Mitigating Risk: Week 6 DraftKings Cash Game Plays October 14, 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 118 touches through the first five games, he looks like a 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?

 

Tom Brady, NE ($7,700)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes (27.75)
  • -I’m not sure if you guys heard or not, but Tom Brady is back. He had a decent game against Cleveland last week, completing 70% of his 40 passes for 400+ yards and 3 TDs. And that was without him taking a snap after 8:33 left in the 4th quarter.
  • -He’ll face a bit of a more difficult match-up against Cleveland’s Ohio brethren as a down-trending Bengals team will come to New England and try to get forget how they were just demolished by Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas run offense. Despite their success and the early season success of LeGarrette Blount, I wouldn’t expect New England to attempt to pound the ball all game with their thoroughly ‘meh’ running backs but instead opt to move the ball through the air where Cincinnati has given up multi-TD games to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trevor Siemian in the early goings. In fact, per @YardsPerGretch, Cincy is allowing 60.0% of it’s scores through the passing game, the third highest percentage in the league.

 

Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7,300)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (25th) Yes (25.75)
  • -Aaron Rodgers has been less than thrilling this year, even with all of the very favorable opponents he’s faced thus far. His 9:3 TD:INT is still nice, and his 4 touchdown performance against Detroit was fantastic for your fantasy team, but one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now has a completion percentage of 56% which is good for 39th in the league! That’s Gabbert-ian status.
  • -He gets a Dallas team that has allowed 1,300 yards through the air this season and has given up ARod’s exact TD:INT ratio, 9 scores and 3 picks. Green Bay’s run stopping defense will be in for quite a battle, and if they cave at all Dallas will play their ball control clock-draining game, leaving many fewer opportunities for Rodgers to score. I’d probably rather pay up or pay down from this price point.

 

Russell Wilson, SEA ($6,900)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
No Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes (25.75)
  • -After meting out 35+ pass attempts requirement in weeks 1 and 2, Russell averaged 28 in the following two weeks against weak pass defenses (SF and NYJ).
  • -Wilson gets another bottom-third pass defense this week as Atlanta’s explosive offense comes into town in a game that could end up being a big letdown as far as game totals are concerned. As much as the Falcons have been on a roll, they will now be tested with the best pass defense in the league. In fact, the best passing performance of the year thus far has been Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 261-1-3 last week. I wouldn’t expect this game to light up the scoreboard.
  • -You may need to be aware of the weather in this one, as of now there is an 80% chance of rain and a projected wind speed of 16 MPH. If this forecast stays as bad (or gets worse) it could lean towards some massive workload for a guy a little further down in this article.

 

Marcus Mariota, TEN ($6,100)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
No Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes (25.75)

-Marcus only has one game with 35+ pass attempts this season and that was all the way back in week 1 when Tennessee only ran the ball 18 times between DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry against a stout Vikings defense. Since then the Titans have ran wild, racking up 679 yards on the ground over the last four games. The QB has averaged 31 pass attempts over that span and the running game has nearly matched his passing yardage output of 817.

-Despite the muted usage, Mariota still managed three touchdowns on only 163 yards thanks to a secondary that is adept at allowing scores through the air. Tennessee gets another one of those match-ups this weekend against a Browns defense that has allowed the 3rd-most passing TDs in the league. They’ve done so by allowing 2 TD performances in the first two weeks and 3 TD performances in the following three weeks.

 

Brock Osweiller, HOU ($5,400)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes (24.5)

-Averaging a hardy 38 inefficient attempts per game, Brock has been targeting the defense (7 INTs) more often than his own players (6 TDs).

-A breath of fresh air for the former Bronco? He’ll face off against arguably the worst defense in the league as Indianapolis’ porous secondary should alleviate some stress for DeAndre Hopkins owners everywhere. The Colts are one of just a trio of teams that have only managed 1 interception, not to mention they’ve allowed the 3rd-best QB rating, 104.9. If you can stomach the pitiful floor here, there is a whole lot of value to be had by a quarterback priced just $400 over the minimum salary.

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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.

There are a lot of heavy hitters that pop out of the machine this week; it might be a prime spot to pay up for three running backs.

 

DeMarco Murray, TEN ($7,700)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes
  • -DeMarco is charging towards, around and through defenses like it’s 2014 all over again. In the last three weeks, he leads all running backs in touches (80), is 3rd in total yards (411) and PPR fantasy points (71.1).
  • -The passing-game usage has been a huge positive and may end up making him more useful in fantasy than his phenomenal ’14 season; he is on pace to set new career highs in targets (86), catches (77), and receiving yards (550). It might seem unfathomable that he continues his 89% catch rate, but it’s nearly the exact same number he had in 2014.
  • All of this incredible workload will be going up against a Cleveland team that has allowed the 3rd-most yards in the league and the most points. Expect the Titans to ride him up and down the field.

 

LeSean McCoy, BUF ($6,900)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes
  • -Regardless of game script for the 3-2 Bills, Shady has beat the 18+ touch threshold in all five games, averaging 21 of them and notching 3 or more receptions in four out of five, racking up 19 catches on the season.
  • -Onward to a Week 6 match-up against San Francisco, who has allowed the most rushing yards in the league over the last four games. After their annual week 1 game where they play wayyy over their talent level and shutdown a team that is much better than them, the 49ers have allowed statlines of 16-100 to Fozzy Whitaker, 20-106-2 to Christine Michael, 23-138-1 to Ezekiel Elliot, and 27-157-2 to David Johnson.
  • -San Fran is allowing 4.4 yards per carry this season as Buffalo as a whole are averaging 5.1 YPC, which leads the league. We will see what happens when an unstoppable force meets a pile of marshmallow.

 

Christine Michael, SEA ($6,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (24th) No
  • -After averaging 15 touches in the first two weeks in the “are we sure we want to go down this road again” honeymoon, Seattle has decided that Michael is going to be their man in the last two games, racking up 45 touches and 201 total yards. In other words, he has 23% of his career yards in the last two games. With only C.J. Spiller there to steal away some passing down looks, CMike is as close to a bell cow as we have in the league.
  • -As mentioned earlier, the weather forecast for this game could negate some of the passing attacks for both Atlanta and the Seahawks. If that is the case, Christine will be in a very good spot for an increased workload.

 

Lamar Miller, HOU ($6,600)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes
  • -The poster boy for the 18+ category through weeks 1-4 (26 touches/game) had his team’s rushing attack snuffed out quickly by Minnesota’s defense. Lamar ended the game with eight carries for 20 yards. Nowhere near what we’ve been used to.
  • But hey, on to this week; he’s playing the Indianapolis Colts who are ranked dead last in Football Outsider’s DVOA against receiving running backs; those backs combine for 65 receiving yards a game. With Lamar very much involved in the passing game—17 targets thus far—he should give himself a nice floor simply based on flats and screens against this sad Colts team.

 

Jordan Howard, CHI ($6,200)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes
  • -Jeremy Langford is Out for week 6, guaranteeing Jordan Howard will continue to have the exact role that Langford inherited from injuries last season. With only Joique Bell and Ka’Deem Carey battling him for snaps Howard should be certain to continue on his 26 and 19 touch games the last two weeks, both of which netted him 130+ yards. Since his playtime began to elevate in week 2, Jordan has had 13 targets, turning them into 10 catches and 113 yards.

 

 

 

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 (CAR vs. NO) than others (LA vs. DET).

 

Antonio Brown, PIT ($10,000)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes
  • -Holy 5 digit salary, Batwoman. AB is the most expensive WR by a whopping $1,100 margin (Julio Jones is $8,900), but there is really no denying how steady and reliable he has been over the last couple seasons. He’s been held under 8 catches and 126 yards just twice this season; once against a Bengals team that was going all-out to stop him and only him, and a week 4 match-up against the Chiefs when he just went ahead and scored 2 touchdowns instead.
  • -This week he gets something called a “Miami secondary” to play around with. His floor is probably the highest in the game, but that price tag. Wow-ee. You’ll need to punt somewhere (or somewheres. Is that a word?) to fit in his $10k.

 

Odell Beckham Jr, NYG ($8,800)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -The Giants have been smashing whichever button correlates to ODB this season, but to not much avail; though he is 5th in the league in targets, he ranks 17th in yardage and has only found pay dirt once. Seemingly due to New York’s eagerness to incorporate rookie Sterling Shepard into the offense, Odell has been basically an outside-only receiver; logging 8% of his snaps from the slot (to the tune of 1-14-0) after logging 19% such snaps in 2014 (32-467-2). According to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, the Giants will begin doing  “…some things to try get him not just as an outside receiver…”.
  • -Though he has only 2/5 games with six-plus receptions, I’m going to take the remarks up above at face value and trust that New York wants to help raise Odell’s current 53% catch rate into something that will get the ball in his hands more often.

 

Michael Crabtree, OAK ($6,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes

-The young man had his day in the sun, but now it’s time for the vet to step back in. It’s so weird calling Michael Crabtree a vet, but this is his eighth season in the NFL. Is he old or am I old? Anyways, the 3 catches he had last week against San Diego was the lowest he’s had all season, but he found the end zone which saves the low yardage game. As a matter of fact he did something very similar in week 2, going 4-31-1 in what has been his lowest fantasy output of the season; 13.1. I can live with a floor like that.

-Why high on Michael but not his black-and-gold brethren this weekend? Well, Kansas City is ranked in the top-10 in DVOA against the WR1, but a lowly 21st against the opposing team’s WR2. With a floor that has proven to be nearly 2x his price and a ceiling that is nearly 5x his price, he’s checking allll the boxes.

 

 

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.

 

Delanie Walker, TEN ($5,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes (24th) Yes
  • -There is only one man. A single tight end among the entire slate of games that was spit out of the machine with a fresh lamination and a gold star next to his name. And that man is pinned up against a Cleveland team that has now allowed the most fantasy points to the tight end position after getting pummeled by Gronk and the Black Unicorn last week. This after allowing two scores to Jordan Reed in the first quarter of week 4’s action. But it’s not as if Tennessee relies on a tight end, because they have a hodge podge of receivers for Marcus Mariota to thr…..oh wait, yes they do. This will be Delanie’s first double-digit target game of the year.

 

Jimmy Graham, SEA ($4,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (22nd) No (12th) Yes
  • -Stepping up against the team allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to the tight end position? A resurgent Jimmy Graham. Even after allowing a 0-0-0 line against the Broncos, Atlanta remains just behind the Browns due to the five TDs they allowed in weeks 1-4.
  • -In back-to-back 6 catch weeks, Jimmy has racked up 213 yards and his first touchdown of the year. He’s in a prime spot to keep it moving.

 

Richard Rodgers, GB ($2,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (32nd) No (9th) No

-Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?

-A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.

-It worked out pretty well with our Jesse James call, ladies and gents.

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