By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
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DFS Cash Games – Thanksgiving Edition
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. This is a special Thursday edition of the Cash Game series for only the three games on Thanksgiving Day.
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.
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.
Matthew Stafford ($6,000 on DK and $7,700 on FD) – Stafford struggled against Minnesota in their last matchup, but since then, in the six games he’s played, he’s ranked inside the top 12 QBs in weekly scoring in all of them, and inside the top 8 in his last five games. Since the first game against the Vikings, he’s thrown 2 or 3 TDs in every game except one (in which he eclipsed 400 yards and finished as the QB6). I expect to see a lot of Xavier Rhodes on Marvin Jones Jr., which should leave nice matchups for Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay all day. Stafford has shown a nice rapport with both, so I like his chances to finish as the top QB on the slate.
Kirk Cousins ($7,100 on DK and $8,800 on FD) – Cousins has the best matchup of the slate, against a pitiful Giants defense. While this game shapes up as a tough matchup for Josh Doctson, who will see a lot of Janoris Jenkins, Cousins has shown the ability to spread the ball and put up good performances in even difficult matchups this year. He should be able to beat the Giants by looking to all of his targets, including Jamison Crowder (who I also love on this slate), Vernon Davis, and Ryan Grant. Since the Week 5 bye, Cousins bas finished as a top 12 QB each week except against the Cowboys and the Seahawks. In his last two games, he’s finished as the QB2 against Minnesota, and the QB3 against New Orleans, which are both tough matchups. With a depleted running game, expect Cousins to throw plenty and feast against the Giants on Thanksgiving Day.
I think you can also pay down for Case Keenum and expect solid production, against a very beatable Lions secondary. The Lions surrendered 14+ fantasy points to DeShone Kizer, Brett Hundley, and Mitchell Trubisky, so Keenum should be able to do the same.
Orleans Darkwa ($4,600 on DK and $6,400 on FD) – Darkwa has been playing well of late, and gets a nice matchup against the Redskins, who are Top 10 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. Since the Week 8 bye, Darkwa has 18, 16, and 22 touches. His fantasy production hasn’t been stellar without scoring opportunities, other than last week, so he’s bit of a risky play. However, he should catch a few passes out of the backfield (2 catches in each of this last 3 games) to add a few points. I like Darkwa only on DraftKings this week.
Alfred Morris ($4,800 on DK and $6,100 on FD) – Alfred Morris is my favorite play this week on both sites for cash games. The Chargers are nearly the most generous to opposing RBs in terms of fantasy points, so it’s a great matchup for Morris. The Cowboys expect LT Tyron Smith to return this week, which will help the whole offense. Dallas is also favored in this game, which would provide more of a Morris game-script than a Rod Smith one, so I like the safety of Morris’s volume this week, with an increase in efficiency very likely. Morris has been efficient even without Tyron Smith, seeing 28 carries for 144 yards in his last two games (5.14 YPC). The only question is his volume, which should increase if the Cowboys aren’t trailing early. Morris saw more carries against the Eagles, where it was a close game until halftime, than he did against the Falcons, which suggests that in a positive game script, he may even eclipse the 20-carry mark. All we need now from Morris is a touchdown, which hasn’t been the Cowboys’ specialty since Tyron Smith went down.
Adam Thielen (7,600 on DK and $8,300 on FD) – Thielen is matchup-proof at this point. I don’t need to say much more. In a small slate for cash games, he’s a must play. Stefon Diggs should see a lot of Darius Slay in this game, opening up better matchups for Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Build around Thielen.
Golden Tate ($6,200 on DK and 7,300 on FD) – I expect to see Xavier Rhodes (good) cover mostly Marvin Jones Jr. in this contest, leaving Golden Tate to roam free. Since the previous matchup in Week 4, Tate has seen at least 7 targets in all but 1 game (last week against the Bears). He’s finished as WR13 or better on the week in all but 2 of those contests as well (Carolina and Chicago being the two where he didn’t). Tate has had a few bust games this year, but has produced more often than not, and has pretty safe volume. That’s about all you can ask for, and in a nice matchup for him personally, I like Tate this Thursday.
Jamison Crowder ($5,400 on DK and $6,300 on FD) – Crowder has been on a tear lately. He has seen 13, 11, and 8 targets in his last three games and eclipsed 70 yards in all 3, including a 123-yard explosion against the Cowboys. With Janoris Jenkins most likely to follow Josh Doctson around, Crowder will, like Golden Tate, be free to roam about in the slot. He’ll see mostly Eli Apple, who is very beatable. Crowder ranks #2 among WRs this year in target separation at 2.63 yards (i.e., how far away he his from the defender when he is targeted), so he should be able to get free of Apple’s subpar coverage. Crowder has a nice floor this week.
Honorable Mention: Mike Williams, back from injury, played over 50% of the Chargers’ snaps last week and ran 22 pass routes, being targeted on 8 of them. He caught 5 balls for 38 yards, but is incredibly talented and has blow-up potential this week against Dallas. He’s more of a GPP play, but if you need a cheap option, you can sneak him in in cash games if you surround him with higher-floor options.
Vernon Davis ($5,500 on DK and $6,400 on FD) – A better play if Jordan Reed can’t suit up, Vernon Davis is playing a Giants team that has allowed a score to a TE every week except last week against the Chiefs, but Travis Kelce still went over 100 yards. This is a smash spot for Davis, who is incredibly reliable.
Kyle Rudolph ($4,100 on DK and $5,800 on FD) – Rudolph is quietly seeing incredibly consistent volume, with 7 targets in each of his last 4 games, and 9 in the 2 games before that. His yardage totals haven’t been impressive, and he’s scored in only 2 out of those 6 games, suppressing his fantasy output. Rudolph has only cracked 50 yards once this year, and it came last week against the Rams. Rudolph is trending in the right direction, and with a much better coverage matchup than Stefon Diggs, I expect Kyle Rudolph to have his highest yardage output of the season. He’s most likely who I’ll end up playing in my lineup on both sites.
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.