NFL DFS Picks and Analysis Week 3: The Grind Down - Eagles vs. Bengals
Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, a fantasy football advice article for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo. This DFS breakdown is an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the projections, projected ownership, picks, targets, and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.
Every game will be broken down with a DFS-first mentality. Betting lines are shown with projected team totals, spreads, and moneyline to give you an idea of the game environment. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow. At the end of each section, we’ll deliver a DFS cheat sheet of stacks to build, players to target, and low projected ownership plays that can make an impact on your weekly success.
Weekly Premium DFS Resources for This Game
Subscribe Now to Access:
LineupHQ: Lineup optimizer with integrated tools.
GridironIQ: Stats and Data to help influence your projections
Projected Ownership: Expected draft percentage for each player.
Player Projections: For every player, game, and team.
Expert Rankings: Consensus best plays.
Sports Betting Lines and Overview
Philadelphia Eagles DFS Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
Running Game Outlook
The Eagles could only muster up 57 yards on the ground in Week 1, so they had to be ecstatic to have Miles Sanders back. We’ve long heard the narrative that Doug Pederson doesn’t like to have a feature back, but the truth is that he’s never really had the option. He’s always had pure downhill and pure pass-catching backs on his roster. Sanders offers the best of both worlds and there was no limiting of his workload in Week 2. He finished the game with 20 carries, seven targets, 131 yards from scrimmage, and a touchdown. It’s only been one week, but I think we can safely put that Pederson narrative to rest.
As we found out last week, the chalk doesn’t always hit in NFL DFS. With that said, Sanders is the top point-per-dollar running back play in most projections around the industry this week. We should feel good about his workload and the Eagles are playing at home as sizable favorites (typically the game script that favors a running back). On top of that, he has a dream matchup against the Bengals. Through the first two weeks, Cincinnati is ranked 25th in DVOA against the run and 28th in defensive adjusted line yards. They have also allowed a league-high 358 rushing yards. Sanders basically checks all of the boxes this week.
Passing Game Outlook
Lane Johnson was able to return to the lineup last week, but the Eagles are still without two of their offensive lineman (who have both been ruled out for the season). They gave up eight sacks in Week 1 against the Redskins, but focused on a quick passing attack in Week 2. The return of Johnson combined with the Carson Wentz getting the ball out quickly led to zero sacks given up by this offensive line. The Bengals don’t have a vaunted pass rush by any means, so Wentz should have a little more time to find his wideouts downfield. He’s left a lot on the table in terms of accuracy and efficiency in the first two weeks, but should be able to turn that around against a bad Bengals defense. This could be a good week to spend up at quarterback, but Wentz is viable if you are looking to save some salary at the position.
I’m planting my flag on DeSean Jackson this week. Everything is lining up for a breakout performance. We’ll start with the fact that he has 16 targets through the first two games and the third most air yards of any wideout in football. He runs a lot of deep routes, so the likelihood of success on each target is lower than a possession receiver, but that should be a positive when it comes to tournaments in DFS. Jalen Reagor has been ruled out of this week’s game and while Alshon Jeffery has been upgraded to questionable, Jackson should be the WR1 in this offense. With Wentz hopefully having more time to throw the ball and Jackson having a great matchup against a beatable secondary, this is a perfect spot to play him in tournaments.
If Jeffery is unable to suit up, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward will round out three receiver sets for the Eagles. While you can make a case to add them to your MME player pool, they are both projected to see less than 10% of Wentz’s targets. The majority of the shorter throws will end up going to Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Through the first two games, Ertz has caught 8-of-14 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Goedert has caught 12-of-17 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. Ertz continues to project better than Goedert, but the two have basically been equals since the mid-point of last season. We have both projected for around 20% of the target share this week against the Bengals, who allowed the 12th most fantasy points to tight ends in 2019.
With Sanders being the chalk play at running back this week, the passing game will naturally get overlooked. It provides natural leverage off Sanders and honestly, there might be enough “fantasy goodness” to go around for Sanders and a wideout to have ceiling performances.
High Upside Correlations: Miles Sanders + Eagles D/ST
Roster Construction Punts/Values: Carson Wentz
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium
Cincinnati Bengals Projections Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
TE CJ Uzomah (Out)
Running Game Outlook
The Bengals haven’t been able to get much going on the ground this season, but they’ve face two above-average run defenses in the Chargers and Browns. Joe Mixon has had 20 touches in each of the first two games, but most of his work has come when the Bengals have had a lead or have been tied with their opponent. His touch percentage dips down to 25% when the Bengals are trailing, which is a concern heading into this week’s game against the Eagles. The good news for Mixon is that there is certainly a path for 20 touches and he’s going to be low owned across the industry. For him to truly hit his ceiling, the Bengals will need to jump out to an early lead, as Giovani Bernard continues to mix in on passing downs.
As for the matchup, the Eagles are currently ranked 16th in DVOA against the run and eighth in defensive adjusted line yards through the first two weeks of the season. Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line has created the sixth fewest adjusted line yards. In other words, this is a bad run blocking unit and Mixon is playing on the road against an above-average run defense. To make matters worse, there’s a good chance the Bengals are playing from behind for a large portion of the game. I view Mixon as a large-field tournament play that you can sprinkle into your MME player pool. For cash games and single-entry tournaments, there are safer plays at the running back position.
Passing Game Outlook:
Box score watchers will be pleased with the 46 fantasy points Joe Burrow has put up in his first two NFL games, but we shouldn’t expect this type of volume to continue. He threw the ball 61 times last week against the Browns, which is almost unheard of. I’m still high on Burrow moving forward and think he’ll find himself in many favorable game scripts, but just over 500 passing yards on nearly 100 attempts isn’t exactly the type of efficiency that we are looking for at the quarterback position. The main positive for his fantasy outlook has been the rushing upside — he’s taken off 15 times for 65 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season. Another positive is that the Eagles have struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. For now, I will take a wait and see approach with Burrow.
There are two sides to the A.J. Green argument and I find myself sitting on the fence. The positives are that he’s seen 22 targets in the first two games and that he leads the NFL in air yards (330). The negatives are that he hasn’t done much with those targets and that he hasn’t looked nearly as explosive as he did the last time we saw him (2018). The problem with citing the air yards as a reason to play Green this week is that most of those have been uncatchable. It doesn’t help that the Eagles brought in Darius Slay this year and through the first two games, he’s held Terry McLaurin and Robert Woods in check. Green will likely draw shadow coverage from Slay this week. It’s not that he can’t win that one-on-one matchup, but he’ll need to be more efficient with his targets to pay off his salary.
CJ Uzomah tore his Achilles and will be out for the rest of the season. Drew Sample stepped up against the Browns and caught 7-of-9 targets for 45 yards. While the volume was encouraging, he’s more of a blocking tight end and he’s not as cheap as some of the other punt plays at his position. If anything, Uzomah’s absence could open up more targets in the middle of the field for Tyler Boyd. He hasn’t been as involved as many expected heading into the season, but did catch a touchdown late in the game against the Browns. We have him with a similar projected target share as Green and he’s likely to garner less ownership in a better cornerback matchup. John Ross is trending in the wrong direction, as Tee Higgins and Mike Thomas appeared to be ahead of him on the depth chart in Week 2.
Strong Projections: None
High Upside Correlations: None
Roster Construction Punts/Values: None
My Expected Team Exposure: Low