Week 2 was a rough one for injuries, particularly among top tight ends. There were also a number of injuries to standout defensive players, including Atlanta pass rusher Vic Beasley (hamstring), Eagles safety Rodney McLeod (hamstring), Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (concussion) and Jets lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder). While often overlooked, defensive injuries can shift a matchup to create far more favorable circumstances for certain skill-position players. I expect to shuffle lineups this weekend as information becomes public, but there are nonetheless some top DFS plays that stand out as of Friday morning, regardless of injury situations regarding teammates or opponents.
These are my favorite DraftKings tournament plays for Week 3, picking strictly from the main Sunday slate that starts with the 1 PM ET games and concludes with Raiders-Redskins on SNF. The focus is on value more so than projected ownership, but it’s still a nice bonus if a player doesn’t figure to be a popular choice.
Kirk Cousins, WAS (vs. OAK), $6,100 - Cousins has an excellent opportunity to recover from his slow start to the season in a Sunday night game that carries the week’s highest over/under (55) by a wide margin. He’s always a decent bet to reach the 300-yard bonus, and he accounted for 76 percent of Washington’s offensive touchdowns since the beginning of 2015. With head coach Jay Gruden admitting early in the week that lead back Rob Kelley (ribs) likely will be in significant pain if he’s able to play, Cousins may be asked to carry even more of the offensive burden than usual. I’d feel a bit better about this pick if Jordan Reed (rib/sternum) wasn’t hurting, but that does at least add to the appeal of stacking Cousins with Terrelle Pryor.
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. NYG), $5,900 - Wentz appears to be taking a major Year 2 leap, beyond even what was expected due to the offseason upgrade in supporting cast. He hasn’t done a great job protecting the ball, but he’s more than made up for it with 640 passing yards, 61 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns through two games. While I’d normally avoid players in a game featuring two defenses with this much talent, Wentz’s combination of skill and expected volume overwhelms concerns regarding efficiency against a Giants defense that appears to have taken at least a small step back from last season. Philadelphia’s total lack of a running game makes Wentz a candidate to reach 40 pass attempts in any matchups. He’s actually the team’s leading rusher, with Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood thus far combining for just 104 yards on 33 carries while managing just two gains of more than eight yards.
Other options: Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. CIN), $7,300; Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at CHI), $6,200; Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. ATL), $6,200; Andy Dalton, CIN (at GB), $5,100
Jay Ajayi, MIA (at NYJ), $7,700 - Ajayi played 94 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps last week and rumbled for 122 yards on 28 carries against a respectable Chargers defense. His workhorse role should yield superior fantasy results Sunday, with the Dolphins favored by six points against a Jets team that surrendered 370 rushing yards, four touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry over its first two games. Making matters worse for the Jets, standout defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder) is in danger of missing the game after sitting out practice both Wednesday and Thursday. The only thing that can slow Ajayi down is his knee injury, but Dolphins coach Adam Gase hinted that the running back’s absence from practice has mostly been an exercise in caution. As much as I like Le’Veon Bell this week, Ajayi offers the same ceiling at an $1,100 discount.
Ty Montgomery, GB (vs. CIN), $6,900 - A three-down workhorse to this point in the season, Montgomery essentially seems to be locked in for 15-plus touches regardless of opponent or game script. His price tag ($5,800 last week) may be catching up to the reality of his role, but this still feels a bit too low for a favorable matchup at Lambeau Field. The Packers have an implied total of 27.75 points against a conservative Cincinnati defense that’s designed to encourage short passes to running backs, tight ends and slot receivers. While yet to be tested this season due to their own offensive struggles, the Bengals allowed the second-most targets (8.3 per game) and fifth-most receptions (5.8) to opposing backs last season. With slot receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder) likely to be absent or limited, Montgomery should see a nice mix of carries and targets early in the game, with the potential to really boost his stat line in the second half if the Packers are trying to run clock while preserving a lead.
Other options: Le’Veon Bell, PIT (at CHI), $8,800; Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. SEA), $5,300; Darren Sproles, PHI (vs. NYG), $3,900
A.J. Green, CIN (at GB), $8,200 - Everything lines up perfectly for Green to see massive volume in his first game under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was promoted last week when the team fired Ken Zampese. There’s a decent chance the Bengals eventually will need to abandon the run game while playing from behind, and if they do manage to keep pace with the Packers it’s a safe bet Green will be a big reason why. Be it in the first quarter or garbage time, the 6-foot-4 wideout has a clear advantage against a Green Bay cornerback group that might just be the worst in the league. As if that weren’t enough, the Bengals likely will be playing without Tyler Eifert (back/knee), who has served as Green’s only real competition for red-zone targets the past few seasons.
Terrelle Pryor, WAS (vs. OAK), $5,900 - While disappointing through two weeks, Pryor does at least lead the Redskins with 15 targets, and his 78-percent snap share is easily tops among the team’s wideouts. Carrying a price tag that’s tied for 22nd among wide receivers on Sunday’s slate, the former Raider shapes up as a bargain for a potential shootout against his original team. With Jordan Reed (rib/sternum) likely absent or limited in a matchup that should require 35-plus throws from Kirk Cousins, there’s clear potential for Pryor to get double-digit targets while doing battle with a middling-at-best group of cornerbacks.
Devin Funchess, CAR (vs. NO), $4,200 - Despite making various personnel changes, the New Orleans defense seems to have once again avoided any form of regression to the mean. It’s hard to understand how a defense that’s so bad doesn’t eventually luck into improving at least a little, but the first two weeks of the season make it pretty clear this won’t be the year. Funchess find himself in a nice spot to take advantage, coming off a solid Week 2 performance in which he caught four of six targets for 68 yards while logging 83 percent of offensive snaps (Kelvin Benjamin only played 64 percent). With butter-fingered Ed Dickson replacing Greg Olsen (foot) as the top tight end, Carolina would be wise to adjust by directing more targets toward wide receivers and running backs. Funchess has mostly been a disappointment since going in the second round of the 2015 draft, but he’s at least taken advantage of his 6-foot-5 frame to convert nine of his 60 career receptions (15 percent) into touchdowns. Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore (concussion), who has been one of the few bright spots for the New Orleans defense, figures to primarily match-up with Kelvin Benjamin ($6,700) if he’s able to play.
Other options: Julio Jones, ATL (at DET), $9,300; Jordy Nelson, GB (vs. CIN), $7,800; Mike Evans, TB (at MIN), $7,500; Brandin Cooks, NE (vs. HOU), $7,300; Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. KC), $7,200; Golden Tate, DET (vs. ATL), $6,900; Doug Baldwin, SEA (at TEN), $6,400; Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs. NYG), $5,900; Demaryius Thomas, DEN (at BUF), $5,900; Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (at BUF), $5,800; Martavis Bryant, PIT (at CHI), $5,700; Adam Thielen, MIN (vs. TB), $5,700; Davante Adams, GB (vs. CIN), $5,600; T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. CLE), $5,200; Tyrell Williams, LAC (vs. KC), $4,600; Eric Decker, TEN (vs. SEA), $4,000; Rashard Higgins, CLE (at IND), $4,000; Brandon Coleman, NO (at CAR), $3,900; Brandon LaFell, CIN (at GB), $3,700
Jared Cook, OAK (at WAS), $3,100 - We’ve all been burnt by Jared Cook at some point in his career, be it in a season-long league or DFS lineup. While not exactly beloved in the fantasy community, Cook nonetheless has been impressive through two games with the Raiders, catching nine of 11 targets for 81 yards, even though Derek Carr has attempted only 60 passes. Given that the Redskins’ cornerbacks are the strength of their defense, I expect Cook to see a temporary bump to his current 18-percent target share. He’s the clear No. 3 option in a high-powered offense that has an implied Week 3 point total of 28.5, so while Zach Miller is a safer option in the same price range, Cook has a better shot to find the end zone or break off a long gain.
Other options: Travis Kelce, KC (at SD), $6,000; Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. NYG), $5,000; Jack Doyle, IND (vs. CLE), $3,600; Eric Ebron, DET (vs. ATL), $3,300; Evan Engram, NYG (at PHI), $3,200; Zach Miller, CHI (vs. PIT), $3,000
Titans (vs. SEA), $2,700 - The Eagles were the first option that came to mind, but given my preference for high-priced running backs this week, I’ll need every last dollar I can scrounge up. While nobody will mistake the Tennessee defense for an elite unit, there should be enough talent up front to overwhelm Seattle’s horrendous offensive line. The Seahawks are 2.5-point underdogs with an implied total of only 20, making the Titan defense a clear bargain as the No. 14 priced unit (out of 26) on this week’s main slate.
Other options: Patriots (vs. HOU), $3,800; Packers (vs. CIN), $3,400; Steelers (at CHI), $3,400; Eagles vs. (NYG), $3,000; Panthers (vs. NO), $2,600