Week 3 FO Staff Picks: Lots of Love for Detroit Lions
NFL Week 3 - Compiled by Vincent Verhei
Sometimes, gambling advice is objective—like in the NFL picks you get with FO+, for instance. But sometimes gambling advice is subjective. We're trying something new this week, with staff picks from the FO writers. We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 3, plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks how the NFC West will look now that Jimmy Garoppolo has replaced Trey Lance in San Francisco.
Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.
Favorite Pick Against the Spread
Cale Clinton: Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs look as dominant as ever and now arguably have their easiest opponent yet. The Colts, on the other hand, are a mess. Matt Ryan looks old, the defense looks inexperienced, and the team as a whole looks undisciplined. The Chiefs currently rank third in offensive passing DVOA, while the Colts rank 29th in defensive passing DVOA. The lone strength of this Colts offense is Jonathan Taylor, and the Chiefs rank sixth in defensive rushing DVOA. This number could get well into the double digits and I would still take Kansas City.
Bryan Knowles: Seattle Seahawks (-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons. This number keeps dropping; it opened at -4 and was available at -1.5 in some places at time of writing, so stall to get the lowest number you can (or just take the moneyline). This feels like a letdown game for the Falcons, coming off of a painful failed comeback against the Rams in the middle of a tough travel portion of their schedule. DAVE still sees the teams as fairly equal, and I think this is the week the Seahawks open their offense and find a way to use DK Metcalf as DK Metcalf and not Rondale Moore. Plus, Seattle has never played a normal game and Atlanta has never played a normal fourth quarter. Should be interesting, to say the least.
Ian O'Connor: Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts. Only one team has a worse DVOA than Indianapolis, and just barely at that. Like Vince Verhei mentioned on our Coach Rankings show this week (coming soon!), if you count the overtime period vs. the Texans, the Colts have been shut out in seven of nine quarters this season. Kansas City, on the other hand, blew out Arizona in Week 1 and won a hard-fought game against the Chargers, a much better opponent than the Colts, in Week 2. I don't expect Kansas City to have much trouble in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jackson Roberts: Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) on Monday night against the New York Giants in New Jersey. I'm happy for the Giants for somehow bamboozling their way to 2-0, but they're still dead-last in DAVE and there's no reason they should be favored in this game. Cooper Rush has proven by now he can handle the reins and Micah Parsons & Co. are going to eat Daniel Jones for a hearty start-of-fall dinner.
Aaron Schatz: Buffalo Bills (-6) at Miami Dolphins. One of these weeks, the Bills are not going to stomp all over their opponent, but I don't want to bet on that until it happens. I know what the Dolphins did to a Ravens secondary that lacked depth at cornerback, but remember that the Bills were historically good against deep passes last year thanks in large part to safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Meanwhile, the Dolphins secondary—a.k.a. The Avoid Xavien Howard Show—will have to face a deep Bills passing game that should have Gabriel Davis back.
Tom Strachan: Las Vegas Raiders (-1.5) at Tennessee Titans. The Titans are in all kinds of trouble with Derrick Henry finally starting to look his age and no pass-catchers stepping up to date. The Raiders will be hurting after gifting the game to the Cardinals in Week 2. I expect Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller to all have big games.
Mike Tanier: Houston Texans (+3) at Chicago Bears AND Green Bay Packers (+2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I jumped on some early lines on Monday as soon as the Mike Evans suspension was announced. The public doesn't have a sense of how bad the Bears offense really is or how semi-capable the Texans are in all three phases. And Packers-Bucs is the Battle of Hall of Fame QBs with No Weapons, but the Packers have at least admitted that they have a problem.
Vincent Verhei: Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts. Counting overtime in Week 1, The Colts have played nine quarters this year. In those nine quarters, they scored 17 points in one quarter and three more in another, and been shut out in the other seven. Ain't no way they're keeping up with Patrick Mahomes and company.
Carl Yedor: Houston Texans (+3) over Chicago Bears. The Texans have a competent defense and a poor offense. The Bears have a poor defense (particularly against the run) and have been refusing to throw the ball. Look for this to be a potential breakout for Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce, because this game should definitely stay close enough that he won't be game-scripted out of the offense. This one seems like it should be a toss-up, so give me the points.
Upset of the Week
Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.
Cale Clinton: New York Jets (+5) versus Cincinnati Bengals. I'm torn between this game and Detroit (+6) at Minnesota, but I'll ride with a motivated Jets team riding the high off a last-second comeback victory. I feel like I'm probably selling the Bengals at their lowest, considering they are coming off matchups against the reigning DPOY and DROY, but that Jets defensive front led by John Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams is certainly enough to give this offensive line headaches. If Cooper Rush can lead his team to victory over Cincinnati, so can Joe Flacco. Maybe Mike White even makes a cameo for old time's sake.
Bryan Knowles: New England Patriots (+3) versus Baltimore Ravens. The real answer is no, I hate all the underdogs this week, but I have to pick something. So I'll hold my nose and take the Pats. We do have a head-to-head comparison thanks to both playing the Dolphins, and New England was the one who came out of the Miami matchup with literally anything complimentary to be said about their defense. I'm excited to see what Belichick has cooked up to slow down Lamar Jackson this time around—especially with the rumors that there may be something up with Jackson's arm.
Ian O'Connor: Detroit Lions (+6) at Minnesota Vikings. Dan Campbell's Lions are tough and have played their way into the top 10 in DVOA. The offense has been exciting, putting up 35-plus in each of the first two games. They have the guns to run with the Vikings on offense and face a defense that's 30th through two weeks. This game is tied for the highest total of the week, as of my writing, and I expect it to meet expectations. This one will come down to the wire, and Detroit has a great shot to pull the upset.
Jackson Roberts: Detroit Lions (+6) at Minnesota Vikings. This feels like a back-and-forth game decided by a field goal either way. Neither team is likely to be able to stop the other's rushing attack, and as big an X-factor as Justin Jefferson is, the Lions might have the answer in Amon-Ra St. Brown. In a week where, as Bryan notes, there are few great upset candidates, this is the best value I see.
Aaron Schatz: Houston Texans (+3) at Chicago Bears. I keep saying this, but the Texans do not suck. They are mediocre, and mediocrity goes 6-10-1 instead of 3-14. Davis Mills should be able to move the ball some on the young Bears secondary, and the Texans pass rush can get to Justin Fields as the Bears are currently last in adjusted sack rate. Yes, even behind Cincinnati!
Tom Strachan: Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) at Los Angeles Chargers. Maybe I'm falling into a trap, but the Chargers have a habit of doing things a certain way, and I have been rather impressed by this Jaguars team so far. Trevor Lawrence looks far more comfortable in Year 2 and I think the AFC South, is theirs for the taking.
Mike Tanier: Detroit Lions (+6) at Minnesota Vikings. Again, I jumped on this before the Monday nighter. Those seven points may be long gone by the time anyone reads this. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Indeed, the line is now down to +6.) But the Dan Campbell Lions are now 11-6 against the spread. How can you resist them plus a touchdown?
Vincent Verhei: Detroit Lions (+6) at Minnesota Vikings. There could be fireworks in this one—the over/under of 52.5 is pretty tempting too—but the Lions scored 35 points against Philadelphia and 36 against Washington. The Vikings will have their hands full keeping up in this one.
Carl Yedor: Detroit Lions (+6) at Minnesota Vikings. There isn't really a clear and obvious upset pick that fits here this week, but the Lions have demonstrated some impressive offensive explosiveness so far this season and are going up against a leaky Vikings defense this week in a dome. You can probably get some good value if you were to bet the moneyline here, even if it may not be particularly likely to hit.
Do You Have a Particular Player You Like to Put Up Really Strong Fantasy Points or Go Over His Betting Props This Week?
Cale Clinton: Davante Adams, WR, LV. The Tennessee Titans have allowed a 74.5% DVOA against WR1s through two games, second-worst in football. The Las Vegas Raiders had a ton of success Week 1 when feeding Adams, who accounted for more than half of their receiving yards. After a down game in Week 2, I think Adams is back to seeing a ludicrous target share.
Bryan Knowles: Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN. At the moment, you can get Kirk Cousins at over/under 2.5 touchdowns against the Lions, and I'd go with the over. The Lions' strong start is far more an offensive thing than a defensive thing, with Detroit ranking 19th in pass defense VOA through two weeks. Philadelphia ran up the score on them; Washington came roaring back in quasi-garbage time in the second half. The Vikings are moving the ball OK, Cousins just decided to throw a zillion interceptions in the red zone on Monday night. It's unlikely he'll be that unlucky again.
Ian O'Connor: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN. It has been a slow start for Mixon, who has failed to reach the end zone through two games after scoring 16 times last season. Nobody expected a repeat of that, but as the top back on a team expected to score a lot, it's disappointing. Week 3 is a great opportunity for Mixon to hit paydirt facing a Jets team who just allowed three touchdowns to Nick Chubb. New York is dead-last in defensive DVOA and 30th in red zone rush defense DVOA. Mixon scores and has a big fantasy day.
Jackson Roberts: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI. Sanders is doing the Miles Sanders thing again this year in which he makes the most of a frustratingly small share of the Eagles' backfield touches. He's sitting at 176 yards in just 30 rushing attempts, good for fourth in yards per attempt among all rushers with at least 20 carries. Given that the Commanders have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs so far this season, I'm willing to roll the dice in hopes of a breakout afternoon in the nation's capital for Sanders.
Aaron Schatz: Detroit Lions running backs. The Vikings were not good against the run last year, and they have been last against the run by DVOA so far this year. Give me all the D'Andre Swift, and some of the Jamaal Williams too.
Tom Strachan: Everyone in Kansas City's passing game. Patrick Mahomes has done all kinds of damage to Gus Bradley teams over the years and in particular JuJu Smith-Schuster looks primed for a bounce-back as he operates from the slot, an area where Christian Kirk torched the Colts to the tune of 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Vincent Verhei: Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, ATL. The wide receiver-turned-running back hasn't done much in the passing game this year—just three catches for 16 yards—but he caught more than 50 passes last year, and he has a real chance to break out against Seattle in Week 3. Seattle gave up 1,105 receiving yards to running backs last season, most of any team since 2010, and now their yardage rate has gone up, from 65.0 yards per game in 2021 to 76.0 in 2022.
Carl Yedor: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET. It feels a little like cheating to highlight a player who just went nuclear in St. Brown, but Minnesota's defense has been struggling mightily through two weeks (30th in defensive DVOA), the game carries a high over/under with Minnesota favored (suggesting Detroit will need to be throwing more), and Jared Goff has been funneling targets in St. Brown's direction so far this year (12 in each game). This game seems like it will be a popular one to target in daily fantasy.
The current odds for winning the NFC West at Caesar's Sportsbook are Rams (+100), 49ers (+150), Cardinals (+550) and Seahawks (+3000). Which is the best value right now, and has the Trey Lance injury changed your thinking?
Cale Clinton: San Francisco still feels like the best bet, if only by the principle that I view them as the best team in the division and they are not currently the odds-on favorite. I'm very close to saying Cardinals, though. Their win over Las Vegas did not inspire confidence in the Cardinals as a whole, but it did tell me that Kyler Murray can single-handedly will this team into a position to win. Maybe DeAndre Hopkins' late arrival is enough to help them beat the usual mid-season collapse.
Bryan Knowles: The 49ers will likely lose games they would have won with Lance because of Jimmy Garoppolo's limitations. But they will also probably win games they would have lost with Lance because of Garoppolo's consistency. That serves to even things out nicely, so I'm still going with the 49ers (+150), even if the odds aren't super-fantastic.
Ian O'Connor: I'd be willing to take a chance on the Cardinals at +550. We have seen what this offense can be, even if we haven't seen it this year. Perhaps Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown get things going before DeAndre Hopkins' return and we see the opposite of the usual late-season troubles. I don't love their prospects, but it's worth a shot.
Jackson Roberts: These are smart odds. I was hoping for value on the 49ers because, despite the bummer that is the Trey Lance injury, this team is better positioned to win now with Jimmy Garoppolo. I suppose I'll stick with them as my answer, but I don't feel like I'm getting much bang for my buck.
Aaron Schatz: According to our playoff odds report, the best value here is the Seahawks at +3000. It sounds ridiculous that they might win the division, but our simulations would put them closer to +800. I know our simulations tend to be overconservative, but even if the real odds for the Seahawks are half of what we think they are, this is still a good value. Toss $10 on it and enjoy a really nice expensive steak dinner if Geno Smith somehow turns into a good quarterback.
Tom Strachan: This is too raw for me. My best ball and dynasty teams are in mourning. I can't face it.
Mike Tanier: There is no value here. The Rams are not worth the risk +100, and Jimmy G. looked like a rusty hinge for most of the Seahawks game. The Cardinals are shmuckbait. Run to the hills.
Vincent Verhei: I like the 49ers as the best value bet, and yes I like them more with Jimmy Garoppolo than I did with Trey Lance. We have seen what the 49ers can do with Garoppolo, and it's very good. If the odds were even, I'd probably take the Rams, but that +150 sweetens San Francisco's pot just a little bit more.
Carl Yedor: Heading into this year, there was a good deal of uncertainty in San Francisco between the quarterback situation and the offensive line turnover. Now, for better or worse, the quarterback uncertainty is gone. I don't think there is much separation between the Rams and 49ers right now, so I'd go with the 49ers here at +150 given the longer odds. I will caveat that with looking to lock in a better Rams number in a few weeks should the 49ers move ahead down the road. Stay away from the Cardinals and Seahawks.