Mitigating Risk: Week 3 DraftKings Cash Game Plays September 23, 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 (Lamar Miller has 84 touches through his first three games with the Texans, he looks like a sure bet to hit 18 touches every week).

Quick note on the DVOA aspect of this article: this will be the final week we will be using 2015’s rankings. One game could be an anomaly and two games don’t make enough of a pattern for us to base choices off of. I feel like three weeks will give us enough information to base a defense’s strengths and weaknesses.

 

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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?

 

Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7,700)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (19th) Yes (28)
  • -Averaging 34.2 pass attempts per game over the last 2+ seasons, ARod has thrown the ball with volume despite game script. Though his average depth of throw has decreased quite a lot since the beginning of last season it’s sure to uptick the more healthy his boy Jordy Nelson becomes.
  • -Detroit should prove a perfect counter-punch for the Packers: a team that thrived against a bad defense in Week 1 and had trouble with a good defense in Week 2. Green Bay should be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum and will make for a favorable(ish) game script.
  • -We’re still waiting for the Packers offense to return to form, and, though it could be this week, I see Aaron as more of a tournament play than a nice safe cash play.

 

Andrew Luck, IND ($7,600)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes (27)
  • -Against a stifling Denver defense in Week 2 the Colts threw the ball 40 times, marking the sixth straight game in which he’s thrown the ball over 35 times, averaging 44 attempts over that span.
  • – Luckily for Luck San Diego’s defense isn’t likely to force the sort of inefficiency (52.5% passing, 64.3 QB rating) that the Broncos caused as they’ve allowed 649 yards to Blake Bortles and (yes) Alex Smith.
  • -Indianapolis’ defense is ranked dead last in the NFL in points allowed, giving this offense all the more reason to throw the ball around. It’s hard to tell if the absence of Donte Moncrief will have an effect on Andrew’s already-low efficiency, but the scoreboard will dictate their need for the passing game.

Russell Wilson, SEA ($7,100)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes (25)
  • -On a team that has scored a whopping 15 points through two weeks Wilson has surprisingly passed the ball 78 times. Obviously this has not led to scoring success, but we have brighter pastures in front of us as San Francisco, who just allowed over 350 passing yards on 40 attempts to Cam Newton, is Sunday’s opposition.
  • -The usually spry play-making Wilson with a huge floor has been negated a bit by his tweaked ankle, which has shown up in the boxscore as a lowly 9 rushing attempts. The running backs behind him haven’t been able to help out in keeping the defense honest; the team as a whole is 25th in the NFL with 3.2 yards per carry.
  • -Big play potential remains a huge possibility with the speedy weapons around him, but if this game starts to favor Seattle they could easily employ a cautious approach to keep their QB healthy.

Eli Manning, NYG ($7,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes (25.5)
  • -Ok, Ok, so last week’s match-up against the Saints’ defense was a bit of a disappointment, but Eli did throw the ball 41 times and turned it into 368 yards on a 78% completion rating.
  • -Washington’s defense might be a tad bit better than that New Orleans’ defense, but it has still allowed 568 passing yards on only 67 attempts, a yards per attempt average that ranks them as the 26th passing defense in the league.
  • -Though they didn’t have Josh Norman on their team over the last two years, Eli has averaged 287 yards and 2.75 touchdowns against this Redskins team during that span.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA ($6,200)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes (26.25)
  • -Tannie has surpassed the 35 attempt mark in five of the last six games dating back to last season.
  • -Literally leading his team in rushing last week when starting RB Arian Foster had to leave the game, Ryan offers us a bit of a floor with his feet, managing 52 yards and one score on the ground through two weeks.
  • -Thus far in the young, young season the Cleveland Browns defense has allowed 302-2-2 to Joe Flacco and 278-2-0 to rookie Carson Wentz in his first career game.
  • -Shut up and take my money.

 

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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.

This is a difficult week for the Mitigating Risk machine after RB usage is reeling from our first big injury surge of the season. It’s difficult to predict running back usage for a cluttering of guys that are trying to work their way into the starting role. Instead we are left with two good (but not great) choices and one iffy (but not terrible) choice.

 

Ezekiel Elliot, DAL ($6,900)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) No
  • -While Dallas has thus far had no problems with handing their rookie the ball early and often to start games off, we do have some pause. After a 4th quarter fumble in Week 2 he didn’t see the field again; the Cowboys put Alfred Morris out there to run the clock out and he found his way into the end zone. On top of that he’s had only 3 targets in the passing game through two weeks.
  • -Chicago ranked dead last in rushing DVOA last season and allowed a 100-yard rusher in Week 1. Week 2 went much better in the yardage territory, but followed it up by allowing two rushing touchdowns from within the 3-yard line.

 

Frank Gore, IND ($5,000)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes
  • -The old man has had 18 and 16 touches this year, making that “Yes” under 18+ touches a straight up lie. What gives? Well, as long as he’s rushing the ball 12-15 times he’s going to get at least a smidgen of the targets that have been left vacant in the next few weeks while Dontre Moncrief heals himself. The 6-7 point floor that Gore offers us in the receiving game make him intriguing for cash purposes.
  • -Robert Turbin stole himself a goal line TD from Frankie last week, which would have made his output look much better. Don’t expect that to happen very often.

Jay Ajayi, MIA ($4,000)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
No Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes
  • -Cash games are full of people we should trust. Ajayi is hardly even trusted by his own team; he didn’t dress in Week 1 and possibly only saw the field last week because Foster will never be a healthy running back again.
  • -After Arian left with 13 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter Ajayi ran the ball only five times. The positive we did see in his usage was the 4-31 on 4 targets he received. He could possibly offer a similar floor to that of Gore’s for a $1,000 discount, but that could be a stretch. Dolphins HC Adam Gase named Ajayi the starter but how long will that last? This might be the only week that he ever gets to that 18 touch threshold.
 

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 (SD vs. IND) than others (NYJ vs. KC).

 

Antonio Brown, PIT ($9,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes
  • -After an eleven game stretch where Brown had caught at least 6 receptions and averaged 9-128-1 the Bengals finally got the best of him last week, limiting him to a pedestrian 4-39-0.
  • -Philly had a hard enough time keeping Alshon to 94 yards on Monday night without having to worry about much else on the Chicago team. They will not have that sort of luxury against Pittsburgh.

 

T.Y. Hilton, IND ($6,800)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes
  • -The man currently ranked 2nd in targets just lost his running mate for 4-6 weeks. His first battle will be with the San Diego Chargers who, as previously mentioned, have already given up a ton of yards through the air against some not-exactly barn burning QBs. He’s one of the best options on the week to hit 15 targets.

 

Jarvis Landry, MIA ($6,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (19th) Yes
  • -For the sixth straight game Landry caught 6 or more passes last week, boosting his target share on the year to a massive 31.9%.
  • -With no one person to depend on in the backfield, Jarvis could be an extension of the running game even more than he has been in the last 18 games…18 games in which he has been targeted 189 times.

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.

We’ve got some super cheap options at our disposal this weekend.

 

Jason Witten, DAL ($4,300)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes (31st) Yes
  • -Tied for the league lead in TE targets, Witten hasn’t missed much of a beat with Romo out…at least in terms of his share of the offense.
  • -Turning those targets into production should be a little easier against a Bears D that was awful against the position in 2015 and allowed 5-41-1 against Trey Burton on Monday. Who I had literally never heard of before that game.

 

Dwayne Allen, IND ($3,800)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes (20th) Yes
  • -In a very similar position with a slightly lower price ($3,200) our machine pumped out Dwayne for Week 1 and he delivered with a 4-53-1 line, easily paying for his price. Something very similar to that would buy us value you once again.
  • -Chargers ranked 31st against the position last season, and, so far this season, they haven’t made up much ground, allowing 8-94-0 and 6-88-1 to opposing tight ends.

 

Jared Cook, GB ($2,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes (24th) Yes
  • -This is make or break, right? Will Jared Cook ever be a thing? Here’s your chance young(ish) man. This Detroit defense was bottom-3 against tight ends in ’15 and have been absolutely killed by tight ends through the first two games to the tune of 15-179-4, including one TD to Mr. Dwayne Allen above. Oh, and two to freaking Jack Doyle.
  • -Ignore Cook’s 38 yards on the season and look at the pretty match-up. The pretty, pretty match-up

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