This article is a data-driven deep dive on strategic decision-making and roster construction for DFS cash games and tournaments. It relies heavily upon FantasyLabs’ extensive suite of analytical DFS tools, as well as advanced metrics and film study. First, I walk through narrowing down the player pool at each position. Then, I lay out how to choose the highest-floor lineup combinations for cash games. Finally, I go game-by-game to present the biggest edges (stacks, pivots, leverage opportunities, etc.) in each.
Week 3 shmoney time!
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- Russell Wilson, Seahawks ($7,300 DK, $8,700 FD) vs. DAL
I know a lot of people would rather save some money and roll with Kyler Murray, but I have to go with Russell Wilson here. Wilson is posting unsustainable passing numbers (9.7 yards per attempt, 9/1 TD/INT ratio), while Murray is doing the same on the ground (79.5 yards, 1.5 TDs per game), but it comes down to Murray’s passing efficiency for me: He averaged 6.9 yards per attempt last season and is down to 6.6 this year, and he has thrown only 22 passing TDs in 18 career games.
Running Back (Cash)
- Devin Singletary, Bills ($4,900 DK, $5,900 FD) vs. LAR
- Miles Sanders, Eagles ($6,400 DK, $7,400 FD) vs. CIN
- Jonathan Taylor, Colts ($7,000 DK, $6,700 FD) vs. NYJ
- Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys ($8,300 DK, $9,000 FD) at SEA
With Zack Moss (toe) ruled out, Devin Singletary becomes a top-three RB value. Singletary will be backed up by Taiwan Jones, who almost exclusively plays on special teams, and TJ Yeldon, who the team doesn’t even bother to activate when Moss is healthy. So, we could see Singletary return to the 18.9-touch per game workload he saw from Week 9 and on last season.
Miles Sanders returned to action last week and saw 20 carries and seven targets while playing 80% of the snaps. He’s a top-four RB value this week against the Bengals, who have allowed a league-leading 179.0 rushing yards per game to opposing backfields.
Jonathan Taylor is averaging 17.5 carries and 4.0 targets per game. In his first game without Marlon Mack (Achilles), Taylor saw his snap rate jump from 42% to 73%, and his touches shot up from 17 to 28. He should continue to roll in what sets up as an ideal game-script situation with the Colts as big favorites at home.
Ezekiel Elliott is approaching Christian McCaffrey-level snap rates, playing 91% and 94% in the first two games. He’s the top projected non-QB on the slate in our NFL Player Models and should see a lot of scoring chances with the total for Seahawks-Cowboys sitting north of 56 (view live odds here).
Wide Receiver (Cash)
- Diontae Johnson, Steelers ($5,300 DK, $6,300 FD) vs. HOU
- CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($5,600 DK, $5,500 FD) vs. SEA
- Amari Cooper, Cowboys ($6,500 DK, $7,000 FD) vs. SEA
- DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals ($7,900 DK, $8,500 FD) vs. DET
In KJ Hamler‘s first game as a pro, he led all Broncos wide receivers in routes run and drew seven targets, catching three for 48 yards. He’s still available at min-price, but I would be surprised if he’s not $1,000-$2,000 higher by the end of the season.
Diontae Johnson has drawn double-digit targets in both games this season. He’s quickly emerging as an Antonio Brown-like target hog, even if he’s not making as many big plays.
CeeDee Lamb needed all of two games to post his first 100-yard receiving effort. He’s averaging 82.5 yards per game and caught five or more passes in both games. He should continue to be a high-floor play against a Seattle defense that has allowed the most air yards (650) and passing yards in the league (847) and just placed slot corner Marquise Blair (knee) on IR.
Amari Cooper costs a bit more, but he’s a top-five overall WR play this week against Seattle. Cooper is averaging 11.5 targets, 8.0 catches, and 90.5 yards through two games, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see those numbers go up by the time this game is all said and done.
Another reason I like going with Wilson over Murray is that Wilson spreads the ball around more evenly between Tyler Lockett than D.K. Metcalf, while Murray’s top two targets are essentially DeAndre Hopkins and DeAndre Hopkins. With no Davante Adams (hamstring, doubtful) or Michael Thomas (ankle, out) on the slate, Hopkins is in a tier of his own at WR.
Tight End (Cash)
- Jordan Reed, 49ers ($4,000 DK, $5,300 FD) at NYG
- Dallas Goedert, Eagles ($4,900 DK, $5,200 FD) vs. CIN
Jordan Reed threw it back to 2015 in his first start with the 49ers last week, catching 7-of-8 targets for 50 yards and two scores. He’s got the top Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings this week and is No. 2 on FanDuel. How ironic is it that Reed is flourishing as one of the healthy members of his team?
The Eagles’ perpetual injury woes at wide receiver continued this week with rookie Jalen Reagor (thumb) placed on IR, which should lock Dallas Goedert into a full-time role. Goedert (17/12/131/1) leads the Eagles in all receiving categories and ran a route on 84% of dropbacks last week — massive for a No. 2 tight (Zach Ertz ran a route on 91% of dropbacks).
Defense/Special Teams (Cash)
- New York Giants ($2,800 DK, $3,800 FD) vs. SF
Nick Mullens has been picked off on 10-of-285 career pass attempts; his 3.9% interception rate is nearly double the league average this year (2.0%). The Giants rank seventh in defensive DVOA and haven’t been the abject disaster we all expected.
Roster Build (Cash)
On DraftKings, you can fit Wilson, Taylor, Sanders, Singletary, Hopkins, and Cooper if you punt with Hamler at WR3, Reed at TE, and Giants D/ST.
On FanDuel, you can fit Wilson, Elliott, Taylor, Singletary, Hopkins, Johnson, Lamb, Goedert, and Bucs D/ST, as the site continues to offer more forgiving pricing than its primary competitor.
Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Chargers (GPP)
This is a great game to target for leverage, as it will draw a suboptimal amount of ownership on Mike Davis but otherwise go largely overlooked. Speaking of overlooked, we are now two games into Robby Anderson‘s Panthers career, and he’s 2-for-2 on six-catch, 100-yard games. I incorrectly assessed Anderson’s value entering the season, thinking he would often be ignored by Teddy Bridgewater, who throws underneath at one of the highest rates in the league. While Anderson has seen his average depth of target dip from 15.8 to 10.9, he’s is now a more complete receiver who can line up anywhere in the formation. At 2-4% projected ownership, he is a top-three Leverage Play at WR on DraftKings. DJ Moore is the better play on FanDuel, where he ranks in the top six in Leverage.
The Chargers are even more intriguing: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Chargers D/ST are each popping near the top of their position’s Leverage Score ranks, while rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 311 yards (9.4) in his first NFL start and is expected to be under 5% owned. There’s also this: Carolina’s defense has generated three quarterback pressures all season, seven fewer than any other team in the league.
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (GPP)
Allen Robinson is projected to be owned under 10% despite a matchup with a Falcons defense allowing the fifth-most schedule-adjusted yards per game to WR1s (97.5), according to Football Outsiders.
The Bears defense is a step up in competition from Atlanta’s first two opponents (Seattle, Dallas), but the Falcons have attempted at least 39 passes in 11-of-18 games since Dirk Koetter began his second stint as offensive coordinator. Matt Ryan is the only QB with a top-six ceiling expected to be rostered under 5% of the time, and Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones are both top-four in projected ceiling at WR.
Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles (GPP)
This is a game to fade: Multiple Eagles skill players will be popular in cash games, resulting in not a single player with a positive Leverage Plus/Minus. The Bengals don’t have one either, as their main players are expected to be in the 5-8% range.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (GPP)
Russell Wilson has the top projected ceiling at his position, but it appears that Murray will be the highest-owned QB, so there’s value on Wilson in GPPs. Wilson-Tyler Lockett–D.K. Metcalf has the highest projected ceiling of all QB-WR-WR stacks, and Lockett and Metcalf’s production has been positively correlated (+0.45) over the past 14 games dating back to last season.
Ezekiel Elliott has the highest projected ceiling on the slate, but there are three RBs projected to be higher owned. Elliott is averaging 4.5 catches per game and has already caught a TD from Prescott this season, and the two combined for nearly 70 fantasy points last week. Stacking them is a great way to differentiate from the Prescott-Amari Cooper/CeeDee Lamb/Michael Gallup/Dalton Schultz stacks while still capturing all of the Cowboys’ scoring upside.
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Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (GPP)
Dan Arnold ran a route on 74% of dropbacks last week after Maxx Williams got injured (ankle) and could be a bigger part of the game plan with Christian Kirk (groin) out. Our models have Kyler Murray–DeAndre Hopkins-Arnold as the top QB-WR-TE stack on DraftKings by both raw points and Projected Plus/Minus.
Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers (GPP)
This game doesn’t show much GPP value outside of one huge ownership discrepancy to exploit: Diontae Johnson is expected to be in 2-3x as many lineups as JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills (GPP)
Jared Goff and Tyler Higbee each pop with a top-three Leverage Plus/Minus. Be sure to check back on Higbee’s ownership projection before lock; I was surprised we’re expecting it to be so low after he went off for three TDs last week while the Bills got flamed by Mike Gesicki.
Josh Allen–John Brown or Allen-Cole Beasley is a great way to pivot off Singletary and leverage Allen’s upside while fading the Stefon Diggs-Jalen Ramsey matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots (GPP)
Cam Newton looks to head for high enough ownership to sap much of his value, so I would look to the Patriots D/ST to either stack with Cam or pivot off him in this game. The Raiders are dealing with injuries to their top skill players on offense, as Henry Ruggs III (knee/hamstring) has already been ruled out, while Josh Jacobs (hip) and Darren Waller (knee) are questionable after being limited at practice. The Raiders are in a huge letdown spot traveling across the country to face Bill Belichick off a loss — a spot the Patriots cover 73% of the time, according to our Bet Labs data.
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (GPP)
Chris Hogan could go down as the most disgusting play of the year, but he logged 95% of the snaps last week and posted 6/75/0 on eight targets, and his target competition is dropping like 49ers stars on the MetLife turf, as Breshad Perriman (ankle) is out and Braxton Berrios (hamstring) is questionable. Berrios posted 4/59/1 last week and would also be viable if he suits up, as the 12.5-point spread in this game could lead to a pass-heavy game script.
“We’re down to whoever is available. Whoever’s got a pulse right now [has to be] ready to go.” – A real thing that Jets head coach Adam Gase actually said this week
Hogan and Berrios are both expected to be under 1% owned.
This is a spot where you want to get off Jonathan Taylor at high ownership, with the exception of stacking him with Colts D/ST. The Colts are the top D/ST of the week but are expected to be under-owned because they’re also the most expensive.
San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants (GPP)
The Daniel Jones–Darius Slayton stack is top-five in projected points per dollar among QB-WR stacks on DraftKings. With Saquon Barkley (ACL) done for the year and Sterling Shepard (turf toe) out for at least three weeks, I would expect Slayton — not Evan Engram or Golden Tate — to be the Giants’ most featured player on offense. Slayton led the team last year in receiving yards (740) and TDs (eight) and is doing so again this year (9/135/2).
Even though I bet the Giants in this game, I’m not silly enough to think Daniel Jones can’t fumble or throw it all away, so I will have shares of 49ers D/ST. Despite being the favorite, San Francisco will likely be lower owned than the Giants, and it pops as one of the top Leverage Plus/Minus scores at the position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos (GPP)
After finishing third in receiving yards (1,333) in 2019 and catching 6-of-7 passes for 79 yards in his first game with Tom Brady, Chris Godwin checks all the boxes as an ideal GPP play:
- Flying under the radar upon returning from an injury that won’t hinder his on-field performance
- Projected for low ownership (5-8%) not due to a tough matchup, but a wealth of alternatives (Hopkins, Seahawks WRs, Cowboys WRs)
- Priced down despite no dip in performance (he hasn’t been this cheap on DraftKings since Oct. 13, 2019).
Undrafted rookie Essang Bassey has held up well in the slot for Denver thus far, allowing six catches for 45 yards, but the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has yet to force an incompletion and is liable to get worked by the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Godwin. Brady-Godwin is among the top projected QB-WR stacks on the slate, both overall and among those in which both players are expected to carry single-digit ownership.
Hamler is a play in cash but a fade in tournaments. Jerry Jeudy (ribs) is expected to play but will likely draw next to no ownership thanks to the combination of his questionable tag and backup quarterback Jeff Driskel starting in place of Drew Lock (shoulder).
Driskel averages 5.1 carries for 29.0 yards per game in eight career starts, and he parlayed an 8/51/1 rushing line into a 27-point fantasy game last Nov. 13 as a member of the Lions, so he is an underrated option that can be left unstacked.
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings (GPP)
Despite not having top receiver A.J. Brown (knee), Ryan Tannehill projects for a top-seven ceiling and the top QB Leverage Plus/Minus. The Vikings wouldn’t even be good at cornerback if everyone was healthy, but they’ll have to get by without two starters — Cameron Dantzler (neck) and Mike Hughes (rib) — which explains why the total has been bet up from an opening of 45.5 to 50 at most books.
Without Brown last week against Jacksonville, Tannehill still managed to fire off four TD strikes. He has quietly thrown for multiple scores in 11-of-12 regular-season starts with the Titans. Tannehill, Jonnu Smith, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries are all expected to clock in below with 5% ownership. My top choice is Davis because of Minnesota’s issues on the perimeter.
Dalvin Cook is the only RB/WR/TE in our models projected for both a top-six ceiling and single-digit ownership. After the Vikings played their second straight disastrous game of football last week, I love the contrarian, “Vikings jump out to a lead, Titans have to throw to come back” game stack angle, with Tannehill-Davis/Smith/Humphries on one side brought back with Cook on the other. It’s worth noting that Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen are popping, though the Titans have been more exploitable on the ground (22nd in rushing DVOA) than the pass (10th).
Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns (GPP)
Two weeks in, and it’s the Football Team whose defense sits in first place in defensive DVOA. Baker Mayfield has proven to be a mistake-prone QB, throwing 37 picks across 32 career starts, including one in each game so far this season. This is a great spot for the Washington D/ST.
Washington’s first-place ranking in overall defensive DVOA is strictly due to its pass defense, as it ranks No. 1 versus the pass but No. 21 against the run. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is probably looking at this as another Nick Chubb game after Chubb went off for 133 yards and two TDs on 23 touches last week. He’s projected for single-digit ownership and is a great contrarian pivot option off the more popular RBs in his price range.
Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network who hosts the weekly NFL Betting edition of The Action Network Podcast and is featured each week on The Fantasy Flex edition of the pod, as well. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.
Pictured: Russell Wilson.
Photo Credit: Abbie Parr/Getty Images.