, Clyde has accumulated only six runs of 20+ yards. Sure, he catches passes, but he also has ceded passing and red zone work to Jerick McKinnon.

Through two weeks, Edwards-Helaire ranks No. 30 among running backs in routes run (14) and No. 33 in route participation (35.9-percent). Add it all up and Clyde looks like someone who has been over his head from a fantasy production standpoint.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Secondly, this Ashton Dulin guy is good, huh? I wonder who has been the loudest pumping him up? The Podfather’s baby was the best non-Jonathan Taylor player on the field for the Colts in Michael Pittman Jr.’s absence. After leading the NFL in targets per route run in Week 1, Dulin finds himself in elite company in the same statistic through two weeks.

It sounds like Michael Pittman could return in Week 3. Even if he does, a reeling 0-1-1 Colts team already needs a boost on offense. Dulin is a more capable outside receiver than Parris Campbell and is more NFL-ready than rookie Alec Pierce. He has earned his way on the field as the team’s second wide receiver (or at least he should). Go get Dulin. He’s for real.

Buffalo Bills (-5.5) vs Miami Dolphins

Over/Under: 54

Pick ATS: Buffalo Bills

Remember last week when I wondered if there would be enough work for both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to eat in this pass attack? HA! Yeah, I was wrong to not want either for fantasy this season. The Dolphins only trail the Bills and Chiefs in pass rate over expectation this season thanks to Establish the Run’s Adam Levitan.

The more you throw, the more chances Waddle and Hill have at getting the ball. Waddle and Hill have 49 of Miami’s 83 targets through two weeks. Is that good? Oh yeah, it is. It’s certainly enough to keep both of those guys afloat as WR 1s in fantasy football. This game has the highest projected over/under of the week. Fire up all the Stefon Diggs, Jaylen Waddle, and Tyreek Hill you got!

Jaylen Waddle Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Detroit Lions (+6) vs Minnesota Vikings

Over/Under: 53.5

Pick ATS: Detroit Lions

I already ate my crow regarding Amon-Ra St. Brown last week before pumping him up, and then he went nuclear again. Maybe he really is midwest Cooper Kupp? Anyway, he should have another big week in what is the second-highest projected over/under of the week. I like the Vikings, in particular Dalvin Cook, to have a big bounce back this week and for the over to hit, but I want to pump Jared Goff up a little bit.

Yes, it sounds gross, but the Vikings’ secondary isn’t the strongest, and we’ve already established Vegas expects plenty of points to go around in this one. Since Detroit’s upset win against the Vikings last season in Week 13, Jared Goff has averaged 18.54 fantasy points per game. That is a borderline top 12 number. For anyone who lost Trey Lance and needs a streaming option, you can do worse than Jared Goff this week.

Jared Goff Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs New England Patriots

Over/Under: 43

Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens

It’s time to put some respect on Jakobi Meyers‘ name. Check out some of his numbers so far this season. He currently boasts a 29.7-percent target share, which ranks No. 14 among wide receivers according to PlayerProfiler.com. Meyers sits No. 10 at the position in targets per route run (35.8-percent). His 207 air yards are No. 11 in the league among receivers. Meyers 2.83 yards per route run ranks No. 16. He is good. Meyers should be universally regarded as a WR2 weekly or at minimum a highly-regarded flex. That is, if he plays. As of Thursday, Meyers has yet to practice this week. That needs to be monitored.

Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) vs New York Jets

Over/Under: 45

Pick ATS: Cincinnati Bengals

Elijah Moore was my favorite breakout wide receiver this season. I have him on a lot of my teams. So you could imagine how sour it was to see Garrett Wilson break out all over the place this week while Moore was stuck with five targets, three receptions, and 41 yards receiving. Not all hope is lost for Moore, however. He ranks No. 1 among wide receivers in routes run (99), No. 21 in route participation (96.1-percent; Garrett Wilson sits at 67-percent through two games, for comparison), and No. 19 in snap share (90.3-percent).

We know Moore is out there, and we know he’s good. His days are coming, and I think he’s a quintessential buy-low type of player right now. But, Garrett Wilson‘s ascent is only beginning too. The ceiling I envisioned for Moore doesn’t look as promising as it did to start the season unless the Jets keep throwing the ball the most in the NFL (103). Who throws the ball the second-most? The answer is the Cincinnati Bengals. I like the over in this one too.

Elijah Moore Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) vs Washington Commanders

Over/Under: 47

Pick ATS: Philadelphia Eagles

Need a tight end? Might I recommend Logan Thomas. Thomas’ usage was fantastic in Week 1 and followed that up with five targets, three receptions, 37 receiving yards, and a touchdown in Week 2. Since the start of 2020, Thomas has played in 22 games. He’s averaging 10.85 PPR points per game in that span. Excluding Taysom Hill, that average would’ve ranked in the top ten among tight ends in points per game last season. He has a top-three finish to his name. Thomas’ efficiency and opportunity metrics on playerprofiler.com are almost all inside the top 12.

The Commanders’ defense ranks No. 28 in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA metric which has prompted them to throw the ball 87 times in two games. That’s tied with the Arizona Cardinals for No. 3 most in the NFL. It’s hard to find 12 tight ends you’d start over Logan Thomas in fantasy at the moment. If you drafted Kmet or have Dalton Schultz after he got injured, go get Logan Thomas.

Logan Thomas Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Meanwhile, start your Eagles. Again. They look like a Super Bowl contender. That’s all.

New Orleans Saints (-3) vs Carolina Panthers

Over/Under: 41

Pick ATS: New Orleans Saints

Chris Olave almost had a breakout game similar to his former Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson. He hauled in a deep ball from Jameis Winston that he fumbled after grabbing. Olave somehow accumulated 334 air yards last week amongst a litany of other advanced stats in his favor. He didn’t have the output that Garrett Wilson did, but he should be treated as if he did. Get Chris Olave if he’s available for some reason.

Chris Olave Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Los Angeles Chargers (-7)

Over/Under: 48

Pick ATS: Los Angeles Chargers

Last week, I said to not worry about Travis Etienne. I still feel that same way, but my panic meter has risen from a four or five to a six or seven. Clearly, the team trusts James Robinson. This is evidenced by his 35-18 edge in touches over the first two weeks of the season. Etienne’s 42-percent snap share ranks No. 39 among running backs and his 34.5-percent opportunity share is No. 47. Not great!

Travis Etienne Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

There are a few glimmers of hope, however. He ranks No. 4 among running backs in yards per touch (6.6) and No. 7 in yards created per touch (4.22). He edges James Robinson 34-20 in routes run despite playing fewer snaps, and his route participation is nearly 20 percentage points higher than Robinson’s. His 1.5 yards per route run is No. 19 among running backs. Aaron Jones and D’Andre Swift, two players who Etienne should have similar roles to in Jacksonville’s offense, have both seen only eight more carries and targets (28) than Etienne (20) so far this season.

Travis Etienne is still clearly the Jaguars’ receiving back. This is what we want from our running backs. The Jaguars didn’t trail last week against their sons (at least in Jacksonville), the Indianapolis Colts. Vegas projects them to be trailing against the Chargers which would lead to more Etienne. I’m starting Etienne this week, but if his usage underwhelms again, the panic will only elevate.

Green Bay Packers (+2) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Over/Under: 41

Pick ATS: Green Bay Packers

Is there any non-running back you feel confident starting in this game this week? Mike Evans is suspended for combusting again against nemesis Marshon Lattimore. Chris Godwin and Julio Jones are hurt. The Packers threw the ball 25 times last week; no Packer exceeded five targets and only one surpassed three (Sammy Watkins). Neither tight end has been a factor.

Aaron Jones bounced back while A.J. Dillon added 19 touches. The once vaunted Bucs’ run defense (now without run stuffer Akiem Hicks) surrendered over five yards a carry to a running back motley crew of Mark Ingram, Dwayne Washington, and Tony Jones last week. Excluding a reverse that lost eight yards, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard rattled off about 4.5 yards per carry against Tampa in Week 1. I wouldn’t be afraid of using Jones or Dillon this week.

AJ Dillon Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Leonard Fournette looks like a smash play this week too. The Bucs have trotted plenty of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) amidst their rash of wide receiver unavailability, and that was a look Green Bay struggled with against the Chicago Bears. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert ran for 8.4 yards per carry in Week 2 after Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison hit them for 4.5 yards a pop. Fournette’s 81-percent opportunity share ranks No. 4 among running backs. He looks primed for a big week.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) vs Arizona Cardinals 

Over/Under: 49

Pick ATS: Los Angeles Rams

Cam Akers is not dead yet! I don’t think he’s quite out of the woods yet either. As Jakob Sanderson noted in his brilliant weekly hitchhiker’s guide to filling your RB2, Henderson out-snapped Akers 35-27 in Week 2 and played all the third down and two-minute snaps. This was despite Henderson momentarily leaving the game after taking a shot before returning later.

I’m still of the belief that Akers is the better player of the two. His performance was better than what his stats indicate. However, Henderson is playing the more valuable snaps. If this truly becomes the 50-50 split Sean McVay hinted towards in the preseason, Henderson is likely the preferred option here. I think both are flex options that you likely can do better than for the time being until we get more clarity on how this backfield, which may get even more tricky after the Rams brought back familiar face Malcolm Brown, will ultimately shake out.

Cam Akers Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks (-2)

Over/Under: 42

Pick ATS: Seattle Seahawks

Hey Arthur Smith; what the hell man? Get Kyle freaking Pitts the ball! Pitts is No. 5 in air yards among tight ends (118) and No. 2 in average depth of target (11.8). And yet, Pitts sits No. 18 among tight ends in routes run (44) on the season and No. 16 in route participation (74.6-percent). Why? Luckily, Arthur Smith is not so much of a moron to neglect his generational talent from doing generational things all season (though his quotes after the Week 2 loss don’t inspire confidence on that front).

Those that drafted Kyle Pitts have to hold. I don’t have him anywhere, but I’ll be trying to buy low where I can. Odds are, you’re not going to get anything close to what Pitts can be: a fantasy football game changer. That’s still possible. It’s a great sign that the Falcons have been able to score and move the ball against two robust defenses in the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Pitts will be fine. Try to get him.

Kyle Pitts Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

On another note, Marcus Mariota is another option for those who lost Trey Lance. Lance drafters chased the konami code. Marcus Mariota can scoot too. He’s ran for 72+ yards and a touchdown in two of his last three starts. The Falcons should be trailing for a majority of the season. It would make sense for them to see what they have in Desmond Ridder at some point, but until then, Mariota is an adequate fill-in. 

San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) vs Denver Broncos

Over/Under: 45

Pick ATS: San Francisco 49ers

Death, taxes, and injuries to 49er running backs. Third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price was the latest victim. He suffered a high ankle sprain that will sideline him 4-6 weeks and typically lowers running back effectiveness even after they return. The 49ers did elevate Marlon Mack from their practice squad, but Jordan Mason becomes a worthwhile pickup.

Davis-Price accumulated 14 carries before his injury, and a large portion of San Francisco’s rushing pie opened up after Trey Lance‘s unfortunate season-ending ankle injury. Mason ran for over 5.5 yards per carry in his first two seasons while at Georgia Tech and scored 14 touchdowns in those two seasons. It’s not his fault he lost his starting spot to now Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Almost any other running back would’ve met the same fate.

For now, Jeff Wilson is the biggest beneficiary of these events, but he’s no stranger to injury either. Wilson is a solid RB2 for the time being. Mason, and even Marlon Mack in deeper leagues, are worthy speculative fliers to stash in the event they get their chance to shine. 

Jordan Mason Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) vs New York Giants

Over/Under: 39.5

Pick ATS: Dallas Cowboys

The Tom Savage corollary strikes again! No Dak, no problem. CeeDee Lamb accounted for 35.4-percent of Cooper Rush‘s targets in Week 2. That number could even *grow* after Dalton Schultz was injured in last week’s upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Lamb could get shadowed by Adoree’ Jackson, but he should be more than fine in your lineups. Noah Brown can also be started in deeper leagues too after his five targets, five receptions, 91 yards receiving and a touchdown performance last week. If Michael Gallup returns, that would change things. However, I’ll believe that when I see it.

Noah Brown Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile