Wow, what a depressing week for quarterbacks. After seeing Nick Foles go down in Week 1, we lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season and Drew Brees for an estimated six weeks or so. Eli Manning lost his job, Sam Darnold has mono and his replacement didn’t even make it to halftime before suffering a season-ending injury. Now Cam Newton’s status is looking bleak. This is all after Andrew Luck’s shocking preseason retirement. What is going on?
Let’s focus on the positives. A wave of fresh, young and talented quarterbacks is taking over the NFL. It’s exciting, right? Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield burst onto the scene in 2018. Lamar Jackson is the early favorite for 2019 MVP. Speaking of Jackson, he crushed it as the featured quarterback lock play in last week’s article. He joined Derrick Henry, Tyrell Williams, Tom Brady, Sony Michel, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews among the players who put up impressive numbers from the Week 2 edition. This week’s piece presents 12 more lock-button starts. These are players that are primed for success and should be in your Week 3 lineups based on usage, opportunity, matchups, advanced stats and metrics. Let’s assume PPR scoring with four points per passing touchdown.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
Kyler Murray leads the league in pass attempts, air yards and attempt distance. He is top-five in passing yards, red zone pass attempts and deep attempts. Murray had an under-the-radar impressive performance in Week 2. He completed 62.5-percent of his passes, throwing for 349 yards, with 8.7 yards per attempt and no interceptions on the road against one of the league’s most intimidating secondaries.
Week 3 presents a home date with the Panthers where pass volume should allow for a lot of yards and a return to the end zone. He is just $5,800 on DraftKings and $7,200 on FanDuel, making him a lock play on both platforms.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
This is a sure fire lock-button play if there ever was one. Dalvin Cook is averaging 23 touches per game through the first two weeks and is making the most of his opportunities. He leads the league in rushing yards, Big Runs, and Yards Created. His 27.1 fantasy points per game ranks second among running backs while his True Yards per carry, Production Premium and Dominator Rating land in the top-10. With the Raiders coming to town, the Vikings should build an early lead. When they held a lead over the Falcons in Week 1, Kirk Cousins attempted only 10 passes while Cook was fed 21 carries. In what could be a similar game script in Week 3, Cook is in line to feast against a weak Raiders defense.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
Melvin Gordon, who? Austin Ekeler is receiving bellcow usage with Gordon holding out for a new deal. He had 12 rushes with six receptions and a 75-percent snap share in Week 1. He followed that up with 23 touches (17 carries, six receptions) and a 73-percent snap rate in Week 2. Through two games, Ekeler leads all running backs in receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game. He is top-five in targets, receptions, goal line carries, Production Premium, Dominator Rating and Yards Created.
The Texans have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards through two games and are bottom-10 in receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs. Despite performing like a top-five runner, Ekeler is still priced at $7,600 and $7,200 at FanDuel and DraftKings, respectively. Take advantage and lock him into lineups ahead of guys who are priced higher like Alvin Kamara, Le’Veon Bell and even Saquon Barkley.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
Keenan Allen’s 2019 is off to a fantastic start. He is commanding a ton of attention from Phillip Rivers with a 36.2-percent (No. 2 among qualified wide receivers) Target Share. He’s not just compiling targets, he is getting valuable looks. Allen is top-10 in red zone target share (44.4-percent), top-five in red zone receptions and leads all wide receivers in target distance and completed air yards. On top of that, he holds a 53.94-percent share of the air yards in Los Angeles.
Check out Keenan Allen on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
The Texans have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers through the first two games and this is likely to be a high-scoring affair, meaning more passing and scoring opportunities. With Hunter Henry out and Mike Williams not at 100-percent, Allen will continue to dominate the targets in this offense. He will see plenty of slot cornerback Bradley Roby, who has gotten off to a slow start to the season with a -9.4 (No.44) Coverage Rating. Lock Allen in as a top-five WR option this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald is priced as WR39 ($5,900) on FanDuel’s main slate and WR32 ($5,100) on DraftKings. That’s insane value for a player who is averaging 20.4 (No. 13) fantasy points per game. Not only that, he is top-five in targets, target distance, completed air yards and top-10 in receptions and receiving yards. His 16.7 yards per reception lands in the top-25 among wide receiver.
At age 36, Fitzgerald is still playing nearly 100-percent of the snaps (85.9-percent slot) and commanding 27-percent of the targets in Arizona. That’s an Arizona offense that is leading the league in pass attempts. He is a complete steal in DFS and should be locked into lineups on both platforms.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
Zach Ertz saw 16 targets in Week 2 with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert all going down with injuries. While he is unlikely to reach that number again, Ertz is in line for double-digit targets with all three still sidelined. He is $1,100 cheaper than Travis Kelce on FanDuel and $1,400 less on DraftKings, locking him in as the best tight end play of the week.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys vs Dolphins: Prescott has been dominant and the Dolphins have been…well, not.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys vs Dolphins: The Dolphins can’t stop anyone and Zeke is going to eat. Also, in a projected blowout win, his teammate Tony Pollard could have enough second half usage to make him a sneaky flex play.
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers, vs Giants: While Chris Godwin will be owned everywhere in DFS, pivot to Evans for this cakewalk matchup vs a Giants defense that has allowed 55.7 PPR points per game to wide receivers.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks vs Saints: Lockett set career highs in targets (12) and receptions (10) last week against Pittsburgh. He continues to be one of the most efficient WRs in the league and next draws a Saints secondary that has allowed 50 PPR points per game to wideouts through two weeks.
Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens at Chiefs: The best tight end in fantasy through two weeks, with the league’s hottest quarterback, against a Chiefs defense that has allowed the most receptions to tight ends. Lock it in.