NFL Preseason Week 3 Picks: The Eifert Tower

The third week of the preseason tends to be the week where the starters get the most run. Looking back to last season, the players that led their respective teams in passing were: Ben Roethlisberger, Nick Foles, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Blake Bortles, Matthew Stafford, Matt McGloin, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, E.J. Manuel, Jake Locker, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Matt Moore, Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Matt Cassel, Alex Smith, Austin Davis, Johnny Manziel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Blaine Gabbert, Andy Dalton and Drew Stanton. For the most part, the teams played the guy they planned to lead the charge for the regular season. With that thought process in mind, this week’s picks will have a lot more recognizable names. Let’s get to work:

Quarterback

Matt Barkley, Eagles, $10,000 – Without thinking much about it, looking at the Eagles/Packers’ week leading over/under of 49 would seem to suggest Sam Bradford is the play. Starters typically play in the third preseason game, so why would the backup make more sense? Quite simply, Bradford is one of those players with an extensive injury history and the Eagles took a gigantic risk trading starter Nick Foles for an oft-injured player. My thought is that they play this one smart/conservative and wait until the regular season for Bradford to take the big hits. Backup Matt Barkley’s 278 passing yards so far in the preseason rank fourth in football, so I think they’ll keep giving him a look. It could very well end up being Mark Sanchez taking the reps however, so this is a bit of a risky play, but I think it’s worth it in tournaments, considering the Eagles are favored in the game with the highest over/under of the weekend (48.5).

Joe Flacco, Ravens, $13,200 – Another quarterback (QB) in a projected high-scoring affair (43.5 over/under) is Joe Flacco, and he’ll face the team that allowed the most fantasy points per game to QBs in 2014: the Redskins. The Redskins only intercepted seven passes in all of 2014, which was tied for fourth-least in football behind only Jacksonville, Kansas City and the New York Jets (all with six). They allowed 35 TD passes, which ranked dead last in the league behind even the lowly Bears. Coincidentally, the Ravens also played the Redskins in preseason game number three last season as well, and Flacco threw for 180 yards a TD. If looking for a cash QB that won’t cost you top dollar, Flacco makes a ton of sense.

Running Back

Ronnie Hillman, Broncos, $7,400 – Looking at last season’s data, the one position that still doesn’t seem to ramp up the starters’ volume is the running back (RB) position. It makes sense, considering the average career span of a NFL RB is 3.11 years… the least of any position. Therefore, I think C.J. Anderson still is only allotted a small portion of carries (four last game) before being yanked for the backups. Ronnie Hillman has found his rhythm this preseason and leads all players in rushing yards (120). The team could give Montee Ball an extended look, but it looks like the new regime doesn’t think too highly of him. That makes me believe the team is using the preseason to evaluate what they have in Hillman, and his recent performance has definitely earned him more reps. I think they continue to feed the hot hand in this one, especially because the hot hand is not the starter they’ll be relying on come game one of the regular season.

Knile Davis, Chiefs, $6,900 – Having suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the past, the Chiefs have no reason to overwork starter Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs are listed as 5.5 point favorites in a 43-point projected game. Although this isn’t a regular season game, it’s proven that the RB position’s fantasy-point production is most closely correlated to Vegas lines. If Charles isn’t receiving the lions’ share of the carries, then it should fall to none other than Knile Davis, who carried the ball 11 times in preseason game number two. Charchandrick West led the team in carries with 13 last week, but expect those tables to turn tonight with the regular season producers seeing a larger portion of the field. Davis makes sense in all formats and is the RB I feel best about on the slate.

BONUS: Apparently the Chiefs are not available on the slate for the $75,000 freeroll, so consider Chris Ivory instead.

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones, Falcons, $17,800 – After an injury-plagued 2014 season, Julio Jones bounced back in a big way last year to the tune of 104 receptions (REC), 1593 yards and six TD. It only took one drive in the preseason opener for Jones to rack up four REC, 61 yards and a TD, as he simply dominated the Titans. The Falcons will square off against the Dolphins this week… a team that allowed 23.80 fantasy points per game (23rd in football) to the wide receiver position in 2014, according to NFL.com. Trading Vontae Davis to the Colts simply was not a good move for the franchise and it set back their secondary big time. Expect Jones to take full advantage once again as the team’s target monster as long as he’s on the field. He should see more than just one series this week, which gives him even more upside than last week.

Jordan Matthews, Eagles, $14,000 – Did I mention the Eagles were favored in the highest-projected scoring game of the week? Matt Barkley has produced in his time at QB, so I’m not worried about who is taking snaps under center. According to Rotoworld, Jordan Matthews “shined” in preseason game number one by hauling in two passes for 44 yards on five targets. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reports that it’s “clear” Jordan Matthews is the best receiving option and will be a focal point of the offense. At only 23 years old, it couldn’t hurt to get a bit more seasoning in the preseason to make sure he’s ready for the spotlight of the regular season. Matthews, who possesses all the physical skills, should use week three as a tune up game, which is bad news for the opposing Packers.

Tight End

Tyler Eifert, Bengals, $7,200 – Not that it matters, but Tyler Eifert only caught one pass for seven yards in preseason game number two. I am hoping that this fact, and the whole missing most of 2014 with an injury thing, keeps his ownership percentage down against the Chicago Bears. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Dehner Jr. “envisions a Tyler Eifert breakout in 2015,” as do I. Eifert has already declared himself 100 percent healthy after undergoing shoulder surgery in December of 2014. Last season, the Bears allowed the most fantasy points to the TE position of any team in the league. A 100 percent healthy, rejuvenated Eifert against a weak opponent is going to be a mismatch and one absolutely worth taking advantage of.

Larry Donnell, Giants, $7,100 – In the battle-of-New-York-bragging-rights, the Jets and Giants will square off at Met Life Stadium in a pick’em (meaning the spread is even, so there is no favorite). Larry Donnell was targeted five times last week and hauled in three of them for 29 yards. Obviously Odell Beckham Jr. led the team in TD REC last season after bursting onto the scene, but Donnell’s six TD ranked second on the team. The Jets allowed the most TDs to opposing TEs last season with 14. If the Giants get into the red zone, Donnell will most likely get a look or two. You’re not going to want to pay up at the position in preseason, so I think you can sneak a TD out of Donnell for a reasonable price (which is all you want from the position).

DST

Arizona Cardinals, $5,800 – The Oakland Raiders turned over the ball twice in the preseason opener (an INT by both Derek Carr and Christian Ponder), but followed it up with zero turnovers against the Vikings. Carr will start and play an extended period in game number three against a very tough Arizona secondary. In a game with the lowest-projected over/under of the week, I’m willing to take the chance the Cardinals pick at least one against the young QB (and do not allow very many points in the process).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $5,400 – Due to an injury to Johnny Manziel, the reigns are now all but officially turned over to Josh McCown to lead the offense. This game’s over/under sits at 40.5, which is only a half point higher than Cardinals/Raiders. Playing 11 games with Tampa Bay last season, McCown threw 14 interceptions (INT) compared to just 11 TD, and he had better weapons to throw to. I expect another turnover or two, especially considering the Buccaneers know his tendencies. They’re a great way to save money at the position and still get some value.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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1 Response

  1. jurdin says:

    Brutal, i made a LU and came 4826, made my own LU and came 214th lol.. so yah.

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