Targeting Games for DFS Week 3 Matchups

by Chase Vernon · Strategy

After a trainwreck, I’m ready to move on to DFS Week 3 matchups. However, that is not how this series goes. Instead, I have to discuss and figure out why the results didn’t line up with the process. To move forward, I have to purge my demons so I don’t make the same mistake again. 

I have to be embarrassed after looking at the slate, where three of five games with a 50-point over/under hit that total. I picked the only two which did not. In my defense, I write this piece on Tuesday and the weather conditions were looking atrocious for the Titans at the Seahawks. However, even though it was my favorite game, I would have faded Derrick Henry and touted A.J. Brown if not for the weather conditions. 

Not a good week.

Moving on, let’s look at the games I attacked and see what went wrong.  

Week 1 Matchups We Attacked

Cowboys at Chargers

It’s good to know I wasn’t alone. Justin Herbert was the most rostered quarterback by a large margin. Keenan Allen approached 30-percent in many leagues, if not surpassing it. And while I faded Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott for good reason, CeeDee Lamb wasn’t far behind Allen. In other words, if you opted away from these stacks, good job. 

I missed on Mike Williams because I expected Trevon Diggs to shut him out just like he did with Mike Evans in Week 1. Well, Diggs did what I expected, except he did it to the wrong receiver for three quarters of the game. As for Ezekiel Elliott, he did what I predicted. 

What I Learned: Diggs had improved tremendously. Although he struggled when covering receivers in the slot throughout his rookie season, he could be a top-five corner for 2021 and cover the top receiver. 

Rams @ Colts

If I could play this matchup all over again the same way I did before, you better believe I would.

Cooper Kupp: 11 targets
Robert Woods: 9 targets
Jonathan Taylor: 5 carries inside the 5 (!)

“Weighted opportunities, average DOCE Score, Rams should be up.” 

Well, everything played out, but there was no result. Taylor now leads the league in red zone carries and still has not scored a touchdown. If he had, Matthew Stafford would have been forced to throw more often, leading to Kupp having an even more impressive performance and a possibility of Woods getting a touchdown. 

What I Learned: There are times to have a short memory. This game is one of them. 

49ers at Eagles    

Jalen Hurts could not catch a break. Jalen Reagor‘s touchdown was called back, Devonta Smith couldn’t come down with contested catches, and the play-calling was atrocious. Please tell me why the Lions figured out how to beat the 49ers in the second half by passing for 62.7-percent of their completed yards to the running back in the second half. Yet, the Eagles attempted four passes to their running backs the entire game.

I won’t even bring up Dallas Goedert

What I Learned: The 49ers defense might not be as terrible as they showed in Week 1 and the Eagles, while healthy, are a superior defense. However, the biggest takeaway is, if either team can’t establish a run game, we could see both offenses and their game plans falter. 

Games to Target in DFS Week 3 Matchups

Seahawks Vikings

Weather: Dome

Over/Under: 55.5 

Fact to Know: Russell Wilson has thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his first three games since 2018. Of those 34 touchdowns, Tyler Lockett has caught 12 with at least one coming in nine of the 11 games. In addition, across those 11 games, there was only two weeks where he had less than 17 points on DraftKings.

Players to Target in DFS Week 3 Matchup 

  1. Kirk Cousins $6,300

  2. Russell Wilson $7,600

  3. Dalvin Cook $8,400

  4. Tyler Lockett $7,400

  5. Chris Carson $6,400

  6. Justin Jefferson $7,200

  7. D.K. Metcalf $7,300

  8. Adam Thielen $6,700

The matchup looks better for Russell Wilson at first glance. The Vikings more susceptible to the quarterback with a dynamic offense. Wilson and his early-season dominance. However, Wilson has only scored 1.5 more points per game on DraftKings than Kirk Cousins. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense looks better against the quarterback, but the passers each team has faced over the first two weeks aren’t close. The Vikings had Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray while the Seahawks met Carson Wentz and Ryan Tannehill

Now you have two quarterbacks more evenly matched. However, the pricing is not. Although Wilson might slightly have the edge in expected points score, the pricing is not. By pivoting down to Cousins you save $1,300, which is the difference between Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins or Christian Kirk: Massive.

This makes Cousins an ideal quarterback for the DFS Week 3 matchups.

In addition, Dalvin Cook is dealing with an ankle injury that hindered him in the second half of Week 2. He carried the ball 12 times for 96 yards in the first half compared to 10 for 35 in the second. As of Wednesday, he has yet to take any reps which doesn’t bode well for his upside in these DFS Week 3 matchups. This could lead to Alexander Mattison getting an increased load and Cousins throwing more often. In the two games Mattison started in 2020, Cousins went 52 for 76 with 748 yards and six touchdowns, totaling a whopping 67 fantasy points. Get Cousins in some lineups.

Playing Cousins doesn’t mean I don’t want to play Wilson. In tournaments, I’ll have a significant share of both. However, keep in mind the players you can upgrade to if you are sitting in a range you don’t like with your flex position, and you have a build around this game.

The most challenging part of this game is figuring out how to spend your money. And with K.J. Osborns breakout, stacks in this game could easily pivot over to him. So although he’s projected to be rostered in less than 5-percent of lineups, I’m fading him for this stack. I might have him in other lineups, but I’m out on this stack for these DFS Week 3 matchups.

As for Mattison at $6,000 ahead of Antonio Gibson, D’Andre Swift, Darrell Henderson, and Melvin Gordon: it’s too rich for my blood. Derrick Henry did curb stomp the Seahawks in Week 2, but I’d rather play a running back with a more defined role. With Mattison, we don’t know what to expect. In Mattison’s career, I will mention that he had two games that would have paid off his $6,000 price: Week 17 against the Lions and Week 5 against the Seahawks in 2020.    

Buccaneers @ Rams

Weather: Dome

Over/Under: 55

Fact to Know: Tyler Higbee has played in every offensive snap through 2021. The only other player to do so in 2021 so far is Logan Thomas. The Buccaneers are giving up 15.7-points per game to the position without allowing a touchdown. Kyle Pitts‘ lone target is the only one a tight end has seen in the red zone against the Bucs thus far. In 2020, Tampa saw 22 targets inside the 20 to tight ends, and they played in a division featuring Hayden Hurst, Ian Thomas, and Jared Cook. They caught 14 of those 22 targets—nine of them converted to touchdowns.

Players to Target in DFS Week 3 Matchup 

  1. Matthew Stafford $6,400

  2. Cooper Kupp $ 6,800

  3. Tom Brady $6,800

  4. Rob Gronkowski $5,500

  5. Mike Evans $6,300

  6. Tyler Higbee $4,000

  7. Chris Godwin $6,100

  8. Robert Woods $5,700

  9. Van Jefferson $3,400

The Buccaneers/Rams may mirror the Cowboys/Chargers game from Week 2. Significant assumed point total, two underrated defenses, and two brilliant systems on both sides of the ball. However, I’m still attacking this game. From what we have seen so far, both secondaries seem to be the weaknesses of these teams. Carlton Davis and Jalen Ramsey are the only players who you don’t want to attack for this game in these DFS Week 3 matchups. However, predicting their roles in these games is difficult. 

Against Dallas, Davis didn’t shadow Amari Cooper. However, as the game progressed, Davis started to slide to Cooper’s side more often. In Week 2, Carlton Davis stuck to his side while Calvin Ridley traveled to both. If there were one player Davis would shadow, it would be Robert Woods, but I don’t expect Davis to do so. Woods sees the targets as both him and Cooper Kupp combined for a 61.8-percent Target Share—more than any other duo in the NFL. 

Kupp should abuse the slot this week. Ross Cockrell has stepped in for Sean Murphy-Bunting, and I’m not sure which nickel back is worse (not including the band). Cockrell has allowed 12 receptions on 14 targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns while in coverage. Even if they try to double Kupp underneath, motioning him to outside should render the coverage useless. 

 Ross Cockrell Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Ross Cockrell Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

In 2020, the duo combined for 23 receptions for 275 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers, and I wouldn’t expect anything less.

You can’t run on the Bucs, so look for the Rams to unleash Stafford while the passing game eats up this defense.

If you want to go Tom Brady on the other side of this lineup, you might be looking at the chalk. Brady projects to be the third-most rostered quarterback, with both Kupp and Woods being two of the three most rostered receivers. There’s good and bad news to this.

The good news is with Woods being so inexpensive and having affordable running backs in the $5k range, you can play any combination of stacks with Tom Brady. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and (possibly) Antonio Brown are all on the table, with the ability to run it back with Kupp and Woods. The icing on the cake is Rondale Moore at $5,000 in the Flex if you punt the defense. The bad news is everyone will be playing similar lineups. For small contests and cash, I’m on board. However, I’d much rather leverage Stafford and find some variance from the chalk. 

As for the receivers, you’ll have to pick your poison. Ramsey is listed as the slot corner, but he plays similar to a shortstop when the bases are empty. He lines up deep and as the linebackers and in-box safeties try to catch the underneath routes, Ramsey fades outside or inside, pending the route combination.

It’s a nontraditional way to play slot, so it’s tough to predict who he will cover. 

DFS Week 3 Matchups

Jalen Ramsey Lines Up at the 1 for the Shortstop

What we do know is the Rams struggled to cover Michael Pittman in Week 2 on the outside. Evans was one of three wide receivers Ramsey shadowed in 2020, but with Godwin being on the inside and the more productive pass-catcher in 2021, the Rams defense could easily opt for Ramsey to stay inside. Regardless, Evans is a touchdown-dependent start who could see volume. Meanwhile, Godwin would destroy the middle against anyone other than Ramsey.

You should be able to start them both, but I would opt to run one naked or stack each with either Gronkowski or (maybe) Brown. 

As for Tyler Higbee, he has to make it into some of your lineups at his price. Although he only hit 11.8 points in Week 2, he still gave you a tremendous return on investment, especially in cash games. If they do try to take away Kupp, those defenders have to come from somewhere. Higbee could be the answer. Even consider Van Jefferson since the Buccaneers have allowed the third most explosive passing plays in the NFL. With a 98.3-percent Snap Share in Week 2, Jefferson should see plenty of opportunities deep.    

Ravens @ Lions

Weather: Dome

Over/Under: 49.5

Fact to Know: Lamar Jackson has played four games in a dome or with a retractable roof during his professional career. He’s averaged 68.3 rushing yards with two total rushing touchdowns. 

Players to Target in DFS Week 3 Matchup 

  1. Lamar Jackson $7,800

  2. Marquise Brown $5,600

  3. D’Andre Swift $5,800

  4. T.J. Hockenson $5,200

  5. Ty’Son Williams $5,800

  6. Mark Andrews $5,000

  7. Jared Goff $5,200

  8. Quintez Cephus $3,900 

Lamar Jackson might be missing his running backs, but he’s not missing a beat. He’s coming off a 37.26-point fantasy game against the Chiefs and now has the Lions on deck. This feels like it’s the year of the shootout, similar to how 2020 felt like the year of the stack. I doubt the 8.6-percent roster level is met, given this game could be a blowout. However, could we get more points out of Jackson, given the state of the Ravens running game and the Lions secondary?

The answer is yes. 

In Week 2, Aaron Jones did most of his damage against the Lions with his pass-catching ability. Sure, Elijah Mitchell picked up some yardage in Week 1, but this was a rookie running back taken in the late rounds who likely wasn’t on the Lions scouting report. It’s still possible Ty’Son Williams runs all over the defense, but if they roll out Latavius Murray, look for Jackson to be in some third and longs. 

Meanwhile, look to stack him with EITHER Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews. The scoring opportunities could be there for both to succeed, given their combined price of  $10,600. However, it limits their upside and the upside of Jackson.

Jackson has never hit the three-point bonus for over 300 passing yards. However, over the past 19 games, he had hit the three-point bonus for rushing four times and gotten within 20 yards another four times. So racking up two rushing touchdowns and over 100 rushing yards with two passing touchdowns to either Brown or Andrews would put you in contention for deeper tournaments. 

If you decide to stack both, it’s not the worst decision, especially in cash. The Lions don’t get pressure on the quarterback. They only forced pressure on 13-percent of the dropbacks over the first two weeks. Although it has resulted in four sacks, the limited amount of pressure could let Jackson sit back all day launching passes. With Brown’s elite speed, he can dominate this porous defense who is allowing a big play on 17-percent of their opponents’ passing attempts. 

As for running it back, I don’t like to invest in the DOCE Score too early into the season because of the small sample size. However, the Ravens are a middle-of-the-road team after allowing Kenyan Drake to torch them in Week 1, then shut out Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Week 2. However, Edwards-Helaire might have been more of a Game Script dependency and pass blocking liability than what the score indicates. 

If Edwards-Helaire comes out firing against the Chargers in Week 3, the DOCE Score for the Ravens should jump up the rankings as a team you want to attack with pass-catching backs. 

Feel comfortable, after a subpar Week 2, to roll out D’Andre Swift. Against the Raiders, the Ravens allowed ten receptions for 87 yards to the running back. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is questionable for the matchup and Derek Wolfe once again, so Swift has all the opportunity in the world. As long as he continues to see targets, he will be in my lineups.

As for Hockenson, the Ravens were dealt a brutal hand against the tight end position to start the season.

Week 1: Darren Waller
Week 2: Travis Kelce
Week 3: T.J. Hockenson
Week 4: Noah Fant

There are arguably three teams with decent tight ends who they face after. Bookmark this for Week 5 so you don’t waste your money.

Regardless, Hockenson has been magical thus far as we expected. The Ravens don’t have that tight end eraser to stick on these talented, oversized pass catchers. It showed in 2020 as the Ravens were average against the position but only played Kelce. The majority of other tight ends they faced were outside the top 12. The trend of tight ends beating the Ravens will continue into Week 3.

As a flyer, Quintez Cephus will see the volume after showing off his pass-catching ability in Week 2. The coaching staff should design more plays his way as they develop their young receiver. And if you decide to start two of these pass-catchers, including Swift, for Detroit, Jared Goff may be a fantastic contrarian play for the DFS Week 3 matchups. 

Most people sitting at $5,200 will pivot to Justin Fields with the announcement of him starting in Week 3, leaving Goff wide open. Goff will get you to the pay line, and if he can put up 30-points as he did in Week 1, you’ll be cashing in.