Tonight’s game looks like it could be a defensive battle between two run-heavy teams. Of course, that opens up a variety of strategies for single-game slates. Heading into Sunday Night Football, Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all of the different slates, game formats and sites.
This column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There is loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 3 Sunday Night Football slate featuring the 49ers at the Broncos.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 3 Sunday Night Football
San Francisco will be without QB Trey Lance (leg), TE Tyler Kroft (knee), RBs Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) and Elijah Mitchell (knee), and OL Daniel Brunskill (hamstring). They also have several defensive players on injured reserve, including DE Jordan Williams, LB Curtis Robinson and CB Jimmy Ward, while DE Arik Armstead (foot) is questionable to play.
Denver should have WRs KJ Hamler (knee/hip) and Jerry Jeudy (ribs/shoulder) available, though they have a lot of question marks on defense. Defensive back Darius Phillips (hamstring) is out, while CB Patrick Surtain II (shoulder), LB Josey Jewell (calf) and DE Dre’Mont Jones (neck) are all questionable.
In a fickle twist of fate, Jimmy Garoppolo is now the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers for the foreseeable future. After an offseason of trade rumors, Garoppolo ended up agreeing to a restructured contract to be the backup for Trey Lance. After Lance was lost for the year in Week 2 with a lower leg injury suffered in the first quarter, Garoppolo came off the bench and did not miss a beat, leading the ‘Niners to a 27-7 rout of the Seahawks.
Although Jimmy G has been labeled a game manager and is in the bottom-five quarterbacks for the full Week 3 projections, he had eight multi-touchdown games in his 15 starts last year. Garoppolo threw for a score and rushed for another on Sunday. While San Francisco is a run-first offense that is projected for fewer pass attempts than any team, save for Chicago, Garoppolo has been their main signal-caller over the last five seasons. He gives the team a better chance to steal a win on the road in Denver than Lance.
Second year running back Elijah Mitchell was placed on injured reserve after hurting his knee in the season opener and last week, rookie Tyiron Davis-Price suffered a high ankle sprain and will miss at least a month. That means veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. will once again be the lead option in this crowded backfield.
Rookie Jordan Mason will likely serve as the backup, but we could also see veteran Marlon Mack suit up for the first time in a San Francisco uniform. Whichever player seems to likely have the edge is in play on DraftKings, where they both have a sub-$2,000 salary. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk actually saw the most snaps at this position last week. HE turned one of his two carries into a one-yard touchdown. Of course the high-value touches may very well go to Deebo Samuel who continues to moonlight as a “wide back” in a hybrid running back/wide receiver role.
Speaking of Samuel, he continues to be impressive with his yards after the catch. His counterpart Brandon Aiyuk is also excelling in that category. This duo has 24 of the team’s 48 targets on the season, with 13 and 11 respectively. Their fortunes will rise with Garoppolo at the helm, but George Kittle is expected to be suited up for the first time all year. He could take some of those targets.
Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud III and Danny Gray round out this receiving corps, with the latter a potential game-day inactive. Jennings should play on about half the snaps, but he is well down the target tree in this offense. McCloud has double duty, as he is returning both punts and kickoffs and the veteran will likely get an opportunity or two on offense to get his speed onto the field.
George Kittle was a full participant in practice this week after missing time with a groin injury. He is expected to play on around two-thirds of the snaps. This is a boost for the running game as this sixth-year veteran is one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. Tyler Kroft had been the main backup, but he suffered an MCL sprain that will keep him on the shelf for the next month. That leaves long-time 49er Ross Dwelley as the main backup with third-year man Charlie Woerner as the emergency back and special teams player.
San Francisco has the fifth best rushing DVOA and ranks seventh in passing DVOA. Denver has allowed five sacks through two weeks and the 49ers have four of their own to go along with 13 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
The Stokastic projections have Russell Wilson just inside the top-15 quarterbacks for Week 3. While he has been a little bit disappointing, we should not forget that in Week 1 he rolled up 340 yards and probably would have had multiple touchdowns if he was not working under a rookie head coach. Both Wilson and the play calling were disappointing last week against Houston, though it does seem like the Texans may be more than just an automatic win on schedules this season. Wilson should continue to see increased chemistry with his receivers. Sunday is a tough matchup but better days should be ahead for the venerable veteran.
Javonte Williams has taken the lead of the backfield and it is looking closer to a 70/30 split with Melvin Gordon III. Either player is quite capable in the running and passing game, so Gordon still has a chance at upside if he is having the better game and earning more touches. That leaves very little for Mike Boone who has one carry this season or H-back Andrew Beck who has just two receptions and one carry. Gordon is a significant discount on DraftKings with his $6,200, which is well below the $10,000 price tag for Williams. On FanDuel it is Williams at $13,000 and Gordon at $10,500 which is proportionally nowhere near the disparity on DraftKings.
KJ Hamler (ribs/knee) was out last week and Jerry Jeudy (shoulder/ribs) was dinged up in-game and has been getting in limited practices this week, though he is expected to play. Hamler will serve as the WR3, although we may see more two-tight end sets from the Broncos to handle the fierce front seven of San Francisco. Courtland Sutton is healthy and averaging nearly 100 yards per game and he will find the end zone at some. Sutton does have a bit of a premium over Jeudy in the salary column, though nothing that should really drive our decision making on Sunday night.
Off season darling Albert Okwuegbunam has been disappointing so far this season. He only had two targets on Sunday and did not catch either of them. Wilson has a long history of leaning on the tight end position, particularly in the red zone, so better days are ahead. Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson should each be on the field for around one-third of the snaps, but they have four combined targets this season and are best left for those gamers building 100 or more lineups.
Denver has the eighth best rushing DVOA and the sixth best passing DVOA, along with homefield advantage. Though San Francisco will look to keep things on the ground, if Wilson and company can put some points on the board, the defense should have a few shots at Garoppolo for sacks or turnovers.
Sunday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.
Week 3 Sunday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings
Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Deebo Samuel: Clearly he will need to reach pay dirt in order to provide “profit” on this lofty salary. Through two games he is averaging 6.5 targets for 3.5 receptions and 29 yards with 6.0 carries for 52.5 yards and one touchdown.
- Russell Wilson: Wilson is no stranger to the San Francisco defense having played them twice a season during his Seattle days.
- Courtland Sutton: Feels like the best Denver option to be a game breaker with his ability to work over the middle and break free downfield.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: Far from a backup, he has been “the guy” for most of his time with the ‘Niners.
- Javonte Williams: If this were more of a split backfield, he would be towards the bottom of this section.
- Jeff Wilson Jr.: Knows his role and can contribute in the passing game, touches are tenuous.
- Jerry Jeudy: If he were completely healthy, he would be even with Sutton.
- Brandon McManus: Savings is helpful, 16 for 26 from 50 or more yards over the last three seasons.
- Brandon Aiyuk: Can score from anywhere on the field, but volume is always sketchy.
- Albert Okwuegbunam: Put up or shut up time, fantasy backers are getting very nervous.
Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Melvin Gordon: Would slot in by McManus in the top-10 if this were more of a shared backfield situation.
- George Kittle: No way they rushed him back early, but hard to see him on more than two-thirds of the snaps as he shakes off the rust.
- Robbie Gould: Still outstanding from inside 45 yards.
- Denver D/ST: Should be good for a handful of sacks and turnovers in their familiar stomping ground.
- San Francisco D/ST: Slight drop for being the visiting team.
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- Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack: Ideally Mack is inactive, viable on DraftKings only for the salary savings.
- KJ Hamler: Needs his coach to open up the playbook, otherwise he is relegated to 40-to-50% of the snaps, with a couple targets.
- Jauan Jennings: Ibid.
- Kyle Juszczyk: Coach loves to spring him loose in the red zone, but only once or twice a game, so he needs to be efficient.
- Ray-Ray McCloud III: Returns punts and kickoffs, should get a couple offensive snaps.
- Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner: Backup tight ends and single-game slates, what a wild combination.
- Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck and Eric Tomlinson: Denver’s backup tight ends, combined they have outproduced Albert O.
- Mike Boone, Danny Gray and Montrell Washington: Washington returns punts and kickoffs, though that role could easily go to Hamler and Boone if the Broncos need the roster spot.
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