By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
DFS Cash Game Lineup Advice
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. Playoffs are here, so the slate is small. That means you’ll have to find value plays, because there won’t be many, and you can’t cram all the studs into your lineups this week. That’s where I come in.
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.
Alex Smith ($6,300 on DK and $7,800 on FD) – Alex Smith is the clear choice for me this week, and is easily the best value on the slate by my count. Despite having an up-and-down fantasy year, Smith has done the things we like for fantasy output. He ranks 9th among QBs in red zone attempts, 6th in attempts of 20+ yards, and 8th in both passing yards and air yards. He also ranks 6th at the position in carries per game and rushing yards. Smith actually also ranks 3rd in fantasy points per game by PlayerProfiler’s calculations. Smith faces a very beatable Titans secondary, and closed the season on a decent note, finishing as QB1 and QB6 in weekly scoring against the Jets and Dolphins in 2 of his last 4 games. He also ranked as QB13 against the formidable Chargers, and ranked as QB21 against the Raiders due to throwing no touchdowns. The Titans have recently been torched by the likes of Jacoby Brissett, T.J. Yates, and Jared Goff, so Smith has a lot going for him this week in a top-half matchup.
I think you can also get away with using Cam Newton. I won’t, but he’d be my second choice.
Christian McCaffrey ($6,400 on DK and $6,800 on FD) – McCaffrey is my lock of the week. CMC finished the season with 117 carries (7.9 per game) and 113 targets (7.1 per game, 1st among RBs). Especially in PPR formats (DraftKings), I love a guy that is averaging 5 receptions and over 8 yards per reception. McCaffrey hasn’t had fewer than 12 touch opportunities (carries + targets) since the Week 11 bye, and actually a few weeks before then, too. McCaffrey’s late-season production was throttled by scoring only 2 touchdowns in his last 6 games (since the bye week). In the first matchup with New Orleans, McCaffrey recorded 4 carries and 9 receptions for 117 total yards. In the second matchup, he carried 6 times and added 5 catches but only for 49 yards, although he did score. The fantasy outputs were 20.7 points and 15.9 points, which is what I would call “good.” I expect a heavy dose of McCaffrey in this game, and I expect him to make plays on the “fast track” in the dome.
Mark Ingram ($6,900 on DK and $8,000 on FD) – You can argue with me here and say you prefer Alvin Kamara if you want, and Kamara was better in the previous matchups with Carolina, but he also scored 3 TDs in those 2 games. The first one can sort of be thrown out since Adrian Peterson was in the mix, but even so, Ingram recorded 14 carries and 2 receptions for 86 yards, but did not score. In the second matchup, he carried 14 times and caught 6 passes for 122 total yards and a score, good for RB4 on the week (Kamara was RB1 but it took 2 TDs). I always follow the volume, so Ingram is the pick for me against a team that has not been able to stop the Saints rushing attack in two matchups this year. Ingram ranks 4th in the league among RBs in goal line carries, so he is the better bet to score. Naturally, Kamara will probably have a field day now, but I’m playing the odds with Ingram. Also working in Ingram’s favor: anticipated game script (Vegas line) and home field.
Corey Davis ($3,600 on DK and 5,400 on FD) – WR is the position I’m spending down on this week, and you’ll have to take some volatility. Davis is exactly that. He is seeing a 20% target share, which isn’t great, but isn’t awful either. The Titans don’t run many pass plays, which hurts. However, Davis hasn’t seen fewer than 4 targets since returning from injury in Week 9 (except against Jacksonville), and saw 50 targets over that 8-game stretch (excluding the Jacksonville game in Week 17). Davis is a bit of a risky play, but at his price point, you don’t need much.
Cooper Kupp ($5,800 on DK and $6,600 on FD) – Kupp is pretty cheap in my eyes, too. In the second half of the season, Kupp saw fewer than 6 targets just once (against Seattle in Week 15, and 2 of his 3 targets were in the red zone). Kupp has fewer than 60 receiving yards just once since Week 11 (also in the Seattle game). He’s cracked the 100-yards mark twice in that span, too, and the same span includes 3 finished in the Top 12 WRs in weekly scoring (PPR). Kupp’s matchup in the slot against Atlanta will be favorable, as the Falcons have better coverage on the outside, and Jared Goff hardly throws to Sammy Watkins anyway. This should be the Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp show in the passing game, and I prefer the target floor of Kupp. Kupp actually also ranks 8th among WRs in red zone target share and 3rd in red zone receptions, so his touchdown potential is far from negligible. If anything, he’s due for positive touchdown regression, ranking only 26th in TDs among WRs.
Delanie Walker ($4,700 on DK and $5,800 on FD) – Walker is the only choice here for me. He’s seen fewer than 5 targets just once this season, and it was 4 targets in Week 2 against the Jaguars (but he still caught all 4 for 61 yards and a score, finishing the Week as TE5). Walker was a second-half monster, finishing as a Top-10 TE in weekly scoring in 7 of his last 10 games this season, which is amazing consistency. The Chiefs are a tough matchup for TEs in terms of fantasy points allowed, but Walker is such a reliable target and has been a favorite of Marcus Mariota, that it probably won’t matter. Walker is my first and only choice.
You can also punt the position by using Josh Hill as a cheap play, but his floor is low. More of a GPP option or a real punt play if you can stack your lineup in all other spots.
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.