The Hail Mary (NFL DFS): Week 3 WEEKEND UPDATE September 26, 2015  |  Doug Shain




The Huddle – Opening Statement

Welcome to the WEEKEND UPDATE. Everything new will be in bolded italics.

What a wonky Week 2 we had in the NFL. Dion Lewis, DeAngelo Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Crocket Gilmore were studs. Drew Brees, Marshawn Lynch, and Martellus Bennett were all duds. Just how we figured it, right?

In season long we love to talk about buy low/sell high, but that concept can work for daily fantasy as well. While we’re not trading players, we are looking at ownership percentage and public perception of players. Take DeMarco Murray as an example. He’s playing like garbage. People are down on him. There are some really good values that are much less expensive than he is this week. This is a perfect opportunity for you to play Murray and capitalize if he has a big game while the rest of the world is rostering James Starks. Is this the safest strategy in the world? Of course not. It’s entirely possible that Chip Kelly has no idea what he’s doing and the Eagles are destined for a very bad year. On the flip side, it’s quite possible that this is a two week anomaly that you can take advantage of. I wouldn’t use Murray in my main lineups, but I’d surely use him as a contrarian play this week in secondary lineups. Andrew Luck also comes to mind as a perfect buy low candidate. Clearly with the injury to Murray I’m much more in the Andrew Luck buy low camp than the DeMarco buy low camp for DFS this week.

On the sell high end of the spectrum is Travis Benjamin. His numbers have been off the charts and I think people are going to jump on him like he’s the new Josh Gordon. Spoiler alert: he’s not. All everyone is going to see is 4 long touchdowns leading to two big weeks. They’ll see his low (but increased) price tag and jump on him. You know what they’re not going to see? 7 targets. You’re not going to sustain as a top scoring WR with 3.5 targets per week. This is a great time to go grab a boring guy like Michael Crabtree (only 5 players have more than his 24 targets: Edelman, Julio, DeAndre, Demaryius, and Emmanuel Sanders) while everyone else is jumping on the new, shiny toy. Trust me, the guy getting the targets is the one you want on a week to week basis.

To take a look at how I rank the players and a lists of my “musts” when building a GPP lineup, click here. Best of luck this week!


The Depth Chart – The Plays of the Week

I’m going to list 3 groups of players for each position (except K). These groups are going to be PUBLIC plays, EXPERT plays, and HuLo plays. They are not ranked in any order. I’ll give a little analysis after each position section, but I won’t necessarily give a narrative about each player (I’m trying to keep this relatively short going forward).


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Aaron Rodgers – GB Blake Bortles – JAX Sam Bradford – PHI
Tom Brady – NE Marcus Mariota – TEN Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ
Ben Roethlisberger – PIT Tyrod Taylor – BUF Jameis Winston – TB
Matt Ryan – ATL Carson Palmer – ARI Russell Wilson – SEA
Peyton Manning – DEN Andy Dalton – CIN Colin Kaepernick – SF
Cam Newton – CAR Andrew Luck – IND

– As I’ve said in the past, the Public QB plays aren’t going to change much from week to week. You’re going to always have people who play Brady, Peyton, ARod, etc no matter what the matchup is. You’ll also see guys like Manziel who had a big week that will justify a play from the general public. I’m not opposed to using any of these guys this week (even Manziel against Oakland if Petine gets his head on straight and continues to let McCown ride the bench). Well, there goes that idea. I really like the price on Peyton this week in a primetime game. He’s ready to unload. I’m going to stack him and one or both of Thomas/Sanders.

– I’m really not in love with a lot of the guys that you’re going to see mentioned by the Experts this week. The two guys I’m going to look heaviest at are Carson Palmer and Tyrod Taylor. Palmer has been so good when he plays and Taylor gives you so much value with his legs. Both face highly overrated defenses and should be able to pay off their salaries.

– Cam Newton’s price is pretty low and that matchup against New Orleans is pretty tasty. He crushed them last year and I expect to see him do much of the same this week. J-Stew is nicked up which mean we’ll see even more of Cam taking off with the ball this week (already 20 rushes on the season). He’s a great value and should be a top 7 play this week.

– One of my top QB plays this week is going to be Wilson. The Seahawks need a win badly and they are playing a terrible Bears team. I can see a monster game coming here that not a lot of people are going to be on because of Seattle’s poor early season play. I may look dumb for it but I’m going to go back to the well with Andrew Luck. The Colts did this last year and then Luck went on a tear (44 points in Week 3 last year). The matchup is great and he’ll be under 5% owned. If he goes off, then you’re going to be sitting pretty. Finally, if SF is ready to unleash Kaepernick like they did in the 2nd half against PIT then he could be in line for a really big week in a game where SF is going to have to throw to keep up with the Cardinals.

– The more I look at his price and his matchup the more I think I’m going to have a lot of Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. He looked great Monday night and things are just clicking with him right now. Don’t forget that he can scramble a little bit, too.


Running Back

Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Adrian Peterson – MIN James Starks – GB Lance Dunbar – DAL
Jamaal Charles – KC Dion Lewis – NE DeMarco Murray – PHI
Matt Jones – WSH David Johnson – ARI Latavius Marray – OAK
Leveon Bell – PIT Giovani Bernard – CIN Bishop Sankey – TEN
Marshawn Lynch – SEA Ronnie Hillman – DEN CJ Anderson – DEN
DeVonta Freeman – ATL Melvin Gordon – SD
  Chris Polk – HOU
  Carlos Hyde – SF

– With all the craziness at RB it’s pretty much down to 3 studs and one guy who just had a monster week for the Public Plays. AP and Charles should be in for huge weeks and if Matt Jones gets the start against the Giants I’m more than happy to buy in (along with 20% of the field). And if he didn’t fumble at the 1 this was going to work out. Doh! LeVeon Bell has a decent matchup against a surprisingly suspect Rams run defense. I think there are enough value options out there that allow you to pay up for a couple of stud RB. I think with all the uncertainty this week you’re going to have to either go with a stud or a value play. Outside of Melvin Gordon there is very little that I like in that middle ground.

– I am very nervous about the Marshawn Lynch calf injury. I don’t think it’s anything major but with the Seahwaks expected to blow the Bears out they may feel it’s best to severely lighten Lynch’s load or hold him out of the game altogether. It’s not worth the risk for what you have to pay. That said, Fred Jackson becomes an interesting play if Lynch is inactive (or if you’re really bold and project him to have a lightened workload).

– The James Starks hype train was already out of control midway through the 3rd quarter of the Sunday night game. He’s going to be very widely owned if Eddie Lacy is out this week. The same type of hype is coming for Gio Bernard if Jeremy Hill’s benching carries over to this week’s game. David Johnson is what we wanted Ameer Abdullah to be and Dion Lewis is a more talented Kevin Faulk. Experts love them some pass catching backs. Ronnie Hillman is going to start getting hyped up as well if CJ Anderson breathes wrong because that leash is short. I really like Johnson and Lewis but will most likely not be playing the rest of the Expert plays.

– With Tevin Coleman out this week I can actually make a pretty good case for Freeman as a nice value play with guaranteed touches. He’s not top 10 for me, even with respect to his value due to a high expected ownership, but he shouldn’t hurt you if he’s in your lineup.

– Everyone loved what the Brown did last week so they’re not going to remember that they have a terrible run defense. The only way the Raiders stand a chance in this game is if they ride Murray, which is exactly what I think they’ll do. I guess I just talked myself into a 2nd mid-priced RB.

– Speaking of Anderson, in what can very well be a make or break game for his career I think he’s going to step up and show why he’s the start on this team. Fantasy players are scared off by the uncertainty surrounding him and that’s a great place for you to take advantage. He’s not a top play of mine, but he’ll be on some secondary teams. Melvin Gordon is ready to have his breakout game and this could very well be the week it happens. I like him a lot as your RB2 or FLEX. I’m liking him more and more as the week goes on. Forget Danny Woodhead this week, it’s the Melvin Gordon show.

– One of my favorite plays this week is Lance Dunbar (I was a week early on him last week). He plays Atlanta this week and while their defense has improved, go take a look at what pass-catching RB have done to them the first two weeks of the season. Here, I’ll do it for you – Darren Sproles went over 100 yards of offense and Shane Vereen came very close (although he did catch a lot of passes). I love Dunbar on sites that require a FLEX play. In much the same vein I really like Chris Polk if he indeed starts for Houston. Even if he doesn’t he could make for a nice value play in PPR leagues. Chicken and Shrimp for everyone!


Wide Receiver

Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Antonio Brown – PIT Allen Robinson – JAX Terrence Williams – DAL
Julio Jones – ATL Michael Crabtree – OAK Randall Cobb – GB
Calvin Johnson – DET Sammy Watkins – BUF Julian Edelman – NE
James Jones – GB Jarvis Landry – MIA Michael Crabtree – OAK
Travis Benjamin – CLE Emmanuel Sanders – DEN DeAndre Hopkins – HOU
Larry Fitzgerald – ARI Donte Moncrief – IND Doug Baldwin – SEA
Amari Cooper – OAK Brandon Marshall – NYJ Mike Evans – TB
Demaryius Thomas – DEN Vincent Jackson – TB
AJ Green – CIN Nate Washington – HOU


You can always pay up for Antonio and Julio and be ok. There are lots of lineups you can make that have both of these guys and still have upside. I’m totally buying into a Larry Fitzgerald resurgence. I’m still fading James Jones (7 targets, 3 TD, total unsustainable) and will start actively fading Travis Benjamin this week (as discussed above). I generally don’t play offensive players on a Thursday slate but I’d be just fine with Odell Beckham as your top guy. I’m on board with a Demaryius play this week against Detroit’s weak defensive secondary. I actually like a few Broncos as you’ll see below.

– Did you see what the Raiders did to Baltimore? AJ Green is way better than anyone on the Raiders. He’s relatively cheap compared to the other studs (Brown/Jones/DT) and will probably be lower owned too. I love this play.

– Amari Cooper gets all the hype (because he’s awesome), but Michael Crabtree is getting a lot of production. He’s a cheap, under the radar play that shouldn’t have to face off against Joe Haden this week. Being a team’s #2 is working out really for Crabtree. Demaryius will keep getting the hype but it’s Sanders that Manning looks for on 3rd down. His floor is very high. Jarvis Landry is very playable but don’t forget that DFS experts love him so his ownership will be a little higher than you’d think.

– Moncrief looks like a totally different guy than we saw last year. He’s quickly becoming a very reliable target for Andrew Luck. I expect Luck to have a nice week this week and I foresee Moncrief being his big target.

– The only way Jacksonville has a chance against New England is if they throw. Allen Robinson is by far their best WR. The Pats secondary let Tyrod Taylor torch them. The Jags won’t win but Robinson is in line for a monster game.

– With Tony Romo out people are going to be way off of Dallas. I think that this is the perfect time to buy in. Weeden has to throw to someone and that’ll end up being Terrence Williams. Let’s not forget that Weeden played very well when he had a big, fast WR to throw to in Cleveland (Josh Gordon). Williams isn’t as good as Gordon, but he’s exactly the type of WR Weeden can succeed with.

– As usual my HuLo plays are littered with “boring” guys. Boring can be very productive. I love Edelman (lost in the Gronk hype) in a full point PPR, Marshall (Philly can’t stop him), and I think Hopkins could be in line for another good game with his high volume of targets. The concussion stuff doesn’t bother me, he’s playing. But even if he’s full strength there’s enough love to go around for both he and Nate Washington this week. I like Washington a lot if you’re punting a WR spot.

– Evans and Jackson were under 1% owned on Thursday slates. Even if the number triples they’re still under 3%. Houston’s secondary is terrible and the giants of TB are going to take advantage. The Texans may get their sacks but if Winston can get rid of the ball Evans and Jackson could be in for monster games.


Tight End

Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Rob Gronkowski – NE Crockett Gilmore – BAL Richard Rodgers – GB
Travis Kelce – KC Heath Miller – PIT Jimmy Graham – SEA
Tyler Eifert – CIN Gavin Escobar – DAL Eric Ebron – DET
Coby Fleener – IND Kyle Rudolph – MIN

– Gronk is Gronk and people are going to play him. If you’re paying up for TE, he’s the guy I probably want. I’m off Kelce and Eifert this week because I prefer some less expensive plays. Like I say in my “musts”, either you play Gronk or you get a cheap guy who can get you 3 catches or so.

– My favorite TE play this week could very well be Gavin Escobar. Even before Dez and Witten got hurt he was getting looks in the red zone. He’s a big, talented target that I think is ready to explode as a fantasy stud. I want him this week while the hype (and price) is still under control.

– I lied about only spending up for Gronk. I’d totally pay up for Jimmy Graham this week. Seattle is 0-2 and they need to justify that trade for him. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t get double digit targets and a TD this week. I really like a Wilson-Graham tandem if you want a sneaky hookup.

– Indy has come out and said they are going to involve the TE more. Dwayne Allen is shockingly (not shockingly) hurt again. Fleener is the beneficiary there.

– Kyle Rudolph has a quietly high number of targets this year. It’s not shocking because Norv loves his TE. He could be a nice, sneaky, cheap play that gets you 5-45 and a possible TD.

– Aaron Rodgers loves Richard Rodgers in the red zone. He’s only got the one TD, but that’s not for a lack of looks. Once teams start putting all 11 guys on James Jones this is the way ARod is going to throw inside the 10 yard line.



Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Seattle Seahawks Arizona Cardinals New England Patriots
New York Jets Carolina Panthers Houston Texans
Denver Broncos Atlanta Falcons Cleveland Browns

– Seattle is the chalk play this week but sometimes chalk is the way to go. Both the Jets and Broncos are playing awesome right now and I have no issue with you going with the public on this one.

– All 3 Expert plays have highly exploitable matchups. I love the Cardinals at home but I think it’s the Falcons who could really pay off in a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys B squad. That’s not to say I don’t like some Dallas plays, because I do, but the ATL defense will get theirs just like the Patriots did last week.

– Carolina is going to become a huge chalk play now that Brees is out. I’m not against playing them, but I’d rather pivot to Houston. Yes, I think Evans/Jackson can have big games, but I also think Houston’s going to get to Winston for a lot of sacks and force him to make throws he doesn’t want to make. Even if TB scores 24 points there’s nothing that says they can’t get sacked 5 times and have 3 turnovers in the process. HOU had ¼ the ownership of Seattle on the Thursday slates and I think that gap increases with Carolina and Denver both having such good matchups as well.

– Cleveland looked great last weekend and if you can get them at a discount I really like the proposition of them playing a West Coast team coming East for an early start. I especially like it because it’s the Raiders. New England is going to continue to be ball hawks and will take advantage of a not-there-yet Jags offense.

Don’t forget to come back on Saturday for the Weekend Update edition of The Hail Mary where I push the 3000 word threshold.

Check out the Fake Football Cheat Sheets for my sample lineups. I do the Fantasy Aces section but the process of selecting the lineups is the same on all the sites.

Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 and good luck with your Hail Mary!

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