Mitigating Risk: Week 4 DraftKings Cash Game Plays September 30, 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 (Lamar Miller has 84 touches through his first three games with the Texans, he looks like a 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?


Philip Rivers, SD ($6,900)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes (28.75)
  • -The only game in which Rivers hasn’t thrown the ball more than 35 times was Week 2 against Jacksonville when he managed to throw 4 TDs on only 24 attempts.
  • -The Jaguars defense might not be the best in the league, but it’s better than Philip’s Week 4 match-up as he gets the pleasure of facing the Saints in San Diego. After allowing two 300-yard passers in the first two weeks, New Orleans proved last week that they aren’t just a bad passing offense; they’re terrible all around. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for an incredible 296 total yards and 4 TDs.
  • -Expect Rivers to move the ball easily all day long. Making a decision on a guy to possibly stack him with should prove to be a risky venture though.


Kirk Cousins, WAS ($6,500)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (18th) Yes (26.5)
  • -Kirk hit our low watermark for attempts of 35 last week against the Giants, but had 43 in game one and 46 in game number two.
  • -Both defenses here are very much below average, but if the Browns can’t get the ball moving Cousins won’t have much reason continue throwing the ball, likely opting to hand the ball off to Matt Jones if they jump out to an early lead. This is a good spot for him and his plethora of weaponry, but I would see myself sticking him in a GPP rather than a cash game lineup.

Joe Flacco, BAL ($5,900)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes (24.75)
  • -Though he averages nearly 40 attempts/game, Flacco has thrown for only 3 scores in 3 weeks and has hit the 300-yard mark just once (302).
  • -He’ll have a chance to pad his stats a little bit this weekend against an Oakland team that surrendered 808 yards through the first two weeks before getting to see the likes of Marcus Mariota and that very ‘meh’ Titans offense last week. With the backfield averaging 3.3 YPC on the season and an Oakland offense that could turn this game into a shootout on the other side, Mr. Flacco has a great floor this week. And a great price to boot.



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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.


Le’Veon Bell, PIT ($7,500)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -Ah, “Le’Veon Bell in cash”. It rolls off the tongue so nicely, doesn’t it? No really, try it. Say it with me “Le’Veon Bell in cash”.
  • -For a clue as to how Bell will be “eased” into a heavy workload again we look no further than last season. When he returned in Week 3 from quite the similar situation, he carried the ball 19 times and caught 7 passes for 132 total yards. I can’t say he’ll get that exact production, but 25 or so touches is certainly in the realm of possibility. The 3+ receptions might be a given too, as he’s averaged 5 catches a game since the beginning of the 2014 season.
  • -With the Steelers defense reeling from a multitude of injuries and inefficiencies, this could end up being a sneaky shootout. I’ll take Le’Veon here before his price climbs.


Melvin Gordon, SD ($6,300)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes
  • -It’s hard recommending a guy who might be missing 3 of his O-lineman by game time, but it’s also hard not to recommend a guy facing a defense that just got embarrassed by not one, but two running backs in the same game.
  • -In Week 1 Philip Rivers targeted Gordon exactly zero times. In the 7 quarters since Danny Woodhead’s injury he has been targeted 10 times, catching 7 of them for 61 yards.
  • -Barring injury or something of the sort the second year player might have the thinnest range of outcomes of anyone on the slate; he’s got a relatively high floor but a small ceiling. If he were a little cheaper I’d be all in.


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 (KC vs. PIT) than others (SEA vs. NYJ).

The machine was having a hard time finding lots of guys at each position this week. We had to bend but not break with receivers as there were very nearly zero that fit all 5 categories, and hey, I wanted something to write.

Antonio Brown, PIT ($9,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes No (2nd) Yes
  • -Well, I could pretty much just leave his name and description up on most weeks and—surprise!—this week is no different.
  • -KC’s DVOA stock rose a whole heck of a lot after they did quite a number on the New York Fitzpatricks. In Week 1 they allowed pretty decent passing production, but it was evenly distributed amongst the Chargers’ corp. The kind of performance we’d be hoping for if we pay up for Brown would be the kind of one DeAndre Hopkins put up in Week 2: 7-113-1.
  • -Just like always there is a lot of floor here, but this is some expensive floor.


Demaryius Thomas, DEN ($6,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes(ish) Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -Trevor Siemian woke up last week and threw up all over Cincinnati’s defense, targeting his two main wide receivers on 20 of his 35 pass attempts, or, 57% of the time. DT caught 6 passes for the first time this season on his 7 targets. The only problem with that is the fact that those 7 targets are also a season-high. Gone are the days of 15 targets with 7 of them being bubble screens. Gary Kubiak ain’t trying to play that game anymore. And even if he were it seems as if Trevor would prefer to be throwing the ball to….


Emmanuel Sanders, DEN ($6,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (16th) Yes
  • -…his teammate. Though Week 3 was the first time they connected consistently, Sanders is now up to 29 targets through 3 games, which helps support the notion that he could slip into the no. 1 WR role in the not distant future. I fully expect Manny to continue Siemian’s party against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 7 TDs to wide receivers already.


Doug Baldwin, SEA ($6,100)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes No (14th) Yes

-Douglas now has two fantastic games (9-92-1 and 8-164-1) and one stinker of a game (3-20). We’ll hope for a healthy Russell Wilson to be throwing it to his main man on Sunday against a Jets defense that has been less than inspiring through their first three weeks.

-Not needing to attack the defense with Ryan Fitzpatrick handing them 6 INTs, Kansas City’s pass offense didn’t do anything incredible against New York, but the Bills and Bengals in the weeks prior had no problem with the once stout Jets pass defense. Cincinnati had a field day with A.J. Green (12-180-1) and Brandon LaFell (4-91) in Week 1 while the Bills ran free with the likes of Marquise Goodwin (2-112-1) and Greg Salas (4-89-1). All four of those receivers had a catch of at least 49 yards.



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.


Jordan Reed, WAS ($6,300)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes (27th) Yes
  • -The stars align in this one. Week 4 will be the first in which I pay up for a tight end, and I’m not mad about it.
  • -Three weeks that would have been great for a regular tight end (7-64, 5-70, 4-56) have been pretty pedestrian for Reed so far, and I can feel that it’s about to change. He’s only got three red zone targets on the year, but Washington is in a good spot to hang some numbers on the board; we should be able to add a checkmark to the TD box.


Dennis Pitta, BAL ($3,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes (31st) No
  • -Dennis Pitta. In a cash game. In 2016. What world are we living in? The answer is a world in which really weird things are happening in Baltimore.
  • -Joe Flacco has been looking for someone he can depend on with an always-rotating cast of running backs, oft-injured wide receivers and a preseason year-ender for Benjamin Watson. Sitting at number 2 in targets behind Steve Smith (he has 13 more yards than Smiff, btw) is Pitta, who has 20 targets against two teams who have been known to give up a lot of production to tight ends. Next up? Oakland, the team who gave up the most scores to the tight end position last season and remains in the bottom-third against the position so far this year.

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