Mitigating Risk: Week 7 DraftKings Cash Game Plays October 21, 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 148 touches through six games, 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?

We’ve got a much cheaper group of guys to choice from this week, all within a $200 salary cap of each other. It’s up to you to decide which one you feel the safest playing


Blake Borltes, JAX ($6,200)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes (24.5)
  • -Averaging 39 pass attempts a game, Blake has fallen below our 35 watermark twice this season (33 each time) and has thrown upwards of 50 times (Chargers in Week 2). He is well on his way to another 600+ attempts with this offense that continues to have trouble moving the ball with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.
  • -Oakland has allowed the most total offensive yards in the league up to this point with nearly 1,900 through the air. Four of the Raiders’ six games this year have hit 55 total points. On the flip side the Jaguars have had three of their five games hit at least 50 total points. This game has mega shootout potential, and the odds Bortles has his first 3+ TD game of the season (he had five such games in 2015) will make for a high ceiling play.


Alex Smith, KC ($6,100)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes (28.5)
  • -Even including last week’s 22 attempts against Oakland where the Chiefs ran the ball with reckless abandon and hardly needed the pass game, Alex is still averaging 38 a game, hitting as high as 48 and 50. Both of those came in games where the stifling Kansas City defense just wasn’t nearly as ‘stifling’ as we’ve grown accustomed to. Whether at the Super Dome or on the road this week’s opponent is assuredly a tough offense to ‘stifle’.
  • -Drawing the Saints’ defense has turned into a cheat code for fantasy players over the last few seasons and 2016 is no different. Week in and week out quarterbacks throw all over their secondary and score the ball with ease. The only team that has allowed more yardage through the air are the Raiders who we just mentioned. The problem here is that their goal line defense is so inept at stopping the run that teams have rushed for the score 11 times already, taking the easy six and scoring through the air only 7 times. This will put a hurting on Alex Smith’s already lowish ceiling with the odds of the Jamaal/Spencer Ware tandem racking up the points. There looks to be a narrow gap between his floor and ceiling, but he is likely the safest play on the board.


Andy Dalton, CIN ($6,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (30th) Yes (27.5)
  • -Andy averages 36 passes a game, throwing far more often in losses than in wins. As of this writing Cincinnati is a 10-point favorite over Cleveland this weekend, which could portend that the Bengals look to their run game if they do indeed get early scores.
  • -In what can no longer be considered hyperbole, Andy Dalton is not a good quarterback against “common” opponents. A common opponent being a team Andy has played the previous season or earlier that same season. Take a look at the stats right here that Joe Goodberry has compiled and keeps updated after each game. If you don’t feel like clicking that link I’ll just tell you; it’s not good. Not only is Cleveland a “common” team since they’re in the same division, it’s as if they’re some sort of Super Common with new head coach Hue Jackson being Dalton’s offensive coordinator as recently as, well, January.
  • -With the well-publicized lack of number two and three options (Jones-Sanu gone, Eifert might return this week) and an offensive line that’s not nearly as reliable as 2015’s staunch group, I will be fading this play in cash. BUT I will definitely be using him as a tournament play. For more on the GPP side of things go check out Doug Shain‘s Hail Mary article.


Marcus Mariota, TEN ($6,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
No Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes (25.25)
  • -I can practically copy pasta my exact write-up of Mariota from last week in this space. I won’t do that, but I’ll keep this basic; Marcus isn’t the type of guy I’m usually looking for when I’m making cash lineups and need guaranteed points from everyone. The fact remains that he’s facing a very bad secondary for the third week in a row with the Colts coming to town. In two similar spots over the last two weeks the sophomore has been efficient (70% completion rate) with his 53 pass attempts while throwing 6 TDs and a single interception. We want to pick on bad defenses, and I completely understand wanting to ride the hot hand, but keep in mind he has hit 300+ yards in only two of eighteen career games.



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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.


DeMarco Murray, TEN ($7,200)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes
  • -Coming off of a relative stinker in Week 6 (21-65-1), I will be more than happy to double down for week 7’s match-up against the worst rush defense in the league. And he’s $500 less to boot!
  • -Over the last three weeks the Colts have been gashed by Lamar Miller (24-149-1 with 3-29-1 receiving), Jordan Howard (16-118 with 3-45-1 receiving) and T.J. Yeldon (14-71 with 4-46 receiving). With 100 total yards and a score a very likely floor for the Tennessee workhorse, I am willing to pay up.


Devonta Freeman, ATL ($5,900)


Tevin Coleman, ATL ($4,900)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
N/A Yes Yes Yes (21st) N/A
  • -I find this as an interesting – albeit brain numbing – situation week-in and week-out. It’s odd to say, but the backfield in general is in play for me. Maybe even Coleman because of the $1,000 bargain you can get by using him.
  • -First Freeman; although he is averaging a robust 5.0 YPC on the season, he has 18 or more touches in only 33% of his games, which is likely the most important box to check in terms of our process. On a positive note he does have a floor by catching 3 or more passes in 66% of his games.
  • -For Coleman, he is well behind in YPC with a 3.3 behind (obviously) the same offensive line and has reached 18 touches exactly zero times. He has turned one extra target into 193 more yards  receiving (320 to 127) than his back-mate, though.
  • -Neither are very safe to play. But against a Chargers defense that has allowed a league-high 54 receptions from the running back position maybe they’re BOTH safe to play, if you catch my drift…



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 (OAK vs. JAX) than others (MIN vs. PHI).


Antonio Brown, PIT ($9,300)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (19th) Yes
  • -I mean, duh, right? It is true that Roethlisberger is out this week and for the foreseeable future. It’s also true that Landry Jones is not a good quarterback and that all of the talent around him will see a hit to their value. What is not true is the idea that Pittsburgh will not still be funneling their offense through possibly the best receiver in the game. Hell, they may be doing it even more so than before.
  • -Although his 150+ yard, 2 TD ceiling is probably out the window, it has been replaced with 9-120-1 ceiling. A ceiling that’s really not that far-fetched.


A.J. Green, CIN ($8,600)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) Yes
  • -It may seem odd to praise a wide receiver while pooh-pooh’ing the guy throwing him the ball in the same article, but as we touched on with AB, it is quite easy to assume production from a guy when you know he is possibly the best talent on the field. A.J. has a couple terrible games production-wise, and that’s hard to see when you have to pay up for the 3rd-highest priced WR on the slate, but he has still yet to fall below 8 targets in a game.
  • -Already ranking in the bottom-third of the league in covering opposing WR1s, Cleveland has listed Joe Haden as doubtful. Green might have 75% of Dalton’s passing yards.


Allen Robinson, JAX ($7,300)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
No Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes
  • -We certainly can’t (sort of) predict a huge Bortles performance without mentioning his only worthwhile receiving option. Robinson has a fantastic opportunity to hit the 100-yard mark for the first time this season against a defense allowing the most yards in the league.
  • -Although he is on pace to more-or-less reach his 2015 catch totals, he has caught a surprising lack of deep balls to lower his yards per catch of 17.5 to only 12.0 this season. After leading the league with 31 catches of 20+ yards, he has only 3 this year. Which ranks him right around “very low”.
  • -I’d be weary playing him, but hey, he’s gotta have himself a game some time. Might as well be Sunday.

Golden Tate, DET ($4,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes
  • -Golden Tate; alive. And all it took was a litany of injuries. Fortunately for future fantasy production of one Mr. Tate, Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick have been ruled out for week 7. Which – combined with Marvin Jones’ ever-declining usage (18 targets in last three games after 29 targets in his first three) – means Golden will be just that in terms of usage.
  • -This comes to a head just in time for a match-up against Josh Norman’s Redskins who have done well against all pass catching positions besides the WR2; where they are dead last in the NFL according to DVOA.
  • -10 more targets for a low $4,900 is the kind of salary break you welcome when trying to fit in those expensive studs.


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.


Delanie Walker, TEN ($4,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (22nd) Yes
  • -I’m willing to go back to the well here even after Walker’s week 6 usage made me say certain expletives I’d rather not recant here.
  • -If C.J. Fiedorowicz can do it, then so can Delanie, damn it! The Houston tight end’s 6-85-1 line against Indianapolis no doubt had a hand in plummeting the Colts all the way to the bottom of the TE defensive rankings. Unless we’re sure Kendall Wright is going to go 8-133-1 again, we should be pretty content with Walker getting his hands on this linebacker corps.
  • -I hate using a guy in back-to-back weeks after he proved me so wrong the week before, but all the signs are pointing me to do it. So, I probably will.


Julius Thomas, JAX ($3,900)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes (26th) No
  • -I won’t dive too in-depth here as he’s still listed as Questionable for the game, but just know that JT is in a good spot for not much dough. This would be a great bounce-back spot after a couple of unusable weeks.


Jacob Tamme, ATL ($2,800)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (20th) Yes (15th) No

-Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?

-A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.

-Our punt play of Richard Rodgers last week amounted to 2-15-0. Womp. Tamme is our best bet for a punt this week, but there’s a reason that price is so low. He’s combined for 5-20-1 on six targets over his last three games. Those first couple games of high usage are far in the rear view.

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