Primetime Preview: Week 3

Primetime Preview

Nathan Smith

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This is a weekly article focusing on DFS strategies for the Sunday and Monday night NFL games. Draft Kings scoring and pricing is referenced unless otherwise noted.


Slate Overview

Week 3 features a loaded two game slate that offers many intriguing matchups and storylines

  • Oakland Raiders @ Washington Redskins (Sunday, 8:30 ET on NBC)
  • Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals (Monday, 8:30 ET on ESPN)

#PlugPlayers of the week are featured at the end of the article. Every week, I list the players I feel most confident using in all or most of my lineups. The rest of this article is dedicated to finding other matchups that can yield juicy fantasy situations that we may want to target or take advantage of.

Oakland Raiders @ Washington Redskins

This game is arguably the highlight of not only the late games, but the entire week 3 schedule. With an implied game total of 54 points, we can expect to see fireworks at FedEx Field. Both offenses in this game are capable of lighting up the scoreboard regardless of matchup, and neither defense has done anything to make me think that won’t happen on Sunday night. Weather conditions are expected to be generally good outside of a little humidity and dew, with temperatures starting in the seventies and finishing in the mid to high sixties by the end of the game. When we look at the primetime slate from a DFS perspective, there is often one game that looks more appealing to attack than the other. To me, the Raiders and Redskins stands out as that game. While I do expect Dallas and Arizona to put up a fair amount of points, I am more comfortable loading up on players from the Sunday night game.


Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins are both in play for me. I expect both teams to throw the ball frequently, and have success doing so. I would encourage people to go with their gut on choosing one or the other, but I certainly prefer these QBs over the Monday night duo. Feel free to tweet me closer to game time to see which of these two QBs I like more.

Wide Receiver & Tight End

The Raiders are loaded at receiver, led by Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Week 2 saw an absolutely dominating performance by Crabtree, who torched the Jets for 3 touchdowns. Cooper has yet to leave the runway on the breakout season that many people, including myself predicted. However, he received more goal line targets than usual in week 1, and actually has 5 more targets overall on the year than Crabtree.

While many people will choose to play Crabtree and fade Cooper, I have other plans. I want to jam Cooper into as many lineups as possible due to the advanced matchup based research I have come across. Redskins shut down cornerback Josh Norman is a little different from many elite cornerbacks, as he doesn’t often shadow opposing WR. Norman has lined up at left cornerback on 95% of his snaps so far this season, as the Redskins have not asked him to shadow Alshon Jeffrey or Sammy Watkins. This happens to put Norman in a situation in which he will be covering Michael Crabtree the majority on the majority of his routes. Amari Cooper will almost always be on the other side of the field matched up against right cornerback Breshaud Breeland. Because of this individual matchup, I am very confident in deploying Cooper. Even if Cooper gets off to a hot start, it is difficult to envision Norman switching over to cover him. I expect the Alabama product to give the Washington secondary fits on Sunday night, as I’m locking Cooper in as one of my #PlugPlayers of the week.

We can’t just ignore the rest of the Oakland passing game. I do still like Crabtree, but I personally will only be playing him in lineups where I pair him up with Cooper (and Carr). Tight end Jared Cook has a nice matchup, and looks a good play in this game. Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and Jordan Reed injuries. The Redskins’ tight end appears very likely to miss this game as he now has two injuries that appear to be significantly bothering him. Even if he does suit up, I have no interest in playing him.

Reed’s likely absence will of course open things up elsewhere in the Washington passing game. Slot man Jamison Crowder has an excellent usage increase with Reed out. Hopefully, we can have the added benefit of low ownership with Crowder, as many people may be scared off by his sluggish start to open this season. When you add in the benefit of playing in a full-PPR format, Crowder becomes a pretty safe play, with a chance for high upside. To me, if you’re not playing at least one Redskin WR, you don’t have much of a chance at winning on this slate. Both Crowder and Terrelle Pryor Sr. are in smash spots, meaning they can easily outperform—or smash—the expected value that their current price tags suggest. Pryor also has an outstanding narrative in his favor as well. Many of you will remember the start of his career, when he was actually a quarterback for the Raiders. With new hot shot Derek Carr leading the silver and black into town, there is no way Pryor doesn’t come out with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove in this game. There have also been reports that Kirk Cousins and Pryor have put in a lot of practice hours working on their chemistry, which is a relief to hear after Pryor didn’t exactly light up the box score in weeks 1 and 2. Factoring in the likely loss or limitation of Jordan Reed also means Pryor will be the best red zone threat for the Cousins to target as well. With a usage bump, a friendly price tag, a revenge narrative, and a game with shootout potential, it was impossible for me not to include Terrelle Pryor Sr. as one of this week’s #PlugPlayers. If Vernon Davis starts at tight end, he can be considered, but he is far from safe and could realistically put up anywhere from 0-15 points. On this slate, I prefer Cook or looking towards Jason Witten in the Monday night game. Washington has allowed the most yards in the NFL to opposing tight ends this season, making Cook highly intriguing. Don’t be afraid to play multiple combinations from the Raiders’ offense.

Running Backs

Marshawn Lynch gets put into so many lineups based on name alone. While he isn’t a bad play by any means, I remain skeptical. ‘Beast Mode’ hasn’t even played on 50% of snaps so far this season, a fact that would likely surprise many. Lynch remains in play, but if I have to pay down at RB, in order to fit the high end WR I like, then I am comfortable with that. I actually like Jalen Richard, who is one of the increasingly common Darren Sproles type backs, that excels as a pass catcher almost more so than a rusher. Richard is definitely not a safe bet, but he has game breaking ability and is capable of putting up 15+ points, which would easily pay off his salary and make fantasy owners thankful.

On the other side of the game, Chris Thompson is a very similar player to Jalen Richard. While neither player will likely be looked at as a feature back during any point this year, they both offer immense PPR upside, due to their heavy involvement coming out of the backfield running routes. Thompson is definitely a step ahead of Richard, and is a safer bet. At the same time, Thompson arguably boasts more upside as well, making him a player that I have a good amount of interest in. In DFS of course, we love players with high floors and high ceilings. I always want to try and capitalize on this when I can. While Thompson isn’t always a safe play, I believe he is tonight due to the limited role starter Rob Kelley will likely have. Kelley has been dealing with rib issues, and although he is closer to probable than doubtful, I don’t have much interest in him or expect him to make a big impact. After a lot of talk surrounded Samaje Perine this week, it all seems moot with the recent news that Kelley will probably suit up and start.

Overall, I expect both teams to lean more on the passing game in this primetime tilt. It is important to keep in mind the roles that the tight ends and backs have, as the wide receivers won’t be the only beneficiaries of this shootout. As far as selecting a defense to plug into our lineups, I have no interest in anything from this game. I will be playing either the Cardinals’ or Cowboys’ defense.


Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals


On this primetime slate, my only interests at QB are in the Sunday night game, with Carr and Cousins.

Running Back

It is pretty tough to confidently deploy any Cardinals running back, as a full-blown committee has emerged in the desert. Chris Johnson, Kerwynn Williams, and Andre Ellington are all GPP only shots, as none can be considered safe bets at this current time.

After Ezekiel Elliot experienced his worst career game as pro, this is a prime bounce back spot for the second-year stud running back. Dallas is smart enough to realize they need to run the ball early and often. They were crushed on the road last week and Zeke received single digit carries. The fact that they were destroyed by the Broncos is no coincidence. There will be plenty of invisible cereal eating on Monday night, as number 21 will be fed.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

Arizona Cardinals and tight ends do not usually mix. Not only do the Cards never seem to have an effective tight end, but they are usually elite at slowing down opposing tight ends as well. While they haven’t been quite as good so far this year as last year, there is still reason to believe that Jason Witten’s numbers will regress a bit after such a hot start. Overall, I like Jared Cook the most out of all tight ends on this slate, which is an uncomfortable sentence to even type.

There is certainly a scenario in which Witten could be peppered with targets. If Dallas fails to get star wide-out Dez Bryant out of the lockdown grips of shutdown corner Patrick Peterson, then Dak Prescott will definitely look to find the steady future Hall-of-Famer Witten. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are GPP targets, who have an unstable floor, but could find themselves open against a Cardinals secondary that isn’t that scary outside of Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu.

For the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald is definitely in play. Another future Hall-of-Famer, Fitzgerald could shine under the prime-time lights and have an excellent game. Due to Carson Palmer’s lack of arm strength and Fitzgerald’s shorter route tendency, I can’t lock him into my lineups. However, Fitzgerald is heavily on my radar. With wide receiver John Brown out last week, JJ Nelson stepped up and had a huge game. More of the same could come this week from Nelson, but it is worth noting that the production could just as easily shift to Jaron Brown, who led the team in targets last week, or Fitzgerald. I remain interested in all three Cardinal receivers, and will be playing variations of the Cardinal passing attack in my lineups.

My primary interests in this game are Ezekiel Elliot, Cardinals’ receivers, Jason Witten, and the defenses, as I expect less points to come from this game than from the Sunday night showdown.

Game Note/Narrative:

Cowboys’ linebacker Jaylon Smith makes his return to University of Phoenix Stadium, where he infamously tore his ACL and LCL, while playing in his final collegiate game for Notre Dame.

Week 3 Wrap Up

It is important to blend your own research with what I have added, as there is always more data and information to be crunched and analyzed. Without further adieu, here is the much anticipated and featured section of this article:

#PlugPlayers of the Week:

  • Amari Cooper, 7100
  • Terrell Pryor Sr, 5900
  • Ezekiel Elliot, 8300

Feel free to tweet me before kickoff for a bonus play

So far this season, our #PlugPlayers have hit pretty consistently. Here’s a look at what we’ve rolled out to date for Sunday-Monday Primetime slates:

1 Melvin Gordon (LAC) 22 6600 3.333333333
1 Ezekiel Elliot (DAL) 18.9 8100 2.333333333
1 Adam Thielan (MIN) 27.7 4800 5.770833333
2 Ty Montgomery (GB) 29 5800 5
2 Julio Jones (ATL) 18.8 9200 2.043478261
2 Aaron Rodgers** (GB) 23.52 7400 3.178378378
2 Theo Riddick (DET) 6.7 4500 1.488888889
**See week 2 article for details

Week 3 Wrap Up

We conclude week 3 coverage by reminding you to always trust your research, and most importantly trust your gut. For past strategies and matchup analysis that can be used more moving forward, be sure to check out our Primetime Preview vault:

Primetime Preview: Week 1

Primetime Preview: Week 2

You can follow Nathan on Twitter, @Nathan___Smith

For more content featuring the NFL and more, be sure to stay tuned to The Sports Talk

You can visit our website and be sure to give us a follow on Twitter as well, @_TheSportsTalk


Published by

Nathan Smith

I write about the NFL and more for TheSportsTalk Follow me on Twitter: @Nathan___Smith

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