News & Analysis

Hartitz Week 3 Helicopter Targets

DFS players around the world cherish the opportunity to win copious amounts of money every Sunday. Taking down the DraftKings Millionaire contest, or any other massive tournament for that matter, would objectively be awesome.

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One must be bold in order to win a large-scale DFS tournament. Fading a chalky stud who busts in favor of an under-the-radar talent who goes off can be the difference between finishing in the middle of the pack and making a push at a top spot.

I like to call these under-the-radar selections “helicopter picks.” The criteria for inclusion is as follows:

  1. Player pool is restricted to Sunday main slate contests (doesn’t include night games).
  2. Cannot be among top-five highest-priced players at position.
  3. Cannot have a projected ownership over 5% on DraftKings.
  4. Prediction for RB/WR/TE must be at least 100 total yards and two scores; QB is 300 total yards and four scores.

We’re looking for undervalued studs with sky-high upside. What follows is a breakdown on my five finalists for the Week 3 helicopter play of the week listed in no particular order. I’ll drop down to name the winner via Twitter shortly after midnight on Saturday.

Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson ($4,700)

The Football Team deployed a three-back committee in Week 1. Both Peyton Barber (17 carries) and J.D. McKissic (five targets) each played more snaps than Gibson, who seemed weeks away from having a fantasy-viable role.

And then Week 2 happened. Gibson didn’t blow up or anything, but the usage shift in the backfield was dramatic:

  • Gibson: 65% snaps, 13 carries, 2 targets
  • McKissic: 44% snaps, 8 carries, 0 targets
  • Barber: 2% snaps, 1 carry, 0 targets

Check out my Week 3 RB committee breakdown for thoughts on the projected backfield splits around the league.

Gibson converted his 15 opportunities into 52 yards and a score in Week 2. He hasn’t gained more than 20 yards on a play this season and ranks as fantasy’s PPR RB32 through two weeks.

But people, Gibson looks good out there.

Overall, Gibson is the NFL’s leader in forced missed tackles per touch after two weeks of action.

There’s potential for Bryce Love to get involved now that the coaching staff is seemingly over Barber, but it’d be surprising to see Gibson dip back below the 50% mark as long as he continues to look a lot like the second-best player on this offense. Even McKissic’s role is hardly guaranteed moving forward. Washington doesn’t figure to boast anyone’s idea of an above-average offense anytime soon, but at least their volume is more or less condensed around two players. Get used to treating Gibson as a weekly upside RB2, particularly since his dual-threat role should be fairly independent of poor game-script.

The Browns' 29th-ranked scoring defense has actually been fairly stout against the run this season, but Gibson’s potential for 15-plus touches makes him an absolute bargain at his current price point. The ownership is seemingly depressed due to the presence of Mike Davis ($5,100), Jerick McKinnon ($4,900) and Joshua Kelley ($5,000); don’t be afraid to pivot off these chalkier backs for the Football Team’s more-talented and cheaper RB1.

Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake ($6,000)

The Cardinals are 2-0 and Kyler Murray’s ridiculous rushing ability has been the talk of the town. Through two weeks the Cardinals’ franchise QB has converted 21 rush attempts into 158 yards and a trio of scores against the 49ers and Football Team’s respective beastly defensive lines.

Lost in Murray’s greatness has been the reality that Drake is the main man in this backfield. He’s been good not great through two weeks in terms of efficiency:

  • Yards after contact per rush: 2.7 (tied for 23rd among 49 qualified players)
  • Yards per rush: 4.1 (tied for 33rd)
  • PFF Rushing Grade: 26th

Overall, Drake ranks 30th among 38 qualified backs in missed forced tackles per touch.

The good news is Drake has posted 71% and 65% snap rates, relegating Chase Edmonds to a true backup role. The Cardinals’ clear-cut RB1 has racked up 40 touches through two weeks; only Derrick Henry (59), Josh Jacobs (59), Ezekiel Elliott (53), Christian McCaffrey (48), Jonathan Taylor (43), Aaron Jones (42) and Clyde-Edwards Helaire (41) have more across the league.

Further helping matters for Drake is this week’s smash spot against a Lions defense that is one of just eight units to allow more than 2.0 yards before contact per attempt this season. Both David Montgomery (13-64-0) and especially Aaron Jones (18-168-2) dominated this defense on the ground. This is truly one of the week’s coziest matchups on the ground.

Check out my Week 3 Mismatch Manifesto for more matchup-specific stats from around the league.

Drake is a 5.5-point home favorite bell-cow back in line for 20-plus touches facing the league’s single-worst defense in rush DVOA (Football Outsiders). The only reason why he’s not chalkier is the presence of Miles Sanders ($6,400) in a similar smash spot for just a few more dollars. We saw the overall RB1 spike weeks Drake was capable of in 2019; don’t be shocked if another one is on the way soon. 

Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson ($6,600)

The Seahawks are letting Russ cook and life is good. Through two weeks the MVP-frontrunner has completed 52 of 63 passes for 610 yards and nine scores with his lone interception bouncing directly off Greg Olsen’s hands.

However, Russell Wilson’s backfield mate has also had himself a solid start to the season. Carson has posted 23-93-0 rushing and 9-81-3 receiving lines through two weeks, once again establishing himself as the Seahawks’ featured back.

This wasn’t a certainty entering the season considering: 1) Carson was recovering from a fractured hip that occurred in Week 16 of the 2019 season, 2) the status of No. 2 RB Rashaad Penny (knee, PUP) wasn’t crystal clear, 3) the Seahawks drafted DeeJay Dallas and signed Carlos Hyde.

Well, Carson is healthy, Penny isn’t, Dallas has been inactive in back-to-back weeks, Hyde played just 15 snaps in Week 2. Carson had at least 15 touches in all but two games last season and 20-plus opportunities in nine contests. The Seahawks are letting Russ cook, but we know who they are at their core, and Carson’s fantasy-friendly receiving role makes him independent of poor game-script anyway.

The Cowboys’ entire defense is banged up at the moment with LB Sean Lee (pelvis, IR), LB Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, IR), CB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring), CB Anthony Brown (ribs, IR) and CB Trevon Diggs (shoulder) all at risk of missing Sunday’s game. No matchup has a higher over/under than Cowboys-Seahawks (55.5), yet Carson (like Drake) is expected to see depressed ownership due to the presence of Sanders ($6,400). There’s no reason to believe the Seahawks’ passing attack is going to slow down anytime soon; don’t be afraid to invest heavily in their 1) primary touchdown scorer, 2) bell-cow RB, and 3) No. 3 pass-game target.

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones ($5,500)

Let’s go over the key injuries at hand for the 49ers-Giants’ matchup. First on the San Francisco defense:

And now from the Giants offense:

The two key takeaways I have when I look at this are 1) the 49ers’ incredible pass defense will likely be without their top two corners and no longer boast anything close to the world-beating pass rush they deployed in 2019, and 2) the Giants’ typically crowded passing game has been condensed by two players.

Jones hasn’t been great this season, but he’s also been terrorized by the Steelers' and Bears’ respective pass rushes. Normally, we’d expect the same from the 49ers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in their present condition. The Giants are tied for fifth in pass attempts and could throw even more now that their all-world RB is sidelined.

This is a situation where fantasy-friendly volume is meeting a sneaky-fine matchup, and we can more confidently stack Jones with WR Darius Slayton, WR Golden Tate and/or TE Evan Engram with Barkley and Shepard out. While the world is fussing over which mediocre RB will get the most touches behind arguably the league’s single-worst run-blocking line, pivot to the man that had more 30-point performances (three) in 2019 than any QB not named Lamar Jackson (four).

The reality that Jones is priced as the QB20 on the main slate, in this economy no less, seals the deal on my favorite GPP-QB play in Week 3. Check out my Week 3 QB rankings breakdown for more thoughts on the best and worst matchups under center around the league.

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp ($6,300)

The reason why Kupp made my preseason fade list was simple: opportunity. The Rams were the league’s most three-WR heavy offense during the first half of the 2019 season, but Kupp’s usage started to get a little wonky down the stretch. Overall, he posted 72%, 28%, 92%, 61% and 61% snap rates during the final five weeks of the season, averaging a rather pedestrian six targets per game along the way.

Fast forward to 2020 and Kupp hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire with his 9-121-0 receiving line, but he has posted stellar 85% and 86% snap rates to start the season. Woods leads the way in targets (13 vs. 11) and carries (4 vs. 2), although it’s far closer than what we saw during the second half of last season.

The only reason Kupp’s overall targets aren’t higher is because the Rams haven’t trailed all season. Goff threw just 31 and 27 passes in Weeks 1 and 2; he averaged 39 pass attempts per game in 2019. Week 3’s matchup against the Bills presents a fast-paced contest with a game total that has moved up to 47.5 after opening at 45. Keep an eye on projected wind gusts if they start to get over 20 MPH, but the weather forecast doesn’t appear to be an issue at the time of this writing.  Expect to see more passing from the Rams in this potential back-and-forth shootout.

Furthermore, Kupp is set up brilliantly out of the slot against a defense that has been smoked by slot receivers Jamison Crowder (7-115-1), Mike Gesicki (8-130-1) and Isaiah Ford (7-76-0) through two weeks. Only Darqueze Dennard (16) has allowed more receptions in slot coverage than Bills nickelback Taron Johnson (11) through two weeks. Expect Tre’Davious White to stay on the outside with Woods considering the Bills have never asked their stud CB to spend even 10 snaps in the slot during a game in his career.

Check out my Week 3 WR/CB matchups and TE breakdown for thoughts on the best and worst matchups on the outside around the league.

Kupp’s current 10-game streak without 100 yards and a score is his longest-such stretch since his rookie season. The Rams’ decision to hand him a three-year, $48 million contract reinforces the obvious reality that Kupp is at worst this offense’s No. 2 option in the passing game. A blowup performance is on the horizon, and it might just be in a matchup that could feature the Rams throwing more often than usual against what looks like one of the league’s worst slot defenses through two weeks.

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