FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 3 Monday Night (Rams at Bengals)
In the second game of Monday's NFL doubleheader, the struggling Cincinnati Bengals will host the Los Angeles Rams as modest 3.0-point favorites. The biggest question of the slate surrounds Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow (calf), who is expected to be a game-time decision.
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.
Stafford's fantasy outputs (14.46 and 15.98 FanDuel points) have been somewhat muted thus far, but he ought to have more than one passing touchdown after logging back-to-back 300-yard performances. Stafford's piled up 38 and 55 pass attempts through two weeks, so he should continue to rack up gaudy yardage totals through the air. Cincinnati ranks 21st in adjusted pass defense thus far, as well, per numberFire's metrics.
However, his lack of rushing upside will be a major hurdle toward leading this slate in scoring, and a big day for Stafford should mean an even bigger day for his new favorite target, Puka Nacua ($14,000).
Nacua has already seen a whopping 35 targets through two weeks, earning an absurd 39.3% target share and 35.4% air yards share. He's averaged 12.5 receptions and 133.0 receiving yards, yet is still waiting on his first NFL touchdown.
Rams running back Kyren Williams ($10,500) should also see loads of work. With Cam Akers out of the picture in Week 2, Williams would go on to play 96.2% of the snaps while logging 14 carries and 10 targets. He already has four touchdowns this season, too. That kind of usage will play at MVP all day.
In all, Nacua and Williams are the much more exciting MVP candidates, whereas Stafford is probably more suited as a flex play in most lineups.
Given that the Bengals are 0-2 and have taken this Burrow decision down to the wire, it's quite possible he does play. But even if he does, he's incredibly difficult to trust after averaging just 4.2 yards per pass attempt. For context, that's tied for the league's worst mark with Bryce Young.
An active Burrow would presumably see a much lower MVP roster percentage than usual, though, so there's value in rolling the dice with him. The fact that the spread has gone up for Cincinnati this morning is a positive sign, too.
If Burrow is ruled out, backup Jake Browning ($13,000) would enter as a true wild card. Going undrafted in 2019, this would be the 27-year-old's first NFL start, and the four snaps he played in Week 1 were the first of his career. Outside of rostering him strictly to be contrarian, it's tough to include Browning in the multiplier slot.
All the uncertainty at quarterback leaves murky outlooks for Ja'Marr Chase ($15,500) and Tee Higgins ($12,500), but the targets have been there for both. Chase has a 24.3% target share and 27.0% air yards share, while Higgins has an even better 28.6% target share and 58.6% air yards share.
Particularly if Burrow plays, I wouldn't rule out either guy having a big performance, albeit with more risk than usual. Higgins got back on track last week with 24.9 FanDuel points in Week 2. This could be the perfect buy-low opportunity on Chase, though, who's fallen short of seven FanDuel points in both games.
Joe Mixon ($11,000) is perhaps the most reliable piece of this Cincinnati offense. He's played 71.2% of the snaps while averaging 13 rushes and 5 targets per game. He's also seen 100% of the rush attempts inside the red zone. numberFire's model actually projects him for the second-most FanDuel points.
The QB situation could lead to Mixon being the focal point of the Bengals' attack, and it can't hurt that Los Angeles is 23rd in adjusted rush defense thus far.
Tutu Atwell ($10,000) has taken a backseat to all the Nacua hype, but he's quietly earned a 19.1% target share and 29.9% air yards share. In an offense that's airing it out relentlessly, that's amounted to 8.5 targets per game. He's a fantastic flex play who could be considered as a fringe MVP play, too.
Van Jefferson ($9,500) and Tyler Higbee ($8,000) continue to play loads of snaps but have little to show for it in the box score. Higbee's seen an 11.2% target share while Jefferson's at 10.1%. With Nacua, Williams, and Atwell dominating the opportunities, these two are touchdown-or-bust options.
The Rams D/ST ($9,000) hasn't been anything special, but they have to be considered against a hobbled Burrow or inexperienced Browning.
On Cincinnati's side, Tyler Boyd ($9,500) remains the third wideout behind Chase and Higgins. He has a decent 15.7% target share, but a mere 11.2% air yards share tends to limit his ceiling. Similar to Jefferson and Higbee, he likely needs some touchdown luck to crack the optimal lineup.
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. is doubtful, so Drew Sample ($6,500) is the most likely candidate to see an uptick in snaps. Sample hasn't seen a single target on the young season, though, making him a dart throw at best.
Like the Rams' defense, the Cincinnati D/ST ($9,000) also deserves consideration against an offense we're expecting to drop back often. Stafford threw a pair of picks last week versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Given that we're lacking many appealing plays under $10,000, kickers Brett Maher ($8,500) and Evan McPherson ($8,500) could be factors. Maher has been pretty busy, too, scoring 15 and 13 FanDuel points to open the year.
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.