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Tony’s DFS Fantasy Football Recommendations: Expect a Packers-Lions Shootout in Week 3

WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

Tony has a general rule to not pick players coming off a huge week, and Jordy Nelson certainly had that in Week 2. He’s making an exception though, expecting a shootout between the Packers and Lions in Detroit. Photo: Icon Sportswire

If you survived Week 2 with all the injuries and off-the-field bad press for the NFL, props to you. We saw big names go down to injury including Jamaal Charles and Robert Griffin III, and Adrian Peterson deactivated. Many of these player situations are carrying over into Week 3, so options may be hard to find. However, Week 3 does brings some great fantasy matchups, so let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks

Elite, Expensive: Matthew Stafford, DET (Week 3 vs Green Bay)
In Week 3, Stafford gets one of the most favorable matchups on the board. The Green Bay Packers, so far this season, have given up an average of two passing touchdowns and zero interceptions per game. When one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks in the league gets a shot at one of the worst pass defenses in the league, they are a must start.

Middle of the Road: Tony Romo, DAL (Week 3 @ St. Louis)
Tony Romo has been off to a shaky start, but we kind of expected this after coming off of back surgery. This week he gets a juicy matchup against the St. Louis Rams who have yet to put together a good defensive showing. Dallas has a top five offensive line this season, and with the loss of Chris Long, I see Tony Romo having all the time in the world to perform like he is capable of and prove the recent critics wrong.

Cheap, High Upside: Ryan Tannehill, MIA (Week 3 vs Kansas City)
Before the season began, we expected Miami to come out throwing, however, with the loss of Knowshon Moreno, I think they’re going to have to rely even more on the pass. Kansas City has certainly been a disappointment when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, which is likely to continue this week. The more games Tannehill gets with these wide receivers in their new offensive system, the more consistent, better results we’re going to see.

Running Backs

Elite, Expensive: Giovani Bernard, CIN (Week 3 vs Tennessee)
Bernard is proving he should be considered one of the top dual-threat running backs in the league. He leads the Cincinnati Bengals in rushing and receiving yards. In Week 3, he faces Tennessee, who just allowed another great running back DeMarco Murray to post 173 total yards and 1 touchdown against them. Bernard should continue to dominate.

Middle of the Road: Zac Stacy, STL (Week 3 vs Dallas)
Stacy has started the 2014 season slowly. His job looked to be threatened by backup Benny Cunningham, however, in Week 2, Stacy had the majority of the carries with 19 for 71 yards and 1 touchdown. His slow start may have been due to him getting acclimated to the new quarterback Austin Davis. In Week 3, Stacy looks to continue to build his momentum when he plays at home versus Dallas, who has some holes in their defensive front seven.

Cheap, High Upside: Joique Bell, DET (Week 3 vs. Green Bay)
It sure didn’t take long for Bell to take over as lead rusher for Detroit. He beat out Reggie Bush Week 2 finishing with 10 carries, 36 yards and 6 receptions for 61 yards. In what should be a shootout, Detroit is home against another high octane offense, Green Bay. Detroit is a different team on the road and at home, so expect this to be a close, competitive game. When Detroit has the lead and the ball, they will kill the clock utilizing Bell to try to keep Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson off the field.

Wide Receivers

Elite, Expensive: Jordy Nelson, GB (Week 3 @ Detroit)
Typically, I have issues starting players that come off monster performances. This week I’m make an exception when it comes to Jordy Nelson. We know that Nelson is Rodgers’ favorite target, and against a team that is respectable against the run, we’re going to see Nelson targeted another 10 times this week. Giving Jordy Nelson 10 targets in one game is going to result into another big week.

Middle of the Road: Mike Wallace, MIA (Week 3 vs Kansas City)
As mentioned in a previous article, once Mike Wallace became acclimated with his young quarterback, we knew that the numbers could and should be better than last season. This season we certainly can see the improvement in the connection between Tannehill and Wallace. In Week 3, Wallace gets a secondary that has some question marks, especially in the health department. With Miami looking to throw more, Wallace should certainly be the beneficiary.

Cheap, High Upside: Golden Tate, DET (Week 3 vs Green Bay)
As mentioned earlier, the Detroit Lions get a very favorable matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Golden Tate has had some success against the Packers in the past (FAIL MARY), and I think he continues that success. So far, Tate has been targeted 14 times and has hauled in 11 of those balls for 150 yards, and those were against respectable defenses. I think with this matchup he finally gets into the end zone.

Tight Ends

Elite, Expensive: Rob Gronkowski, NE (Week 3 vs Oakland)
After being injured all offseason and preseason, Gronkowski scored a touchdown in Week 1. His Week 2 was subpar with only 4 catches for 32 yards, but New England jumped out to a huge lead, so they decided to run the ball. In Week 3, the home opener for the Patriots, the fans want to see their main-man featured, so expect Tom Brady to target him often with a probable touchdown, maybe two, against a weak Oakland defense.

Middle of the Road: Greg Olsen, CAR (Week 3 vs Pittsburgh)
Olsen remains Cam Newton’s favorite weapon, as evident by Cam’s first game of 2014 in Week 2 targeting Olsen the most of any Panthers receiver. Pittsburgh just allowed two touchdowns to a tight end in Week 2, so Olsen has the opportunity for big yards and a touchdown in Week 3.

Cheap, high upside: Niles Paul, WAS (Week 3 @ Philadelphia)
With Jordan Reed hurt, Paul has stepped up in an offense, run by Jay Gruden, that allows tight ends to flourish. Paul’s breakout game in Week 2 landed him with team-leading 8 receptions, 99 yards and 1 touchdown and that was with backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. In Week 3, Washington plays at division rival Philadelphia in what will be a very competitive game. Expect Cousins to target Paul a lot to keep up with the Eagles.

Defenses

Cincinnati (Week 3 vs Tennessee)
Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the league. They just held Week 1 leading quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons to only 10 points. Week 3 bring Tennessee into Cincinnati in what should be another good game for the Bengals defense.

Carolina (Week 3 vs Pittsburgh)
Carolina closed 2013 with one of the best defenses and has shown they have maintained their excellence in 2014. Carolina just held the Detroit Lions, lead by Matthew Stafford and the league’s best wide receiver Calvin Johnson, to 7 points (including under 100 yards receiving for Johnson). In Week 3, Carolina will continue to push and pressure in primetime’s Sunday Night Football at home against Pittsburgh.

Moving Up, Moving Down: Week 3 – Injuries A Plenty

Indianapolis Colts Running Back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) in action during a Monday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, IN. September 15, 2014; Photographer: MSA/Icon Sportswire

Technically still the backup to Trent Richardson, Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw is doing a lot more with less, and surpasses T-Rich in fantasy value right now. Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Philip Rivers, Chargers
When you throw for 284 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against the league’s top secondary, you get the Moving Up treatment. Better yet for Rivers owners, the team’s rushing attack is a question mark with Ryan Mathews expected to miss multiple games, plus the Chargers face a soft schedule over the next several weeks.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins
RGIII is out and Cousins is in, maybe for longer than most expect. He was superlative off the bench this week, abusing the Jaguars secondary by completing 22 of his 33 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately, DeSean Jackson may also be out for some time with a sprained shoulder.

MOVING DOWN

Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Moving Down two weeks in a row. RGIII was here last week in recognition that the team’s effort to curtail his running was negatively impacting his fantasy production. A dislocated ankle injury suffered in Week 2 gets him here again this week, and this injury appears serious resulting in an extended absence.

Tony Romo, Cowboys
Let’s see. Lots of downfield passing, 37 attempts and a loss in Week 1. Ball control and short passes in a Week 2 win over the Titans. What’s in store for Week 3?

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, Saints
With Mark Ingram expected to miss a month with an injured hand, Robinson figures to take over as the team’s running back on early downs with Thomas also seeing more carries out of the backfield in addition to his receiving role. With the byes approaching, both players are worth adding as fill-ins.

Darren Sproles, Saints
The preseason read on Sproles was that he would see far fewer touches in Philly than he had in New Orleans and that he had lost a step in 2013. So much for that. Sproles had 15 touch and a score in Week 1 and followed that up with 11 touches and a score in Week 2 while producing 263 total yards of offense. Simply put, if Sproles gets 12-13 touches a week, you can be pretty sure one of those touches will result in a long gain or a touchdown making him a viable low end RB2.

Jeremy Hill, Bengals
The Bengals said they were going to get Hill more involved in Week 2 after he carried the ball just four times in the season opener, and they delivered. He carried the ball 15 times for 74 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals ran roughshod over the Falcons. Better yet for Hill owners, the Bengals are playing stout defense and leading wide receiver A.J. Green is out until at least Week 5, with an increased emphasis on the running game likely.

Donald Brown, Chargers
With Ryan Mathews out and Danny Woodhead ill-suited to handle the lead role, Brown is looking at between 12-15 touches per game. If he is the player we saw last season, he can help you. If he is the player he was during his first four years in the league, he can’t help you. Yes, that’s a lukewarm endorsement.

Bobby Rainey, Bucs
With Doug Martin out, Rainey got the start against the Rams and didn’t disappoint, carrying the ball 22 times for 144 yards and catching three passes for another 30 yards. The truth is that Rainey hasn’t proven he can produce on a consistent basis but given his performance this week, he has carved out a larger role in the Bucs backfield and reduced the urgency for Tampa Bay to get Martin back in the lineup.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts
Bradshaw is getting the passing down work, the goal line work and spelling Trent Richardson on a regular basis. He might technically be the backup in Indianapolis but he has more fantasy value than T-Rich.

MOVING DOWN

Toby Gerhart, Jaguars
I really hate to be the, “I told you so” guy, but this one is low hanging fruit. Take your pick – Gerhart’s overall lack of skill, an ankle injury or the Jags sad sack offensive line. Some combo of those three issues caused Gerhart to rush for just 42 yards on 18 carries in Week 1 and he followed that up this week with a seven carry, eight yard performance against the Redskins. As I mentioned to a friend in the preseason, you just know that some combination of factors will transpire to cause Gerhart to underperform his optimistic preseason fantasy ADP. And sure enough, he is headed down that path.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Quite possibly out for the year with an MCL sprain. So much for Mathews proving his ability to stay healthy in 2013 by appearing in all 16 games. At best, he misses a bunch of games and comes back as part of a timeshare for the balance of the season. Remember that Mathews is in a contract year with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown under contract for next season.

Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins
Out for 6-8 weeks. While Moreno was a standout last season and in Week 1, this is a reminder that he is also a player that has failed to remain healthy on a consistent basis throughout much of his career.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Josh Gordon, Browns
When last year’s top fantasy wide receiver has his suspension reduced from 16 games to 10, he tops the Moving Up list. Gordon should be owned in all leagues, bar none.

Harry Douglas, Falcons
The Falcons play Thursday, Roddy White might miss the game with a hamstring injury and Douglas has 15 targets in two games. It’s easy to forget that Douglas topped 1,000 receiving yards last season while White and Julio Jones each missed time.

Brian Quick, Rams
While Quick doesn’t possess much upside given the sorry state of the Rams offense, he is their clear cut leading wide receiver with 18 targets in two games which is 13 more than the next most targeted Rams receiver. And he’s been efficient, catching 14 of those targets for 173 yards. The ceiling isn’t really high but Quick has an outside chance to top 1,000 receiving yards with 5-6 touchdowns.

Julian Edelman, Patriots
More sold on him now than at any point in his career. His 15 targets in two games leads the Patriots wide receiver with Kenbrell Thompkins next with 10 and he was inactive in Week 2. Edelman rates as an upper tier WR3 the rest of the way.

James Jones, Raiders
Rod Streater is expected to miss time, the Raiders stink and their rushing attack is non-existent so we can expect plenty of passing. And Jones is their only remotely reliable wide receiver. He had a pretty good game in the stats department Sunday.

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
Both A.J. Green and Marvin Jones won’t return until Week 5 at the earliest. Sanu is a must start this week although the Bengals Week 4 bye means his uptick in value is likely only for a short period of time.

MOVING DOWN

A.J. Green, Bengals
With a possible case of turf toe and a Week 4 bye, don’t expect to see A.J. in the Bengals lineup until Week 5.

Torrey Smith, Ravens
With just 10 targets in two games compared to 25 for Steve Smith (no, that’s not a typo), Torrey is clearly playing second fiddle in the Ravens passing attack.

Jarrett Boykin, Packers and Brandon Gibson, Dolphins
Not all third wide receivers are created equal. Most fantasy owners were not counting on Gibson entering the season but Boykin had more breakout potential. Unfortunately, both of these veterans appear to have been passed on the depth chart by a pair of 2nd round picks, Davante Adams in Green Bay and Jarvis Landry in Miami.

Riley Cooper, Eagles
Cooper has just 10 targets in two games which is only two more than rookie Jordan Mathews. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where this is headed.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Antonio Gates, Chargers
As it turns out, Gates’ 77 reception, 872 yard, four touchdown season from a year ago wasn’t a fluke. Perhaps it was the touchdown count (his lowest since his rookie season in 2003) that lulled us into thinking he was a spent force at 34 years of age. After catching all seven of his targets this week for 96 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks, the consensus choice as the league’s top secondary, Gates has 13 receptions for 177 yards and three scores in two games.

Delanie Walker, Titans
I wasn’t convinced after Week 1 due to his low target count (just four) but after Walker’s 10 receptions on 14 targets for 142 yards and a touchdown this week against the Cowboys, count me in.

Larry Donnell, Giants
Donnell doesn’t seem to have special talent but with 17 targets in two weeks, he does seem to be a key cog in the Giants game plan. Since he has caught 12 of those targets for 137 yards and a touchdown, Donnell is definitely Moving Up.

Niles Paul, Redskins
Subbing in for an injured Jordan Reed, Paul caught all four of his targets in Week 1 for 86 yards. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the Moving Up treatment due to his low targets. That changed in Week 2 as he was targeted a healthy 11 times, catching eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. With the Redskins stating that Reed was a “long shot” to play in Week 2 and Paul performing well, we expect him to get a healthy majority of targets in Week 3.

MOVING DOWN

Ladarius Green, Chargers
See above – Antonio Gates. Looks like the breakout season is at least a year away.

Tony’s DFS Fantasy Football Recommendations: Week 2

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) eludes the tackle of Oakland Raiders cornerback Phillip Adams (28) during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. December 29, 2013; Photographer: San Jose Mercury News/Zumapress/Icon Sportswire

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas got all the love last week from QB Peyton Manning. Tony says it should be WR Demaryius Thomas’ turn this week, so get him in your DFS lineups. Photo: Icon Sportswire

Last year I started playing daily fantasy sports at FanDuel, and over a 10 week span during the NFL season, I turned $200 into $700. I’m not able to retire on that, but it is a nice bonus in addition to my expected winnings from my traditional fantasy football leagues. Whether you play at FanDuel, DraftKings, or a host of other salary cap style daily fantasy sports websites, here are some recommendations at each position that could help you Week 2.

Quarterback

Elite, Expensive: Peyton Manning, DEN (Week 2 vs Kansas City)
Being the most dominant fantasy football quarterback, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you might want Manning in your lineup. He will be the most expensive player on the board, but you know he will deliver. In Week 2, Manning gets a banged up Kansas City Chiefs defense that made Jake Locker look like a Top 5 fantasy quarterback. Manning should have no problem dissecting a defense that certainly isn’t the same as last year. Considering Denver is currently a -13.5 point favorite at home, this game could get ugly fast.

Middle of the Road: Colin Kaepernick, SF (Week 2 vs Chicago)
In Week 1, Kaepernick had a gift-wrapped match up against the worst defense in the NFL. However, with early turnovers from the Dallas Cowboys, Kaepernick wasn’t required to do as much as he otherwise would. In Week 2, he gets a Chicago Bears defense that looks like a shell of their former selves after the Buffalo Bills gashed them last week. Taking into consideration that it is San Francisco’s home opener, we’re expecting some noise from these loaded offenses.

Cheap, High Upside: Jake Locker, TEN (Week 2 vs Dallas)
If you are looking for a bargain quarterback, you can’t ignore the fact that Locker had a very nice day on the road. It’s not supposed to be an easy task going into Arrowhead Stadium and putting up respectable fantasy numbers. In Week 2, Locker faces the Cowboys. Everyone expects the Dallas offense to bounce back resulting in what could be a high scoring game. Locker has all the weapons to keep up with Dallas. From Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter and Delanie Walker, I expect Locker to have a very respectable home opener.

Running Back

Elite, Expensive: LeSean McCoy, PHI (Week 2 @Indianapolis)
Week 1 was not all bad for McCoy. He finished with 74 yards rushing and 6 receptions for 41 yards receiving. There were no touchdowns though, and that is not what owners who drafted him first overall want to see. Jacksonville has an underrated defense, especially with linebacker Paul Posluszny leading the charge. Expect a big bounce back game for McCoy, with a good chance of getting his first regular season touchdown.

Middle of the Road: Frank Gore, SF (Week 2 vs Chicago)
Gore is coming off an underwhelming game against a banged up Dallas offense. He only ran 16 times for 66 yards. Chicago just gave up a combined 193 yards rushing to the Buffalo Bills run game. It’s obvious the weakness on the Chicago defense is still the run game, so an established veteran like Gore should pound the ball over and over again for success.

Cheap, High Upside: Knowshon Moreno, MIA (Week 2 @ Buffalo)
Buffalo is coming off a Week 1 game where they allowed 82 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving to Matt Forte. Moreno is no Forte, by any means. However, that does show Buffalo’s run defense has some issues. Moreno ran for 134 yards against a supposedly great New England Patriots defense in Week 1. Expect more of the same this week.

Wide Receiver

Elite, Expensive: Demaryius Thomas, DEN (Week 2 vs Kansas City)
After a disappointing Week 1, you have to expect Peyton Manning to favor his number one wide receiver in Week 2. All eyes will be focused on Julius Thomas after his monster Week 1 performance. It is a carousel in Denver, and this week the favorite Bronco will be Demaryius Thomas.

Middle of the Road: Jordy Nelson, GB (Week 2 vs New York Jets)
Like Demaryius Thomas, Nelson had a rather quiet day, but that’s what happens when you play the number one defense, the Seattle Seahawks. This week, Green Bay plays a secondary that allowed Derek Carr to post a 94.7 quarterback rating, including two touchdowns. If Derek Carr can do that, you have to think Aaron Rodgers will be spoon feeding his wide receivers. Also, given it’s the Packers home opener, everyone will want to get in on the Lambeau Leap action early.

Cheap, High Upside: Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Week 2 vs Detroit)
Looking for another bargain player, Benjamin certainly turned some heads in Week 1. He did this with Derek Anderson under center. If Cam Newton returns this week (and he’s expected to), you have to think that he will be eager to get his most dynamic receiver the ball. Carolina also faces a Detroit Lions defense that seems to only show up at home. Being Detroit’s first game on the road, I don’t think they will be as dominant as they were Week 1.

Tight End

Elite, Expensive: Jimmy Graham, NO (Week 2 @ Cleveland)
In his 2014 debut coming off his new contract negotiations, Graham had a solid performance, but disappointed fantasy owners by not getting into the end zone (and not giving us our first goalpost dunk). In what should be a blowout against the Cleveland Browns, expect Graham to get his first touchdown and possibly another in this lopsided Saints victory.

Middle of the Road: Zach Ertz, PHI (Week 2 @ Indianapolis)
Week 1 was the start of a breakout campaign for Ertz. All offseason, experts were talking up Ertz as a sleeper, and he didn’t disappoint with a 3 reception, 77 yard, 1 touchdown performance. Week 2 pits Ertz against the Colts that just allowed over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns to Denver’s tight end Julius Thomas. Don’t expect those numbers from Ertz as Indianapolis will adjust their coverages, but expect a good fantasy game.

Cheap, High Upside: Delanie Walker, TEN (Week 2 vs Dallas)
Walker had a good game Week 1 with 1 touchdown but only 37 yards. Week 2 brings Dallas into town and Dallas just gave up 2 touchdowns to tight end Vernon Davis. Expect another touchdown from Walker as that Dallas defense is struggling to find itself.

Defense

Arizona Cardinals (Week 2 at New York Giants)
After holding Philip Rivers to just 17 points, you have to think one of the most dominant defenses will have a field day with one of the worst offensive lines. Coming into this season, we knew Arizona would be one of the best defenses. I expect the Arizona Defense to feast on Eli “turnover machine” Manning.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 2 vs St. Louis)
If you’re looking for a bargain, look at Tampa Bay to smother a team that’s already down to their third-string quarterback. St. Louis Rams struggled to score Week 1 against a supposedly weak Minnesota Vikings defense. Lovie Smith has been known for calling a good defensive game and I expect him to do so Week 2. Given the situation, I feel very confident in the Buccaneers hitting value and then some.