FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 3 Monday Night (Eagles at Buccaneers)
Philadelphia's not off to a sizzling start with blowouts, but as expected, the reigning conference champs are 2-0. That same "as expected" moniker can't be applied to the Bucs, who were tied for the second-lowest win total in the NFL this year before their perfect start.
According to the NFL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Eagles are a 4.5-point favorite in this one, and its projected total is 44.5 points.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5 times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
FanDuel Research's Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and numberFire has projections if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both before making your lineups.
The Eagles and Buccaneers are actually numberFire's top-two rushing defenses in the league to start the season, but the pair are, respectively, the 16th- and 18th-easiest pass defenses in the league -- or middle-of-the-pack. This should force these teams into a mode in which they're not entirely comfortable given the below-average pace and pass rates in this one.
If we're looking at quarterbacks, it has to start with Jalen Hurts ($16,000), but he's no free square. Per NFL's Next Gen Stats, Hurts' -0.15 expected points added per drop back (EPA/db) actually trails Russell Wilson and Gardner Minshew, but it's a limited sample for last year's MVP runner-up. Of course, Hurts is always in the single-slate MVP conversation as the rushing-touchdown-induced beneficiary of the Eagles' entire goal-line package.
Due to injuries and other factors, Philadelphia has actually surrendered the most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks, so Baker Mayfield ($14,000) might be the better choice under the radar. The expected stop-gap in Tampa has the third-best EPA/db in the NFL among qualified starters (0.17), so it's really his name value that might detract people in a surprisingly soft matchup.
Mayfield even lags behind Mike Evans ($14,500) in salary, and it's because the future Hall of Famer is off to a torrid start in 2023. He's piled up a 25.0% target share that's turned into 6.0 catches, 117.5 yards, and a touchdown per game to this point. I'll likely avoid him at MVP, though.
Evans is actually logging a lower percentage of routes (85.5%) than Chris Godwin ($10,500) at 88.4%. He's just made supreme use of the opportunities he's gotten to this point in a small sample. With Philly sporting an excellent 35% pressure rate (tied-seventh in the NFL), Godwin's 9.4 aDOT might garner more work tonight than Evans' downfield role (13.1 aDOT).
The Eagles have a similar dynamic where DeVonta Smith ($12,500) has significantly outperformed A.J. Brown ($12,000) on an identical 29.4% target share to this stage. Smith has two scores to Brown's zero, and Brown actually has more air yards per game (112.9) than Smith (107.8). Smith has just cashed in on them. Box scores drive popularity, enhancing Brown's and Godwin's appeal relative to their teammates in largely similar roles.
In cash games, the four wideouts have the lion's share of their team's passing work, so taking all four in lieu of a quarterback could be intriguing. In tournaments, you could make better cases for all of them at MVP if Hurts' struggles do continue.
It's a bit odd that I didn't list two feature backs last week, D'Andre Swift ($11,500) and Rachaad White ($11,000), who are coming off big games at MVP, but their extenuating circumstances make this a suboptimal spot for both beyond the matchup.
Swift was highly effective in Week 2 with 72.0% of the snaps, posting 169 yards and a touchdown. The problem is that he logged just 27.9% of the snaps in Week 1 with Kenneth Gainwell ($10,000) active, and Gainwell will return tonight. Though you'd presumably think (hope?) Swift is at the top of the heap and eligible for flex consideration after dominating, this isn't the matchup to take a dart at MVP that his role sticks.
As for White, he's likely going to play close to the 73.5% of the snaps he logged in Week 2, so there are no issues there. All other backs combined for 19 yards on 10 carries. It's a brutal matchup with the Eagles' vaunted rush defense that should be difficult, but it does help his consideration for flex spots that he's active as a pass-catcher with seven targets in two games.
The only other position players seeing at least half of their team's snaps are the tight ends, Dallas Goedert ($9,500) and Cade Otton ($7,500). They've been in on at least 94.0% of the snaps, and in a bit of a peculiar trend, Otton (4.5 targets per game) has been a bit busier than Goedert (4.0). Tampa's Otton has also seen one red zone target to Goedert's zero, but both big bodies are obvious touchdown threats in a single-game setting.
With so many pass attempts, there is a path for the defenses to put up some points. At identical marks, the Philadelphia D/ST ($9,000) does have a significantly higher pressure rate than the 28% mark for the Tampa Bay D/ST ($9,000), but Hurts' woes do widen the gap a bit. I prefer an offense-oriented build tonight, but stacking against either offense could tangibly work.
With offense in mind, kickers aren't my favorite, either. The Bucs have the third-worst rate of converting red zone trips to touchdowns (33.3%), so Chase McLaughlin ($8,500) makes a bit more sense than Jake Elliott ($8,500) on the push-happy Birds.
The only other players even worth consideration are Tampa's intriguing rookie duo of Trey Palmer ($8,000) and Sean Tucker ($7,000). Palmer has seen five targets in two games, so the preseason standout could score in a single-game setting. Tucker would have an exclusive role if White were to get nicked up, but he's also received enough carries (13) to suggest he could vulture a touchdown from a healthy but resting White, too.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.