This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We've had two low-scoring primetime games in Week 3 and Monday Night Football doesn't project much differently. Both the Cowboys and Giants have tried to hide their quarterbacks through two games, which typically isn't a recipe for a lot of offense. There are still a lot of interesting spots to explore and a few places where difference in pricing on the sites creates additional value.
The Giants are 2-0 but have shown little desire to win games through the air. Daniel Jones ($9,400 DK, $15,000 FD) has attempted only 55 passes through two games and averaged only 6.6 yards per attempt. Put another way, the Giants own the eighth-lowest pass rate overall and the ninth-lowest pass rate over expectation. Jones does have some ability with his legs, illustrated by his 16 rushing attempts this season. That's turned into only 46 rushing yards, but it's possible he pops off a big run. That makes him a more intriguing play than his surface numbers may suggest. All told, Jones is uninspiring and the Giants will hope to control the flow of the game with a heavily run-oriented gameplan, but there are paths to an upside performance if Jones is aggressive with his legs or if the Giants are forced to take to the air by game script.
We should start the other side of the quarterback conversation by noting that Cooper Rush ($9,600 DK, $14,000 FD) has a higher cost then Jones on DK. While it's true that Rush was efficient against the Bengals last week, Dallas tipped its hand in its preferred game flow. At halftime last week, Rush completed 12 of 18 passes for 162 yards. With the Cowboys up 17-3, he attempted 13 passes for 73 yards in the final two quarters. If you believe Dallas controls this game, Rush is risky from the perspective that he likely will have his volume limited as the Cowboys run out the clock. If you believe the Giants control the game, Rush may be forced to take to the air more. Simultaneously, that latter scenario likely means we are stuck in a low-scoring, slow-paced offensive environment due to the Giants preferred game plan. I find it difficult to envision the scenario where Rush gets the results needed from a fantasy perspective as a result.
Saquon Barkley ($11,800 DK, $14,500) has the highest price on DK and is second to Jones on FanDuel. The volume is safe, as Barkley has averaged 19.5 carries this season. Even better, he's averaged 28.5 routes per game, the equivalent of the team's third wide receiver. Dallas has a mediocre defense, but not one that is going to make me shy away.
Matt Breida ($2,000 DK, $5,500 FD) has six touches through two games. Even at his minimal price, there's not much case for rostering him barring an injury to Barkley.
The Dallas backfield is more ambiguous. Regardless of what the general public and fantasy managers may want, Ezekiel Elliott ($8,400 DK, $12,000 FD) remains the lead back. He averages 12.5 rushes per game and 4.2 yards per carry. He has had some involvement in the passing game, earning two targets in each of Dallas' first two games. That said, he's the fifth-most expensive player on the slate, and given the time share in the backfield, it's hard to justify that price.
The problem is that Tony Pollard ($8,200 DK, $10,000 FD) comes at no discount on DK and a minimal discount on FD, relative to Elliott. Pollard has nine total targets, which is a significantly better share than Elliot. That's the case for Pollard. The case against him is Elliot is more likely to see goal-line carries, which evens out the high-value touches for both players. Overall, Pollard still feels like the 1B to Elliot's 1A, without a price point that truly reflects that.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The teams switch roles at wide receiver, as the Giants have the more ambiguous situation among pass catchers. Wan'Dale Robinson ($800 DK, $6,000 FD) has been ruled out, and Kadarius Toney ($3,000 DK, $7,000 FD) is doubtful. For purposes of this article, both of those players will be excluded.
Sterling Shepard ($7,600 DK, $11,500 FD) and Richie James ($5,400 DK, $10,500 FD) have had remarkably similar involvement and role in the Giants' offense as measured by routes run, targets per route run, aDOT and yards per route run. Shepard is the top receiver, but the price difference on DraftKings doesn't fairly represent the relatively small gap between the players. On FanDuel, there's a much stronger case to play Shepard.
The next comparison comes down to Kenny Golladay ($6,200 DK, $7,500 FD) and David Sills ($5,000 DK, $7,000 FD) — imagine typing and reading that sentence a few months ago. Golladay was publicly benched last week to benefit of Sills. There aren't clear reports as to what the team plans to do with Golladay, so he is a flyer in large-field tournaments. He's priced significantly enough that it's a dangerous risk. However, for those who play 150-max contests, it's worth sprinkling in Golladay. Sills is another case to be treated differently based on the platform of the contest. On DraftKings, I'd pay the extra $400 for some safety in James. On FanDuel, Sills can come into play if there are trustworthy reports that Golladay won't have a role in the offense again this week.
The Giants haven't used tight ends aggressively in their passing attack early on. Tanner Hudson ($1,600 DK, $5,000 FD) leads the position group with 19 routes run in two games. He has a reasonable 15.8 percent targets per route run, which him makes a surprisingly intriguing punt play. Daniel Bellinger ($4,400 DK, $6,500 FD) may be the preferred option based on recency bias. However, he's run 17 routes this season and has only a 5.9 percent targets per route run rate so far this season.
Things are mostly clearer in Dallas. CeeDee Lamb ($10,200 DK, $13,000 FD) has dominated in any preferred metric to indicate his opportunity within the offense. Deciding whether to roster him comes down to preferred build and budget allocation. The matchup against New York isn't scary, but the same conversation about pace and game script discussed with Rush also applies to Lamb.
Lamb's role could change when Michael Gallup ($7,400 DK, $11,000) returns from his ACL injury. After hopeful reports that Gallup might play this week, he is expected to be inactive.
Noah Brown ($6,800 DK, $8,000 FD) has done an admirable job as the second receiver in the Dallas offense, and he is an excellent play without Gallup.
Unlike in New York, tight end factor heavily into the pass-catching mix in Dallas. Dalton Schultz ($6,400 DK, $9,500 FD) has a target share just below Brown, though his aDOT and yards per route run are significantly lower. However, Schultz is a game-time decision with a knee injury. Jake Ferguson ($300 DK, $7,500 FD) becomes a great punt play on DK if Schultz can't go. He's already been priced up on FanDuel, which makes him less interesting. If Schultz suits up and is projected to be a popular play, he's a comfortable fade based on the role he has been utilized in to this point.
Both teams want to get a lead and take the air out of the ball from an offensive perspective, which isn't really an environment we want to attack with defenses. However, Jones has still turned the ball over twice this season while also being sacked eight times. The Cowboys DST ($4,600 DK, $8,500 FD) has been priced aggressively, but it is a decent play as a salary saver. Although I'm not enthused by Dallas' backfield, I'd pair the DST with Elliot or Pollard and make sure to have Shepard or James in the same lineup.
Rush has thrown only interception in 91 career attempts. I'd project Dallas to be run heavy from an offensive philosophy as well. Those two things make me want to steer clear of the Giants defense ($3,800 DK, $9,500 FD), especially on FD.
Weather doesn't project to factor, and both kickers are priced similarly or identically. Brett Maher ($4,200 DK, $9,000 FD) has been perfect through two weeks and kicked the game-winner in Week 2. He's a reasonable play, because the Cowboys should move the ball decently, whether through the air on the ground. Graham Gano ($4,000 DK, $9,000 FD) has been similarly solid when called upon this season. The Giants have the slightly higher implied team total as home favorites, so Gano is also a reasonable play.