Mitigating Risk: Divisional DraftKings Cash Game Plays January 13, 2017  |  Justin Edwards


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The time to grind is here, boys and girls. While we throw our hard-earned money at DFS and hope to become the next Milly Maker, it is prudent for us to allocate a good amount of that into “safe” (or at least much ‘safer’) Cash Games. You can portion your weekly payroll however you see fit, but I prefer the tried and true 80%/20% split. I’m putting most of my money trying to double-up my investment, and I’m always looking for new ways to make that something a bit closer to a guarantee. Some of my favorite work of the offseason was done by Evan Silva (Identifying Top Scorers) and was later revamped a little bit by Sean Fakete (The RB/WR and QB/TE Profile). What I’ve done with the amazing prep work by these guys is picked the 5 most predictive categories and found the player (or players) who fit the most, if not all, of them in the upcoming week. The end goal will be to find guys who should have some of the highest floors for the Sunday slate and turn them into profitable lineups that can scoop Head-to-Heads and 50-50s/Double-ups alike.

I’ll explain the inclusion of a category below each position and briefly explain the importance. I strongly suggest you read the above articles if you have not; they both give you a much more intricate explanation than what you’ll read here. The point of this exercise is to try and predict who will definitely check a box (Something like “Home Team” is always a straight Yes or No) and at the same time find someone who might or should check a box.

 

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QB

Category #1 Finish Top 6 Top 12
Pass Attempts > 35 67% 55% 53%
Favorite 69% 64% 59%
Home 61% 57% 53%
*Pass Defense >= 15th 69% 67% 64%
Team Total > 22.5 67% 58% 52%

*Opposing Pass Defense ranked 15th or worse in Football Outsiders’ DVOA

We’re looking for signal callers who typically chuck the ball around, on a team with a high implied team point total, playing a defense ranked in the bottom half of the league. Pretty simple, right?

Tom Brady, NE ($7,600)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes No (5th) Yes (30)

-Tom averaged 36 attempts/gm throughout the 2016 season, but he was utilized much less down the home stretch in games that the Pats were handedly putting away their opponent, finishing the season with 32-27-33 passes to wrap things up.

-Even with the abbreviated workload and a total of 678 passing yards in the final three weeks, Brady still managed two different 3-TD games. The bad news here is that Houston has allowed two such games in the entirety of 2016, allowing 1 or fewer (zero) passing scores in ten different contests. While Brady is mostly match-up proof, he’s going to have a doozy of a time moving the ball against a shutdown pass defense that allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs in the regular season.

 

Matt Ryan, ATL ($7,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes No (13th) Yes (28)

-After averaging 35 attempts/gm over the first 8 weeks of the season, Ryan has been able to lay off the gas and hasn’t had much of a chance to compile stats against lesser opponents like San Francisco (23 attempts) and Los Angeles (28 attempts).

-In a close Week 6 loss to divisional opponent Seattle, the Falcons opted to move the ball through the air and racked up a 335-3-1 line for Matt Ryan when their run game could only muster up 52 yards. With the Seahawks allowing a league-low 3.4 yards per carry during the regular season and Atlanta carrying the best pass-catching RB tandem in the league, Matt Ryan will have every excuse to put the onus of moving the ball on his own back.

 

Alex Smith, KC ($6,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes (28.25)

-Though Smith only hit the 35 pass attempt mark six times on the season, one of them did come against this very same Pittsburgh Steelers team in a Week 4 shelacking when he tossed the ball a season-high 50 times. A similar game script is very unlikely (43-14 loss), but that’s not to say that Pittsburgh won’t be able to force Kansas City’s offense to keep the foot on the gas.

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RB

Category #1 Finish Top 6 Top 12 Top 24
18+ Touches 92% 73% 66% 53%
Favorite 71% 63% 60% 54%
Home 61% 56% 55% 53%
*RB Defense >= 15th 75% 67% 66% 62%
3+ receptions 76% 71% 67% 58%

*Opposing Rushing Defense ranked 15th or worse in Football Outsiders’ DVOA

While some of that should be pretty self-explanatory (’18+ Touches’ for example, means that the no. 1 RB had 18 or more touches in that given week; a Top 6 will have 18+ 73% of the time, a Top 12 66% of the time, etc.), something like the ranking of the defense the running back is going up against is a little more precise. Just as a quick example, if we are looking for a Top 12 back in a specific week, we are going to need a two-thirds chance of him catching at least 3 passes.

Ezekiel Elliott, DAL ($8,500)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes No (14th) Yes

-Up until a Week 16 blowout win, Zeke had 18+ touches in 14/14 games this season and still managed 13 touches in limited playing time against Detroit. Back in a Week 6 match-up against Green Bay, the rookie RB touched the ball 30 times and accumulated 174 total yards. No use in saving those legs now that we’re in the Divisional Round; there’s practically no price too high for a guy that could touch the ball 25-30 times behind this O-Line that will likely be getting LT Tyron Smith back in time for the Sunday start.

 

LeGarrette Blount, NE ($5,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) No

-There is no chance Blount gets us the 3 receptions we typically look for here when Dion Lewis and James White are splitting the backfield with him, but as 16-point favorites at home, game script will likely make this an easy “Blount Game”. Over the last two years he is averaging 17.8 DK points in games the Patriots are favored by double-digits.

 


WR

Category #1 Finish Top 6 Top 12 Top 24 Top 36
6+ receptions 98% 86% 76% 63% 52%
Favorite 65% 57% 56% 54% 52%
O/U Result = Over 73% 64% 63% 58% 55%
*WR Defense >= 15th 63% 61% 63% 60% 59%
Age < 30 86% 85% 84% 84% 83%

*Opposing Team Defense ranked 15th or worse against that WR type in Football Outsiders’ DVOA

So we get lots of points from big reception games in PPR scoring, huh? Who would’ve thunk it! What might come as a surprise is the fact that correctly guessing which games go over the Vegas total is much more predictive for WR output than the Vegas point total itself. Not only that, but it’s also more predictive than that player’s team total. Finding games that we see as a good bet to surpass the O/U will be a sneaky way to fall into some upside. I’m not going to pretend to be an incredible sports bettor, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find games that are more likely to end up as a shootout (GB vs. DAL) than others (NE vs. HOU).

 

Antonio Brown, PIT ($9,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes No Yes Yes (19th) Yes

-AB had over 100 yards after a couple of huge early-game plays but didn’t get to add on much as Pittsburgh elected to spend the rest of the game feeding Le’Veon. After those scores he now has seven receiving touchdowns over his last six games, but only a single 100-yard performance over his last seven.

 

Julio Jones, ATL ($8,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes

-Despite playing only 14 games, Julio still managed to finish 2nd in the league with 1,409 yards receiving while hitting 6 receptions in seven of those fourteen. He also hit 100+ yards in 50% of his games. Of everyone in the league with 100 or more targets, Jones was 2nd in the league to only DeSean Jackson with 17.0 yards per reception. As you’ll see below, the Seahawks have been very weak against the deep ball ever since Safety Earl Thomas went down with a broken leg:

Dez Bryant, DAL ($6,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes

-With 70 plus yards in six of his final seven full games (and one forgettable 9 target effort), Dez created a nice floor for himself en route to scoring 6 touchdowns over the same span. Priced as the WR7, he has almost as good of a shot as anyone to finish as the WR1. If you’re fading Elliott, then I don’t see a way you can submit a lineup without Bryant.


Mohamed Sanu, ATL ($4,000)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
No Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes

-If you don’t want to spend up for a Julio Jones or Antonio Brown, maybe I could interest you in a Mohamed Sanu? At the low low price of $4k you’ll get the recipient of 10 Week 6 targets (5-47-1) against this same Seahawks team, and yes, Julio was fully healthy at the time.

 

 


TE

Category #1 Finish Top 6 Top 12
Home 63% 55% 51%
Favorite 62% 57% 53%
*TE Defense >= 15th 65% 63% 59%
**WR Defense >= 15th 62% 60% 58%
1+ TD 92% 81% 66%

*Opposing Team Defense ranked 15th or worse against TE in Football Outsiders’ DVOA

**Opposing Team Defense ranked 15th or worse against WRs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA

These percentages are much lower than other positions, helping to prove the fact that finding top tight ends is not a very easy process. I definitely subscribe to the “star” or “stud” mentality when selecting the big pass catchers and typically make that pick last when setting a lineup; opting to base the decision on price much more than the rest of my team. There is a massive correlation between startable TEs and scoring at least one TD; the great news is that getting into the end zone is often all we need to hit value, the bad news being the difficulty in predicting who actually scores. I found it interesting that Fakete included the opposing defenses prowess (or lack thereof) in defending the Wide Receiver in his TE profiles and can see how we can use that as a predictive value in our work here.

 

Travis Kelce, KC ($6,100)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (13th) Yes (32nd) Yes

-Kelce hit the century-yard mark in five of his final seven games and sees an opponent on Sunday night whose DVOA ranks dead last against opposing WR1’s. With target totals of 15, 8, 8, 5, 12 and 2 over that seven game stretch, it would be safe to say he is working as Alex Smith’s first read.


Jason Witten, DAL ($3,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (21st) No (4th) Yes

-Witten makes for an interesting and likely low-owned play against a Packers’ defense that has allowed 50+ yards to Kyle Rudolph, Eric Ebron and Will Tye over the last three weeks. Though he can disappear (goose egg in Week 13), he could be big for us if Dak Prescott wants to keep the ball underneath and avoid mistakes (double digit targets in three games, 8 or more catches in each of those).

 

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