Tyler Lockett and Seahawks Look to Rock Minnesota

Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 3 - Bears rookie Justin Fields may provide the biggest fantasy opportunity this week with his tendency to run the ball, a boon for fantasy production in particular. But the myriad dome games and good defensive matchups offer their own slew of modest fantasy opportunities. Don't set your lineups until you consider whether your flex choices will have their usual chances to succeed in Week 3.

The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.

You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.


Best Week 3 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
L.Jackson BAL 0 DET Rk 3 1 1 1  
Pts   +1.3 0.0 +2.6 +3.9
R.Wilson SEA 0 MIN Rk 5 3 3 2  
Pts   +1.8 0.0 +1.7 +3.5
S.Darnold CAR 0 HOU Rk 28 23 23 20  
Pts   +1.5 0.0 +0.7 +2.2
J.Hurts PHI 0 DAL Rk 5 5 5 3  
Pts   +1.3 0.0 +0.6 +1.9
D.Prescott DAL 1 PHI Rk 9 7 7 6  
Pts   +1.3 0.0 0.0 +1.3

Lamar Jackson provided the lasting image of the Ravens' upset win over the Chiefs on Monday night with his front flip into the end zone on a touchdown run. But while he may have put his team's running game on his shoulders with expected backfield contributors J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill out for the season, Jackson has also passed for 474 yards in two games, good for a 237.0-yard average that betters the rate of his 2019 MVP season (208.5) by nearly 30 yards. Expect that number to increase this week with Jackson in the dome in Detroit. The Lions are hitting for the passing-factor cycle as the No. 1 projected increaser of completion percentage (8%), passing yards per attempt (25%), and passing touchdowns per attempt (67%), and the No. 1 decreaser of interception rate (58%) for opposing quarterbacks. I would happily start most quarterbacks in Jackson's spot, but Jackson seems extra safe since his rushing raises his fantasy floor against a team that tends to fall behind an encourages their opponents to run the ball. The Lions are the No. 3 increaser of run plays by 12% per game.

Jalen Hurts is this week's example of the quarterback that plays Dallas and can expect a shootout because of it. Dak Prescott broke his streak of four consecutive healthy games with 47 or more pass attempts in Week 2, but a run-heavy Cowboys game plan didn't limit what Justin Herbert did in the air. Herbert threw for 338 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, one official touchdown, and two more touchdowns that were called back by penalties. Hurts should excel as a passer this week with the 6% and 36% bumps the Cowboys provide their opponents in passing yards and touchdowns per attempt. And Hurts hasn't slowed his end-of-2020 rushing pace that made him a fourth-quarter QB1. I see him as a standout one of those this week. He's my No. 3 quarterback, and Prescott isn't far behind him at No. 6. Stack away.

Best DraftKings Values: Justin Fields ($800 underpriced at $5,200), Daniel Jones ($700 underpriced at $5,800), Jalen Hurts ($500 underpriced at $6,800)

Best FanDuel Values: Justin Fields ($900 underpriced at $6,500), Lamar Jackson ($700 underpriced at $8,400), Russell Wilson ($500 underpriced at $8,400)

Justin Fields will start for the Bears this weekend. And while a road game in Cleveland is not the same soft opening that he likely would have enjoyed without an Andy Dalton injury, Fields has the sort of skill set that should do well in fantasy no matter his opponent. Playing just 65% of snaps in Week 2, Fields reached the 10-carry threshold that just six quarterbacks reached twice in 2020. Five of those six quarterbacks—Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh, Allen, Taysom Hill, and Jalen Hurts, but not Cam Newton—finished in the top 12 of fantasy points per start among quarterbacks. I think that QB1 value is in play for Fields even as a rookie and as such love his lower $5,200 and $6,500 DFS prices.

You won't be surprised to hear that Lamar Jackson leads all quarterbacks with a 37.3% carry share through two weeks. But you likely will be surprised to know that Daniel Jones is second at 31.3%. His 15 carries so far pro-rate to 120 over 16 games. That's 18 more than Josh Allen took in a healthy 2020 season. Jones has yet to prove he has turned a passing corner in his third professional season, but that won't matter as much for fantasy if he joins the elite rushers at his position. With that expectation, I have Jones as a true-talent back-end QB1. And with his Falcons matchup, he jumps to ninth this week and offers excellent value at his $5,800 price tag in DraftKings.

Worst Week 3 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
J.Winston NO 0 NE Rk 15 21 20 23  
Pts   -0.8 +0.1 -1.2 -1.9
J.Allen BUF 1 WAS Rk 2 6 6 8  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -1.0 -1.6
T.Heinicke WAS 0 BUF Rk 20 22 22 23  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 -0.8 -1.2
J.Burrow CIN 0 PIT Rk 12 15 15 17  
Pts   -0.7 0.0 -0.4 -1.1
J.Herbert LAC 0 KC Rk 8 9 9 10  
Pts   -0.6 -0.2 -0.2 -1.0

I'm not sure what to make of Jameis Winston after his two Saints starts. His five-touchdown, zero-interception debut against the Packers teased a possible return to QB1 value. But his zero-touchdown, two-interception encore made me question his value in even deeper formats, especially since it accompanied his second straight game with 22 or fewer pass attempts. I already wanted to bench him for a week to see if his offense would normalize, and his road trip to New England provides the perfect excuse. Winston has averaged 3.3 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in recent seasons, and he seems likely to see an even bigger home/road disparity this year with the home benefits of the dome in New Orleans—once the team can return there in Week 4. Zach Wilson-dismantling aside, the Patriots have not continued their standout 2019 defensive play and may not fully return to that until they get top cornerback Stephon Gilmore back from the PUP list. But while they are more modest cutters of passing yards (2%) and touchdowns per attempt (25%), the Patriots are the No. 1 increaser of interceptions per pass attempt (114%). Sean Payton influence or not, that may not be the recipe for Winston's fantasy success. I have him outside the top 20 at the position this week.

With Josh Allen, Taylor Heinicke, and Joe Burrow as more obvious matchup downgrades facing Washington, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh—and with a strong chance of rain in Buffalo—Justin Herbert merits some explanation for his fall from eighth to 10th at the position this week. I'm not concerned by his modest total of two touchdowns in two weeks. As mentioned, he had as many scores called back by penalty in Week 2, and his 337- and 338-yard passing days the first two weeks support his status as a true-talent QB1. But the Chiefs are not as favorable a passing matchup as you might expect. Yes, their outlier of a poor run defense (30.9% DVOA, 32nd) could push the Chargers to run instead of pass if they can avoid the game script motivations of a major deficit. But the Chiefs also cut passing touchdown rate by 9% and increase passing interception rate by 54%, which more than counterbalance the modest positive effect of their 7% boost to passing yards per attempt in fantasy.

Worst DraftKings Values: Kyler Murray ($1,400 overpriced at $8,300), Aaron Rodgers ($500 overpriced at $6,700), Josh Allen ($200 overpriced at $7,000)

Worst FanDuel Values: Kyler Murray ($800 overpriced at $9,000), Kirk Cousins ($100 overpriced at $7,700), Aaron Rodgers ($100 overpriced at $7,700)

I'm not sure any DFS salary will be too high if Kyler Murray continues to do what he did in Weeks 1 and 2 in fantasy. And the Jaguars aren't any worse of a fantasy matchup than the Titans or Vikings were. The Jags increase passing yards and touchdowns by 13% and 29% per attempt, both top-seven in football. Still, I'm not ready to leave my block that Murray is a home-only DFS option. Even after his five-touchdown outburst in Tennessee in Week 1, Murray maintains a 4.6-fantasy point homefield advantage in his career, the fifth-biggest among current quarterback starters. It's asking a lot to pay more for him in both DraftKings and FanDuel than any other quarterback, especially when elite options such as Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson have plus matchups in domes this week.

Fantasy players have likely ignored Jalen Hurts' 12-for-23 passing effort for 190 yards and no touchdowns from Week 2—10 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown cure a lot of passing ailments. And scouts that doubted Hurts as an NFL-caliber passer may not be surprised to see that inefficiency. He completed just 52.0% of his passes as a rookie and produced a -17.6% passing DVOA that was dramatically worse than Tua Tagovialoa's -8.5% rate that launched a thousand narratives. But consider that Hurts' Week 2 opponent, the 49ers, may be that disruptive a defense. When they were last healthy in 2019, the 49ers had the No. 2 pass defense by DVOA. And I project them to cut passing yards and touchdowns by 9% and 8%, respectively. Week 1 disaster in Jacksonville aside, Rodgers brings his fantasy success with him on the road. But I wouldn't be eager to pay his top 10 DFS salaries this week when I see his matchup dropping him to 12th at the position.

Running Backs

Best Week 3 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
C.McCaffrey CAR 0 HOU Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   +0.6 0.0 +1.5 +2.1
T.Williams BAL 0 DET Rk 26 24 24 20  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 +1.6 +1.8
M.Gaskin MIA 0 LV Rk 30 29 29 26  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 +0.4 +0.6
C.Carson SEA 0 MIN Rk 18 17 17 16  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 +0.2 +0.5
J.Taylor IND 0 TEN Rk 8 9 9 5  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 +0.7 +0.5

I exercised major restraint to not lead this article with some talk about my Panthers, especially since Sam Darnold enjoys a passing boost against the Texans' 29th-ranked defense by the preseason DVOA projections. But even with that boost, Darnold caps as a back-end QB2. Christian McCaffrey is the No. 1 true talent running back, and he enjoys a projected gain of 2.1 PPR points to run and hide from the other players at the position. The Texans increase rushing yards and touchdowns by 29% and 53% per attempt, both top-three in football. And they increase run plays by 10% and may increase them further this week with third-round rookie quarterback Davis Mills at the helm. My only concern for McCaffrey is that a multi-score Panthers lead might cede some of his time to backup Chuba Hubbard, but that sort of outburst is hardly guaranteed, and if it happened, it would likely follow at least one McCaffrey touchdown. Deploy McCaffrey with confidence in every format this week. He's even a tremendous DraftKings building block at his $9,000 salary. His matchup is so good he practically breaks the expected pricing model.

Ty'Son Williams and Myles Gaskin can't claim bell-cow status in committees with Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed. But their 10.9% and 14.5% target shares are top-20 at the position and raise their floors to the RB2/flex range in PPR formats. This week, I like them even more as my 20th- and 26th-ranked running backs. Williams draws the previously discussed Lions matchup that does as much for runners as it does for passers. The Lions boost run plays by 12% and rushing yards and touchdowns by 9% and 59% per attempt. All three rates are top-six in football. Meanwhile, Gaskin draws a Raiders opponent that, despite their apparent pass-rush improvement, continues to boost rushing yards by 7% per attempt and rushing touchdowns by 63% per attempt. That latter rate is the highest in football.

Best DraftKings Values: Christian McCaffrey ($2,600 underpriced at $9,000), Mike Davis ($1,000 underpriced at $5,100), Kenyan Drake ($600 underpriced at $5,500)

Best FanDuel Values: Mike Davis ($1,200 underpriced at $5,700), Kenyan Drake ($1,200 underpriced at $5,700), Antonio Gibson ($1,000 underpriced at $6,100)

Mike Davis has underwhelmed with 49 and 38 rushing yards in his first two starts with the Falcons. But consider that those totals came against the Eagles and Bucs defenses that finished 13th and first in run defense DVOA last season. I expect for things to improve at least modestly beginning this week against the Giants. And even if he can't threaten 100 yards on the ground with Cordarrelle Patterson's surprising involvement, Davis should still see plenty of targets and have a chance to score. His 16.0% target share is sixth-highest at the position, and his 1.1 expected rushing and receiving touchdown total is tied for 14th-highest at the position. He has been unlucky to not score a touchdown and offers DFS players a chance to benefit from some likely regression with his modest $5,100 and $5,700 prices in DraftKings and FanDuel.

Counter to my expectations, the newly acquired Peyton Barber out-carried Kenyan Drake 13 to seven in Week 2. But with an adjusted workload expectation and with Josh Jacobs poised to miss his second straight start with ankle and toe injuries, Drake still strikes me as an attractive DFS option as the 27th- and 31st-most expensive back in DraftKings and FanDuel. Drake should better that expectation just with his 12.0% target share, tied for 16th-highest at the position. And his rushing efficiency is likely to rebound from an anemic rate of 1.5 yards per carry against the Ravens and Steelers facing a Dolphins team that finished among the bottom third of teams in run defense DVOA in 2020.

Worst Week 3 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Henderson LAR 1 TB Rk 7 6 6 9  
Pts   +0.1 0.0 -1.2 -1.1
J.Mixon CIN 0 PIT Rk 4 4 4 8  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.8 -1.0
A.Gibson WAS 0 BUF Rk 11 12 12 15  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.6 -0.8
D.Harris NE 1 NO Rk 27 27 27 31  
Pts   +0.1 -0.1 -0.6 -0.6
M.Ingram HOU 1 CAR Rk 31 31 31 32  
Pts   +0.1 0.0 -0.6 -0.5

Darrell Henderson may be more likely to miss Week 3 than to play after his Week 2 rib injury. But even if he's out and you can start his backup Sony Michel at his modest $4,900 and $5,700 DFS prices, I just wouldn't do it against the Bucs. Last year's No. 1 run defense by DVOA, the Bucs have held Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Davis to 33 and 38 rushing yards the first two weeks. And broadly speaking, the Bucs cut yards and touchdowns by 19% and 44% per carry and cut run plays by 35% per game, all three the most in football. Look for the Rams to rely on their short passing game as a rushing proxy, and avoid all of the team's actual running backs this week.

Christian McCaffrey may have defied the typical fantasy trends of backs that face the Saints, but he did that on the shoulders of his five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Even with the Panthers' unexpected dominance in the trenches, McCaffrey managed just 3.0 yards per carry against last year's No. 2 DVOA run defense. Damien Harris may have a much more difficult test for fantasy. His four targets in two games have him on pace to eclipse his 2020 season total of seven targets in another two weeks. But even that accelerated pace nets Harris a modest 6.0% target share, just 51st at his position. He will likely need to score a touchdown to justify a start in fantasy, and the Saints cut rushing touchdown rate by 34%, third-most in football.

Worst DraftKings Values: Tony Pollard ($1,600 overpriced at $6,700), Aaron Jones ($1,500 overpriced at $7,800), Saquon Barkley ($1,300 overpriced at $6,500

Worst FanDuel Values: Derrick Henry ($1,600 overpriced at $9,700), Ezekiel Elliott ($800 overpriced at $7,800), Zack Moss ($300 overpriced at $5,400)

There's a theme to the overvalued Week 3 running backs: don't overreact to outlier performances. Tony Pollard had 140 combined rushing and receiving yards against the Chargers, but their bottom-10 DVOA run defense seems likely to have motivated the Cowboys in their run-heavy game plan. Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott could struggle to match their Week 2 carry totals and rushing efficiency against an Eagles defense that, even with key injuries, was on the other side of the run defense ledger last year.

Aaron Jones and Derrick Henry are tremendous talents and will likely have more three-touchdown games in their futures. But I don't see how those outbursts justify their $1,000 and $1,700 salary markups from last week in DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively. And I certainly don't expect another two Zack Moss touchdowns this week. The possible rain in Buffalo could shift some work from Josh Allen's arm to the run, but Moss returned from his maybe-healthy Week 1 scratch to play just 28% of offensive snaps in Week 2. His split with Devin Singletary is not nearly as even as it was in 2020, and I want to see that revert before I consider Moss in fantasy.

Wide Receivers

Best Week 3 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Metcalf SEA 0 MIN Rk 13 10 10 4  
Pts   +1.1 0.0 +2.0 +3.1
T.Lockett SEA 0 MIN Rk 6 3 3 1  
Pts   +1.5 0.0 +1.2 +2.7
C.Kupp LAR 1 TB Rk 3 1 1 2  
Pts   +1.5 0.0 0.0 +1.5
D.Smith PHI 0 DAL Rk 33 24 24 22  
Pts   +0.9 0.0 +0.5 +1.4
M.Brown BAL 0 DET Rk 30 21 21 21  
Pts   +1.0 0.0 +0.4 +1.4

I'm all about the Seahawks receivers this week. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are the rare teammates that can boast top-15 true talent at the same position, and they may be the only pair that can jump into the top five together. Granted, the Vikings matchup does them a lot of favors. Even on the road, domes boost No. 1 and slot receiver yards by 4% and 8% per target and touchdowns by 15% and 12% per target. And while the Vikings made an effort to overhaul their secondary with additions such as first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney and free agent Patrick Peterson, those haven't worked out. The team released Gladney in August after a felony indictment. And Peterson just allowed his former Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to torch him for 98 yards and two touchdowns on four targets. The Vikings are a top-two booster of No. 1 receiver yards (32%) and touchdowns per target (166%) and of slot receiver yards (23%) and touchdowns per target (71%). Stack Russell Wilson and his primary pass-catchers if you can figure out how to make their salaries fit within the cap.

If you need some less expensive ideas at the position, DeVonta Smith and Marquise Brown project to enjoy 11- and nine-spot boosts from their 33rd and 30th true talent rankings to 22nd and 21st at the position this week. Smith and Brown are not exactly surprises as their teams' No. 1 receivers, but their 26.3% and 29.1% target shares are unexpected. Those are both top-20 at the position and should offer the receivers plenty of opportunities to benefit from their Cowboys and Lions matchups. Those defenses spread the wealth of fantasy points among different receiver positions, so Smith and Brown may not enjoy the multi-point boosts that Metcalf and Lockett may. But they should have similar gains from their trips to domes.

Best DraftKings Values: K.J. Osborn ($1,300 underpriced at $3,500), Cooper Kupp ($1,100 underpriced at $6,800), Tyler Lockett ($700 underpriced at $7,400)

Best FanDuel Values: DeVonta Smith ($900 underpriced at $5,700), Cole Beasley ($900 underpriced at $5,400), K.J. Osborn ($700 underpriced at $5,100)

Meet your 19th best PPR wide receiver, K.J. Osborn! I can't claim that extreme success will continue with Osborn playing behind fantasy stars Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen in Minnesota, and slipping from an 81% snap share in Week 1 to a 59% share in Week 2. But with Kyle Rudolph in New York and Irv Smith out for the season, the Vikings no longer have the personnel that enabled their perennial top-five reliance on 12 personnel. Unless a teammate such as Dede Westbrook or rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette can pass him, Osborn should continue to see the field and a moderate target volume that more than justifies his paltry $3,500 and $5,100 DFS price tags.

The Bucs defense isn't just a good run defense. They finished 2020 No. 5 against the pass and project to cut yards per target by 8% for No. 1, 4% for No. 2, and 9% for slot receivers. Nevertheless, I'm optimistic for another strong Cooper Kupp week. He has plus matchup factors in playing at home in the dome in Los Angeles. And the extremeness of the strong Bucs defense entices their opponents to shift workload from the run to the pass. They are the No. 1 increaser of pass plays (5%), and they project as a small booster of slot receiver touchdown rate (6%) when they cut scoring chances for every other receiver position. I think the Rams may rely on Kupp as a substitute for rushing this week. As such, he remains a top-three receiver and looks like a steal at just $6,800 in DraftKings.

Worst Week 3 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Adams GB 0 SF Rk 2 4 4 5  
Pts   -0.7 0.0 -0.7 -1.4
T.McLaurin WAS 0 BUF Rk 4 8 8 10  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -0.5 -1.1
C.Davis NYJ 0 DEN Rk 38 40 40 44  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 -0.5 -0.9
M.Williams LAC 0 KC Rk 28 35 35 37  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -0.3 -0.9
T.Boyd CIN 0 PIT Rk 21 23 23 28  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 -0.3 -0.8

Davante Adams and Terry McLaurin have 26.7% and 27.7% target shares through two weeks that are top-20 at the position. And they easily could end the season at first and second. You can't ever bench them in traditional formats, but they suffer small docks to their projected fantasy totals in Week 3 playing on the road—and in the latter case in elements—in San Francisco and Buffalo.

Among the receivers you might actually bench, Corey Davis saw two fewer targets (and 81 fewer yards) in Week 2 than he did in Week 1. I'm no longer positive he's the Jets' top fantasy receiver with rookie Elijah Moore matching his 17.4% season-so-far target rate and with a slot receiver besting them both (Braxton Berrios, 26.1%). Save yourself the consternation and just bench Davis this week on the road in Denver. The Broncos cut touchdowns per target by 29% and 15% for No. 1 and No. 2 receivers.

With nine targets in Week 2, Tyler Boyd showed he remains a major part of a Bengals offense with super-talented outside receivers Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase. But I wouldn't follow the Kupp script with Boyd in Week 3 against the Steelers. They cut slot receiver yards and touchdowns by 8% and 15% per target. And Burrow may struggle to throw the ball at all in Pittsburgh. The Bengals have a 14.0% adjusted sack rate through two weeks that is the worst in football. And the Steelers led all defenses with a 9.2% adjusted sack rate in 2020.

Worst DraftKings Values: Mike Williams ($1,100 overpriced at $6,400), Robby Anderson ($1,000 overpriced at $5,700), Deebo Samuel ($1,000 overpriced at $6,700)

Worst FanDuel Values: Brandin Cooks ($900 overpriced at $7,300), Davante Adams ($900 overpriced at $8,200), Robby Anderson ($400 overpriced at $6,100)

Robby Anderson showed off his deep-ball chemistry with former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in Week 1. But that 57-yard touchdown was his only catch on three targets, and for the season, Anderson ranks just 70th at his position with a 12.7% target share. I expect game script has something to do with that low rate, but I can't say I expect anything different tonight with the Panthers likely to build a lead over the Texans with rookie quarterback Davis Mills. And to that point, I don't see Brandin Cooks continuing his streak of 18-plus PPR points from his first two games with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. The Panthers are a dramatically worse matchup that, when coupled with the quarterback downgrade, earns Cooks a modest projection of 4.9 catches, 66 yards, and 0.4 touchdowns. That just doesn't justify a $7,300 FanDuel salary.

Among the Sunday slate, Mike Williams and Davante Adams fall short of their respective DraftKings and FanDuel expectations with their projected matchup losses against the Chiefs and 49ers. Adams could excel in any situation, so I wouldn't completely rule him out. But despite my broader optimism for Williams that has him in the top 30 in my true talent receiving rankings, the Chiefs demote him to 37th at the position this week with their tendency to cut receiving touchdowns by 28% and 17% for No. 1 and No. 2 receivers. Look for the Chargers to try to keep the game close with a run-focused game plan that does little for Williams' fantasy prospects this week.

Tight Ends

Best Week 3 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
D.Waller LV 1 MIA Rk 2 2 2 2  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +0.1 +0.6
M.Andrews BAL 0 DET Rk 10 11 11 7  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 +0.8 +0.6
C.Kmet CHI 0 CLE Rk 20 20 20 20  
Pts   +0.1 +0.1 +0.3 +0.5
J.Cook LAC 0 KC Rk 16 15 16 16  
Pts   +0.2 -0.1 +0.2 +0.3
K.Pitts ATL 0 NYG Rk 7 7 7 7  
Pts   +0.2 +0.1 0.0 +0.3

Mark Andrews has had a slow start to his fantasy season with just eight catches and 77 yards in two games. But he joins the list of Ravens passing game players that should thrive on the road in Detroit. In addition to their problems against running backs and wide receivers, the Lions project to increase tight end yards and touchdowns by 39% and 88% per target. Their defense may even be porous enough to try a rarely used Ravens passing game stack, although Lamar Jackson seems likely to buoy that effort with a lot of production as a rusher.

Kyle Pitts has not had the start to his fantasy season that most standout tight end prospects have. He has just nine catches and 104 yards in two games and has yet to score a touchdown. But like with Mike Davis, Pitts could see his fantasy fortunes improve with better matchups beginning this week. Even with their tendency to fall behind in games, the Giants spur their opponents to increase their pass plays by 1% per game. And they are a small booster of tight end catch rate (5%) and yards per target (1%). Trust Pitts to eventually match his top-seven 17.3% target share in fantasy points.

Best DraftKings Values: Adam Trautman ($900 underpriced at $2,900), Tyler Higbee ($900 underpriced at $4,000), T.J. Hockenson ($900 underpriced at $5,200)

Best FanDuel Values: Adam Trautman ($500 underpriced at $4,400), Robert Tonyan ($500 underpriced at $5,300), T.J. Hockenson ($400 underpriced at $6,300)

I wouldn't say any of Adam Trautman, Tyler Higbee, or T.J. Hockenson has a plus opponent matchup against the Patriots, Bucs, or Ravens this weekend. But they all have usage patterns that support better fantasy success than they have shown or than their reputations would suggest. Trautman is tied with Marquez Callaway and Juwan Johnson for his team's lead in wide receiver and tight end targets. But that total of six is super low because Jameis Winston has managed just 42 total pass attempts in two games with wacky game scripts. That should stabilize and offer Trautman more opportunities to catch passes. Tyler Higbee, meanwhile, has played 100% of Rams snaps in each of the first two weeks. The Bucs may cut tight end touchdowns by 11% per target, but Higbee's volume-enabled top-10 true talent ranking carries his projection this week. And his $4,000 DraftKings salary ranks just 13th at his position.

Hockenson doesn't quite fit in that narrative since he has 163 yards and two touchdowns in two games. But for whatever reason, both DFS platforms are sleeping on Hockenson as the top-three tight end value his workload suggests. Hockenson trails just Darren Waller (28.3%) and Travis Kelce (23.4%) with a 20.4% target share this season. Expect a lot of top-three tight end rankings for the third-year player.

Worst Week 3 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Opp Lbl TT Ven Wea Opp Tot
R.Gronkowski TB 0 LAR Rk 4 4 4 4  
Pts   -0.3 0.0 -0.5 -0.8
H.Henry NE 1 NO Rk 14 14 14 14  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.3 -0.4
G.Kittle SF 1 GB Rk 5 5 5 5  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.1 -0.3
M.Gesicki MIA 0 LV Rk 28 31 31 33  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.2 -0.3
D.Knox BUF 1 WAS Rk 22 22 22 25  
Pts   -0.1 0.0 -0.1 -0.2

Hockenson looks even better this week relative to his main two competitors for the No. 3 tight end ranking, Rob Gronkowski and George Kittle. Because while poor matchups do not knock them out of their fourth- and fifth-place true talent rankings, they do cost them a projected 0.8 and 0.3 PPR points this week. Don't bench them, obviously, but maybe avoid them in DFS.

Jonnu Smith has out-targeted his new Patriots tight end teammate Hunter Henry 10 to seven in two games, but I'm not positive Smith is the better true talent value. Henry played a lot more than Smith did with 81% versus 49% snap shares in Week 2. But however you slice the team's tight end workloads, Henry will likely suffer in Week 3 at home against the Saints. They cut tight end catch rate by 14%, yards per target by 83%, and touchdowns per target by 11%. Those first two rates are the third- and second-most in football.

Worst DraftKings Values: George Kittle ($800 overpriced at $6,200), Rob Gronkowski ($100 overpriced at $5,500), Mike Gesicki ($100 overpriced at $3,800)

Worst FanDuel Values: Mike Gesicki ($600 overpriced at $5,600), Kyle Pitts ($400 overpriced at $6,200), Noah Fant ($300 overpriced at $6,100)

As bullish as I am on Kyle Pitts to improve his fantasy fortunes in future weeks, I can't recommend him at $6,200 on FanDuel. That's more than Mark Andrews and George Kittle cost and reflects the preseason optimism for the No. 4 draft pick that I never believed was realistic. That said, I'd still rather use Pitts than Mike Gesicki in FanDuel, and Gesicki looks overpriced by both DFS platforms this week. He did rebound from an alarming 39% snap share in Week 1 to a 64% one in Week 2. But remember that Higbee has played every snap for a better passing team in the Rams, and yet the two players are almost the same price in both DFS platforms. I'm generally down on Gesicki with his role this season, and things look worse to me this week with a backup quarterback in Jacoby Brissett starting, Will Fuller returning to add another featured target in the passing game, and with a Raiders opponent that cuts tight end yards and touchdowns by 14% and 39%, respectively. Those are both the fifth-highest in football and render Gesicki a clear bench for Week 3.


4 comments, Last at 24 Sep 2021, 12:27pm

2 Re: Lockett and Metcalf

Lockett and Metcalf see different venue, weather, and opponent adjustments for a couple of reasons.  First, I project them with different slot percentages (62% vs. 41%), and I maintain and apply different context adjustments for projected slot and non-slot targets.  Second, since Lockett and Metcalf start with different true talent projections for target rates, yards per target, etc., even applying the same multipliers would result in different total gains or losses.  Does that make sense?

3 A few matchup-related questions

1. Are we sure the WFT is an adverse matchup for QBs? I just watched Danny Dimes throw all over them, with receivers running relatively free. This might be a case where, if the front 4 isn't getting to the QB, the secondary isn't strong enough to maintain coverage (the Bears have this problem too). For fantasy, I'm a bit more concerned with Allen's own play than the matchup this week.

2. Kittle gets a matchup downgrade, when GB has given up significant production to TEs in two weeks, Kittle's history versus the team features a few sparkling lines, and SF figures to throw more this week to keep pace with Rodgers? Or is this more of a case where he's not getting targeted at the same rate we're accustomed to?   

4 Re: questions

1.  These are all projections that combine preseason expectations with what has happened so far this season.  I think some of the adjustment directions will definitely prove to be incorrect when we're deeper into the season.  That said, I tend to believe more in the preseason expectations than the results from two weeks for most things, so I'm not ready personally to change my opinion of the Washington matchup.

2.  The matchup adjustments all come off of a true talent expectation, so having Kittle projected for more or fewer targets independent of matchup does not influence his appearance on the tables.  And while you are correct that GB is a fairly neutral opponent for projected TE yards (11%) and TDs per target (4%), they also cut opposing team pass plays by 3%, 2nd most in football.  So Kittle has a down matchup related to play selection, not because GB is particularly equipped to defend TEs vs. WRs.