Week 3 Punt Plays: Shorts Dog’s in the House

Welcome to my weekly column dedicated to highlighting the top “punt plays” for your NFL lineups on FantasyDraft.

If you’re unfamiliar, “punting” is a popular technique that allows you to roster some high-priced players by cutting salary elsewhere. By doing this, you’re essentially foregoing — or punting — possible points from that player in order to gain much more from another. Of course, you don’t want to take a zero from your punt play either, so it’s important to make sure the guys you choose have a chance to tally some points as well.

It’s like walking into McDonald’s with $6 and ordering a Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries and an apple pie. To be able to afford all three, you’ll have to downgrade from the large fries to the small fries. Small fries are still better than no fries at all.

Each week, I’ll be suggesting the top punt plays at each position. They won’t be random nobodies you’ll throw into your lineup, though, rather they’ll be less expensive players who can also reward you with a decent point total.

Now that we’ve gotten our introductions out of the way, let’s have a look at the top punt plays for Week 3 in the NFL.

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets

At $10,500, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the fifth-cheapest starting quarterback (QB) on the Week 3 slate, with only Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, Ryan Mallett and Josh McCown coming in at a lower price. “FitzMagic” and the Jets take on a reeling Philadelphia Eagles team at home, and though the Eagles actually opened as 2.5-point favorites, Vegas now has them as two-point dogs.

Jets WR Eric Decker is questionable with a knee injury — something that puts a slight damper on Fitzpatrick’s outlook — but his rapport with first-year Jet Brandon Marshall has been nothing short of fantastic. In just two games, the duo has connected on 13 passes, leading to 163 yards and two TDs. Chris Ivory is also listed as a game-time decision, which could further OC Chan Gailey’s decision to air it out against an Eagles team that ranked 30th last year in passing yards allowed per game.

Running Back

Bilal Powell, Jets

We’re just two players in, and we already have two Jets on this list!

As mentioned above, Chris Ivory is highly questionable to suit up on Sunday, and if he were to sit, Bilal Powell would start in his place, giving him tremendous value at his minimum-priced salary.

Powell has actually fared quite well so far, even in a backup role. In two games, the former Louisville Cardinal has rushed for an even 100 yards, while chipping in 32 yards on six catches. He’d surely split some carries with Zac Stacy, but being able to roster a starter at min salary is exactly what you want if you’re punting one of your running back (RB) spots.

Lance Dunbar, Cowboys

The Cowboys’ RB situation hasn’t really worked itself out yet, and there are still so many questions fantasy players want to know. One thing we do know, though, is that Lance Dunbar is their preferred pass-catching back.

Unlike Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden or even Christine Michael, Dunbar has solidified his role on the team. He doesn’t offer much in the run game (1 carry, 8 yards), but after two contests, the petite RB has amassed 11 catches for 115 yards. He even ran a couple of long pass plays last week while lined up as a wideout.

This week, the Cowboys take on the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most receptions (24) and receiving yards (199) to RBs this season, giving Dunbar solid punt potential. At 5’8″, Lance Dunbar may not be the biggest back, but with so many question marks regarding their backfield, he is the one constant you can count on in Big D.

Others to consider:  Fred Jackson, Seahawks ($6,300); Duke Johnson, Browns ($6,600)

Wide Receiver

Cecil Shorts III and Nate Washington, Texans

The Texans have had their fair share of injury concerns this season, and they’ve been dealt another one this week.

Star wide receiver (WR) DeAndre Hopkins suffered a concussion, and though he’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, it’s something to keep an eye on as kickoff approaches. The feeling is that Hopkins WILL play, but even if he does, Cecil Shorts III ($6,800) and Nate Washington ($7,200) still offer plenty of punt potential.

Texans RBs Chris Polk, Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes have combined to rush for a pitiful 3.49 yards per carry, which doesn’t bode well for the run game. As long as Arian Foster is sidelined, which he will be in Week 3, the Texans will be forced to take to the air. Ryan Mallett isn’t very good, but pass volume should be plentiful this week.

Hopkins figures to garner most of Mallett’s attention, but Shorts and Washington have proven to be reliable in the target department so far. Over the first couple of weeks, the two have been targeted 39 times (Shorts with 20, Washington with 19), which isn’t too shabby considering they’re No. 2 and 3 on the depth chart.

Fitting one of them into your lineup will free up some salary, allowing you to bring another big bopper into the fray.

Others to consider:  Robert Woods, Bills ($6,700); Ted Ginn Jr., Panthers ($6,800)

Tight End

Delanie Walker, Titans

Walker sat out last Sunday’s game with a hand injury he suffered in Week 1, and his $7,000 price tag is reflected as such. It’s a great time to take advantage of his sagging salary though, as I believe he is one of the better tight ends in the game right now.

The talented tight end practiced in full this week and is listed as probable for the Titans’ big division clash with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts gave up the fourth-most yards and sixth-most receptions to opposing tight ends last season.

Look for Delanie Walker to make good on his salary as he continues to be rookie QB Marcus Mariota‘s favorite target.

Others to consider:  Vernon Davis, 49ers ($6,800); Jared Cook, Rams ($6,600)

Defense

Cleveland Browns

While everyone’s rostering the Seattle Seahawks in their supposed dream matchup versus the Jimmy Clausen-led Bears, why not save some salary and plug the Browns defense (D/ST) into your daily fantasy lineup?

Derek Carr is young and has a better arsenal at his disposal this year, but the Raiders’ QB’s 2014 home/road splits still showed a wide enough margin to justify targeting against him this week. While playing at home last season, Carr had a QBR of 86.0 with a 14:6 TD:INT ratio, but while on the road, he threw just seven TDs to six INTs, leading to a 68.7 QBR.

Cleveland comes into this game as 3.5-point favorites and the over/under of 42.5 points is tied for the third-lowest of any game this week. Use this data to your advantage and roster the Browns to save some cash.

Others to consider:  Raiders D/ST ($5,400); Vikings D/ST ($5,600)

Seth Klein

Seth is a DFS writer at FantasyDraft, as well as a writer for TheFantasyFix and Razzball. You can find his player rankings at FantasyPros. Though he was born and raised in Los Angeles, Seth is a lifelong New York sports fan. Seth has no more access to the site than the typical user. Follow him on Twitter at @SethDaSportsMan.

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