This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
This guide focuses strictly on the main slate of Sunday afternoon games, with recommendations meant to be used for large-field, GPP tournaments. Player prices will only be mentioned for the two largest DFS sites, though much of what's discussed can be applied throughout the industry.
Point-Per-Dollar Value Plays
Variance and low ownership are desirable in large DFS tournaments, but we still need a few building-block players that are strong bets to outperform their price tags even if they don't have the highest ceilings and/or are likely to be popular plays. The Week 3 main slate doesn't have a ton of players that stand out in this regard, so we'll want to keep a close eye on injury situations with potential to create value for teammates (this is covered at the bottom of the page). It's also an interesting week in terms of pricing discrepancy between sites, so there are only a few players I view as top point-per-dollar values on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (vs. NO), ($6,400 DK; $7,300 FD)
This isn't the same great value we got with Coleman last week, but it's still a favorable price for a talented starting RB with an implied team total of 28.25 points. He outperformed his salary without the help of a touchdown last week against Carolina, piling up 125 scrimmage yards on 16 carries and four receptions. Even with Ito Smith also getting some playing time, we can reasonably expect Coleman to push for 20 touches again, hopefully adding his second score of the season.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs. LAC), ($4,900 DK; $6,300 FD)
Kupp isn't an obvious value in terms of target volume compared to price, but we need to consider the value of his average target. He was tied for third in the NFL with 23 red-zone looks last season and has already drawn six through the first two weeks of 2018. Kupp has also been excellent in terms of efficiency, catching 73 of 110 career targets (66 percent) for 984 yards (8.9 YPT). He's a massive exception to the usual rule of outside receivers being more valuable than slot guys on a per-target basis. The Rams really only throw the ball to four players, and it's clear Kupp is the go-to guy near the end zone.
Correlation plays are the centerpiece of any DFS tournament lineup, and this is usually where I start to focus on ceiling and ownership in addition to point-per-dollar projections. Not to say we can't also find value, but it's often worth a small sacrifice in that department to avoid the stacks that will crop up in a multitude of lineups. The ideal scenario allows us to match our QB with one of his primary targets as well as a pass catcher from the other team, hoping to capitalize on a tight, high-scoring affair in which both sides stay aggressive deep into the fourth quarter. With that mind, here are the games I'm focusing on for Sunday:
Chargers at Rams
The games in Kansas City and Atlanta will rightfully get a lot of attention, but we can't forget how the Rams offer shootout potential whenever they face an opponent with enough firepower to keep things interesting. Sean McVay has shown a clear preference for the passing game and a fast pace of play in tight contests — a reality that's partially been obscured by his team's tendency to spend the second half killing clock. There's no way I'm taking the plunge on Philip Rivers against this Rams defense, but I do like Keenan Allen ($7,300 DK; $8,000 FD) in a stack with Kupp and Jared Goff ($5,900 DK; $7,600 FD). The Chargers would be wise to pepper Allen with targets in the slot, considering their alternatives are running Melvin Gordon into Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh or throwing passes outside at Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Allen has the team's relative advantage against slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, though NRC is a fine player in his own right. Robert Woods is a nice addition to this stack at $5,100 on DK, while it makes more sense on FanDuel to go with Brandin Cooks ($7,800) or even Todd Gurley ($9,300).
Saints at Falcons
Featuring an implied total of Falcons 28.25-Saints 25.25, there's an obvious incentive to load up on players from this game. The obvious drawback is pricing, especially with a Saints team that's struggling to get production from anyone besides Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. My favorite idea so far is a DraftKings stack with Matt Ryan ($5,700), Julio Jones ($7,900) and Austin Hooper ($2,900), perhaps tossing in Michael Thomas ($8,900) if injuries open up enough value at running back. On FanDuel I'm more inclined to go with Drew Brees ($8,500), Thomas ($9,000) and Watson ($4,900), with Mohamed Sanu ($5,300) a solid option to balance things out.
Bengals at Panthers
This one doesn't seem like a natural fit for a game stack, but it makes a lot of sense for DraftKings lineups once we account for the favorable price tags on Cam Newton ($6,000), Christian McCaffrey ($7,800) and Tyler Boyd ($3,700). It's the type of stack that doesn't require a high-scoring game to give us an excellent return on our dollar.
While not nearly as important as quarterback-receiver combos, RB-Defense mini-stacks present another opportunity to take advantage of positive correlations in tournament lineups. We're generally looking for teams that are comfortably favored to win, preferably with a starting running back who dominates goal-line and clock-killing work.
Ezekiel Elliott ($7,700 DK; $8,200 FD) + Cowboys D/ST ($2,200 DK; $3,400 FD)
The low price on the Dallas defense helps us balance out Elliott's cost while seeking to take advantage of a Seahawks team in disarray. Stuck behind a lousy offensive line without much help at the skill positions, Russell Wilson has taken an NFL-high 12 sacks through two weeks. The Dallas defense ranks second in the league with nine sacks and has given up just 6.3 yards per pass attempt and 3.7 per carry. Those impressive numbers are largely driven by matchups, but this doesn't seem like the week when we'll start to see a correction. Meanwhile, Elliott has quietly produced 4.6 YPC while handling a 93 percent snap share, turning in two solid but unspectacular performances. A huge game is right around the corner, and his every-down role means it might even happen in a Dallas loss.
Lamar Miller ($5,000 DK; $6,700 FD) + Texans D/ST ($2,800 DK; $4,400 FD)
This one is primarily meant for DraftKings, where both Miller and the Houston defense are underpriced for a few hundred dollars. We're hoping to take advantage of a weak New York Giants team that's been dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball so far this season.Miller is off to a nice start this season with 166 yards on 34 carries (4.9), but he hasn't been getting any attention due to a lack of receptions (three) and touchdowns (zero). This matchup offers clear potential for a 100-yard game and his first score of the season.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. CIN), ($7,800 DK; $7,900 FD)
McCaffrey occupies this space for a second straight week after putting up a 14-102-0 receiving line and 8-37-0 rushing line while handling a 94 percent snap share in a 31-24 loss to the Falcons. He should have more balance between carries and targets this time around, and the matchup isn't as good as last week's. No matter, this is a situation we can take advantage of until McCaffrey's price tag accurately reflects his status as an every-down back with impressive per-touch production. He and Cam Newton are essentially the entire show in Carolina.
Fading The Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often the motivating factor, as many DFSers subconsciously overestimate the predictive value of last week's results. Our Week 3 theme is modest-volume, high-efficiency superstars whose price tags have risen considerably since the end of last season.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. ATL), ($9,500 DK; $8,700 FD)
Kamara lands in a price range typically reserved for every-down backs with snap shares above 90 percent; i.e. Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson (circa 2016) and Le'Veon Bell (2016-17). While obviously capable of playing in all situations, Kamara simply doesn't get the same usage as the aforementioned players, averaging 18 touches on a 79 percent snap share through two weeks. Sure, his touches are still more valuable than those from any other running back (besides maybe Gurley), but we've already seen a downturn from his unsustainable rookie-year mark of 6.1 yards per carry. Kamara was held to 3.1 YPC in two playoff games last season and is now sitting at 3.6 through the first two weeks of this campaign. He may be a 4.5 YPC guy in the long run, as opposed to the 5.0+ some have been expecting. That still makes him a bonafide superstar, but it doesn't justify ownership above 10-to-12 percent at this price tag.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs. SF), ($8,500 DK; $8,200 FD)
Hill draws a favorable matchup against a shaky secondary in a game with a ridiculous over/under of 55 points and an implied team total of 30.75. If there were ever a situation where we'd pay these prices for seven targets per game, this would be the one. My argument is that such a situation doesn't exist, especially not with a player on a team heavily favored to win. Hill should do well with the opportunities he's given, but we may only be looking at six or seven targets, whereas other players in his price range are at least 50-50 to reach double digits. I'll let someone else chase the points while I chase the volume.
The Bargain Bin
QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. OAK), ($5,300 DK; $6,600 FD)
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (vs. DEN), ($4,600 DK; $4,900 FD)
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (at CAR), ($3,700 DK; $4,700 FD)
TE Ben Watson, NO (at ATL), ($3,100 DK; $4,900 FD)
Pricing Discrepancies Between FD and DK
The big difference for me this week is at running back, where Lamar Miller ($5,000 DK; $6,700 FD) and Kareem Hunt ($6,000 DK; $7,900 FD) are elite options on DraftKings but merely serviceable on FanDuel. Hunt is priced as RB15 on DK and RB7 on FD, while Miller is 25th and 15th, respectively. This is partially a product of both players having limited involvement in the passing game the past two weeks — not a huge concern given that both have a track record of useful receiving production.
Miller and Hunt are two of my lineup staples on DK, whereas FD's pricing points toward Giovani Bernard ($5,900 DK; $6,400 FD) and either Dalvin Cook or Latavius Murray (a situation we will discuss below in the 'injury situations' section).
The intersite gaps are less obvious at other positions, but there are three notable wide receivers I'm only considering on DraftKings: Julio Jones ($7,900 DK; 8,700 FD), Robert Woods ($5,100; $6,700 FD) and Jamison Crowder ($4,200; $5,700). We also get better quarterback value on DK with Matt Ryan ($5,700 DK; $7,700 FD) and Cam Newton ($6,000 DK; $8,300 FD), while the FD pricing favors Jimmy Garoppolo ($6,500 DK; $7,400 FD).
Injury Situations to Monitor
With Darren Sproles (hamstring) unlikely to play and Jay Ajayi (back) looking no better than questionable, Corey Clement ($4,300 DK; $5,800 FD) has a good chance to emerge as one of the top point-per-dollar plays of the week. Doug Pederson's preference for using multiple running backs means minimum-priced Wendell Smallwood would also be in line for some touches, but there's little question Clement would serve as the lead back in a game where the Eagles are favored by seven points and carry an implied total of 27. Despite shutting down Adrian Peterson last week, the Colts are unlikely to be any better than average at stopping the run this season, as they don't have much in the way of proven talent or upside at defensive tackle.
Cook ($7,100 DK; $6,500 FD) would've been a top value on FanDuel for a second straight week if not for the hamstring injury threatening his availability. Given that they're 16.5-point favorites in a home game against Buffalo, the Vikings would be wise to limit their lead back's workload even if he's able to suit up. Latavius Murray ($5,800 DK; $5,200 FD) will be an excellent option if Cook doesn't end up playing, with some appeal on FanDuel even in the event Cook is active.
Priced at $5,800 on FD and $5,500 on DK, Goodwin (quad) will be a strong play with modest ownership if he's cleared to rejoin the lineup after missing last week's 30-27 win over the Lions. We all know the Chiefs are a dream matchup for wide receivers and tight ends, fielding an offense that forces opponents to throw and a secondary without the talent to stop them from doing so successfully.
Indianapolis Pass Catchers
Jack Doyle ($3,500 DK; $5,200 FD) and T.Y. Hilton ($6,700 DK; $7,500 FD) were both on my radar at the beginning of the week, as the Colts don't have much else on offense and likely will need to chuck the ball around against an Eagles team favored by a full touchdown. Should Doyle's hip injury ultimately result in an absence, fellow tight end Eric Ebron ($3,400 DK; $5,500) would make for a solid play at a weak position. It's much tougher to get excited about the impact of a Hilton absence, given that Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers are both low-upside possession receivers. I'll still have interest in both Doyle and Hilton if they end up playing, with concerns about the impact of the injuries partially mitigated by the certainty of reduced ownership.
No hurricanes and no other major concerns this week, though the forecast does call for light rain in Baltimore and Washington. As of Friday morning, it doesn't look like anything that should be an issue for the passing attacks in Broncos-Ravens or Packers-Redskins. We'll still want to check the weather Saturday night and Sunday morning to make sure nothing else crops up before the games kick off.