Editor's Note: Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $1,500,000 fantasy football league in Week 3. The top 66,000 teams win cash with $100,000 paid to first place on Sunday. Join now!
Every week in this space, I identify what I see as good or bad investments in a FanDuel fantasy football game for a given week. Sometimes it's just a player who should have a good or bad game, sometimes it's a salary that is far too high or too low. There are a lot of reasons for it.
One thing we'll always fight, though, is injuries. Inasmuch as every single football player is an injury risk in a given week, sure, we take it into account, but you can't realistically expect to predict health on a weekly basis.
It's something I had to keep in mind when reviewing my predictions from last week's column. I made several good calls (Use Colin Kaepernick! Avoid Sam Bradford!), but there were some that frustrated me.
I loved Eddie Lacy as a FanDuel option, and Brandin Cooks, too. I was anti-Brandon Marshall because he was facing Vontae Davis. Well, Lacy got hurt. Cooks and his quarterback got hurt. Davis shut down Marshall for the first half, then got a concussion and left Marshall open to control the second half.
It happens. You could have an absolute stud FanDuel lineup and see every one of your guys could go down in the first quarter. It's only barely predictable, and it certainly isn't something you can rely on.
But it's just one factor. The other factors, we can predict. Not 100 percent (I liked Gavin Escobar and the Miami defense last week), but there are reasons for the calls, and generally good ones. Or at least, ones that look good at the time and then fall apart.
Take a look below, where I'm running through Week 3 for the good and bad plays. If the guys get hurt ... well, sorry about that, friend. Otherwise, though, this is a good starting point for filling out your Week 3 FanDuel lineup:
- Sometimes the most expensive guys are worth it. Aaron Rodgers ($9,100) is the most expensive player across all of FanDuel, but with his running back situation murky, and against a Kansas City defense that has let DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas put up numbers, Rodgers should earn his salary in Week 3. No Davante Adams injury will scare me off.
- With most teams, most quarterbacks, you might see a game in which they are heavily favored as a reason to shy away in daily fantasy. After all, a comfortable lead early often leads to fewer passes and more runs late, putting a cap on the guy's overall potential. That's almost never true with New England and Tom Brady ($8,700). That's not a team that lets off the gas, and Brady could throw for a bazillion touchdowns on Sunday.
- Two games back from injury so far, and Carson Palmer ($8,100) has almost 500 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. He, Brady and Rodgers are the only quarterbacks to put up 20-plus fantasy points in standard scoring both weeks. And Palmer is a grand cheaper than Palmer, $600 less than Brady.
- The primary appeal of Tyrod Taylor ($7,000) in the first couple weeks was his low salary in the daily games -- you could save big at quarterback and splurge elsewhere. But his salary is quickly catching up with his production, making him less of a bargain. Taylor should always have a reasonable floor, because his rushing ability isn't going anywhere, but his ceiling-to-price ratio is getting progressively worse.
- Week 2 was the best game in the two-year career of Derek Carr ($6,600), with 351 yards, three touchdowns and 26 fantasy points in standard leagues (If you want to argue his 282-yard, four-touchdown, one-interception game against San Diego last year, okay). More helpfully, he showed a nice jump in yards per attempt. The problem for Week 3, though, is that Carr might see his weapons cut in half: The Browns deploy Joe Haden on defense, and whoever he faces (likely Amari Cooper, but Michael Crabtree is possible) will be less of a target for Carr than normal. Can he deal with an artificially reduced offense? Maybe, but I wouldn't want to put my one-week fate in those hands.
- I tend to shy away from guys after absences. I advocated dropping Josh Gordon much of last season and have been the lowest on Adrian Peterson all of this one. But the absence for Le'Veon Bell ($8,800) was only two games long. That Pittsburgh offense didn't miss a beat without him, and if DeAngelo Williams can succeed, you know Bell will be fine. He's my No. 1 running back for Week 3.
- In Week 1, the Broncos faced a strong Baltimore run defense. In Week 2, it was Kansas City, also strong against the run. Now in Week 3, it's Detroit, who just let Adrian Peterson get near 200 yards a week ago. C.J. Anderson ($7,300) has struggled so far, but with another week for that offensive line to come together and against a friendly opponent, I think this is the week Anderson gets the kinks worked out.
- Often, when a quarterback is ruled out and a much inferior backup takes over, you shy away from the running back, because the opponent knows what to expect and will stack the box. But I still like Joseph Randle ($6,500), because that offensive line is, well, ridiculous. Stack the box and I don't even care.
- The party line on Frank Gore ($7,000) is that the Colts have faced the two best defenses they'll play all year, and the struggling players -- Gore, Andrew Luck, Andre Johnson -- will improve as the opponent gets less terrifying. More or less, I agree with that. I think Luck will be fine. I'm less optimistic on Johnson. As for Gore, sure, things will get better from here ... probably. Are you sure? Sure enough to invest in a daily game? I'm not.
- A first-rounder making his debut against a bad Pittsburgh defense. That sounds nice for Todd Gurley ($6,300). The flip side is that Gurley is almost certain to be eased in to the St. Louis offense, and while he will debut this week, it won't be as the team's primary back. He's fancy and attractive, but he's not there yet.
- With Eric Decker out and Chis Ivory looking like he might be going that way, as well, the Jets are low on options. When the team was in that situation Monday night, it became an all-out Brandon Marshall ($7,400) fest. That should continue in Week 3 against the Eagles.
- Week 1: The Chiefs rode Travis Kelce to a couple of quick touchdowns, ran the ball to kill the clock and Jeremy Maclin ($6,500) was banged up, so they didn't lean heavily on him. Week 2: The Broncos are ridiculous. Week 3, though, features Maclin against a good-not-great defense, with this stupid "no touchdowns to receives" thing still hovering. Not-so-bold prediction: Jeremy Maclin scores a Week 3 touchdown.
- It looks increasingly like DeAndre Hopkins will play in Week 3 after battling a concussion for much of the week. If that reverses, Cecil Shorts III ($5,200) looks really appealing as the team's only real offensive weapon. If you assume Hopkins does play, well, then the team's list of weapons comes down to Hopkins and Shorts. At his cheap price, he is appealing either way.
- Through two games, Calvin Johnson ($8,200) has 122 yards and one touchdown. That's ... not Johnson-esque. He'll likely still be fine in the long run, because he's Calvin Johnson, but for Week 3, he has a banged-up quarterback and is facing a Denver offense that looks like it could be downright scary this year. That's not a good one-week investment.
- Even if Johnny Manziel were still on the field, I wouldn't want to use Travis Benjamin ($5,600), whose production can't possibly continue at this rate. With Josh McCown back, the best thing about Benjamin (some indefinite hard-to-define "connection") is gone. Even FanDuel doesn't believe -- otherwise, his salary would be higher.
- Look, y'all, you gotta quit it with this Jimmy Graham ($6,300) nonsense. He had eight targets in Week 1. That might not be up with his peak usage in New Orleans, but it's a fine number, a pace of 128 targets over a year, which would've been more than he had last year and not far off his peak numbers. So the worries for Graham are off of one game, his Week 2, playing a Green Bay team against whom he's never put up monster numbers. One game, guys. He's going to be fine. He's going to be good.
- Realistically, the Titans have two weapons opposing defenses might fear. The first is Kendall Wright, and with Vontae Davis back for Indianapolis, Wright might not be a very usable Week 3 option. The other weapon is Delanie Walker ($5,200), who should be making his return from injury. Expect a heavy dose of targets.
- I have a lot of Bears-fan friends. I had some fun this week asking them what they thought the reasonable best-case scenario was for the Bears at this Seahawks team this week. One of them said he couldn't see the Bears getting to 10 points. The other said he couldn't see them putting up more than three. With Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery out, Jimmy Clausen starting, Matt Forte, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson banged up, the team just doesn't have anything going on, and Martellus Bennett ($5,600) can't do much all by himself.
- Is this difficult? The Carolina defense ($4,600) is only good, but it's facing freaking Luke McCown at quarterback. Good commercials, not a good quarterback.
- Go back to my paragraph about Brandon Marshall. The argument was that the Jets are just about out of weapons, so they'll feed the hell out of Marshall. Well, the flip of that is that the Jets are just about out of weapons, so the Philadelphia defense ($4,400) could have a big time stopping Marshall. Only one of these paragraphs will likely be correct, but hey, they're both here.
- While I was down on Tyrod Taylor a few pages back, it was because of his price, not his performance. He is going to get running yards. The Bills are going to score at least a little. And the Miami defense ($4,600) hasn't lived up to potential so far. Spend that defense premium elsewhere.