Due to overlay, we got a resizing of the 2-game slate contest on Underdog, but we still get a combination Sunday Night and Monday Football contest. The contest titled Prime Time Palooza consists of 11,304 entries at a $5 entry point with $10k to first place. It is the same format that we saw on Monday night with the same roster size as the Main Slate contest but with only 4 drafters instead of 6. For this week, we get the 49ers (-1.5) traveling to Denver to face the Broncos with a 44.5 o/u on Sunday Night and the Cowboys traveling to the Meadowlands to take on the Giants (-1) with a 39 o/u on Monday Night.
Let’s dig in.
Draft Strategy for Week 3 Sunday and Monday Night Football – 49ers @ Broncos & Cowboys @ Giants
With two relatively low over/unders on this slate, people are naturally gravitating toward the running backs. Saquon Barkley, Javonte Williams, and Ezekiel Elliot all go in the first 5/6 picks with some combination of Deebo Samuel, Courtland Sutton, and CeeDee Lamb mixed in with them. This isn’t much of a surprise as the Giants, Cowboys, and 49ers rank in the bottom 8 in pass rate over expectation (PROE). Naturally, these teams want to run the ball early and often, slowing down the game, this leads to the low o/us for the games. The Broncos have thrown slightly more often than average but are nearly at expectation through 2 weeks. Drafters tend to believe these games will be slow due to the first 5 players being drafted. You can make an argument that Deebo is considered a RB with the additional injury to Tyrion Davis-Price after Elijah Mitchell got hurt in week 1, leaving the 49ers’ depth at the position thin. He has handled 12 carries through 2 weeks. Naturally, he goes in the first 3 picks of drafts.
It will be interesting to see how the 49ers shift their game plan with the season-ending injury to Trey Lance. Will they be more pass-heavy with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm? Or do they continue to be a run-first team and only pass when necessary? A major key to the slate could be the return of George Kittle to the lineup, allowing the 49ers to open up their offense. Kittle is currently going as the 1st TE off the board in the middle rounds. With the presumed increase in pass rate (due to a non-rushing QB), Brandon Aiyuk becomes a key target in drafts. If they stay run-heavy, both Jeff Wilson and Jordan Mason will be heavily involved and have immense TD upside. Tyrion Davis-Price was the primary goal-line back in week 2.
Going up against the 49ers, we have the severely struggling Broncos. Off-season QB acquisition, Russell Wilson, has not looked like the QB the Broncos had expected to receive when they traded multiple 1st and 2nd round draft picks plus players for him this offseason. He still capitalizes on a relatively weak QB grouping providing by far the highest ceiling out of him, Jimmy, Daniel Jones, and Cooper Rush. With the rib injury taking Jerry Jeudy out of the game in week 2, there are some initial concerns he may miss week 3, however, he does expect to play. KJ Hamler (listed questionable) will take on WR3 duties for the Broncos and Russell Wilson. Hamler has breakaway speed and has the ability to connect with Russ on one of his famous moon balls. With TDs being so important in 2-game slates, that could/would make him important to own to take down the top prize. If he misses, expect Kendall Hinton to fill that role. Melvin Gordon, on the otherhand, typically goes late in drafts and is playing around 40% of the time. He can easily steal goal-line work from Javonte and give you leverage on the field.
Speaking of backup running backs, drafters are selecting Zeke early however, he only plays around 60-65% of snaps. The other 35-40% are played by Tony Pollard, he is typically involved in the passing game as well. If Pollard is used around the goal-line over Zeke (as the fantasy community has been clamoring for years), he would be nice leverage on the field.
The most imperative part of the slate will be deciphering the receiving cores for the Giants and Cowboys. Over the last 2 weeks, Noah Brown has been a near full-time player as the WR2, but Michael Gallup is finally healthy. There are reports he will be on a pitch count, but he should eat into the overall workload. Dalton Schultz hasn’t yet been ruled out after suffering a knee sprain, rendering backup TE, Jake Ferguson, an interesting dart throw late. As for the Giants, it has been more of a carousel. Through two weeks, Sterling Shepard, David Sills, Richie James, and Kenny Golladay have all seen more than 70% of snaps in a game, Kadarius Toney was also mixed in. Figuring out the playing time will be important to drafting properly late in drafts.
Top Plays for Drafts
- Russell Wilson – Best QB on the slate with the best WR core.
- Deebo Samuel – Combo RB/WR with plenty of HVT upside
- Jerry Jeudy – Undervalued as he is currently overcoming an injury. Was targeted on 3 of his 5 routes run last Sunday.
- Sterling Shepard – Projected #1 WR for Daniel Jones
- Saquon Barkley – Involved in both the run and pass game, his usage suggests he is fully healthy. He is dynamic when healthy.
Players That Could Differentiate Your Lineup
- Kendall Hinton – Depends on the health of Hamler
- Jordan Mason – potential RB2 with goal-line upside on one of the most run-heavy teams in the league
- Noah Brown – Has established a connection with Cooper Rush from their time on the scout team.
- Michael Gallup – What happens if he gets a full complement of snaps? Has the potential to break a deep one even on a pitch count.
- Daniel Bellinger – Rookie TE playing the majority of snaps. Daniel Jones has averaged 6.6 YPA and doesn’t force the ball downfield. If they get behind, expect Bellinger to be used to surmount a comeback.