Thankfully Week 3 of the NFL saw far fewer injuries than the previous one, but with stars like Julio Jones and Davante Adams sitting out, it allowed players such as Allen Lazard and Brandon Aiyuk to shine for their teams in Week 3 action.
We have also seen a few rookies already performing above expectations at this early stage in their first seasons. CeeDee Lamb has had at least 5 catches in each game to start the year, the big bodied Tee Higgins brought down 2 touchdowns from Joe Burrow against the Eagles, and Justin Jefferson, who didn't exceed 3 catches or 44 yards in either of his first two games, exploded against Tennessee for 175 yards receiving on 7 receptions with a touchdown.
Although there are still plenty of injuries around the league that are of concern to fantasy managers, some of the unexpected performances in Week 3 should give you hope that your season is not over even if your first round draft pick's is. Let's start off with a player who scored the second most fantasy points at the wide receiver position this past week.
(Rostered % from Yahoo! Fantasy Football on 9/28/2020)
The Vikings' first round draft pick in the 2020, Justin Jefferson, entered the pro ranks as the presumptive replacement for Stefon Diggs who was traded to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason. The rookie was not able to impress in training camp and started off the year behind Olabisi Johnson on the depth chart. It didn't take long for Jefferson to have his aforementioned breakout performance, and his 7/175/1 line should be enough to establish him as the second receiving option across from Adam Thielen for the remainder of the season.
Justin Jefferson: 93.8 PFF grade in Week 3. Third-highest single-game grade by a rookie WR since 2006. https://t.co/1EvY3xsG5v— PFF (@PFF)1601312522.0
While he is only showing a 30% ownership rate currently, he will be one of the hottest waiver wire pickups going into Week 4, so if you need help at WR put your claim in now and cross your fingers. Kirk Cousins has already thrown 6 interceptions and had a horrid Week 2 against the Colts, but if Jefferson can become a reliable option, he finished as the QB15 in 2019 and QB13 in 2018 with the duo of Thielen and Diggs at his disposal. If you need a backup QB and Cousins is available, Jefferson may give him the boost he needs to get his season back on track.
The rookie out of Arizona State missed the first game of the year and was eased back into action in Week 2 against the Jets. The 49ers have so many injuries on both sides of the ball, but offensively they were without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, their top two options at running back in Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, and star tight end George Kittle this past game against the Giants. Aiyuk provided the shot in the arm that San Francisco needed as they demolished New York on their way to a 36-9 route on Sunday.
Brandon Aiyuk goes untouched for the 19-yard TD run! #FTTB 📺: #SFvsNYG on FOX 📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app:… https://t.co/WoevkEKnan— NFL (@NFL)1601233725.0
The first round selection contributed 70 yards on 5 receptions to pair with 31 yards on the ground including a touchdown. The versatility that a player like Aiyuk brings to an offense as creative as Kyle Shanahan's should already be causing nightmares for defensive coordinators across the league. Once San Francisco starts to get some players returning from injury, Aiyuk may take on a bigger role in this offense being used as a Swiss army knife. Shanahan may look for mismatches he can create against opponents and get the ball into his speedy receiver's hands in a variety of ways.
Gaskin played in seven games for Miami in 2019 and was efficient in his limited usage, but after the Dolphins acquired Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in the offseason, nobody would have expected it would be Gaskin who would be leading their backfield. Howard and Breida will eat into goal line carries for Gaskin, but if the trend of seeing Gaskin take the majority of their offensive snaps, he must be owned in all formats at this point.
Myles Gaskin: - 11 touches - 52 yards Jordan Howard - 1 carry - 1 yard - 1 TD Gaskin managers: https://t.co/LP6wVDfAEJ— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF Fantasy Football)1600995195.0
He's proven to be an effective pass catcher, and his 22 carries on Thursday night confirms that coach Brian Flores sees him as their best all around back. With so many running backs banged up right now, adding Gaskin to help patch up the holes in your lineup is a no brainer.
There's a lot to like about the 6'5" second year pro. He seems to be establishing a rapport with Aaron Rodgers, he's scored a touchdown in two out of three games in 2020, and his main competition for starting snaps is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, whose reception count has gone down in consecutive weeks, finishing with only 1 catch on Sunday night. While I do think that Lazard has done enough to earn a starting role with the Packers, I want to temper your expectations for the rest of the season first.
Note to self: Add Allen Lazard in fantasy.— Ian Rapoport (@Ian Rapoport)1601258773.0
Once Davante Adams returns from his hamstring injury, he should see his normal target share again which just leaves table scraps for the rest of the pass catchers in the offense. Also, Aaron Jones is still going to remain a focal point of Matt LaFleur's offensive game plans moving forward eating up 20-25 touches per game. But if you need a WR to plug into your flex, or are looking for depth at the position if you're worried about existing or potential injuries, you could do much worse than Lazard.
Andy Isabella WR Arizona Cardinals (1% rostered) - For the second week in a row Isabella has been notable in fantasy. He had a 54 yard reception in Week 2 and finished with 2 touchdowns in Week 3. He will never be a target magnet in this offense, but if coach Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray continue to find him in space, Isabella appears to be earning the trust of his team.
Rex Burkhead RB New England Patriots (11% rostered) - With James White still away from the team on bereavement leave following the death of his father, Burkhead has been asked to step into his role. Rex produced against the Raiders and finished with a classic James White stat line to honor his teammate. He finished with 7 receptions, 98 total yards, and 3 total touchdowns. It's unknown when or if White will return this season. If you have stock in White, you may want to pick up Burkhead as a precaution.
Carlos Hyde RB Seattle Seahawks (18% rostered) - Hyde has been fine this year as the primary backup to Chris Carson. We saw Carson go down late in the game against the Cowboys, and it's believed to be a mild knee sprain. The oft injured Carson's situation will be closely monitored, and if he were to miss significant time Hyde would be thrust into starter touches.Tee Higgins WR Cincinnati Bengals (5% rostered) - Higgins had his best game so far as a pro this past week compiling 40 yards on 5 receptions including 2 TDs. Tyler Boyd has again been the Bengals' best receiving option, but as A.J. Green has continued to struggle to shake off over a year's worth of rust, it may be opening the door for Higgins to establish himself as Joe Burrow's second option over the pro bowl veteran.
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It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.