Mitigating Risk: Week 12 DraftKings Cash Game Plays November 26, 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 (David Johnson has 244 touches through ten 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?


Derek Carr, OAK ($6,100)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (19th) Yes (26)

-Averaging 38 pass attempts/game, Carr has missed the 35 attempt mark in back-to-back games, passing 31 times in a 3 TD game against Houston and 31 times two weeks ago against the stout Denver defense.

-His week 12 match-up will be against a suspect Carolina secondary that has recently shut down the Chiefs’ “passing attack” and didn’t get completely blown up by the Saints. Of course, two weeks before that Case Keenum, possibly the worst quarterback in the league, threw for 294 yards on them. The Panthers’ biggest weakness is against opposing WR1s where they rank 27th in DVOA. Amari Cooper is Oakland’s most targeted receiver (9.3/game) and is averaging 90 yards/game, the 5th most in the NFL.

-Of the 21 games that a QB has thrown for 4 TDs so far this season, Derek Carr has accounted for two of them and the Panthers’ defense has allowed two more of them (both on the road), so there’s some room for some upside as well as the strong floor. Being that this is the Mitigating Risk Machine’s only across-the-board QB for the week, I’m going to be hashtag Trusting the Process and rolling him out. He’s got playmakers and is quite adept at getting them the ball. His 20:4 TD:INT ratio goes to show how efficient he is with the ball.

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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.


Jay Ajayi, MIA ($7,600)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes

-Since his week 6 breakout Jay is averaging 25 touches a game and has yet to fall below our 18 touch threshold. He has also contributed 3 catches in two of those games.

-San Francisco has been historically bad against the run this season, allowing a league-worst 34.7 carries a game to the tune of 1,795 yards (5.2 per carry) while giving up 4,311 total yards and 313 points this season. Both are also league-worst.

-Jay is the 7th-highest priced skill position player on the main slate which is a hard pill to swallow, but he obviously has the tastiest match-up so it will be very, very difficult to fade someone who has hit 200+ yards twice this season.

LeSean McCoy,
 JAX ($7,300)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes

-Though healthy games may feel less common with a couple of bummer weeks in the last calendar month, Shady has averaged 21 touches a game during healthy weeks, catching 3+ balls in five of those seven.

-DVOA has Jacksonville graded all the way up at no. 2 against RBs out of the backfield, but take that with a grain of salt as the Jaguars are spending an average of 40:54 (!!!) of each game trailing, ranking dead last in the league. Teams have been ahead so often that they don’t need to incorporate 3rd down, pass catching backs. In fact, they allow 28.7 attempts per game, ranking 29th in the league.

-In good news/bad news, LeSean did have surgery on his thumb, but that shouldn’t figure to hurt him outside of the possibility of dropping a pass or two. With Mike Gillislee out Buffalo will be forced to give the ball to the best player on their team.

Lamar Miller, HOU ($5,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (17th) Yes

-When the team opened the season riding Lamar it looked as if he were going to lead the league in touches, but he was only able to turn his 84 opportunities through three games into  3.82 yards/touch. The Texans have used him slightly more sparingly and have been able to turn his 132 opportunities in the last seven games into a much improved 4.81 yards/touch despite having a passing game that doesn’t put the fear into any defense.

-The Chargers have limited the yardage to opposing running backs but have allowed 15 touchdowns, the 2nd most in the league. San Diego also allows a load of targets to running backs: 8.9/game according to DVOA, 2nd only to Atlanta (10.2).

-It would seem Miller is nearly out of his timeshare with Akeem Hunt, who played on only 16 snaps on MNF, turning them into 5 carries for -2 yards.

Devontae Booker, DEN ($5,600)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes

-In his last four games (including one with C.J. Anderson) Booker has averaged 20 touches a game, even snagging 5 catches in one of them.

-What doesn’t look like an inviting match-up on paper against Kansas City begins to look better when you focus on specifically their rush D which is bottom-third in the league in DVOA ranking, attempts, yardage and yards per carry. The Chiefs hardly allow breakout games to rock-toters – regardless of talent level – but they play in tons of close games, which allows the opposing team to continue to run the ball.

– Trevor Siemian is very unlikely to throw the ball all over the Chiefs, and the odds that KC runs away with this game are slim to none. Booker will get his touches but will likely have trouble finding the end zone. I see nothing wrong with paying for his floor.



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 (ARI vs. ATL) than others (KC vs. DEN).


Odell Beckham Jr., NYG ($8,800)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes No Yes (31st) Yes

-Always having one of the highest ceilings in the game, OBJ gets the Cleveland secondary this week. Despite only busting the 100-yard mark twice this season, Odell should look to make it three times on Sunday. The match-up is great, but the odds of this becoming a shootout is not. Too expensive for cash this week in my opinion.

Amari Cooper, OAK ($7,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes

-Amari is averaging 6.2 catches a game this year, hitting double digits in two of his last five games.

-As mentioned under Derek Carr’s entry, Carolina has been susceptible to WR1s all year and Cooper is averaging 21.5 DK points over the last six weeks.

Demaryius Thomas, DEN ($6,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes No Yes (19th) Yes

-The crowned king of consistent targets. Seriously, look at his entire season’s worth of targets in chronological order: 6,7,7,7,7,10,10,10,10,11. I’m not even making this up. Anywho, he has at least 6 catches in four of those games and has fallen below 5 catches just once this season.

-KC’s bottom-half WR1 match-up isn’t bad, but it would seem DT is match-up proof, even though he has yet to top 100-yards against anyone this season and his payoff is mostly whether or not he scores, which he has done five times so far. The floor is juicy, but the ceiling is not worth paying up for.

Doug Baldwin, SEA ($6,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (15th) Yes

-With 6 catches in three of his last five games and a combined game line of 10-163-3 in his last two, this is starting to feel an awful lot like the 2nd half of the 2015 season when Baldwin exploded for 12 TDs in 8 games.

-The individual match-up against Tampa Bay doesn’t look incredible, but the 20 passing touchdowns that rank 27th in the league seem like a good place for the Seahawks to attack. With a higher yardage upside and a similar scoring upside as Demaryius, I’d rather have Baldwin with the discount.

Jarvis Landry, MIA ($5,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes

-Oh how the mediocre have fallen. Right on the cusp of being a guarantee to get 5-6 catches a game, the Dolphins have found a real life running game and no longer need to throw the ball 4 yards at a time, electing to re-involve DeVante Parker’s playmaking ability into the fold. Presumably because they want to win games.

-Jarvis still has a floor against the 49ers and he is quite cheap, but I feel like we can get the same ceiling from other players at this price point.


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.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU ($3,300)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (14th) No (12th) Yes

-With a lack of astounding TE plays on the slate this week, it might just be best to throw a dart at some cheap guys that are still involved in their team’s passing attack. C.J. Fiedorowicz (whose name I can spell without checking now, tyvm) has snuck into the top-10 most targeted tight ends over the last 5 weeks despite only playing in four of those games. He seems to be a perfect compliment for the ineffectiveness of Brock Osweiller and turned his 10 targets into a respectable 6-82 on Monday night. He has scored at least 14.2 DK points in four of his last seven games.

Dennis Pitta, BAL ($3,200)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (28th) No (11th) Yes

-The best match-up out of the cheap bunch, Baltimore will face a Bengals’ defense that has allowed at least 5 catches to the TE position over the last five games. That list of tight ends: Martellus, Gronk, Barnidge, Vernon Davis, Jordan Reed, Will Tye and Charles Clay. Yes, on two different occasions tight ends combined for 10+ catches. Dennis Pitta has at least 6 catches in five games this season.

Coby Fleener, NO ($3,100)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (10th) No (10th) Yes

-Welp, he finally got rid of his terrible haircut, but Brees still doesn’t like for him to drop the ball more than twice a game. The highest ceiling of these three, he probably actually has the lowest floor (sorry Pitta).

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