Mitigating Risk: Week 8 DraftKings Cash Game Plays October 29, 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 148 touches through six 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?

It’s gonna be slim pickings with our first big bye week finally here. We’ve only got two guys that can check all the boxes and one of them just had one of the worst statistical games of all time.

 

Jameis Winston, TB ($5,700)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes (25)
  • -Winston is averaging 40 attempts/game, easily besting our threshold of 35, but not so fast: Jameis had 145 of those in a batch of losses from weeks 2-4 and only 92 in Tampa Bay’s 3 wins. If he doesn’t have to throw the ball a ton we might be in line for a much more efficient showing; he had a 67% completion rate and 8:2 TD:INT in those wins but just a 55% completion rate and 4:7 TD:INT in the losses.
  • -Even though Oakland is still dead last in passing yards and total yards, they have managed to hold Alex Smith and Blake Bortles under 240 yards over the past two weeks. They might be attacking one facet of the offense just to give up plays to the other (more on that later).
  • -The only time Jameis has thrown less than 3 TDs have been against Arizona, Denver and Carolina. In his other three games he has 10.

Brock Osweiler, HOU ($5,400)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (23.75)
  • -With a few really bad games and a few decent ones, Brock has managed to throw at least 35 times in all but one game, but hasn’t done anything especially positive with all of that volume. Even with three games of 40+ pass attempts he has yet to throw for more than 270 yards on the season.

-This is a prime spot to finally come through against a Detroit team that sports DVOA’s least favorite pass defense. It’s easy to see why when we look at the 18 passing TDs they’ve allowed through 7 games, including a 3 TD, 300+ yard performance by Case Keenum. Brock will have a great opportunity to prove that he is at least as bad as the worst quarterback in the league on Sunday. If you do end up playing him, I would probably just avoid watching the game.

Honorable mentions: Matty Ice, Dak Prescott

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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.

 

Lamar Miller, HOU ($6,300)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (25th) Yes
  • -One of only a handful of running backs in the league that we are able to confidently call a bellcow. Per Scott Barrett and his deliciously colorful charts, Lamar has 77% of the RB snaps for Houston, and 84% of their RB rushes. While his targets in the pass game have yet to exceed 5 in any week, he has 3+ catches in five of his seven games.

-Detroit’s dicey pass defense is bad enough to make Brock Osweiler a legitimate option (I think), and their ability stop the ground game really isn’t too far behind.

It would seem that Lamar is expected to play this week, but it’s not certain how much he will play. Looks like his shoulder still might be bothering him a little bit. We’ll have to take a strong ‘pass’ on him this week.

Jacquizz Rodgers, TB ($5,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes
  • -Cash Game Golden Boy Jacquizz Rodgers came through for us again last week, rushing the ball 26 times for 154 yards against San Francisco, following a performance in week 5 when he handled 30 of the 33 rushing attempts against Carolina. The job is all his and the team doesn’t seem too worried about giving him too much of a workload. Though he had only 1 reception last week, the 49ers were hardly making it a competitive game so the need to pass the ball was just not there.

-The Raiders defense that has allowed over 5 yards per carry this season will be tasked with stopping lil’ Quizz. If he gets another 25 carries, well, you can do the math.

Devontae Booker, DEN ($3,700)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (18th) Yes
  • -With running mate C.J. Anderson on the IR it’s ‘next man up’ in Denver (isn’t it always), and Devontae Booker has been handed the keys. In a 55% snap share in week 8 (35 snaps) he ran the ball for 17-83-1. With only Kapri Bibbs behind him, it’s unlikely that the Broncos will be reluctant to give him the full load. Denver as a team is 7th in the league in rushing attempts.
  • -San Diego has a top-6 pass defense and a bottom half rushing defense. They make for a perfect ‘funnel defense’ play.
  • -If we were to be worried about Booker’s involvement in the pass game (it’s not as if there are other options), Gary Kubiak’s positive reinforcements about his pass protection should equate to third down work. With this low of a salary and a legit shot at 25-30 touches, we absolutely can not leave him out of 100% of our cash lineups.

Honorable mentions: Gio Bernard (a.m. slate), Devonta Freeman, Zeke Elliot

 

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. ATL) than others (SD vs. DEN).

 

Julio Jones, ATL ($9,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes
  • -Julio has had a couple of stinkers this season (one against the Broncos and of course one against….the Saints?), but his other five games have been phenomenal. On the year he is averaging 6 receptions and 100+ yards, as his salary might indicate.
  • -He is in a great spot to deliver this week against a Green Bay defense that is allowing 104.0 yards to opposing WR1s. That is partially skewed because of Marvin Jones’ 205-yard game, but Alshon Jeffery laid a 33-yard game last week, so hey, it evens out. If you can find the salary relief Julio makes for a great, albeit expensive play. His floor is very solid and his ceiling is…300 yards?

Mike Evans, TB ($8,100)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (18th) Yes
  • -The Bucs simply have no one else to throw it to nowadays, as represented by Mr. Evans’ 75 targets through 6 games, over 40 more than anyone else on the team. Though he’s bested the 100-yard mark only once this season, he’s found the end zone a league leading 6 times.
  • -With Oakland allowing the most yards in the league through the air, specifically to wideouts, I wouldn’t be opposed to stacking Evans with Winston on Sunday.

DeAndre Hopkins, HOU ($7,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes
  • -Whew, it’s been rough owning Hopkins in season-long hasn’t it? It might surprise you to hear that he’s ranked 8th in targets and has three double-digit target games and he has still had only two games with more than 6 catches.
  • -It’s safe to assume that this week could be a “get right” game for DeAndre and, to a much lesser extent, his quarterback. Opponents’ passing games are completing 74% of their passes and have thrown only 3 INTs to 18 TDs. Though he should have been able to find some open space against this Lions’ secondary before, the odds of that happening have increased even more with the announcement that Darius Slay has been ruled out for week 8. His price has dropped $1,400 over the course of the season for good reason, but we might not be able to play him in as good of a spot for this cheap the rest of the way.

Honorable mentions: Brandon Marshall, Julian Edelman


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.

 

Rob Gronkowskit, NE ($7,000)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
No Yes Yes (23rd) Yes (31st) Yes
  • -Gronk gon’ Gronk. Since his return to health and Brady’s return to action Bobert Gronkowski has put up 16-364-2 on 20 targets. Somewhere hidden in that line is a single game career high 162 yards. Oh yeah, and it’s also the most receiving yards in the NFL over that span. In Week 8 New England travels to Buffalo to avenge an embarrassing week 4 shutout by the hands of the Bills. How angry will the Patriots be? How angry is “Angry Tom”? How bad do you want to pay this much for a tight end? What if I told you that this price point would be all the way down at WR12? Why am I asking you instead of telling you? Play Gronk.

Travis Kelce, KC ($4,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
No Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (23rd) Yes
  • -The Colts haven’t been especially adept at stopping any of the opposing offenses’ weapons, but they’ve been the most UNadept at stopping the tight end position. In fact they are the absolute worst in the league, DVOA has charged them with 7.5 catches per game and a league worst 80.8 yards per game.
  • -For Kelce himself there isn’t a whole lot of statistical lighter fluid I can add to prove how he will torch Indianapolis, just the solace that he will be on the field for the entire game. This won’t be a match-up where Kansas City will be able to plod down the field and run the clock out; the Colts are a team built to score points and they do so more often than not when playing at home. Travis should be involved in the pass game to a capacity resembling weeks 1-4 in which he went 22-220-2 on 29 targets more so than weeks 5 and 6 when he went 5-56 on 6 targets.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU ($2,800)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes (29th) Yes
  • -Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?
  • -A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.
  • -This is actually shaping up to be much more than a punt play and more of a situation where DK just doesn’t want to boost the price on a player whose name is difficult to spell. Over the first three games his snap counts averaged out to 48% and his targets for those weeks were 2, 1 and 1. Over the past four games his snap counts averaged to 69% with the 74% he received last week being his season high. He hasn’t received fewer than 5 targets in a game since week 3 and has totaled 19 catches for 229 yards and 2 scores. It’s looking like I’m paying all the way up for Gronk or settling down here with CJ

 

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