Mitigating Risk: Week 5 DraftKings Cash Game Plays October 7, 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 106 touches through his first four 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?


Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7,700)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes (27.75)
  • -After averaging 35 passes over the first two weeks ARod had his breakout game before the bye week while throwing only 24 times against the Detroit Lions’ bottom-of-the-barrel secondary. He didn’t need the volume as he converted his 15 completions into four passing TDs.
  • -The attempts should shoot right back up against a New York Giants team that are weak on the ground (GB has a stout rush defense) and will be looking to move the ball through the air (GB has a subpar pass defense) which should work very well against the Packers. With the possibility of a shootout looming we will see Aaron’s 7:1 TD:INT put up against a Giants team that has yet to intercept a pass through four games. Big floor, big ceiling, big price.


Ben Roethlisberger, PIT ($7,200)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes (27.75)
  • -As a reward for coming out on Sunday Night Football and putting the hammer down on Kansas City, Big Ben and the Steelers are gifted with a match-up against a New York Jets pass D that is ranked 2nd worst in the league, edging out the aforementioned Lions.
  • -Averaging 36 pass attempts a game, Roethlisberger welcomed back Le’Veon with open arms last week, needing only 27 attempts to rack up 300 yards and 5 TDs because he completed a ridiculous 81% of his passes. I wouldn’t expect Bell’s return to continue to hamper his QB’s volume as DeAngelo Williams was already averaging 27 touches/gm in his absence.
  • -Both of the first two guys on this list have high enough floors that I’m fine with paying up for. They also have the range of outcomes to score you huge points in a tournament, even though their ownership% might not be very sneaky.


Joe Flacco, BAL ($6,200)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (18th) Yes (24.5)
  • -Joe takes the exact spot as he did last week, albeit with $300 price increase. He hit value (barely) last week through sheer volume alone. Here’s the exact excerpt from last week’s article:
    • “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).”
  • After his 52 passes against Oakland he now averages 42 attempts/gm, has thrown for 4 scores in 4 weeks and still only has that one 300-yard game.
  • -While his total numbers look just fine (1,072-4-4) he has failed to produce a great fantasy game so far despite being in some great spots to do so. Washington is another below average defense but that doesn’t really affect his floor-ceiling of 12-17, as he’s already shown us this season.


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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.


C.J. Anderson, DEN ($6,900)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (25th) Yes
  • -Though Anderson has only caught two balls over the last two weeks while getting stymied by two of the better rush defenses in the league (Cincinnati and Tampa Bay), I expect him to make a bounce back in the passing game. Atlanta is ranked 31st in DVOA against pass catching backs, allowing a league high 75.7 yards/gm through the air to the position. We can put his last two disappointing weeks behind us and move on with a 20+ touch, 100+ yard, 3 catch kind of game on Sunday.


Frank Gore, IND ($5,700)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes
  • -Frank “unsexy” Gore is back to show his moderate floor and minimal ceiling. Albeit a little surprising, Gore is still very much a part of this pass game, garnering 6 targets while Josh Ferguson dropped himself a couple of balls to go along with his 10 targets. The large target total could point you in the direction that the rookie is set to start stealing Frankie’s snaps but the -2 yards rushing on three carries would beg to differ. Nope, as long as Frank Gore is alive and kicking you can guarantee he sniffs or surpasses our 18+ touch benchmark. Even of none of those touches ever go over 15 yards…


Terrance West, BAL ($4,800)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) No
  • -There is an official starting running back in Baltimore, by golly gee! He was the focal point of the offense, only being out-targeted by Mike Wallace, Buck Allen, Chris Moore, Crockett Gillmore, Breshad Perriman, Kyle Juszczyk, ok ok, I’ll stop. He was out-targeted by everyone because he didn’t receive a single target in the passing game. But that’s just fine because he carried the ball 21 times and made them count for 113 yards and a score.
  • -Rookie Kenneth Dixon will be breathing down West’s neck as early as this week but Baltimore will likely give him some time as he has never seen an NFL field and will likely still be in a knee brace by game time. So we’ve got one more week of Terrance and lucky for him he’s got a Washington defense that has allowed the most rushing yards in the league to go along with seven TDs from the position. A committee approach would ruin our fun for all Ravens’ running backs again. Let’s hope they wait one more week.


Jerick McKinnon, MIN ($4,000)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes
  • -We saw all of the things this committee could be on Monday Night as Jerick (18-85-1, 3 catches for 10 yards) fared much better than professional vulture Matt Asiata (6-6-1, 2 catches for 12 yards). Matt did his damn thing in the first quarter where he gets into the end zone from 1-yard out, but nearly the full workload was given to McKinnon from there on out, including his very own TD from four yards.
  • -McKinnon and his Vikings will host a top-notch pass D but very questionable rush D this weekend when the Houston Texans come into town. The last three weeks they have allowed a 25-95-2 to DeMarco Murray, a 24-105-2 to LeGarrette Blount and a combined 16-118-0 to Spencer Ware/Charcandrick West. Since Minnesota is unlikely to be airing it out (sorry Charles Johnson) we’ll get a good luck at whether or not Jerick can shoulder the load.


DeAndre Washington, OAK ($3,400)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Possibly Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes
  • -Latavius Murray is out and it’ll be up to a couple of rookies averaging over 6 YPC to handle the load. The fact that everyone outside of Latavius has been effecting says something about his play and something positive about the offensive line’s play. Pretty much whoever gets the touches will benefit from their prowess.
  • -Taking a close game last week as an example we can see that Jalen Richard played on 15 snaps and touched the ball three times (as well as two drops) while DeAndre played a mere 10 snaps yet touched the ball on 8 of them, turning it into 46 total yards.
  • -It’s not exactly a dart throw since both backs are certain to get touches; the risky part here is our severely capped ceiling if we guess wrong. The great part about this is that nearly-minimum $3,400 salary.




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 (SD vs. OAK) than others (HOU vs. MIN).


Amari Cooper, OAK ($7,200)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes
  • -Jason Verrett was ruled out for the season Wednesday afternoon, delivering a big blow to a San Diego team who – once again – are being dismantled by injuries. We can feel bad for them or we can deploy a great talent on the other side who is very much ‘due’. Mathematically infuriating if you own him in season-long leagues, Cooper is averaging nearly 16 yards per reception and has 20 catches through four games but hasn’t managed to find the end zone. For the second year in a row he is more or less an afterthought in the red zone, receiving less targets than Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts and the same amount (2) as Andre Holmes…someone I did not know was even in the NFL any more.
  • -I’m not exactly blowing anyone’s mind here with #analysis, I just think he’s ‘due’. And don’t worry, it’s been brought to David Carr’s attention that none of his 9 TDs have gone the sophomore’s way.


Julian Edelman, NE ($6,700)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) No
  • -The Patriots blanked a team and then got blanked themselves in the last two weeks and all the while Edelman was just a blanking backup quarterback; receiving 10 targets for a combined 5-54-0 statline. I would bet money, services and future child-naming rights that he beats that line handedly against Cleveland. Brady’s back. So is Edelman.
  • -Since the beginning of 2014 the bromance have played together in 23 games and Edelman averages 17+ PPR points. That’s not even taking into account that Tom Brady is angry or whatever. The floor here is nearly 3x value.


Randall Cobb, GB ($6,200)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes
  • -All signs are pointing towards one Mr. Randall Cobb, even if he has done you dirty early on in the season. A Giants secondary which hasn’t been all that great this season are actually ranked 8th against opposing teams’ no. 1 WR while ranking 29th against the WR2. Guys like Charles Johson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jamison Crowder and Cole Beasley have already put together very nice games or a huge play or two. Cobb might have disappointed us for, ohhhh, let’s say the last 20 games but this is a perfect spot for Rodgers to exploit a defense that will be doing everything they can to shut down Jordy Nelson.


Steve Smith Sr., BAL ($5,300)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Not even close

-The 14th ranked wide receiver in targets, but no. 1 in our hearts; Joe Flacco just keeps throwing him the ball and the 5-9, 185lb 37 year-old man has picked up right where he left off last season as Baltimore’s possession receiver. Coming off of back-to-back 11 target, 8 catch games he’ll now face a Washington defense that is unlikely to stick their star CB Josh Norman in the slot against his former teammate. Though he may get a little bit of the Norman treatment he’ll still get his looks; the next highest target total for a receiver on his team is Mike Wallace (27 on the year) and he’s simply a deep ball guy with a 52% catch rate.




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.

Just a couple of cheap guys could manage to fill enough of the boxes this week.


Jesse James, PIT ($2,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (25th) No (14th) Yes
  • -Ah, here we are; the bitter end. The spot where we try to summon the courage to make an educated guess as to which tight end might be scoring us that precious touchdown. Up first is Jesse James, a giant of a man on a team with a giant amount of firepower around him. A team that can move the ball to the red zone and use him as he was meant to be used; as a tall person.
  • -After faring quite well against mediocre tight end talents through Weeks 1 and 2, the New York Jets had to face off against two of the better TEs in the league in Weeks 3 and 4, allowing 6-89-1 to Travis Kelce and a resurgent 6-113-0 performance by Jimmy Graham. Those are numbers that Jesse James will never be reaching but it’s still nice to see that they can be exploited. A simple 2-15-1 seems much more easily attainable.


Clive Walford, OAK ($2,700)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes (28th) Yes
  • -As we’ve already discussed, Amari Cooper is practically guaranteed to score a TD this weekend so the odds that Walford also finds the end zone have been cut down a little bit. In all seriousness though, Oakland has been increasing Clive’s workload little-by-little each week of the season thus far; 51%, 63%, 68% and 73% from Weeks 1-4, respectively. He is actually no. 3 on the team in targets (19), receptions (13) and yards (125) behind Cooper and Crabtree. These aren’t incredible numbers by any means but what do we care? We’re just looking for the touchdown. (Be sure to check Walford’s status, as he’s been limited)

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