Week 2 brought plenty of big fantasy performances, and I’m looking for more of the same this week, with quite a few potential shootouts. The NFC South and North seem to be especially ripe with options, while things look a bit slower on the AFC side.
Without further adieu, here are my favorite players for Week 3 on DraftKings:
Drew Brees, NO (vs. MIN), $8,900 – The Minnesota pass defense has yet to face a real test, as they faced the Rams in Week 1 and then fell behind early against the Patriots. They’ll be thrown into the fire Sunday in what should be a high-scoring game. Brees has thrown 3.42 touchdown passes per home game since the beginning of the 2011 season, rightfully earning a reputation as a player that does his best work under the roof at the Superdome. After starting the year with a pair of solid road outings, Brees looks like the top quarterback option (disregarding price) in all formats this week, with Aaron Rodgers ($9,200) offering a challenge.
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. TB), $7,800 – Ryan is off to an interesting start, as he played one of the better games of his career in Week 1 against the Saints, only to fall flat on his face in a tricky Week 2 road game versus the Bengals. Back at home in Week 2, Ryan looks like a bargain as the eighth-most expensive quarterback, especially if Roddy White (hamstring) plays. Even if White can’t go, Ryan should be better protected this week, as starting left tackle Jake Matthews is expected to return from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the Bucs may be without star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and starting defensive end Michael Johnson (ankle).
Other options: Tony Romo, DAL (vs. TB), $6,500; Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. KC), $6,300; Josh McCown, TB (at ATL), $6,000;
Notes: Pretty much every week, there’s a mediocre or below average quarterback that I like because his team is a heavy underdog against an opponent with a shaky defense. This week it’s McCown, or perhaps the Rams’ Shaun Hill (thigh) at $5,000 against the Cowboys, if he plays. Romo is simply underpriced after a slow first two weeks fantasy-wise, while Tannehill doesn’t figure to get much run in what quietly looks like a very favorable matchup.
LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs. WAS), $7,800 – McCoy has been overshadowed by position-mate Darren Sproles, even though Shady has a whopping 51 touches through two games. Still getting the goal-line carries and still active in the passing game, McCoy arguably offers both the highest ceiling and highest floor of all running backs this week. The Washington-Philadelphia matchup has the second-highest over/under (50.5) of the week, and the Redskins defense isn’t nearly as good as it looked against the hapless Jags in Week 2.
Steven Ridley, NE (vs. OAK), $4,700 – Even in the wake of a 25-101-1 Week 2 rushing line, I’m still not a fan of Ridley in season-long leagues, as he’ll likely disappear when the Patriots fall behind or play a close game. However, this doesn’t figure to be one of those contests, with the struggling Raiders traveling across the country to face a New England team with far more talent and better coaching. The Pats will likely be in clock-killing mode by the second half, which should equate to a heavy dose of Ridley. Given the price tag, strong Week 2 performance, and reasonable potential for 20-plus carries against a lousy defense, the former LSU Tiger figures to be a popular option this week.
Other options: Giovani Bernard, CIN (vs. TEN), $7,300; Eddie Lacy, GB (at DET), $5,900; Reggie Bush, DET (vs. GB), $5,000; Chris Ivory, NYJ (vs. CHI), $5,000; Toby Gerhart, JAX (vs. IND), $4,000; Donald Brown, SD (at BUF), $3,500
Notes: With the Bengals’ receiving corps banged up, Bernard should keep piling up receptions. Lacy draws a tough matchup, but not tough enough to scare me away at that price. I like Bush and teammate Joique Bell about the same, and Bush is $400 cheaper. Ivory figures to get most of the carries against a lousy Chicago run defense. Gerhart has a decent matchup, and he comes cheap for a three-down back. Brown will be a popular play while filling in for Ryan Mathews (knee).
Julio Jones, ATL (vs. TB), $7,500 – Jones (ankle) survived last week’s debacle in Cincinnati, posting a 7-88-1 receiving line, despite Matt Ryan’s struggles. With Ryan likely to bounce back in Week 2, and Roddy White (hamstring) hobbled, Jones should see plenty of looks against a banged-up Tampa Bay defense. The superstar wideout is off to a fast start, and he logged full practices both Tuesday and Wednesday, making the ankle injury a non-issue.
Mike Evans, TB (at ATL), $4,200 – While the Tampa Bay passing game hasn’t looked good through two weeks, Evans has at least been a big part of things, with nine receptions on 14 targets. Even if Josh McCown fails to meet expectations, there should be some stats for the taking against a shaky Atlanta defense Thursday night. Evans is too talented for the lack of big plays to continue, and he comes at a reasonable price in a week lacking cheap wide receiver options on DraftKings.
Randall Cobb, GB (at DET), $7,500 – Teammate Jordy Nelson will likely be the more popular choice, coming off a 209-yard performance against the Jets. While I think Nelson makes for a strong play in a game that should be among the week’s highest scoring, I slightly prefer Cobb and the extra $900. Cobb’s would-have-been breakout season was ruined by a fibula injury, but it looks like a delay, rather than a cancellation. Since his 2011 rookie season, the 5-10 wideout has caught 15 touchdown passes in 23 games, showing that lack of height need not keep a player out of the end zone, so long as said player is very talented and gets to play with Aaron Rodgers. With the Packers’ receiving corps lacks its depth of past years, both Nelson and Cobb are in for huge seasons.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI (at NYJ), $6,400 – Though clearly hobbled in Week 2, Jeffery (hamstring) should look quite a bit better eight days later when the Bears face an unproven Jets secondary. Teammate Brandon Marshall may get all the love coming off a three-touchdown outing, but Chicago’s twin towers were co-No. 1 receivers last year, and that figures to once again be the case. Assuming reports on the hamstring continue to be positive, there’s no need to fork over $8,300 for Marshall when you can have his running mate and the extra $1,900.
Other options: Calvin Johnson, DET (vs. GB), $8,900; Jordy Nelson, GB (at DET), $8,400; Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs. PIT), $4,800;Brandon Tate, CIN (vs. TEN), $3,500; Malcom Floyd, SD (at BUF), $3,000
Notes: Johnson and Nelson cost a pretty penny, but both have a good shot at putting together a huge day in a game that has the highest over/under (53) of Week 3. Jeffery’s hamstring should be better this week, and he draws a Jets defense that appears to be far better at defending the run than the pass. Benjamin will face a struggling Steelers defense as a top-two option in the Panthers’ depth-lacking passing game. While not a particularly good wideout, Tate figures to play most of the snaps if A.J. Green (foot) cannot go – I’ll be avoiding him if Green plays, however. Floyd caught no passes on one target last week, but he offers some upside at the minimum price as a starter in a strong passing offense.
Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. PIT), $5,600 – The Carolina passing game has been about what you’d expect through two games, with Olsen (19) and Kelvin Benjamin (16) dominating the targets. The Panthers wisely haven’t thrown too many passes to Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, instead focusing on their more talented weapons. Olsen should see plenty of action against the struggling Pittsburgh defense Sunday, after the Steelers allowed Ravens’ tight end Owen Daniels to find the end zone twice in Week 2. $5,600 may seem like a bit much to fork over, but Olsen is only the seventh-most expensive option at his position.
Other options:Jimmy Graham, NO (vs. MIN), $8,000; Dennis Pitta, BAL (at CLE), $4,400; Jason Witten, DAL (vs. STL), $3,900
Notes: Graham should be in line for another big day, but his price tag is a bit harder to swallow with a lack of attractive discount options at wide receiver. Pitta has 13 receptions on 18 targets through two games, yet his price is down due to a lack of yardage and touchdowns. Witten comes cheap for a second straight week after finishing last season with a 73-851-8 receiving line.
Miami Dolphins, vs. KC, $2,800 – Still lacking playmakers in the passing game, Kansas City’s offense admittedly looked quite a bit better in Week 2 against the Broncos, following a Week 1 disaster versus Tennessee. Still, the Dolphins figure to get the best of this matchup, and it’s preferable to go cheap on the D/ST, if you can find an attractive option. I’m not too fond of the other discount plays this week, but the Dolphins have above-average defensive talent, and they’ll be at home against a middling, run-reliant offense. While I’m not shying away from the Dolphins if Jamaal Charles (ankle) plays, they obviously get a nice boost if the star running back can’t go.
Other options: New England Patriots (vs. OAK), $3,500; Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN), $3,300; Baltimore Ravens (at CLE), $3,000
Notes: The Patriots have Week 3’s priciest defense, but they should live up to the billing against an ugly Oakland offense after picking off Minnesota’s Matt Cassel four times last week. The Bengals just shut down Matt Ryan and figure to give Jake Locker fits in Cincinnati. The Ravens draw a Cleveland offense that’s off to a fast start, but the Browns faced two teams (Pittsburgh and New Orleans) that looked awful in their other games.