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Fantasy Football: Top smash plays, upgrades and fades for Week 3

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) makes a catch before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season is here, and so is the weekly look at the top smash, upgrade and fade plays for fantasy football. I'll integrate NFL totals, spreads, implied points and proprietary PFF matchup data each week, looking for players who score highly or poorly across all metrics.


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While the logic below can apply to multiple fantasy games, the primary focus is on season-long leagues. The content doesn't account for rostership in DFS — where you need some contrarian views to take down large tournaments. Many of the plays below will be chalky, which is another data point I leverage for start/sit decisions in season-long formats.

KEY:

  • SOS: PFF's Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.
  • OL Pass Block Advantage (OL PBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (pass blocking advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa).
  • OL Run Block Advantage (OL RBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (run blocking advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa)
  • WR/CB Matchup Advantage (WR MU): wide receiver versus cornerback matchup; derived from the WR/CB Matchup tool (matchup advantage grade — the higher the grade, the better the matchup for the receiver, and vice versa).
  • TE Matchup Advantage (TE MU): tight end versus linebackers and safeties; derived from the TE Matchup tool (matchup advantage — the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the tight end, and vice versa).

QUARTERBACKS

For quarterbacks, we are looking for big point totals and implied points. The spread doesn't matter as much for pass-heavy teams, but we are looking for trailing scripts that could cause run-heavy offenses to throw more than usual.

Smashes
Rank Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
QB1 Kyler Murray @JAX 52.0 -7.5 29.75 6.8 22 22.5
QB2 Lamar Jackson @DET 50.0 -8.0 29.00 10.0 -3 26.8
QB3 Patrick Mahomes LAC 54.5 -6.5 30.50 5.6 2 24.5

Each of these three studs is a leader in the categories above for Week 3.

Kyler Murray averages 34.9 fantasy points per game and shows no signs of letting up in Week 3. This matchup is of the hulk-smash variety with the total, implied points, QB SOS and OL PBA aligning. The only thing that could hold Murray back is a 20-point halftime lead, and his legs insulate downside.

Lamar Jackson almost ousted Murray from the top spot with an even stronger matchup, but he doesn't carry the same week-to-week upside in the passing game. However, Jackson leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards with 193, and we should see some long runs in this one. We could see 20 fantasy points on his rushing alone. In addition, he draws the week's No. 1 QB SOS mark, meaning we could see fireworks from all directions.

Patrick Mahomes carries the highest implied point total for Week 3 in a game that could shoot out with the Chargers.

Near Smashes/Upgrades
Rank Player Opponent Total Spread Implied Points QB SOS OL PBA PPR
QB5 Josh Allen WAS 45.5 -7.5 26.50 5.3 -30 21.8
QB7 Dak Prescott PHI 52.0 -4.0 28.00 3.3 -8 19.9
QB14 Derek Carr MIA 44.5 -4.0 24.25 5.9 0 19.4

Josh Allen‘s OL PBA, slightly lower total and implied points eliminated him from the smash section. However, any quarterback with decent numbers across these metrics who plays on the seventh-highest passing team (66%) and manages 20% of the team's designed rushing attempts needs to be considered a near smash. Allen's DFS rostership current projects at a low 5.8% on DraftKings, making him an excellent tournament option.

Dak Prescott‘s matchup numbers aren't strong, but his 28 implied points and 52 total spell shootout. The Chargers invited the Cowboys to run the ball more in Week 2, and the coaching staff complied. Dallas ran the ball on 48% of plays versus 18% in Week 1 but never trailed over 3 points. That could replicate itself on Monday night, but I expect plenty of passing.

Derek Carr is dealing with an ankle injury but should play. He has finished as a top-12 option in seven out of nine games, and the Raiders' attack is opening up. Now the QB8 draws a good but not great matchup versus the Dolphins after smashing the Steelers.

Fades

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