By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
DFS Cash Game Lineup Advice
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. No Thursday games this week, but two Saturday games again, so be ready for some short slate action. Check out my Twitter page for my favorite plays on the Saturday slate.
Let’s start with the best value plays of the week. Very simply, this compares a player’s salary on each site to his rank in Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) as of Wednesday evening, courtesy of FantasyPros. Players with salaries well below their ECR value are objectively better plays, as the expert consensus is higher on that player than the DFS sites (i.e., the player costs more than he should). Players with salaries above their ECR are objectively worse plays because the experts are lower on that player than the DFS sites (i.e., the player costs more than he should). I will caveat all of this by saying that this is purely based on the numbers and does not account for several factors including mid-week injury updates, floor and ceiling of players, etc. It is strictly based on the ranks versus the salaries, and the ranks are fixed differentials (e.g., the difference between 1 and 2 is the same as between 41 and 42), but the values are not necessarily linear. Last caveat – these rankings don’t account for bonuses (e.g., 300 yard passing bonus on DraftKings). To summarize all that, this should not be the sole basis of your lineups, but it’s a nice way to identify some variance or opportunities in salary where the sites have not caught up to player values. Here are the top value plays for Week 7 on each site. A player’s value in this chart is defined simply as Salary Rank minus ECR. For example, if Colin Kaepernick has the 25th highest salary on DraftKings this week, and his ECR is 12th, his value would be 25-12=13.
Do I like all of these players for cash games? Same as usual, absolutely not. In cash games, drafting players with a floor is key. For QBs, that means pass attempts and scoring opportunities. For RBs, it means carries and passing game usage (targets). For WRs and TEs it means routes run and targets. There are some players on this chart I like, and I explain below.
Cam Newton ($6,800 on DK and $8,300 on FD) – Newton is a great value on FanDuel, but my favorite high-end option on both sites. Let’s start with the fact that he’s playing the Buccaneers at home. Not much else needs to be said because the Buccaneers are a very beatable secondary. In other news, Newton ranks #1 among QBs in the following metrics: rush attempts, rush attempts per game, red zone carries, red zone carries per game, rushing yards, rushing yards per game, and he ranks #2 in rushing TDs with 5 on the year. You’re basically getting a Frank Gore performance out of Newton even if he doesn’t throw a single pass. Yes, please. And guess what? He also ranks 12th in total pass attempt distance. Without a huge number of attempts, that means he’s throwing deep balls, which is good for fantasy output. Cam Newton could easily be the highest scoring QB this week, and the rushing numbers give him a nice floor this week. Add in some narrative about winning and making playoffs and you can appease all the fantasy gamers.
Dak Prescott ($6,000 on DK and $7,600 on FD) – #TheReturn. Ezekiel Elliott is back. I’ve been a big Prescott supporter all year, and it’s burned me a few times, no doubt. This is a perfect situation to show why fantasy players must have a longer memory than they usually do. In 8 games with Elliott in the lineup this year, here are Prescott’s weekly finishes: QB13, QB7, QB12, QB8, QB2, QB3, QB24, QB3. Top 12 finishes in 6 out of 8 games, with one of the misses being QB13, and only one bad week (against the Redskins). That’s an incredible floor, and a nice ceiling with top three finishes in 3 out of 8 starts. The Cowboys host the Seahawks this week, but keep in mind it’s the Seahawks without many of their core pieces. They rank 9th in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs, but that’s inflated by single-digit outputs from opposing QBs in 4 of the first 6 games. Don’t be scared of this matchup. I gushed over Cam Newton’s rushing output – Prescott ranks 8th in carries, 6th in red zone carries, 5th in rush yards, and 1st in rushing TDs. Prescott is a great value play this week.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,000 on DK and $8,300 on FD) – #TheReturn. Just a friendly reminder that Ezekiel Elliott ranks 3rd among RBs in points per game. Yes, Seattle is a decently tough matchup, but who cares? Feed Elliott the rock and he’ll deliver. Elliott had under 20 carries just once before his suspension, and finished as an RB1 in all but one game where he got 20+ carries. All other RBs at the top are pretty tightly priced, but Elliott has a slight value edge, so he’s my pick for those spending up at the position. Elliott looks to be in better shape than ever, and should pick up right where he left off.
Samaje Perine ($4,300 on DK and $6,000 on FD) – A starting RB in the NFL who will likely see 20 touches is priced at RB37 on DraftKings and RB32 on FanDuel. Not sure how, but take advantage of that. Perine doesn’t do anything particularly well, nor are his metrics impressive, nor are his stats remarkable. However, due to injuries, he’s seen 24, 27, 15, 21, and 16 touches in the last 5 weeks. Perine hasn’t been great even with those numbers, but has scored no less than 8.6 PPR points in that stretch, which isn’t bad (especially for the price tag), and he has games of 126 and 130 total yards in that stretch. This week, Perine faces a strong Broncos defense, but the Redskins should be winning this game at home, so Perine should see enough of the ball to produce a viable fantasy day.
Lamar Miller ($5,000 on DK and $6,000 on FD) – Another cheap volume play, Miller ranks in the top 10 among RBs in opportunity share (runs plus targets for RBs), and rush attempts. He’s coming off of basically his worst game of the year statistically, so his price is depressed. The Texans face the Steelers, who are an average run defense for opposing RBs in fantasy, and Miller is relatively game-script independent, so I’m not worried that the Texans will likely be losing this game. Miller is seeing 18.8 carries plus targets per game, so he has a good chance of getting over the arbitrary but often-cited 20-touch mark. His efficiency is suspect in this contest, but I’ll take volume every time.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (6,400 on DK and $7,000 on FD) – FanDuel did not price him up after the Antonio Brown injury, and DraftKings did, but not enough. Smith-Schuster is a free square in FanDuel this week, and still a solid value on DraftKings. He saw 98.4% of the snaps in the last game, where no other Steelers WR saw over 60%. He is the clear lead dog in a WR corps that will see targets galore against a weak Texans secondary. Smith-Schuster actually ranks 9th among WRs in air yards, which is a good indicator that his targets and receptions are valuable for fantasy. He is extremely efficient as well, ranking 2nd in yards per target. Some of that is because Brown draws so much attention, but against the Texans, that won’t matter. Smith-Schuster will deliver.
Doug Baldwin ($6,300 on DK and 7,300 on FD) – Baldwin is the closest we get to a free square on DraftKings. He’s coming off of a down game (1 catch for 6 yards), but before that game, he saw at least 6 targets in 8 of the previous 9 games. Baldwin has a high target floor, and we just have to treat the last game as an outlier. Nothing worked for the Seahawks. He has not produced the numbers we are accustomed to over the last few years, ranking only 23rd at the position in fantasy points per game. I still have plenty of confidence in the Seattle passing attack, especially against Dallas this week. I’ll gladly continue to play Baldwin and his 7.5 targets per game.
Demaryius Thomas ($5,500 on DK and $6,500 on FD) – Somehow, he continues to get it done with bad QBs, and that is the most impressive part of Thomas’s season. He ranks 8th in targets, 11th in receptions, and 10th in red zone receptions, so even if he continues to be a bit inefficient from bad QB play, the fantasy output should be okay, and a good value at his price. Despite all this, Thomas ranks only 34th among WRs in TDs scored, so he’s an obvious candidate for positive scoring regression. He’s on a bit of a hot streak in terms of targets, as he’s fewer than 8 just once since the Week 5 bye and he saw 6 targets in that game. In fact, he’s seen fewer than 8 targets just twice all season (one was against the Chargers, who have a very strong secondary). If I’m happy to roll with Baldwin and 7.5 targets from an excellent QB, I’ll gladly use Thomas and his 9 targets per game, even if they are worse targets.
Jack Doyle ($4,700 on DK and $5,300 on FD) – Doyle is a great value on FanDuel, but so is Eric Ebron (see below). Ebron is my favorite DraftKings play, and it’s essentially a tie on FanDuel, so use either one with confidence. Among TEs, Doyle ranks 2nd in snap share, 2ns in target share, 2nd in receptions, and 3rd in yards after the catch. His fantasy output is being suppressed by scoring touchdowns, of which he only has 3 this season. Doyle is a top-10 TE by most other fantasy metrics, so he is a great safe (boring) play for cash games that will allow you to spend up elsewhere, especially on FanDuel. Doyle has 5 performances of top-6 weekly TE scoring output this season, and only 2 of those involved a touchdown, so his upside is obvious, too. Against a Ravens defense that ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to the TE position, Doyle is a nice play.
Eric Ebron ($3,700 on DK and $5,200 on FD) – Eric Ebron has risen from the dead (in fantasy terms). After just one TE1 performance in the first 8 games, Ebron has finished no worse than TE18 in weekly scoring in his last 6 games, and was the TE3 and TE8 in the last two weeks. He’s also seen 4 targets in 5 straight games, and 7+ in 3 of those 5. Ebron is risky as usual, but he offers nice value at a still-low price on both sites. He also faces a Bengals defense that is middle of the pack in terms of defending the TE position, so the matchup is fine. I prefer Doyle on FanDuel slightly, but Ebron on DraftKings is an easy choice for me unless you want to spend up at the position.
I hope these tips help you set winning lineups this week on both sites. Let me know your thoughts and how they worked out for you! I am on Twitter at @LeipoldNFL and always like talking football. Let me know what you liked, what you didn’t like, and if this can be more useful moving forward.