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   Daily Fantasy Football: Week 3

March 22, 2017
Al Lackner
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Recap from Week 2

Thank you, Ben Roethlisberger and DeAngelo Williams! Those two conspired to help me win all my contests in Week 2!

If you read my Week 2 edition of DFS, you may recall that my lineup looked like this as of Wednesday:

QB Carson Palmer
QB Colin Kaepernick
RB Matt Forte
RB DeAngelo Williams
WR Antonio Brown
WR DeMaryius Thomas
TE Vernon Davis
D/ST NY Giants
Flex Terrance Williams
Flex Lance Dunbar

I tweaked the lineup a bit before Thursday's deadline as usual.

You can read all my thoughts about why I tinkered on my blog, which I try to update as I make updates.

To make a long story short, right up until Thursday's kickoff I toyed with the idea of swapping Kaep for Peyton Manning, whose price tag was calling out to me. In the final analysis, I decided to stick to one of my usual strategies, which is to avoid skill players on Thursday night games -- especially those who are on the road. That, of course, led me to also back off DeMaryius Thomas. Swapping him out led to a full chain reaction, which concluded with the following lineup:

QB Carson Palmer
QB Ben Roethlisberger
RB Matt Forte
RB DeMarco Murray
WR Brandon Cooks
WR Terrance Williams
TE Vernon Davis
D/ST NY Giants
Flex Sammy Watkins
Flex DeAngelo Williams

As it turns out, I would have been in decent shape with either lineup as DeAngelo Williams (who was in both lineups) was the man in Week 2. While the upgrades that I made at QB and RB paid off, the downgrades at WR more or less balanced things out.

What do we know after 2 weeks?

Well, there were plenty of people who had the Colts and Seahawks representing their respective conferences in the Super Bowl this year. However, after 2 weeks they are both 0-2. In the meantime, fantasy owners of players for both teams have been short-changed.

The schedule for those first 2 games out of the gate were admittedly rough for both teams. The Seahawks faced a tough division foe on the road, followed by the team they barely beat in the NFC Championship games last year (also on the road). Behind a young offensive line, Andrew Luck struggled heavily against two of the toughest and most aggressive defenses in the NFL.

Fortunately for both teams, the schedule gets easier this week.

Heading into the season, we knew that the RB stable was barren for fantasy prospects. It isn't just shallow -- but it is filled with uncertainties. In Week 1, Adrian Peterson watched from the sidelines as opponent Carlos Hyde had a breakout game. in Week 2 Adrian Peterson looked like the AP we all know and love against Detroit, while Hyde was a non-factor against the Steelers. Jeremy Hill took a backseat to Gio Bernard. Understudy Matt Jones made Alfred Morris look old and slow by comparison. Eddy Lacy went down -- and James Starks filled in admirably. LeGarrette Blount was back -- but proved to be a non factor in a game in which the Patriots scored 40 points. The game plan called for Dion Lewis. The list goes on and on...

Bounce-back Weeks

I like for both Seattle and Indy to get back to their anticipated winning ways this week. Seattle, in fact, has their home opener and it is against the Chicago Bears, whose defense is putrid. I expect the coaches to employ an offense this week that even Marshawn Lynch's mama would approve. That's why I have Lynch ranked as my #1 fantasy RB this week. Given that Fantasy Feud has him priced as the #3 RB at $133,200, I see that as good value. I also like Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham, but another philosophy of mine in DFS, is to always try to go with players who fit what the team WANTS to do. The Seahawks WANT to win games by punishing on defense and pounding the ball with BeastMode; they don't WANT Wilson dropping back 40 times to pass. Given how bad the Bears defense is -- and how inept the offense is likely to be with Jimmy Clausen at QB -- I expect the Seahawks to be able to do whatever they WANT this week.

I actually prefer Andrew Luck to Russell Wilson this week. Luck has admittedly struggled -- but I expect him to be the stud QB he is when he takes on the Tennessee Titans this week. I have him ranked as my #1 fantasy QB this week, and he is priced as the #5 fantasy QB at $144,500. That price tag is actually $4,400 cheaper than Wilson's.

While on the subject of QBs, another great value that pops out at me is $135,700 for Cam Newton. That places him 10th at the position, although I personally have him ranked as the #2 fantasy QB this week going up against a wretched New Orleans defense that may have to over-compensate for either being without Drew Brees -- or at the very least having him severely compromised with a bum rotator cuff.

I honestly think I may simply plug Antonio Brown into my lineup every week. Shame on me for pulling him out of my lineup last week! (I was worried about overdoing it with Steelers after I inserted both Big Ben and DeAngelo Williams.) As I have discussed so many times, Brown's floor is higher than any player in the NFL -- he has NEVER disappointed in his 2 years as a starter. He clearly has a great ceiling too - as we just saw once again last week. $157,600 is a lot of money -- but I love the peace of mind that it brings to my lineup this week (and probably every week).

Mid-Range Bargains

I love the way the lineup is shaking out this week. I have invested in 4 studs and in the process managed to collect my #1 and #2 ranked QB, my #1 ranked RB and my #1 ranked WR this week. Those particular players provide plenty of diversity too as none of them play on the same offense -- and (other than Brown) are all reasonably priced. One bargain that jumps out at me is Brandon Marshall at $113,500, which makes him the 13th priced WR. It isn't the comparative ranking that excites me, as I have him ranked as the #12 WR. Rather, I believe we may be overlooking how productive Marshall has been, how often Ryan Fitzpatrick targets him -- and the fact the Eric Decker is out. One place he isn't under-valued: Marshall appears as the #2 fantasy WR this week in our Best Bets feature.

A name that seems to torment me is LeGarrette Blount. Yes, I know he was suspended for week 1 and did next-to-nothing this past Sunday against the Bills. But the Patriots' game plan called for plenty of quick passes (59) and few runs (14) against the Bills' great defensive line. And when they did run the ball, they went with Dion Lewis most of the time. I just have a feeling that the Pats will switch-up their game plan and go with more of a power-running attack against the Jaguars this week. Is it worth the risk for Blount's meager $70,100 price tag? Maybe -- and that is what I am struggling with. I just am not sure it makes sense to invest any of my budget on a player with such a low floor.

So let's look for some safer RB options.

Getting back to Indy, another fantasy performer who has underachieved is Frank Gore. He looked timid against the Bills in Week 1, but he actually looked pretty good against the Jets on Monday night. Had he not fumbled at the goal line, he would have put up almost 13 fantasy points rather than fewer than 5 -- and that was against an elite run-stuffing Jets defense. I can't mention the Titans' defense in the same breath, which is why I love Gore at $90,100 this week.

As we know, the Saints D is also in trouble, which is why I believe James Stewart is a great buy at $94,500.

This week I have both Gore and Stewart ranked as strong RB2 with upside, yet I was able to purchase them at borderline RB2/RB3 prices. So I am doing the QB/RB stack for both the Colts and Panthers. We will see how that works out.

So with my starting QB, RB, WR and one Flex position filled, I must use my remaining cash on Defense, Tight End and one more flex. This is where we dig deep, since my budget is about $130,000 for all three positions.

Dumpster Diving

At TE, if you don't spend the money on Gronk, then you might as well go for low-priced options. You never know when you may hit on a Crockett Gilmore, for example. Take Jared Cook, for example. He is way too inconsistent to ever consider in a seasonal format, but he can occasionally rise to the challenge. He's been Nick Foles' favorite target so far and has caught 5 passes in each of the first two games. At $47,500 he is worth the risk. Note that Cook faces a Pittsburgh defense that has been quite kind to opposing tight ends. If Cook gives me something close to the 8.7 fantasy points that Vernon Davis scored against this Pittsburgh defense last week, I will be quite happy.

As usual, unless I have money to burn, I try not to over-spend on defense. In fact, I am willing to plop down the minimal $40,000 for the cheapest fantasy defense this week. That would be the Atlanta Falcons. They take on the Dallas Cowboys this week who will be without Dez Bryant AND Tony Romo. Brandon Weeden? I call that ridiculously low risk and possibly high reward.

That leaves $43,400, and I note that C.J. Spiller, who had a not-so sensational debut as a Saint last week, is $43,200. Obviously I am down on the Saints this week; however, I do think Spiller could see some additional production, as I expect the Saints to be playing from behind and either a sore Brees or a noodle-armed McCown checking down to him frequently. I am not expecting much, but if he gets 10 touches (4-5 receptions) for about 50 yards, that is 7-8 fantasy points. Not a bad compliment to my remaining lineup.

And that leaves me with $200 left over. Last week I obsessed over whether or not to roll the dice with Peyton. Looks like I will do the same this week with Blount.



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