Mitigating Risk: Week 2 DraftKings Cash Game Plays September 17, 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 (Adrian Peterson had 18 or more touches in 13 of 16 games last year, barring injury he’ll get that checkmark more often than not).

 

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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; data will be used from ’15 for the beginning of the 2016 season.

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?

 

Eli Manning, NYG ($7,600)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (28.75)
  • -After averaging 39 attempts a game in ’15, Eli needed only 28 last week as he picked Dallas’ defense apart with efficiency; throwing three touchdowns and finishing with a QB rating of 110.3. He has faced this New Orleans defense just twice in the previous four seasons, throwing the ball 35 and 41 times while racking up 10 touchdowns.
  • -The worst overall defense in the league according to DVOA didn’t start this year off any better; the Saints were the 31st ranked Week 1 defense, allowing 486 total yards of offense to Oakland including 319 by Derek Carr.
  • -In the highest O/U of the week, a marginally improved Giants defense will have their own battles to deal with in Drew Brees. New York should lean on Eli to move the ball in chunks, needing every bit of the team’s implied team total of 28+.

 

Matthew Stafford, DET ($7,300)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes (26.5)
  • -Destroying the joke of defense that is Indianapolis last week, Detroit continues to prove itself as an efficient passing machine under OC Jim Bob Cooter. Stafford has averaged 37 pass attempts in his last 10 games, completing over 70% of those passes while throwing 23 TDs to only 4 INTs.
  • -In an odd contradiction to how many perceived this Titans offense to run, they were apparently happy to throw the ball 41 times in a losing effort against the Vikings in Week 1. Two defensive touchdowns were the main culprit here for last week’s game script, and it would do Tennessee well to resort to the “erotic smashmouth” or whatever it’s called to play ‘keep away’ from this formidable Lions passing attack. Offenses had the fewest amount of passing attempts in the league against this Titans D in ’15 (502 attempts), often grabbing the lead and draining the clock on the ground (462 attempts; 6th most in the league).
  • – The ceiling could potentially be quite high, but the floor is relatively low for Stafford.

Derek Carr, OAK ($7,300)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes (26.75)
  • -Derek beat out our 35+ pass attempt criteria last season, averaging 36/game even when we include a disastrous Week 1 blowout in which he attempted a measly 12. The aforementioned Saints were quite giving last week and their NFC South counterpart Falcons are likely to be just as nice.
  • -Sophomore Jameis Winston threw 4 touchdowns to four different receivers (FB, RB, TE, WR) in Atlanta, the four TD performance was something Carr matched twice in 2015.
  • -With weapons in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford, Seth Roberts and Latavius Murray (Jalen Richard honorable mention), Carr will have plenty of ammo to find the open guys just as Winston did.

Philip Rivers, SD ($6,400)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes (25)
  • -Is there such a thing as a ‘sneaky’ Cash Game play?
  • -There is much to be said (and much that has been said) about Rivers’ splits with and without Keenan Allen last season, and rightfully so, but that actually doesn’t effect what we’re looking for here. Averaging 39 attempts/game after Keenan went out, the Chargers offense threw the ball regularly in that 8 game sample, even though half of those games were against Denver and Kansas City. Part of the reason that Philip’s first half splits look so monstrous aren’t because of Allen; it’s because he was forced to throw the ball 65 and 58 times against the Packers and Raiders. Despite your feelings on Keenan, San Diego is going to throw the ball.
  • -Jacksonville’s defense had a hard time keeping up with its high flying offense last year, allowing the 4th most passing yards including a 300 yard, 4 TD game to Rivers himself in Week 11. We should see more of the same back-and-forth this Sunday with a not-so-hot Chargers defense trying to keep Bortles and the boys in check.

 

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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; data will be used from ’15 for the beginning of the 2016 season.

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.

 

C.J. Anderson, DEN ($6,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -It might be a bit of a bold proclamation to say CJA is back in the good graces of his coaching staff after only one game, but color me a believer in CJ’s workload. In the last two contests (including something called the “Super Bowl”) he has 51 touches that have amounted to 239 total yards.
  • -In what was the worst defensive showing in this very short year the Colts allowed Detroit’s running backs to accumulate 228 yards and three scores, one on the ground and two through the air. That’s Anderson’s floor this week. Alright, I’m just kidding, but seriously, just play the guy.

 

Danny Woodhead, SD ($5,200)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes
  • -There might not be another running back in the league that we could so definitively check that box of “3+ receptions”. After finishing last season as the target leader among RBs, he continued his flat route dominance in Week 1, turning 7 targets into 5 catches, 31 yards and a score.
  • -Jacksonville was not adept at stopping the receiving running back last season; allowing 57.4 yards of pass catching out of the backfield, good for 4th most in the NFL. In a game script that will sadly keep Melvin Gordon on the back burner for at least one more week, Danny will see plenty of the field.

 

 

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; data will be used from ’15 for the beginning of the 2016 season.

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. NYG) than others (SF vs. CAR). This week we have quite the odd group of guys that made it through the gauntlet of all five categories.

 

Odell Beckham Jr, NYG ($9,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes
  • -The second most expensive player on the slate is also one of the few players to check all of the boxes this week. I’m not gonna say anything here that you haven’t already heard in the days leading up to this matchup (Like Scott Barrett‘s piece on WR vs CB Breakdown). There are some great choices at the top end of the WR salary chart as there are every week, but this probably tips the scale for me. I’ll likely start every cash game with OBJ and build around him.

 

Michael Crabtree, OAK ($6,100)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes
  • -Despite falling off a bit from his career resurgent first half (47-591-5 in Weeks 1 through 8, 38-331-4 rest of season), Crabtree went right back at it against New Orleans, turning 9 targets into 7 catches for 87 yards. It was the 7th time in the last eight games that he caught at least 6 passes or got into the end zone.
  • -Predicting a touchdown might be a little bit of fool’s gold but Atlanta’s defense tends to spread the wealth, and if Derek Carr throws three TDs Crabtree is going to grab one of them; he received 33% of all of Carr’s targets inside the 10 yard line in 2015.

 

Travis Benjamin, SD ($4,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (25th) Yes
  • -Receiving 6 of his 8 targets after Keenan Allen left the field with a torn ACL, the Chargers gave us a hint at what kind of usage Travis Benjamin will get moving forward. While it would not be in the best interest of San Diego to target the diminutive wideout with the sizable workload that Keenan was sure to see, Benjamin could easily catch 7-9 underneath routes with the possibility to break one or two out in any given week. With his salary so low and less experienced guys behind him trying to make a name for themselves, this will be one of the cheapest floors you’ll be able to buy.

 

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; data will be used from ’15 for the beginning of the 2016 season.

**Opposing Team Defense ranked 15th or worse against WRs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA; data will be used from ’15 for the beginning of the 2016 season.

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.

 

Greg Olsen, CAR ($6,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes (18th) No
  • -One of the steadiest tight end targets in the NFL, Cam looked his way 9 targets in the opening game of the season, including three straight during a drive in the 2nd quarter.
  • -The return of big-bodied Kelvin Benjamin should put a bit of a damper on Olsen’s end zone upside, but there’s a chance that Carolina airs their frustrations about losing back-to-back games on a hapless 49ers defense that is set up to have one of the biggest week-to-week point swings in NFL history. The only thing that’s holding Olsen back from being an auto-play is the fact that his team might get tired of elbow dropping San Francisco by halftime and choose to run the clock out in the 2nd half.

 

Antonio Gates, SD ($4,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes (25th) Yes
  • -I swear I’m not some Chargers fan boy who fudged the numbers to get one of their guys in each one of these positions. Nope, just giving you guys the results that our little machine here is spitting out. As it stands now though, I will be running a couple stacks in GPPs with San Diego players. Maybe they’ll be low owned with Keenan out? I don’t know, that’s not why we’re here.
  • -Though they held off the dynamic duo of Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook last week, I’m not willing to bet that they’re completely reformed from the 2015 season in which they allowed 9 TDs to TEs and the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. Expect Rivers to get Gates one score closer to passing Tony Gonzalez on the all-time list.

Eric Ebron, DET ($3,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes (27th) Yes
  • -Ebron is in a very similar situation to that of Dwayne Allen in Week 1 who we had suggested, albeit for a few hundred less DK bucks. Ebron plays for a team that is set to move the ball with relative ease, but is without a large bodied end zone threat. Marvin Jones has a well publicized TD rate, but that is heavily weighted from a 2013 season in which the Bengals had Jermaine Gresham as their TE option. Marvin Jones will absolutely eat this year, but a team devoid of Calvin Johnson needs a big mean human to stand in between Stafford and the defense once they’re inside the 10 yard line. This dude who is $3,500 this week is dat dude.

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