NFL DFS Main Slate – Above/Below – Key Plays for Week 3

The 12-game main slate features too many viable combinations to count in a lifetime, even when we eliminate several of the lower-end stacks we are left with possibilities galore at several positions. With NFL DFS picks, tips, tricks, touts, shoutouts, tweets, spreadsheets, slams, and sims coming from every direction all week, the purpose of this article is to feature a few plays for which our projections land above or below what appears to be the industry standard for the week, which will identify plays that are potentially over or undervalued by the public.

NFL DFS Sunday Main Slate Above/Below


Patrick Mahomes – Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs – $8,300/$9,200

To be clear, Patrick Mahomes is a fantastic quarterback who is playable in virtually any matchup on any slate, he has the third-highest raw projection for fantasy points at quarterback on both DraftKings and FanDuel in our model this week, we just happen to land a bit more than a point behind the industry average projection, which can impact the quarterback’s points-per-dollar value by comparison to other top options. While Mahomes will certainly benefit from facing a pass defense that has yielded a 31st-ranked 9.1 yards per pass attempt in their two outings this season, he will have to have a very big game on a day in which his team is projected to run away with the score and may simply be running out the clock in the second half, the Chiefs are favored by 13 at home with a 48.5-point game total. Outside of top tight end Travis Kelce, who ranks first overall for both scoring and value at his position on both sites, Mahomes has a limited set of receivers with which to work. To this point, the Chiefs have spread targets among lackluster options such as Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and others with no wide receiver drawing more than Toney’s 13% target share, although that comes on just a 27% average snap rate over two games. No Chiefs wide receiver has caught more than three passes per game over the first two. With a multi-headed backfield that will be able to chew the clock in the second half, Mahomes may get out to a big early score but not follow through all the way to a maximum ceiling, he is a good but not over-the-top option on whom we will probably land below the field’s exposure.

Joshua Kelley – Running Back, Los Angeles Chargers – $5,400/$6,100

Chargers running back Joshua Kelley appeared as a “below” last week for $5,000/$6,300 against the Titans’ tough run defense, he lands in similar territory this week with a projection several points behind the industry average in our model. Kelley will be the featured back for a pass-heavy attack in the game with by far the highest total on the slate at 54.5 and a very tight 1.0-point spread that indicates a major shootout could be in order. The draw against a Vikings defense that currently ranks 12th with 6.0 yards allowed per rushing attempt in the early season but was projected to rank 32nd overall by defensive DVOA seems like a decent spot for Kelley, but his price has inflated to $5,400 on DraftKings after a weak performance, he cuts a few dollars in salary on the blue site landing at $6,100. In last week’s matchup, Kelley turned 13 carries into just 39 yards with 3.0 yards per attempt and zero touchdowns, he was targeted only once and came up empty in the passing game. The running back had a productive Week 1 with a touchdown on 91 yards and 5.7 yards per attempt but this game leans pass-heavy and we are coming up with Kelley as more of a mixer than a focal point. Kelley ranks 19th by fantasy points and 16th by points per dollar at running back on FanDuel and 20th in both categories at the position on DraftKings. The running back is probably best deployed outside of Chargers stacks where he stands alone as a running back choice with differentiated offenses at the helm and limited other skill players from this game involved.

Gus Edwards – Running Back, Baltimore Ravens – $6,100/$6,600

Baltimore running back Gus Edwards is another name thrust into a primary role this week, with the absence of Justice Hill in the Ravens’ backfield. The team will have Melvin Gordon III and Kenyan Drake also available at the position, but the bulk of the carries are expected to land with Edwards. The straight-line rusher has seen mixed results early in the season, he has turned nine carries per game into 5.2 yards per attempt. Still, he has picked up just 1.1 yards after contact per attempt and he will be facing a solid Colts defense that currently ranks first with just 2.6 yards allowed per rushing attempt this season. With the idea that mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson will be doing damage both through the air and on the ground, things could open up for Edwards on his touches, but he is probably a somewhat limited option in the offense overall. Baltimore is favored by 7.5 with a 44-point total so it is not out of the question that Edwards will see increased work as they look to put the game away late, but he has been generating buzz at the position this week and seems like he will draw popularity that could outpace his opportunity. Edwards ranks 21st by fantasy points at running back on FanDuel and 24th on DraftKings, his 24th-ranked value mark on the former and 27th-best spot on the blue site are no more encouraging.

Mac Jones – Quarterback, New England Patriots – $5,300/$6,800

This one has a downstream impact on most of the offense in this game, with a very limited 36-point total in Vegas and the Patriots favored by 2.5 on the road, we are not seeing a cornucopia of fantasy scoring in Jersey this week. Throw in a tropical storm that is impacting the entire East Coast and we have a bit of a recipe for a run game. Over the Patriots’ first two outings, Jones has posted 273.5 yards per game on a whopping 48 pass attempts per game. The quarterback has completed passes for just 3.4 air yards per attempt but has thrown for 7.9 intended air yards per attempt while cashing in at a 5.7 yards per pass attempt rate. Jones has four touchdown passes early and he has unleashed seven passes in the red zone to help his upside. A significant amount of the production came in Jones’ first game, he threw 54 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles in Week 1, but the follow-up was not as good. In Week 2, Jones posted 231 yards with a single touchdown on 42 pass attempts. The Jets have a stout defense against both the pass and the run, as inept as their offense may be while it lingers in the hands of Zach Wilson, the defense remains a team strength. Over the first two weeks of the season, New York ranks ninth with 3.5 yards allowed per rush attempt and 10th with 5.9 yards allowed per pass attempt. We have Jones projected several points behind his already low industry average, which impacts the entire Patriots passing game. If anything from the Patriots side has appeal in this matchup we tend to lean toward running back Rhamondre Stevenson, but the low point total, conditions, and defensively-oriented game have us looking for options in other places.

Miles Sanders – Running Back, Carolina Panthers – $5,700/$6,700

Carolina featured back Miles Sanders seems likely to gain mid-range popularity at a fair price on both sites this week, particularly with the team turning to Andy Dalton at the quarterback position. Sanders is the focal point of the rushing attack for Carolina, he saw 59% of the snaps and carried the ball 16 times for 57.5 yards per game over the first two weeks but teammate Chuba Hubbard carried the ball 5.5 times per game and drew 36% of the snaps with 3.5 targets per game on top. The situation is further complicated by a matchup against a Seattle defense that has so far been stout against the run. The Seahawks sit third with just 2.9 yards allowed per rushing attempt, they have been far more vulnerable to the pass with a 30th-ranked 8.9 yards allowed per pass attempt over two games. Like it or not, the Panthers may be forced to take to the air to have any chance of keeping up, Sanders could be a bit limited for upside and he lands about 1.75 points behind the industry average in our model for Week 3 while ranking 15th by fantasy points on FanDuel and 14th on DraftKings, with the 13th-rated FanDuel points-per-dollar value mark and aa 10th-best priced-based score across town for just $5,700.

Lingering Lows

  • Jordan Love
  • AJ Dillon (pending the status of Aaron Jones)
  • Javonte Williams
  • Kendrick Bourne
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • James Cook
  • Breece Hall
  • Gardner Minshew II

Key Choice: Wide Receiver 5 – Chargers vs. Vikings

Above: Quentin Johnston – $3,400/$4,800  / Slightly Less Above: K.J. Osborn – $4,000/$5,600

For the purposes of this discussion, we are ranking Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison ahead of both of these players, as the fourth-best wide receiver option in what is expected to be an extremely pass-happy game that has far and away the highest total on the slate at 54.5 with a very tight point spread. With fireworks expected on both sides, we can absolutely count on some of the lesser parts of the depth chart on both sides getting involved, which has already been the case to varying degrees for these receivers. The clear top option in this game is Justin Jefferson, followed by Keenan Allen who is joined by Mike Williams very close behind in the same offense, tight end TJ Hockenson is the true second option in the passing attack for Minnesota, then we get to Addison. Behind all of those options, there is still depth to be plumbed, with both Osborn and Johnston, as well as involved receiver Joshua Palmer on the Los Angeles side. With a slate-leading projection on his quarterback and a point projection well ahead of the industry average, we are leaning into the talent of rookie Quentin Johnston from the Chargers as a low-owned upside dart for a cheap price in the intensely popular contest. Johnston has not had his moment yet over two starts, he drew just three targets and delivered nine yards on two catches in Week 1 and saw two targets last week, hauling in one of them for seven yards, he is yet to score. The big-bodied (6’4″ 215lbs) receiver is more talented than Palmer, but he is getting out-snapped by the veteran 60% to 21% over the first two weeks. On the other side, KJ Osborn ranks closer to the industry curve than Johnston does in our model, but he is also looking like a strong option at lower ownership than many of the pieces in this desirable game. Osborn has seen a 93% snap share but just 13.8% of the targets with six opportunities a game, he has delivered 5.42 yards per target and he has gotten in the end zone with a team-leading three red zone targets. Osborn is a sneaky-good receiving option with touchdown potential who will be under-owned in the day’s most popular contest.


Justin Herbert – Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers – $7,500/$8,400

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert appeared as an “above” option last week at $7,000/$8,200, he looks even better in this week’s projected shootout and lands as QB1 in our scoring model on both sites. Herbert is the second-ranked points-per-dollar value at quarterback on FanDuel and he lands first on DraftKings at a very $7,000 price tag. Over the first two games of the season, Herbert has thrown 37 times per game with 9.1-yard intended air yards per attempt and 7.2 yards per pass attempt. He has three touchdown passes on the season and has been working a high volume in the team’s red zone offense with 15 red zone pass attempts already on the board. Herbert has a massive ceiling in this contest, if we get the expected shootout he is the top option on both sites, with opposing quarterback Kirk Cousins not far behind. Herbert is facing a Vikings defense that ranks 12th with just six yards allowed per pass attempt so far this season, but they are projected to finish 32nd overall by defensive DVOA this season and they have gained just an 18.8% pressure rate early in the year. With several significant weapons in the passing attack also projecting well and the weight of Vegas significantly on this game, Herbert is a make-or-break option for many on this slate, he is sure to be popular but we are projecting him ahead of the industry average, he is gaining the bonus in our DraftKings model and we expect to roster him beyond the field’s projected ownership. While Kirk Cousins is the more affordable of the two quarterbacks, he is drawing far more popularity on the other side of this game, we will likely land somewhat below the field on Cousins while still rostering a large share of the Vikings quarterback. We also recommend a run-back option from the opposing team against a stack from either side in this high-scoring affair.

Dak Prescott – Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys – $6,600/$7,600

The field seems to be missing the boat badly on Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott in this one. Prescott is projected for fairly low ownership around the industry but we have him landing several points ahead of the industry curve by fantasy point projections in what should be a premium matchup against Arizona. The quarterback is helming a team favored by 13 points, there is a chance that they light up the Arizona defense to a degree that the game is out of reach and Prescott can take his foot off the gas in the second half, but the quarterback comes at low popularity and good value pricing, unlike Patrick Mahomes who is also carrying a 13-point advantage in his game. Prescott will be facing a defense that has allowed a 25th-ranked 6.9 yards per pass attempt over the first two weeks of the season, Arizona is barely trying to win football games this year, they are projected to land 28th overall by defensive DVOA and they should be a relative pushover for the elite Cowboys. Prescott has thrown 31 times per game for 199 yards per contest and a pair of touchdowns on the season with just 5.3 intended air yards per attempt and 3.2 completed air yards but 6.4 yards of production per attempt. He has also thrown the ball 15 times in the red zone, which provides strong volume for touchdown potential despite the strong option at the running back position that this offense includes. Tony Pollard should be included as an option in stacks of Cowboys, one just has to watch the exposure to the combination of Pollard and CeeDee Lamb soaking up all of the skill player slots in Prescott lineups. The quarterback ranks fourth by fantasy points on both sites and he sits first by points per dollar value on FanDuel and second on DraftKings at the position.

Derrick Henry – Running Back, Tennessee Titans – $7,400/$8,400

We are somewhat bullish on star running back Derrick Henry going into Week 3 with a projection that sits nearly two points ahead of the industry average. Henry drew a few gasps by “only” carrying the ball 15 times in Week 1, conceding touches to rookie Tyjae Spears in a situation that seems to have already course-corrected. Henry went from 59% of the snaps in Week 1 to 71% the following week with Spears dropping from a 45% share to 37% in Week 2. Henry’s Week 2 volume amounted to a whopping 25 rushing attempts with 80 yards and a touchdown, he has also been involved in the passing attack again in 2023, the bulldozer back saw three targets in week one, posting 56 yards with a 46-yard breakaway play and he caught three of four targets for five yards per reception in Week 2. With Cleveland likely to sling the ball around a bit as the three-point favorites in a game totaled at 38.5 with Tennessee’s pass-funnel defense, Henry will have to carry a fairly significant workload if the Titans are going to stay in this contest. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw the ball just 24 times in Week 2 after 34 pass attempts in Week 1, the low-volume pass attack will face a Cleveland defense that ranks third with 4.3 yards allowed per pass attempt while Henry will bump into a Browns rush defense giving up just 3.2 yards per rush attempt to sit fourth in the league after two weeks. Derrick Henry has been a fantasy monster with massive volume for several years, the running back will slow down and eventually come to a full stop, but not today. He posted 1,538 yards with 13 touchdowns on 349 rush attempts in a somewhat underrated 2022 season, he has major potential on any given slate and he is going to be owned in the low single-digits around the industry. We will be ahead of the field on Henry shares, he stands well on his own and makes for a solid run-back play in stacks against Watson and a Cleveland receiver.

Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys – $5,200/$6,000

Wideout Brandin Cooks saw just four targets, turning two catches into 22 yards in Week 1 against the Giants, eventually playing just 59% of the snaps before missing Week 2 with a knee injury. Cooks has been back at practice and he is expected to be fully engaged for Week 3, giving him significant upside alongside quarterback Dak Prescott. Cooks projects about 1.65 fantasy points ahead of the industry average in our model and he sits at WR27 by FanDuel points and 21st by points-per-dollar on the blue site with a 26th-ranked points rating on DraftKings and a 31st-ranked points-per-dollar mark with a $5,200 price tag. In 13 games in 2022, Cooks hauled in 57 of 93 targets for 699 yards, 12.3 yards per reception, and three touchdowns through the air. He posted more than 1,000 yards in both 2020 and 2021, with six touchdowns each season and a 14.2 yards-per-reception mark in 2020. Over a career that began in 2014, the veteran receiver has cracked 1,000 yards six times, peaking with nine touchdowns in 2015, he is an effective weapon who is not done yet. Michael Gallup and tight end Jake Ferguson are also underappreciated options in this offense, Ferguson in particular has seen seven red zone targets in just two games, hauling in one touchdown and 17.7% of the target shares.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jake Ferguson
  • Keenan Allen
  • Josh Allen
  • Stefon Diggs
  • Christian Kirk
  • DJ Moore
  • Rashid Shaheed
  • Raheem Mostert
  • Rondale Moore

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