FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 3 Sunday Night (Steelers at Raiders)

Austin Swaim
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FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 3 Sunday Night (Steelers at Raiders)

Week 3's dessert course is a matchup of NFL blue bloods that aren't off to the starts their fan bases were hoping for. The Pittsburgh Steelers used two defensive touchdowns to avoid 0-2 against the Cleveland Browns on Monday, and the Las Vegas Raiders are coming home wounded from a bashing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Vegas is also yet to get their offense going in either game thus far.

According to the NFL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Raiders are a 2.5-point favorite in this one, and its projected total is 43.0 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.

MVP Candidates

Though the total isn't super inspiring, I love the over here in a game where I believe both offenses get on track in Las Vegas' dome.

The Raiders are numberFire's worst overall defense at 0.29 Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) allowed per play. The Steelers are tied for the 12th-worst defense in Rushing NEP allowed per play, and this was a pass defense carved up by Brock Purdy in the opener before they buoyed their Passing NEP allowed per play with multiple turnovers of Deshaun Watson.

With that the case, Kenny Pickett ($14,000) is a great place to start. Pickett's 2023 has been awful thus far, failing to eclipse 12 FanDuel points in two matchups with elite defenses. Against potentially the worst in the NFL, Pickett averaged 16.1 per game last year in each game with at least 30 attempts, and he could be well-positioned for that here as a 2.5-point underdog.

On the favored side, I imagine Josh Jacobs ($12,500) won't sneak up on anyone as an MVP candidate despite his slow start. Jacobs has still handled 77.7% of Vegas' snaps, and he's received 23.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus double targets) per game despite a total breakdown of the Raiders' run game thus far. As mentioned, Pittsburgh has been easier to attack on the ground.

A pair of contrarian choices here could be Davante Adams ($15,500) and Najee Harris ($13,000).

Adams' high salary doesn't change that wideouts aren't often optimal MVPs, and his 34.7% target share seems a bit shallower when he got 9 targets to 10 for Jakobi Meyers ($11,500) when the two shared the field in Week 1. Obviously, Adams' talent allows for a ceiling north of 100 receiving yards with multiple scores, but his work was fairly similar to Meyers when the two were on the field together.

I prefer Harris against the worse defense; his role could bloom in a different type of contest. When trailing significantly for much of the first two weeks, Harris has still played 54.2% of the snaps and has gotten the Steelers' only red zone carry thus far. I'm not actually concerned about him losing work to 5'8" Jaylen Warren ($10,000) in a neutral matchup that could provide rushing success not found from either to this point.

It's pretty rare to not include both quarterbacks up here, but Jimmy Garoppolo ($14,500) has broken 20 FanDuel points in just one of his last 15 contests. He's established as an immobile, unproductive fantasy quarterback facing a defense that just wrecked Watson on Monday. To me, he's reserved for flex spots only.

Flex Breakdown

Part of Garappolo's lack of appeal is that a lot of his production can be captured through Adams and Meyers. The two combined for 19 of the 26 targeted passes he threw in Week 1, and Meyers should be good to go after getting in a full practice on Friday. Popularity projections could well dictate which of he or Adams to target, but the $4,000 salary discount with Meyers is hard to beat.

It's much harder to peg down the Steelers, enhancing Pickett's appeal. George Pickens ($11,000) is their lead guy both on route participation (97.4%) and targets per game (8.5), and he's flatly got more juice to pay them off than veteran Allen Robinson ($9,500) at this stage. That said, both -- plus Calvin Austin III ($7,500) -- have gotten at least three downfield targets (10-plus yards) this season. Pickett has been letting it fly despite minimal efficiency to this point.

Austin III played 74.9% of the snaps in Week 2, so at his salary, he's a legitimate threat to lead Pittsburgh in targets. When factoring in salary, I'd have to rank him above Pickens. Robinson got eight targets in Week 1, so there's a path for him to earn volume and not be written off entirely.

If I'm most likely to leave behind a Steelers producer up to this point, it likely is Warren. He got six targets against Cleveland, but the Raiders' toothless D won't put together the same pass rush to necessitate checkdowns. Las Vegas has the lowest pressure rate in the league this season (25%) despite facing a pair of QBs who don't mind taking sacks.

Part of the reason that Vegas isn't a factor in this section is that they just don't use anyone else. Hunter Renfrow ($8,000) got one target last week while playing 66.7% of the snaps without Meyers. This offensive is heavily concentrated through Jacobs, Adams, and Meyers, so a final stacking partner to them in a 4-1 Vegas build might actually be kicker Daniel Carlson ($9,000).

Liking the over, I'm not a huge fan of taking kickers and defenses in this one. The Pittsburgh D/ST ($9,000) actually is tied for the fifth-lowest pressure rate (29%) themselves, yet we did see Garoppolo turn the ball over three times last week, so there is a path for them to keep the impact moments flowing.

Matt Canada's struggles are pretty well documented with the Steelers boasting just one offensive touchdown per game so far, but Chris Boswell ($8,500) has just two field goals in the same period. He's a decent plug assuming a "bend but Canada breaks it" red zone effort from the visitors.

I've got no interest in the league-worst Las Vegas D/ST ($7,500) at any salary, so the last name to consider is likely Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth ($8,000). Muth caught the team's lone touchdown in Week 1, but his role has dropped to play just 62.3% of the snaps across both weeks. He's a budget option to target this atrocious Raiders secondary, but Austin III has a better role and increased yardage upside at a lower mark.

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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.