Mitigating Risk: Week 11 DraftKings Cash Game Plays November 18, 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 216 touches through nine 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?


Andrew Luck, IND ($7,200)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes (27.5)
  • -Averaging 39 passes a game, Luck has fallen below 35 attempts just once: 32 in week 6.
  • -The Colts will have a healthy offensive line and a fully healthy receiving corps for the first time since week 2, and it’ll come against a Titans defense that has allowed 1,565 passing yards over their last five contests. The lowest total in that span was the 273 yards Philip Rivers racked up against them. The stretch of porous defense now has their pass D ranking 26th in DVOA and 28th in yards allowed.
  • -Indianapolis has the 3rd highest projected point total of the main slate, and the Titans have allowed the opposition to score an average of 30 points over it’s last five games.

Kirk Cousins, WAS ($5,800)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes (26.5)
  • -Kirk has averaged the same 39 attempts/game as Andrew Luck and has had outbursts of 43, 46 and 56
  • -With two of the best passing attacks in football going off against two very pedestrian secondaries, Green Bay @ Washington has the 3rd highest Vegas Total of the slate and possibly the best chances of turning into a shootout.


Alex Smith, KC ($5,300)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes (26)
  • -If we disregard the injury-shortened week 8 (we will) the anti-ceiling Alex Smith has actually averaged 36 attempts a game, throwing highs of 48 (season opener against San Diego) and 50 (a blowout by the hands of Pittsburgh).
  • -Tampa Bay remains one of the easier defenses to move the ball on and they certainly didn’t pad their stats a few weeks ago when they allowed Derek Carr to set a franchise record with 513 yards. If Alex Smith throws for 500 yards I will eat a six-pack of hats, but the fact remains that there are holes in this D.
  • -Possibly the smallest floor/ceiling gap on the slate, it is intriguing to think about him in terms of salary relief. You’ll need the Bucs to move down the field on the other side of the ball to make this a worthwhile play, though. Kansas City is well known for wanting to hand the ball off and drain the clock when they are up.

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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.


Spencer Ware, KC ($6,00)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -After missing week 9 with a concussion, Ware returned last week against a Carolina rush D that is turning things around (see: TNF when the Saints gained so much of their rushing yards on 4th quarter draw plays) and still accumulated 16 touches on 64% of the team’s snaps. Those touches amounted to a comme ci, comme ça 72 total yards, but we should take solace that his usage should be right around what it was in his previous four healthy games in which he averaged 20 touches and 119 yards.
  • -As mentioned above, what could be construed as a negative for Jesus Smith would absolutely be a positive for Ware; if the game plays out like Vegas’ 7.5 point spread indicates, the Chiefs will be pounding the rock and draining the clock through most of the contest.
  • -Priced upwards and beyond $2,000 cheaper than the top tier of running backs, Spence will be a good place to start building cash lineups.

Frank Gore, IND ($5,000)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes
  • -Despite their week 9 opponent having one of the best rush defenses in the league (Green Bay), Gore still had one of his busiest games on the season and was able to turn it into a two-TD performance. He was able to take his 21 touches into a bye week to rest those old bones.
  • -Tennessee is a very middle-of-the-road rush D which doesn’t scream value into Gore’s already mediocre 80 yards/game he has accumulated thus far, but scoring opportunities should be there in this 53.5 O/U.



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 (WAS vs. GB) than others (LA vs. MIA).


Antonio Brown, PIT ($9,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes
  • -Kicking off a slew of high-priced/high-upside wide receiver plays is Antonio Brown who has 100+ yards or a TD in 7 of his 9 games this season.
  • -A healthy quarterback and a team that needs to show up and crush a bottom-3 defense will surround him on Sunday as the Steelers will travel into Cleveland and take on a team that ranks 30th against opposing WR1s. In the last two seasons (4 games) Antonio has averaged 9 catches, 140 yards and has scored 4 times against the Browns.


Odell Beckham Jr., NYG ($8,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes
  • -Next up on the “which of these elite wide receivers in great match-ups” tier is OBJ who has had plenty of opportunities for end zone celebrations in the last 5 games, scoring six times while averaging a healthy 6-94 line.
  • -Chicago came out of their bye last week to limit Mike Evans to a season-low 5 targets but still allowed 300+ yards to Jameis Winston. They plugged a hole to realize new ones, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to hold down Odell when he’s moving all around the formation.
  • -Beckham has scored 5 of 6 TDs at home, and each of his 80+ yard games have come in New York.

A.J. Green, CIN ($8,300)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes
  • – A.J. is averaging 7 catches and 100+ yards on the year, falling below 6 catches and 50 yards only twice.
  • -In what might be the best situation to exploit in week 11, AJG is taking on a Bills secondary that ranks dead last in DVOA against the WR1, going hand-in-hand with the 13.2 yards per reception they have allowed, also 32nd in the NFL.
  • -Out of these three studs, Green is likely my favorite simply because of price. I can’t argue against using any of them.

Dez Bryant, DAL ($7,200)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes
  • -Since returning from injury Dez has been on the wrong side of game script once (Dallas’ shellacking of the Browns) and has produced handsomely in the other two games (4-113-1, 6-116-1).
  • -Baltimore ranks in the back end against opposing WR1s in DVOA, but Pro Football Focus marks Baltimore’s CB Jimmy Smith as having held wide receivers under 50 yards in 7 of his 8 healthy games. The only problem there is that Smith has been listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. Check on Jimmy’s status before locking Dez in.
  • -For what it’s worth, Baltimore has the no.1 DVOA rush D. If that ranking holds true the Cowboys will be needing to move the ball through the air but, ya know, Zeke.

Jamison Crowder, WAS ($5,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes
  • -Crowder is still at a reasonable value despite finding the end zone again last week. However, he only received 6 targets after weeks of 9 and 13 even with DJax still out. This is another injury situation to watch, and he’ll move completely off the cash game radar if DeSean is healthy enough to play.


Golden Tate, DET ($5,300)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes
  • -It has been a tale of two seasons for Goldie, logging catch amounts of 8, 6, 7 and 11 over the past four games after catching more than 5 only once through the first five weeks of the season. In the last five weeks Tate ranks 13th in targets even though that includes the Lions’ bye week.
  • -Jacksonville’s pass D looks pretty snazzy on paper, but that’s due in large part to the deep deficit that their garbage offense typically puts the team in. It’s easy to defend the deep ball when the opposing offense can just cram the ball down your throat and wait for the clock to hit 0:00. Luckily for our fantasy aspirations Detroit’s defense isn’t too glorious themselves, so the Lions’ offense will need to come prepared; over the last month that preparedness has meant peppering Tate, whether Ebron + Riddick are in the lineup.



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.


Tyler Eifert, CIN ($5,400)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes (32nd) Yes
  • -If you’re looking for a way to figure out which of the very expensive receivers to pivot off of but still want to exploit their tasty match-ups, might I suggest coming off Green and deploying Tyler Eifert? In his first two healthy games of the year he played on 80%+ of the snaps and wasted no time racking up lines of 9-102-1 and 3-96.
  • -The huge stat lines that have come against Buffalo aren’t really that fair as they’ve already faced New England twice and Jimmy Graham once. Outside of those games they have held the position in check, but they’ve yet to play any other teams that actually utilize their tight ends as big play guys (BAL, LA, SF) or at all (ARI, NYJ, MIA). The point being that a healthy Eifert is in the same echelon as Gronk/Graham/Marty and is used as a focal point of his offense just as much as those guys.
  • -Priced in the Reed-Walker-Graham tier, it may be hard to fit him in if you’re paying up for WR studs, but at the least he is a fantastic tourney play.


Will Tye, NYG ($2,700)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes (21st) Yes
  • -Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?
  • -A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.
  • -Maybe it’s not the best idea to bet on a guy who hasn’t scored all year but hey, they can’t let Jerell Adams have all the fun, right? 4-40-1 is in his wheelhouse and that would end up as a fantastic return.

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