Mitigating Risk: Wild Card DraftKings Cash Game Plays January 6, 2017  |  Justin Edwards

Follow @Justin_Redwards

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.


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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?

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT ($7,600)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes No (14th) Yes (28.5)

-Attempting 36 passes/gm over the course of the regular season, Ben has missed the 35 pass mark fives times over the course of the season and three of those occasions turned into 3+ TD games.

-Though the Dolphins’ secondary has been relatively stout this season they have given up some huge passing days to quarterbacks of varying skill sets over the last couple of months, including 296-3-1 (and 113 yards rushing) to Colin Kaepernick, 381-4-1 to Joe Flacco, 329-3-0 by Tyrod Taylor, and last week’s 276-3-0 line to division rival Tom Brady. Though they are still leading the league in QB hurries over the course of the season, Miami has sacked the opposing QB a meek 8 times over the last five games; if they are unable to get Big Ben down and let him do his customary “wait for someone to get behind the defense” a huge game awaits.

-The week 6 game between these two teams resulted in Roethlisberger leaving and returning to the game with a knee injury. He threw two interceptions to safeties that day; one to Rashad Jones and one to Isa Abdul-Quddu. Both of them have since hit the IR. Those are just two less tools they’ll have to use while they try to end Pittsburgh’s extreme Home/Road splits that include Roethlisberger’s 20:5 TD:INT ratio and 1,915 yards in his six games at Heinz Field. His sizable home/road splits carry over quite well into his career postseason numbers as well;

Home: 256.2 yards, 1.5 TDs and .33 INTs

Neutral: 242.3 yards, 1 TD and 1.67 INTs

Away: 234.1 yards, 1.25 TDs and 1.5 INTs


Russell Wilson, SEA ($7,000)

Pass Att > 35 Favorite Home DVOA  Team Total > 22.5
Yes Yes Yes Yes (32nd) Yes (25.25)

-Averaging 35 attempts/gm during the back half of the season with a low of 26 (24-3 blowout of the Rams) and a high of 45 the next week (31-34 loss to Arizona).

-Detroit ended the season in a rough way, giving up point totals of 42 and 31 against Dallas and Green Bay to hobble into the postseason giving up the 2nd-most passing touchdowns in the NFL. They will now face off against Wilson who has 3 all-purpose scores in five different games this season. Though Russ hasn’t been as active on his feet compared to previous seasons it’s fair to note that the Lions have also allowed 77 yards to Dak and Aaron Rodgers over the last two weeks.

-Though Seattle will want to run the ball the fact is that none of their backs are working out and the place to attack this defense (especially in the Red Zone) will be through the air. Opponents score on 67.9% of their drives in the RZ against Detroit (30th) and teams have scored 33 TDs through the air on them while getting to the paint on the ground on only 8 occasions.


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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 ($10,300)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (22nd) Yes

-Falling below the 18 touch line only once (16 in Week 6) Le’Veon is actually leading the league in touches/gm with a ridiculous 28, including a 6-51 receiving line that would make Allen Robinson envious.

-Miami gives up most of their touchdown production through the air (30 to 12) but offenses have had no trouble moving between the 20’s on the ground, racking up 2,247 yards against them, good for 30th in the NFL. These last five weeks have been especially tough as Baltimore backs combined for 145 total yards, David Johnson hit 121, Bilal Powell compiled 162, Shady/Mike Gillislee managed 236 and finally in Week 17 Patriots backs worked their way to 133. This is all to say that Le’Veon has easily the best floor and ceiling on the slate and we should be willing to pay pretty much whatever they ask us to.


Lamar Miller, HOU ($6,100)

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

-Averaging 22 touches/gm over his last five, he has fallen below the 18 touch threshold only once (Week 13, with 15).

-A healthy Lamar Miller is returning after a two-game absense due to an ankle injury they may not have kept him out of games at all had the playoffs come a week or two sooner. He has six games of 3 or more receptions so far on the year and he’ll get an Oakland team that is ranked 20th or worse in coverage against everyone but the opponents’ WR1 (ranked 5th). Lamar already has one good game in his pocket against this Oakland team; rushing for 24-104-1 against them in Week 11, including a 33 yard scamper when he was taken down at the 1-yard line. If the Texans are going to score any touchdowns in this match-up they will likely be looking to their bellcow for the opportunity. The Silver and Black have allowed 18 scores on the ground (25th in NFL) and Lamar Miller leads the team in red zone carries by a landslide; his 31 are double that of Alfred Blue’s 15 and seven of Alfred’s came in the last two weeks when Miller wasn’t playing.


Thomas Rawls, SEA ($5,700)

18+ Touches Favorite Home DVOA  3+ receptions
Yes Yes Yes Yes (23rd) No

-A season that was anything but inspiring, Thomas Rawls’ season would look even more painstaking if he wouldn’t have put together a solid 15-106-2 line back in Week 13. My biggest reason for considering him is the 8 point spread the Seahawks are currently holding on to. If they are going to be up by a score or two for most of the game Rawls is the surest bet to pound the clock and get 15-20 touches with only rookie Alex Collins there to take away snaps.





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 (MIA vs. PIT) than others (OAK vs. HOU).


Doug Baldwin, SEA ($7,000)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (26th) Yes

-Baldwin has 40 receptions on 55 targets over his last six games, even if we include Seattle’s lackadaisical Week 17 performance.

-The only bright spot of Detroit’s secondary is Darius Slay, a cornerback who does not travel into the slot where Baldwin gets pounded with possession-style routes over and over again. Not only does he lead his team in targets, he also leads Seattle wide receivers in RZ targets (he’s two behind Jimmy Graham) and has turned 15 of those into 6 touchdowns. Dougie is an integral part of moving the ball for this offense and offers a type of ceiling we’ll need if we’re not paying for Antonio-OBJ-Jordy.

Will Fuller, HOU ($4,400)

6+ Receptions Favorite O/U = Over DVOA Age < 30
Yes Yes Yes Yes (21st) Yes

-It’s funny who becomes cash game viable when there are only eight teams to choose from. The sandwich of Will Fuller’s season had no protein in it but the bread offers a lot of promise with 19-323-2 to begin the year and target totals of 8, 6 and 7 to finish it.

-As mentioned earlier, the Raiders have been susceptible to secondary receivers on the year ranking 21st and 20th on the year against WR2 and WR3 according to DVOA. They have also allowed the most receptions of 20+ yards (61) in the league, the bread-and-butter for a guy with a 4.32 40-yard dash.




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.


Jimmy Graham, SEA ($5,300)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (29th) Yes (26th) Yes

-In a season that’s been mostly devoid of tight end talent we have some pretty decent match-ups to exploit on this slate. Jimmy easily has the juiciest of them all.

-Detroit has given up 10 touchdowns to the position, good enough for 3rd most in the league. Graham may have only scored 6 times on the season but he still stands atop the Seahawks’ pecking order once they get close to the end zone.

Ladarius Green, PIT ($4,500)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (21st) No (4th) Yes

-A fun thought to pair him with Big Ben but he sure has missed a lot of time with concussions. Too much $$ for too much risk.


C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU ($4,200)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (23rd) No (5th) Yes

-Averaging 7 targets/gm over his last 11 games, he has fallen below that mark only twice in that span.

-CJ was a focal point of the offense against this Oakland team in Week 11, going 6-82 on 10 targets. The Raiders didn’t exactly end the season on a high note against opposing tight ends either, allowing a 3-37-1 to Hunter Henry, 9-122-0 to the various Indianapolis TEs and 3-17-1 to Virgil Green.


Jared Cook, GB ($3,600)

Home Favorite TE DVOA WR DVOA 1+ TD
Yes Yes Yes (26th) No (2nd) Yes

-Rivaling Fiedorowicz’ recent usage, Cook has 21 targets over his last three games. The increased offensive usage comes at a perfect time as Green Bay will host a Giants team that is very susceptible against the tight end position despite being very stout against all other pass catchers. Opposing TEs put together 86-1,013-4 on 134 targets, the receptions, targets and yards are all hovering around 5th-worst among all defenses. These two teams faced off in Week 5, albeit without Jared Cook. Richard Rodgers received 5 targets for what it’s worth.



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