NFL DFS Picks and Analysis - Week 3: The Grind Down - Steelers vs. Texans

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.

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Sports Betting Lines and Overview


Pittsburgh Steelers DFS Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Ben Roethlisberger PIT $6,400 $7,500 $32 18.29 QB18 35.98 270.83
RB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
James Conner PIT $6,700 $7,100 $17 15.75 RB14 66.00% 9.00%
Benny Snell PIT $4,700 $4,800 $16 5.24 RB59 21.00% 2.90%
Jaylen Samuels PIT $4,000 $4,500 $10 3.05 RB74 4.00% 4.20%
WR/TE Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT $6,600 $7,000 $28 14.04 WR18 24.00% 9.13
Diontae Johnson PIT $5,400 $6,300 $18 13.08 WR26 22.50% 8.56
James Washington PIT $4,100 $4,900 $15 6.51 WR87 9.00% 3.42
Chase Claypool PIT $3,700 $5,000 $12 6.27 WR90 10.30% 3.92
Ray-Ray McCloud PIT $3,000 $10 0.52 WR146 0.60% 0.23
Eric Ebron PIT $4,300 $4,700 $14 9.69 TE17 12.00% 4.57
Vance McDonald PIT $2,800 $4,200 $10 3.7 TE44 5.20% 1.98
Injuries to Monitor

WR Juju Smith-Schuster (Questionable)

Running Game Outlook

Don’t overthink a Mike Tomlin backfield. There’s gonna be one guy gobbling up all of the snaps and being highly productive. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it’ll always be. The guy in this backfield is James Conner, who’ll play at least 75% of the snaps with Benny Snell spelling him. Conner is out-producing the O-Line with 5.2 yards per carry to the line’s 3.4 adjusted line yards per FO.

Take everything I’ve told you over the last two weeks about Aaron Jones lighting it up and apply it to Conner for Week 3 against the Texans. He’s getting all of the rushing work as a -4.0 favorite in a game that should out-pace the 45.0 over-under. The two targets can only go up, as this is a guy who averaged 4.79 targets per game across 2018-19.

Passing Game Outlook

Everyone is playing Diontae Johnson in every format on both sites because he’s underpriced and the #1 target from Ben Roethlisberger smashes week-after-week, year-after-year. Death, taxes, and Ben’s WR1. This is a fantasy axiom. If Juju Smith-Schuster is out, Diontae requires the lock button to be overweight on the field. If Juju is in, they’re both in play, but tread lightly with Juju, as Tomlin has some history of using hurt WRs as decoys. But we can’t fully fade because there’s also a history of Steelers on the injury report breaking slates.

All of this circles back to Ben, who’s cheaper than Kyler Murray and no one’s gonna play him. We talk Conner, we talk close game, we talk Diontae, we talk Juju, people are even considering the Eric Ebron punt, but the world is ignoring Ben, so we have to keep the old man in our player pool. Steelers are a full-blown stack. Diontae is so popular that we should be three-manning the stack and bring back a Texan or two. Naked Ben+Diontae (your jokes are bad and I’m judging you for them) might not be enough in large fields.

Strong Projections: James Conner, Diontae Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger

High Upside Correlations: Ben Roethlisberger + Diontae Johnson + James Conner or Juju Smith-Schuster or Eric Ebron

Strong GPP Differentiators: Juju Smith-Schuster, Eric Ebron (FD)

Roster Construction Punts/Values: Eric Ebron (FD)

My Expected Team Exposure: High, Very High

Houston Texans Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Deshaun Watson HOU $6,500 $8,000 $32 19.1 QB13 34.71 244.71
RB Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
David Johnson HOU $5,400 $6,900 $16 12.1 RB24 63% 11%
Duke Johnson HOU $4,000 $4,800 $11 7.12 RB48 12% 8%
Gregory Howell HOU $4,000 $4,500 $10 0.91 RB84 2% 1%
WR/TE Team DKSal FDSal YHSal Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Will Fuller HOU $6,000 $6,000 $22 12.36 WR36 23% 8.70
Brandin Cooks HOU $5,200 $5,700 $19 10.36 WR52 18% 6.81
Randall Cobb HOU $4,400 $5,200 $11 7.84 WR71 12% 4.54
Kenny Stills HOU $3,700 $4,700 $10 5.13 WR99 7% 2.46
Keke Coutee HOU $3,300 $4,700 $10 1.65 WR123 2% 0.57
Jordan Akins HOU $3,400 $5,000 $11 7.05 TE24 13% 4.92
Darren Fells HOU $3,300 $4,700 $10 5.13 TE34 7% 2.65
Injuries to Monitor

RB Duke Johnson (Questionable)
WR Brandin Cooks (Questionable)

Running Game Outlook

David Johnson has the size-speed combo and a great run-blocking O-Line, but only 27 touches. Physique, talent, and blocking don’t pay the bills if it don’t get the ball. The Texans have had their brains beaten in by the Chiefs and Ravens and now face, maybe, the 3rd-best AFC team in the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 3. Vegas opened this line with the Texans as 5.5-point dogs, but the line is tightening up to 4.0 without the over-under moving down, so the Texans stock is rising and the gamescript is projecting to be more neutral than the lashings they received the first two weeks.

The reasoning behind it all is probably the tempered stance of believing in the Texans’ collection of talent instead of the two-week sample. How the team performs, as a whole, is crucial toward projecting David Johnson — with or without Duke Johnson — because that’s where the gamescript for David begins. If we agree with Vegas, we play him at a great price when no one else will. If we agree with the last two weeks, we fade him and call it bad scheduling luck for Houston.

Personally, I’m banking on a shootout here in GPPs where David breaks value with all four limbs.

Passing Game Outlook:

Deshaun Watson has dropped back 86 times, but has only 68 pass attempts after taking four sacks each week. This is LDO bad for the passing game. But we’re talking two weeks out of a guy who improved from 62 sacks in 2018 to only 44 in 2019. Is regression rearing its head or did he just have off games or is his line just failing him? We’ll let some guys grind the tape and relay the eye-bias and the projections dump on him, while the market says this is gonna be a hotly contested game.

If you’re not with me on this being a shootout, move on. If I don’t make money, I hope a reader makes money; but if you do agree with me, then Watson’s talent is gonna put some points on the board, despite the Steelers defense, and he’s gonna bring two of Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, and/or David Johnson along for the ride. Cooks played hurt in Week 1, Fuller took a nap in Week 2, so we’re limited in how to project the two. Cooks is still on the injury report, so we can’t rule him in. If he’s out, we go Fuller. If he’s not, we can play the ownership game, but we should stack the Steelers and bring it back a few times, given how chalky Diontae Johnson is gonna be and how little the public is gonna touch the Texans.

Strong Projections: David Johnson

High Upside Correlations: Deshaun Watson + David Johnson + Will Fuller or Brandin Cooks

Strong GPP Differentiators: David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Deshaun Watson

Roster Construction Punts/Values: Jordan Akins

My Expected Team Exposure: Medium-High

About the Author

  • Alex Sonty (AlexSonty)

  • Alex Sonty is a part-time political science professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and a professional DFS player. He’s been playing fantasy sports since Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith paved the way to a rookie championship in 1996. He started playing DFS in 2014 and currently specializes in MLB and NFL cash games, dipping his toes into GPP play. He’s been writing for the Chicago Tribune, SB Nation, and Rotogrinders blog networks since 2010. He holds a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.

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