Mitigating Risk: Week 9 DraftKings Cash Game Plays November 4, 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 174 touches through seven 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?


Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7,800)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes (30.75)
  • -Injuries to the entire RB crew of the Packers certainly hasn’t put any sort of hindrance on the volume of Rodgers as he has averaged a spiffy 45 atts/gm since the team’s week 4 bye. While his yards per attempt has dipped down to a career-low 6.3 for the year, the dink-and-dunk nature of the past three weeks has amounted to a 72% completion rating.
  • -The Colts will be tasked with stopping ~50 pass attempts from Aaron Rodgers just a week after allowing 340 yards through the air to the dynamic duo of Alex Smith and Nick Foles. Vontae Davis will be seeking the advice of an independent neurologist on Saturday to see if he will be cleared of concussion symptoms. If he cannot go on Sunday this match-up will be even uglier.

Philip Rivers, SD ($6,500)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (24th) Yes (25.5)
  • – Averaging 36 pass attempts a game, his season-low attempt total of 24 came in a game in which Jacksonville’s defense allowed him to turn 17 completions into 4 touchdowns.
  • -The Titans come into town offering up a bit of a “funnel defense” as they rank as a top-10 run D and a bottom-10 pass D. They’ve also allowed only three rushing scores through their first 8 games. If confronted with goal line looks, San Diego may want/need to forego Melvin Gordon plunges and leave the scoring up to Rivers’ arm.

Sam Bradford, MIN ($5,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
No Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (23.5)
  • – Now this is a tricky one. Sammy plays for a team that wants to pound the rock and run the clock out while its defense takes care of the rest. That is until Norv Turner resigned this week. Now no one knows what the hell they’re going to do. One thing is for sure though; they have nowhere to go but up. So far on the season Minnesota is 31st in total yards, 32nd in 1st downs, and 32nd in yards per rush. Yet they’re 10th in rushing attempts. If the team wants to turn things around in the non-Norv world they may want to switch things up a bit.
  • -Who better to switch things up a bit and look smart about throwing the ball than against a Detroit Lions team that has been torched by all quarterbacks not named Brock?
  • -We’re always excited to play a QB at min salary against a team that won’t know how to gameplan against him. This week shouldn’t be different just because Bradford isn’t a rookie.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Foles, Eli Manning




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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.


Terrance West, BAL ($4,700)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes
  • -In the three weeks immediately after earning the starting nod, Terrance averaged an 18-98-1 line while adding 6 catches for 30 yards on 9 targets. In a horrific show of offense for each team in week 7 game against the Jets, West’s production hit a brick wall when he ran the ball 8 times for all of 10 yards. Running backs were nixed from the gameplan altogether as fellow RBs Lorenzo Taliaferro and rookie Kenneth Dixon saw snap counts of 11 and 4, respectively.
  • -With a bye week under their belt to help cope with that awful Jets game, Baltimore’s offense should get a boost playing against a Steelers defense that has been one of the easiest to move the ball against this season. Pittsburgh ranks in the bottom-6th in total yards allowed, rushing TDs allowed, and yards per carry (4.7).
  • -While it’s possible Baltimore could emerge from the Bye hoping to get Kenneth Dixon more involved, the fact remains that he has touched the ball 7 times in the three games he’s played. For his salary there simply isn’t anyone as likely as him to rack up the touches. Except of course….

Charcandrick West, KC ($4,400)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes
  • -As if you weren’t already going to be playing him in cash. Just know that I’m here to tell you that even the Mitigating Risk machine likes him so there’s nothing to worry about outside of….nevermind, I’m not even going to put that out into the ether.
  • -Even though he didn’t touch the ball until 10:00 left in the 2nd quarter, Charknado still managed 16 touches and 3 targets. He’s got a ++ match-up against Jacksonville and the only other running back for the team is Bishop Sankey. Fire him up.

Honorable mentions: Zeke Elliot, Lev Bell, Melvin Gordon


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 (IND vs. GB) than others (DEN vs. OAK).


Brandin Cooks, NO ($7,500)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes
  • -The perfect type of boom-or-bust player with much more of the former and a very palatable amount of the latter. In three straight games against good defenses (OK, so maybe one just used to be very good) of Carolina, Kansas City and Seattle, Brandin cooked up 18-275-3 on 24 targets, finding the end zone in each game.
  • -No one would confuse San Francisco as a good defense unless they’ve been in a coma the last three years, and their coverage of opposing WR1s has been less than thrilling. Going backwards in time we see outputs such as Mike Evans’ 8-96-2, Robert Woods’ 5-44-1, Larry Fitzgerald’s 6-81-2 and Doug Baldwin’s 8-164-1. I’ll admit I skipped over the Dallas game because they didn’t have a WR1 at the time, but Terrance Williams and Brice Butler combined for 9-85-2 if that tells you anything. Speaking of Dallas’ no. 1 pass catcher…

Dez Bryant, DAL ($7,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes
  • -Maybe the Dak-Dez connection didn’t make all of their targets count, but I guess it doesn’t really matter when you have 14 of them. Prescott kept feeding the man and eventually Bryant ended up with a 53-yarder and a touchdown that would send the game into OT.
  • -The tag team should have an easier and more efficient go of it on Sunday when they visit Cleveland and the NFL’s only remaining winless team. Dez was a full participant in practice earlier this week for the first time since week 3 and now he gets to face the team allowing the most yards in the league. Assuming health, he won’t be this cheap again this season.

Stefon Diggs, MIN ($5,900)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (28th) Yes
  • -After Monday Night’s game Stefon now has three games with more than 8 targets; his lines in those games are 7-103, 9-182-1 and Monday’s 8-76-1. Feed this speedy kid, Minnesota!
  • -I’m hoping we see more of this against that weak Detroit secondary that could offer us an incredibly cheap stack in Bradford-Diggs. That feels dirty to type.

Ty Montgomery, GB ($5,800)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (31st) Yes
  • -Being that he didn’t play last week (I hope you were able to pivot to Davante Adams on time!) his price remains exactly what it would have been. For all of you who don’t like playing guys that may have just burnt you and your fantasy teams, let it go. Lots of people will feel like that and he’s just as much of a bargain as he would have been last week with a possibility of even more of a workload.
  • -In this hybrid RB-WR role he has been playing for two games, Ty has a ridiculous 25 targets and 20 catches. Even if he didn’t carry the ball a single time (like if Green Bay wants their fullback to lead the team in rushing again) we would be paying for that price:usage correlation. With the totes as a cherry on top and the possibility that fellow target-hog Randall Cobb could miss another game, the must play meter is blasting into the red.
  • – That “31st” in the DVOA column is actually how Indianapolis fairs against running backs as I figured he would be matching up with defenders mostly out of the backfield. Indy is offering up 50+ receiving yards a game to running backs and have surrendered 41 receptions to them in 8 games.

Honorable mentions: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, Steve Smith Sr.


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.


Travis Kelce, KC ($5,300)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (12th) Yes (21st) Yes
  • -In 38 career games with Alex Smith as his quarterback, Travis Kelce had a single game with double-digit targets. That was until last week’s game when Alex Smith attempted 19 passes, Nick Foles attempted 22 and Travis Kelce had his third ever 100+ yard game on 10 targets. Maybe it’s some sort of coincidence as Travis got 5 of his targets from each of the QBs on a very similar target share, but what an odd coincidence it would be, eh? I’m not sure how much we should trust Nick Foles’ offensive weaponry while Smith is out, but it’s definitely worth chasing the points on a very talented player. Just maybe not in a cash lineup.

Kyle Rudolph, MIN ($4,000)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (27th) Yes (28th) Yes
  • -In case you were wondering, yes, yes I do want to stack teams against the Colts.
  • – Rudolph is our only tight end to check all of the boxes this week, and I’ll absolutely play him anywhere I’m not already playing Bradford and Diggs. Hell, maybe I’ll play all three and pay up for studs all around them. Kyle has had a reasonable return in six out of seven games this season including 5 catches in three of his last four; more than can be said for almost any other tight end in the league.

Dennis Pitta, BAL ($3,800)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes No (13th) Yes (26th) No
  • -Another tight end with a higher floor and a not necessarily awe inspiring ceiling can be found in Baltimore. Pitta has bottomed out just once (week 4 3-17 on 5 targets) and has fared almost identically whether or not Steve Smith Sr is in the lineup – something his pass catching teammates can’t say. His ceiling is further capped by his lowly 4 targets inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, an area where Flacco tends to spread the ball around (although unsuccessfully).

Antonio Gates, SD ($3,000)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (17th) No (12th) Yes
  • -Q: Punt and hope for a touchdown?
  • -A: Punt and hope for a touchdown.
  • -And hey, if you’re gonna punt why not punt with a guy who has 107 career touchdowns? Whether he’ll ever be fully healthy again is irrelevant; Philip Rivers still throws the ball to his main man once they’re close to the end zone. He should get even more looks with surprising rookie Hunter Henry not playing. Over the last four weeks while playing “healthy” and the rook eating into his production, he has still garnered 30 targets with 9 of those coming in the red zone.


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