Mitigating Risk: Week 10 DraftKings Cash Game Plays November 11, 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 193 touches through eight games, he’s a pretty sure bet to hit 18 touches every week).


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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?


Ben Roethlisberger, PIT ($6,800)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes (26)
  • -Including a return-from-injury 45 pass attempt game last week, Big Ben is averaging 39 passes a game and has failed to hit the 35 mark in just two games: week 6 in which he incurred the knee injury (still threw 34 times) and week 4 when he only needed 27 passes to throw five TDs on the Chiefs.
  • -Last Sunday’s game after three weeks off the field was certainly nothing to write home about for Ben (264-1-1, 51%), but it’s something we should now come to expect for the QB with what has to be the most exaggerated Home-Road splits in all of football (eat your heart out, Brees). Since the beginning of 2014 he’s been averaging over 12 more fantasy points at home than on the road, thanks in large part to averaging 2.94 TDs in Pittsburgh while averaging a measly 1.06 elsewhere. The TD:INT for home/away are mind blowing; 47:12/17:17. And that’s with 18 games being on the road and 17 at home.
  • -It will be interesting to see exactly how efficient Roethlisberger can be as he and the Steelers will run into a testing Dallas defense that wants to get the ball back to their offense as quickly as possible. The Cowboys’ clock-eating ways have served them well as they currently have the highest time of possession in the league (33:09 on average) and have allowed the 3rd fewest amount of plays run by opposing offenses (60.2/game). This could definitely prove to diminish our ceiling for Pittsburgh players, but the floor here should still be good enough for our purposes as long as Ben is truly healthy.

Carson Palmer, ARI ($6,500)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (19th) Yes (30.75)
  • -Another veteran, oft-injured, high-volume, high-ceiling QB completes the pairing of guys who check all the boxes this week, albeit in a much better match-up. Palmer has also missed the 35 pass attempt only twice this season: 34 in week 6 and 30 in a week 2 game against Tampa Bay in which he tossed 3 TDs.
  • -The exact opposite “problem” as Big Ben has above, the Cardinals will face a San Francisco team that holds the ball a league-low 25:31 and offers up opponents the second most plays per game (71.4). This is likely the juiciest match-up on the entire slate, whether or not it fits all of our parameters here.  The 49ers are very possibly the worst team in the league (at least the Browns have talent), and the only thing that would hinder Carson’s upside would be a couple ARI D/ST scores followed by a hat trick from David Johnson (see below).
  • -Out of these two I’d give the nod to Palmer and hope that his team doesn’t get up 28-0 in the 2nd quarter and decide to let him stay healthy on the sideline the rest of the afternoon.


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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.


David Johnson, ARI ($8,400)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes
  • -DJ is averaging 24 touches/game and has missed the 18 touch mark only twice this season; a week 2 40-7 blowout win and last week’s game when they were playing from behind by the first three minutes of the game and he caught 7 balls.
  • -One of the most (maybe the most?) versatile backs in the league gets to face off against a 49ers defense that ranks last in total points allowed, last in total yards allowed, last in rushing attempts allowed, last in rushing yards allowed, and last in yards per carry. They have allowed EIGHT HUNDRED AND TEN rushing yards to teams over the last three weeks alone. There are 12 teams that haven’t allowed that many rushing yards all season! 810!!! I would put that in size 72 font, but I don’t think my editor would appreciate it. This team is on pace to move to Las Vegas, and they’ve allowed seven straight 100-yard rushers.
  • -It literally doesn’t matter of Johnson is 97% owned in cash games. You do not want to be part of that 3%.

Melvin Gordon, SD ($7,100)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -Melvin has missed the 18 touch level just twice this season; week 1 (14 carries) and week 5 (17 touches) and has absolutely smashed it the past four weeks as San Diego has been riding on the shoulders of the sophomore to the tune of 26 carries and 4 receptions a game, accumulating 631 all-purpose yards in the process.
  • – While DVOA isn’t necessarily down on Miami’s run defense, their top-10 ranking of Miami’s pass D and the raw numbers say that it’s not a bad idea to attack them on the ground. There have been two weeks that jumped off the page while looking over the Dolphins season: in week 4 they limited Bengals’ running backs Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill t0 31-89-0 (a 22-7 loss) and week 7 when they limited Buffalo’s running backs to 32 yards on 14 carries (LeSean McCoy left the game early in the 3rd quarter). Outside of those two contests they have been run on with relative ease on the way to allowing 1,089 yards on the year (27th) at a 4.6 YPC clip (30th)
  • -While he is obviously relatively expensive for a running back (4th most expensive on the slate) he also leads the league in TDs from a skill position and has as many passing scores as the following mediocre quarter backs: Joe Flacco, Brock Osweiler, Sam Bradford and Cam Newton (shots fired).

Jonathan Stewart, CAR ($4,900)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (18th) No
  • -Completely devoid of passing game action, JStew has still accumulated 59 rushes in the three games since returning from his annual injury.
  • -Kansas City has laid the hammer down more often than not on opposing passing offenses, but when the other team actually attempts to move the ball on the ground they have a pretty good go of it; KC has been run on a very middle-of-the-road 206 times yet has given up 996 yards, which ranks in the bottom-5 of the league. Last week they gave up 107 yards to the ghost of Chris Ivory, and, for some reason, the combined feet of Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck took to the ground for a combined 114 yards over the last two weeks. If the Chiefs are having trouble containing QB scrambles it could be a very tough task stopping the Panthers running attack.
  • -Stewart is always a high-floor, low-ceiling play if he doesn’t get in the end zone multiple times. It has seemed recently (maybe after Cam Newton’s concussion from an awful goal line run?) that they would like to put a more compact JStew through the middle than run bootlegs from inside the 5, but this could just be a coincidence. If you would like some salary relief to stick in your Flex spot you can do worse than Jonathan. I can’t see playing him above the two first guys though.


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 (CHI vs. TB) than others (LA vs. NYJ).


Mike Evans, TB ($9,000)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes
  • -2016 Mike Evans is like all of the best parts of 2015 Mike Evans without all of the drama. No derailing drops, all sorts of scoring opportunities ,and, oh boy!, look at these targets. The lowest target total he’s had in the last seven weeks has been eleven. He’s caught at least 6 balls in five of those seven weeks
  • -The Bears have to be sick of seeing target hogs. They’ve seen receivers of all different shapes and sizes over the last four weeks receive 11 or more targets, and they’ve only come close to shutting down one of them. This list of high volume receivers has been T.Y. Hilton (10-171-1 on 11 targets), Allen Hurns (5-74-0 on 11 targets, the receiver I considered to be ‘shut down’), Randall Cobb (11-95-1 on 15 targets), Davante Adams (13-132-2 on 16 targets) and Stefon Diggs (8-76-1 on 13 targets). Things will be no different on Sunday with Evans who will reach and possibly exceed all of those target totals.
  • -An obvious play, but his price has finally caught up with his usage and production. If you can find the extra scrilla then get him in your lineup for one of the better bets for a 100-yard + TD performance.


Larry Fitzgerald, ARI ($7,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) No
  • -One of the bigger slot receivers in the game, Larry has cemented that role of chain-mover, and, while his targets ebb and flow weekly, his catch totals have not fallen below 5 once this season as he has averaged a healthy 7 per game.
  • -Against a 49ers team that has been in a steady decline the past few seasons, Larry has strung together solid performances no matter his role, averaging a 6-82-0.71 line over his last seven games against them. None of those defenses have been as bad as the current one, as reflected in Fitz’ easy 6-81-2 week 5 line when he accounted for 65% of Drew Stanton’s passing yards and 55% of his pass completions.
  • -Mucho floor and a decent ceiling here.

Tyrell Williams, SD ($5,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes
  • – Playing speculative guys that have had a “Probable” tag all week is not exactly the name of the game in this here article, but there are really only two legitimate wide receivers on this Chargers team and Tyrell is the only person who can stretch the field unless Antonio Gates starts crashing the seam like he did when I was in high school (I graduated 11 years ago).
  • -If we ignore the two Denver games – which is exactly what we’re going to do – Williams has put up a 6-107.3-0.67 line over his last three games, and it would seem as if San Diego will be keeping Travis Benjamin out of this game entirely. Miami should end up as a good match-up as they’ve had trouble against opposing WR1’s and guys with length in general. Terrelle Pryor and A.J. Green went 8-144-0 and 10-173-1 in back-to-back games earlier this season.

Jamison Crowder, WAS ($5,000)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes
  • -In the middle of the season Jamison collected 4 catches or less in four straight games after catching 6 in weeks 1 and 2. He has re-emerged with 22 targets and 16-215-1 over the last two weeks. With DeSean Jackson likely to miss week 10’s contest his involvement in the gameplan should continue.
  • -Though Minnesota’s defense has fallen off from the vice-grip level crunch that it was exhibiting in the first five weeks of the season, it has still allowed more than 250 yards passing in a game twice (252, 261). Regardless of opponent Washington will try to move the ball through the air as they take to the ground only 37% of the time, so Crowder will have his opportunities. Another 100+ yard game is a bit too much optimism for my blood, but if you wanted to squeeze the next guy on this list in and pretend he’s a WR, you could afford to move down to Crowder and just treat him as a TE. If you were to do that, his 7-60-0 line probably wouldn’t look that bad.


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 Gronkowski, NE ($6,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (23rd) No (9th) Yes
  • -I’m not even going to elaborate here. You’ve got your own opinions on Gronk or whether to pay up for tight end and how much is too much and blah blah. More often than not he’s going to check most – if not all – of the boxes we’re looking for here and he will ALWAYS have the highest ceiling of the position as long as he and Brady are healthy. Literally. Always. New England is hosting Seattle this week. Still the highest ceiling.

Greg Olsen, CAR ($5,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes (21st) Yes
  • -Getting fired as the OC for the Jaguars has really put a hamper on Olsen’s output. He has managed 6-63-1 combined over the last two weeks after averaging 6.5-101.7-0.33 over the first six weeks.
  • -Even though DVOA doesn’t agree in this instance, the Chiefs have not been friendly to opposing tight ends this season as evidenced by the one TD and high of 66 yards they have allowed to the position all season.
  • -Everyone will likely be off Olsen and for good reason. That’s why you should stick this name in the back of your mind if you’re making a multitude of GPP lineups.

Jesse James, PIT ($2,700)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (30th) No (11th) Yes
  • -Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?
  • -A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.
  • -The last time Jesse James had a good game was when I wrote him up in the week 5 version of this article when he went 6-43-1. Since then he has 6 catches for 44 yards and zero scores across three games. The pass catching group for the Steelers right now is Antonio Brown-Eli Rogers-Sammie Coates-Cobi Hamilton. Though Pittsburgh is not averse to throwing a goalline slant every now and then, Jesse James is the only option with any sort of size outside of 6’2″ 201 pound Cobi Hamilton, who has 9 career targets.


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