Mitigating Risk: Week 14 DraftKings Cash Game Plays December 10, 2016  |  Justin Edwards


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 (Ezekiel Elliot has 291 touches through 12 games; he’s a pretty sure bet to hit 18 touches every week).

 

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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?

 

Matthew Stafford, DET ($6,800)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes (25.5)

Averaging 36 attempts a game, Matt has fallen below our standard of 35 just four times in twelve games.

-This week’s opponent, Chicago, has numbers that are weighted very favorably after a ridiculous Week 13 effort in which the San Francisco 49ers accumulated SIX passing yards for the entire game. Even with that game going in their favor they are allowing one of the league’s worst TD:INT ratios (17:5), and the 8 total turnovers they’ve forced have them ranked 31st in the league.  The Bears are allowing 380 yards/gm on the road; if we ignore the Week 13 debacle, they have been beaten up by the passing game recently, giving up 6 touchdowns and forcing only 1 interception from Weeks 10-12.

 

Colin Kaepernick, SF ($5,800)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (23.5)

-For an article about trying to avoid risk you could certainly find a point of contention about including CK. Before whatever happened last week happened (Vic Fangio, anyone?) Kaep had been averaging 62 yards/gm on the ground, a floor that set up a nice value before he even threw the ball. A Jets team that is having it’s own problems at the quarterback position will try to keep him in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm. The only problem therein lies is their dead-last passing defense according to DVOA.

-Most of you will scroll past this and I totes get it, but there are not a whole lot of QB options that can realistically get you 4-5x value.


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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.

 

DeMarco Murray, TEN ($7,000)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes

-Even with Derrick Henry mixing in here and there throughout the year DeMarco has remained one of the closest things to a bellcow back the league has to offer, averaging 23 touches/wk and catching the ball 3 or more times in eight of twelve games.

-Tennessee gets arguably the best defense in the league as they welcome the Broncos this Sunday. With lock-down corners and a smothering defense forcing opponents to find other ways to attack them, offenses have been able to exploit Denver’s rather weak rush defense.  The Titans have been trying that ‘smashmouth’ tactic against everyone they’ve faced and shouldn’t veer too far from the plan this week either. Murray will absolutely be the beneficiary, ranking behind only Gordon-Blount-DJ-Freeman for the league lead in red zone carries.

-Coming out of a bye week that should have helped to heal a minor toe injury, DeMarco should be a slam dunk play in a week that isn’t neccessarily ripe for the picking.

 

Frank Gore, IND ($4,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes

-While the volume more or less remains (19 touches/gm), the production has certainly lost it’s footing for Gore. It doesn’t help that he has caught more than 2 balls once in the Colts’ last five games.

-Much of Frank’s value comes in being the grinder for a very affluent offense, but Robert freaking Turbin has vultured him twice in the last three games and now has 4 TDs on the year, or, exactly as many as Frank Gore. You could do worse with this price point, but I’m willing to bet you could do better, too.

 

 

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 (NO vs. TB) than others (MIN vs. JAX).

 

Antonio Brown, PIT ($8,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes

-An actual, literal robotic machine, Brown has gone below 6 receptions only once in his last six games. In the one game he didn’t reach the mark he turned 6 targets into 5 catches, 92 yards and -oh yeah- 3 TDs.

-The utter deterioration of Buffalo’s cornerback crew has been slightly overstated as they have allowed only one 100-yard wide receiver game since Week 2 when the Jets’ Decker-Marshall-Enunwa ran around them with ease to rack up 319 yards between the three of them. Though they may not be giving up monster games they have managed to allow eight WR scores over their last five games while Antonio himself has six touchdowns over that same span.

-I can safely say that Brown will be a cash game fixture for me.


Julio Jones,
 ATL ($8,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes

-*With a case of Turf Toe, it looks as if Julio will be a game time decision. With Sanu already announced as Out, Jones could be on the receiving end of tons of targets or could be an even bigger candidate to get doubled than usual. If healthy I’d consider him a tournament play only.*


T.Y. Hilton, IND ($7,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes

-T.Y. has been a little bit up-and-down this season but is still averaging a cool 6 receptions/gm. After last week’s explosion against the Jets, he is racking up 95 yards/gm over the last month.

-Bad news for a Houston team that has allowed a litany of big days to receivers as of late (8-118-1 Jordy, 6-119-1 Inman, 4-57-1 Cooper, 9-107-1 ARob); Jonathan Joseph looks like a long stretch to play Sunday as he hasn’t practiced all week. In the Week 6 match-up between these teams Hilton was peppered with 9 targets but was only able to turn them into 3 catches and 49 yards. The needle is pointing way up on an improvement on those numbers.

 

Doug Baldwin, SEA ($6,800)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes

-Although his yards per target leave something to be desired, Dougie Fresh has been racking up the receptions as of late, catching 6 passes in four of his last five and getting to 104 yards in the lone game in which he missed the mark.

-Green Bay offers a wonderful match-up, ranking (garbage on fire emoji) according to DVOA against opposing wide receivers and giving big games to lil’ guys Jamison Crowder (3-102-1) and DeSean Jackson (4-51-1) in the same night.

-With a solid floor and an upside to find the end zone multiple times, Baldwin is a great play if you’re looking for a little extra ceiling in a wide receiver.

 

Golden Tate, DET ($6,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes

-Over the last 7 games Golden has returned to the target hog we all know and love; he’s averaging 9 a game and has turned them into a 6.9-89.7 line.

-As mentioned under the Stafford tidbit, Chicago has been not-too-hot on the road this season. Against smaller slot-type guys in general they have been exploited handily. Here is a list of great and not-so-great slot guys who have had their way with Chicago while the Bears were the away team;

Cole Beasley 7-73 on 7 targets

T.Y. Hilton 10-171-1 on 11 targets

Randall Cobb 11-95-1 on 15 targets

Adam Humphries 5-46 on 8 targets

Sterling Shepard 5-50-1 on 11 targets

-Tate should work as a counter-punch to Baldwin as we likely find him as a higher floor, lower ceiling play in this match-up.

 

Stefon Diggs, MIN ($6,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes

-Even though the Vikings’ Bye Week falls within the time frame, Diggs is still 7th in the league in targets over the last five weeks. He hasn’t fallen below 6 catches since October 23rd and has caught 13 balls on different occasions. As Sam Bradford keeps all of the balls close to the line of scrimmage as low-risk attempts, Diggs has been able to hold an impressive 84% catch rate over the last five weeks, catching 48 of his 57 targets.

-Despite the best (worst) efforts of an offense headed by Blake Bortles, the Jaguars’ defense has held strong against opponents, especially recently. Opposing offenses have been held in check, accumulating 608 passing yards over the last four games. Minnesota will likely follow suit with the teams that came before them; hold onto the ball and let Jacksonville’s terrible offense turn the ball over.  Diggs doesn’t turn out to be a very strong play as we assume Mike Zimmer would like to keep Bradford to a minimal amount of downfield looks.

 

Jamison Crowder, WAS ($5,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes

-Coming into his own in a powerful Washington passing attack, J-Mo has scored a touchdown in five of his last seven games, going for 108 and 88 yards in the two games he wasn’t able to find the end zone. Over that span he has 7+ catches in three of them.

-His Week 14 match-up will come against a once stout Eagles’ defense that has turned poor(ter). (That was a Stout/Porter joke, btw. Anybody? No?) They’ve recently been exploited by the likes of Julio Jones and the Green Bay receiving crew which is very understandable, but they had an equally tough time last week against Bengals’ wide receivers Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core. That is a sentence that nobody in the world up until this point has ever typed.

-Crowder was less of a point of emphasis when these two teams met in Week 6, but he still turned 4 targets into a 3-52-1 line. His price has actually dropped from his season-high tag of $5,800 that he has sported the last two weeks even though he has snuck into the top-10 in wide receiver red zone usage (15 targets).

 

Tyler Boyd, CIN ($4,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
No Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes

-A long shot to hit the 6 catch plateau as he has hit it just twice on the season, rookie Tyler Boyd has enjoyed more of a target share since A.J. Green went down three weeks ago. His target totals in those three games have been 8, 9 and 6.

-If not for a great match-up and a very digestible price, Boyd wouldn’t be much of a play. Cleveland has had a rough go of it against high-usage slot receivers, giving up tasty games to Cole Beasley (6-56-1), Quincy Enunwa (4-93-1), Kendall Wright (8-133-1), Jarvis Landry (7-120-1), and Steve Smith (5-60-1). Cincinnati doesn’t have much of an option but to incorporate their 2nd round pick.


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.

Cameron Brate, TB ($4,100)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (24th) No (12th) Yes

-With no true out-of-the-park sure things according to the match-ups this week, it may be best just to focus on tight ends who check the most boxes and have the best chances to get into the end zone. Brate is a good place to start as he has 80+ yards and a TD in two of his last four games, which is a pretty great ratio when we’re talking about tight ends. After a 12-yard score last week Cameron now leads tight ends with 6 TD catches inside the red zone. The Tampa Bay-New Orleans game has the highest Over/Under of the week at 51.


Eric Ebron, DET ($3,800)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (25th) No (14th) Yes

-The Detroit Lions’ tight end has come through with some straight stinkers in positive spots this year, but thus is the life of the position in general. We’ve hit on a good amount of “play your guys against the Bears” already so I’ll leave you with the fact that a tight end has found the end zone against them in three of the last four games and their inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman have been ruled out for the game.


Vance McDonald, SF ($3,000)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (11th) Yes (19th) Yes

-The only tight end to not score against Chicago in the last month? This guy right here. Vance is in a perfect bounce back spot against a Jets team that just allowed Dwayne Allen to walk around the field to the tune of 4-72-3. On 4 targets. Unless Chip Kelly decides to bench all of the offense and run the Wildcat himself, I think Vance has a chance to easily pay off his near-minimum salary.

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