Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season! As expected, Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick are out to an early lead in the MVP race, the Steelers are falling apart and we've already had two ties.
If Le'Veon Bell and Joe Mixon have already sunk your season-long teams, you've come to the right place. The RotoWire FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship is your shot at redemption. A quick rules refresher: we're running a $10 contest in each of the first 10 weeks of the season, where the top 150 finishers double their money. Compete against fellow RotoWire readers as well as three experts: Kevin Payne, Jeff Erickson and Derek Van Riper. Beating all three experts in one week earns you a ticket to Week 11's championship round, where the top 120 scores earn a prize and the top score gets $1,000 and a two-year RotoWire subscription. Sign up for this week's contest here.
Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire are running a parallel contest. James Anderson took home last week's contest behind big days from Stefon Diggs, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce, as well as respectable scores from just about everyone else. The overall leaderboard through two weeks of action can be found here. The current top 10 can be found below:
- Darin Brown (dasabre) 326.60
- Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) 324.90
- Joshua Fathollahi (jashfath) 319.86
- Davis Mattek (DavisMattek) 315.92
- Shawn Cwalinski (cwalinksi) 315.12
- Kevin Payne (kevinccp) 314.24
- Jim Coventry (Yrtnevoc) 308.88
- Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) 305.04
- Joe Bartel (alphacool) 303.96
- Kevin O'Brien (rotokob) 303.62
One last thing before this week's recommendations: remember to check out RotoWire's lineup optimizer, the best place to go to begin to work out your lineup. It looks like we're in for a pair of shootouts as the Chiefs host the 49ers and the Falcons host the Saints.
Note: the Jets, Browns, Patriots, Lions, Steelers and Buccaneers all have played in or will play in primetime games this week, so their players are excluded from the main slate. No need to worry about whether or not FitzMagic is for real just yet.
QB Patrick Mahomes: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
FanDuel Price: $9,000
It's somewhat crazy to see Mahomes as the most expensive quarterback in just his fourth career start, but it's hard to say he doesn't deserve it. The Chiefs lead the league in points through two weeks, and with running back Kareem Hunt struggling, that lead is almost entirely attributable to Mahomes and his receiving corps. Kansas City's shaky defense means he has to win a shootout every week, but there's been no reason to doubt his abilities so far. Andy Reid's creative play calling and the 49ers' mediocre pass defense should lead to a top-tier performance again this week. Mahomes' price tag makes a stack with Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce hard to fit in, but Sammy Watkins makes for an appealing alternative.
TE Zach Ertz: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts
FanDuel Price: $7,000
The absence of Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) has seen the Eagles pump the ball to Ertz and Nelson Agholor. Ertz's 23 targets rank ninth in the league, blowing away the next most-targeted tight end Jared Cook (16 targets). Ertz faces a weak Colts defense and sees his quarterback Carson Wentz return from an ACL tear. He's a premium option worth paying up for and could make for a good stack option with Wentz.
QB Carson Wentz: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts
FanDuel Price: $7,400
There are reasons why Wentz has just the 10th-highest price among all quarterbacks on Sunday's slate. We don't yet know how he'll look after tearing his ACL in Week 14 last season, and he's expected to be without several weapons in Jay Ajayi (back), Darren Sproles (hamstring), Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (lower leg). Still, he was an MVP candidate before he went out last season and is playing a poor pass defense in the Colts. At $7,400, he's effectively less than half as expensive as the top QB on the slate (Patrick Mahomes at $8,900), as the minimum price for a quarterback is $6,000. There won't be too many opportunities to get such a high ceiling for such a low price. Wentz's affordable price tag makes a stack with the expensive Zach Ertz palatable and opens up the possibility of a high-ceiling, mid-price stack with Nelson Agholor.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs
FanDuel Price: $7,400
Garoppolo hasn't really gotten going yet this season, but there will hardly be a better time for him to do so than Sunday against the Chiefs. The game projects to be a shootout with the highest over/under on the slate, and with the Niners likely to be trailing, Garoppolo should be throwing all day. The Chiefs have unsurprisingly allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this season, a trend which could continue Sunday.
RB Giovani Bernard: Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers
FanDuel Price: $6,400
Bernard doesn't have the easiest matchup, with the Panthers allowing the 20th-most points to opposing running backs so far this season, but this recommendation is all about opportunity. With Joe Mixon out with a knee injury, Bernard should have the backfield all to himself. As a quality pass catcher, that should be true even if the Bengals fall behind early. He shares a price point with backs in clear timeshares such as Phillip Lindsay and Chris Carson but should have far more opportunities to put up points than that pair.
WR Sammy Watkins: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
FanDuel Price: $6,200
Watkins is somewhat hit or miss, but at $6,200, he comes in far too cheap for one of the top weapons in the most dynamic offense in football. The Chiefs deservedly have the highest implied point total on the slate, and the 49ers have allowed the eighth-most points to opposing receivers so far this season. After a disappointing first game of the season, Watkins broke out with 131 total yards in Week 2, including 31 on a jet sweep, a play which indicated that the Chiefs are committed to getting him his touches. If you're paying the steep price for Mahomes this week, consider stacking him with the affordable Watkins rather than more expensive teammates like Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce.
RB Corey Clement: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts
FanDuel Price: $5,800
Clement entered the season as the Eagles' second-best between-the-tackles runner and second-best pass-catching back. With Jay Ajayi questionable with a back injury and Darren Sproles questionable with a hamstring issue, Clement suddenly finds himself in a three-down role. Wendell Smallwood will likely steal a few snaps, but Clement should get far more touches than other similarly-priced backs. Throw in a matchup against a weak Colts defense, and Clement looks too good to pass up.
WR Tyler Boyd: Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers
Boyd costs just $200 more than the minimum receiver price and stands out as the clear top option among the group of cheap wideouts. He's tied for 41st in the league with 14 targets through Week 2 – no other receiver that costs less than $5,000 has more than 11 targets. The Panthers aren't the easiest matchup, but you aren't looking for fireworks from a budget option. You're looking for a respectable score and the opportunity to put another elite player into your lineup, and Boyd is the receiver who should get enough targets to make that happen.
RB David Johnson: Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears
FanDuel Price: $8,200
It's difficult to justify Johnson still having the fourth-highest price tag among running backs this week after a pair of very disappointing performances. He's gained just 118 total yards and has only caught six passes. The Cardinals have said all the right things about trying to get him more involved this week, including using him in the slot, but this is an offense which has scored just once in two games. He could have been an interesting bounceback candidate had he been about $1,000 cheaper, but there's far too much risk to plug him in while he's still priced like an elite back.