Most of America missed it, after an hour-plus weather delay in Tampa, but the end of the Bucs game was the worst end-game coaching we will see in 2016. Here was the situation: down 37-32 with 49 seconds left and two timeouts, the Bucs completed a 12 yard dumpoff to Charles Sims. He was tackled in bounds at the Rams 15, making it a first down with about 37 seconds left.
The strategy there is obvious (particularly since Tampa had an hour to prepare for it). Call timeout and you have the ball at the Rams 15 with 35 or so seconds left, 1st and 10, and a timeout still in your pocket.
Yet what does Tampa do? They don't call timeout and come to the line for the next play! Even moving quickly, they didn't snap that ball until 26 seconds were left, and that play was a hurried incompletion, leaving 21 seconds left. So instead of 1st and 10 on the 15 with 35 seconds left, the Bucs had 2nd and 10 on the 15 with 21 seconds left. Unsurprisingly, the Bucs got tackled at the 5 on the last play of the game ... with a timeout still in their pocket.
Congratulations, Tampa, you're the winner of the worst end-game coaching award of 2016.
Week 3 was a fantastic one for me on DraftKings. My cash lineup won, and almost everyone I played smashed value. I don't think I did anything special, either: just played the chalk plays, which is all you're supposed to do in cash. Let's take a closer look, then peek at Week 4.
Week 3 Lineup Construction:
Christine Michael: $5,000, 28.1 points. Once Thomas Rawls was declared inactive, C-Mike was the first guy in my cash lineup. The set-up was perfect: weak opponent, at home, cheap price, in a bounce-back spot for the whole Seattle offense, against a Chip Kelly team that insists on playing at a fast pace (ensuring Seattle would get more snaps on offense than usual). The set-up was reminiscent of how Carolina's key players went off on the Niners in Week 2.
So why was C-Mike only 30% owned? I suspect people set their cash lineups before Sunday morning, then didn't adjust after Rawls was declared inactive. The lesson: don't fall in love with your lineups mid-week, friends. When values emerge on Sunday due to injuries, you have to adjust.
Melvin Gordon: $5,800, 17.8 points. Indy entered Week 3 dead last in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. With Danny Woodhead out for the year and Dester McCluster just getting acclimated to the offense, Gordon at a mid-range price was an easy call.
Antonio Brown: $9,600, 29 points. I profiled Brown last week in this column, explaining how a key to Week 3 was whether we could find enough cheap options to afford Brown in a bounce-back spot after his poor Week 2 showing. After all, there was no way Brown was going to stink two straight weeks. As the week unfolded, values could be found everywhere (see C-Mike), making Brown an easy choice.
Jarvis Landry: $6,600, 29.6 points. Cleveland is terrible on defense, and when Arian Foster was declared inactive, I figured Miami would use a short passing game with Landry as a substitute for the run. Landry's lack of TD upside isn't a great fit for GPP, but in a PPR format in cash, his floor is what we want.
Jared Cook: $2,600, 2.5 points. I didn't like any of the TE options this week- Jordan Reed at $6,500 was too expensive against an improved Giants defense - so this was basically a punt play and a way to exploit the Lions league-worst defense against opposing tight ends. Alas, Cook got hurt and his backup caught the touchdown.
Ryan Tannehill: $6.200, 24.96 points. I thought about Philip Rivers, but he was $500 more expensive, I was already playing Gordon, and Indy's stud corner, Vontae Davis, was coming back. Tannehill seemed like the best bet on the board to return 3x value with a 2-TD game.
Dolphins D/ST: $3,000, 7 points. Seattle was $1,100 more expensive, and I wasn't that confident it was worth the extra cost. Plus, this created a built-in hedge on my Tannehill bet; as I saw it, the only way Tannehill wasn't going to have 20+ points was if the Dolphins got a return TD. Lesson: hedging is a "no" in GPPs, but it's OK in cash, especially if the matchup is good.
With this much of my lineup set, I had a WR and a flex empty and $10,900 to spend. I was close to playing Allen Robinson at $7,500 in a good matchup and a bounce-back spot, but that would have limited me to $3,400 for a flex. There were some cheap WRs available - Tyrell Williams at $4,300, Tyler Lockett at $4,200, and Phillip Dorsett at $4,400 - but $3,400 was too low.
I wanted A-Rob pretty bad and looked at swapping out one of the above players for $900 less, but the only real option was Charles Sims at $4,900 instead of Gordon, and I didn't want to omit Rivers and Gordon in such a good matchup.
So I had to bypass A-Rob, plugged in my favorite of the three cheap flex guys - Tyrell - and that left me $6,600. Two options looked good at that price point - DeMarco Murray, who had 12 receptions through 2 weeks and was sure to benefit from Delanie Walker's inactive, and Doug Baldwin, who had the same great set-up as C-Mike.
Tyrell Williams: $4,300, 12.9 points. Vontae Davis scared me, but I figured he was more likely to shadow Travis Benjamin than Tyrell. Plus, this gave me exposure to Rivers at a much cheaper price.
Doug Baldwin: $6,300, 33 points. In a coin flip over Murray, I played Baldwin, figuring the only way C-Mike wouldn't go crazy was if Baldwin did.
Total: 184.86 points and a nice, four-figure payday.
Lessons from Week 3:
Unlike my AJ Green mistake in Week 2, every one of these plays was a good matchup. That wasn't a coincidence.
Hedging in cash is fine in good matchups. See Tannehill and Dolphins D; Gordon and Tyrell; C-Mike and Baldwin.
Week 4 Thoughts:
These are the players who jump out at me, at present, as we peek ahead to Week 4. As always, these are just preliminary thoughts; I won't set my lineup until Sunday morning, after all injury information is available.
Christine Michael, $6,000: Lots of fantasy owners will chase points from the prior week. Don't be that guy. Even if Thomas Rawls is out again, C-Mike has a tough matchup against a good Jets run defense, and he costs $1,000 more than he did in Week 3. Pass.
Marvin Jones Jr., $7,300: Again, don't chase last week's points, especially when those points caused a huge price increase.
All Jets: Fitzpatrick has nowhere to go but up after a 6-INT stink-bomb, and I like playing guys in bounce-back spots ... but Seattle is not a defense I want to face in cash.
All Bucs: Even at reduced prices (Mike Evans went down $500 despite a huge Week 3), I can't justify starting anyone against Denver, which has now gone 8 straight games giving up fewer than 20 points.
Tyrell Williams, $4,300: Williams is an emerging star, the Chargers passing tree is fairly narrow, and a dreamy matchup awaits against a porous Saints defense which has to head west after a short week. For the life of me, I can't understand why Williams isn't above $5,000. I can just about guarantee Williams will be in my Week 4 cash lineup; he should be in yours, too.
Jordan Reed, $6,300: Reed has yet to score a touchdown in 2016, but that's going to change in a home game with the Browns. Since I'm not going to chase Dennis Pitta's points with his cost increasing, the only other tight ends who make me pause are Coby Fleener, who is all the way down to $3,200 after costing $4,900 in Week 1 (let's see how Fleener looks on Monday night) and Hunter Henry, the week's punt play at $2,700 against the Saints (presuming Antonio Gates is out again).
Ezekiel Elliott, $6,900: The Cowboys aren't in a bounce-back spot like the Panthers and Seahawks were in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively, but they get the same Niners defense that let both of those teams' star players go ham. I prefer my cash running backs at home, but this is a strong play regardless.
Melvin Gordon, $6,300: Gordon's price is creeping up, but a home matchup against the Saints may justify the extra few bucks.
Philip Rivers, $6,900: Under 7K and gets to face the Saints at home? What else do you need? Kirk Cousins is also an option for $400 cheaper at home against the Browns, but my initial instinct is that I'll get exposure to Cousins via Jordan Reed. That said, if I play Gordon and Tyrell, Rivers might be one too many Chargers. Let's see how the week unfolds.
Carlos Hyde, $4,200: Two of Hyde's three games in 2016 are 2-TD games. Even though I don't like playing anyone against the Cowboys (they sometimes dominate the ball and leave opponents with fewer plays than usual), this price is about $1,000 too low.
Jordan Howard, $3,700: Check injury information during the week. If Howard winds up starting, a home matchup with Detroit, at this price, is juicy.
Doug Baldwin, $6,100: The Jets are far better against the run than the pass. I don't love the matchups of the top WRs this week, so if Russell Wilson is healthy, Baldwin is an option for $200 less than he was in Week 3.
Terrell Pryor, $4,300: Cash plays are supposed to be safe, and no Browns offensive player is safe right now. That said, Pryor was used as a jack-of-all trades in Week 3, including at quarterback and wildcat quarterback on the goal line. For now at least, he's the centerpiece of the offense. A road matchup against the Redskins isn't great, but Washington's strength on defense is at corner, and the Browns can scheme Pryor around Josh Norman. This is riskier than we'd like for cash but the price and upside may justify it.
LeVeon Bell, $7,500: The matchup against the Chiefs isn't ideal, but I can't see Pittsburgh laying an egg again, especially at home. Bell strikes me as a guy who will cost over 8K on a weekly basis once he gets rolling.
Trevor Siemian, $5,400: This week's opponent, the Bucs, are good against the run but porous against the pass. If we need the $1,000(+) we'd save by going down from Rivers or Cousins, Siemian is an option, particularly now that he's proven he can throw downfield. Both of Siemian's targets in the passing game are options, too.
Will Fuller, $5,300: I don't love a lot of the receivers this week, so I'll at least think about Fuller in a bounce-back spot for the entire Texans offense, at home against a non-scary Titans defense.
Chargers D/ST, $2,300: This is the second-cheapest defense on the board, but it's certainly not the second-worst play. I'd consider it a mediocre play, as it's not hard to see the Saints struggling on the road, especially if Jason Verrett plays (and presumably, shadows Brandin Cooks). That might be all we need for $2,300.