By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
DFS Cash Games – Week 12
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. This Sunday-Monday slate coverage excludes all three Thanksgiving games from Week 12.
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.
*Note: Values are all with respect Sun-Mon players only (ECR and salary ranks exclude Thursday players)
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.
Matt Ryan ($6,400 on DK and $7,600 on FD) – Ryan draws an excellent matchup against Tampa Bay (5th most fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs) this week, a secondary that just surrendered 365 passing yards and 20 points to the Jay Cutler and Matt Moore tandem for the Dolphins. To say that the Falcons and Matt Ryan are better than the Dolphins and Cutler/Moore is perhaps the understatement of the year. Tampa Bay’s secondary also boasts no players who size up physically with Julio Jones, so he will be a very tough matchup for the Buccaneers. Ryan has thrown 2 touchdowns in four straight games (NYJ, CAR, DAL, SEA) which are tougher matchups than the Buccaneers. Ryan hasn’t shown the high ceiling he did last year, finishing no higher than QB7 in any given week, but with no finishes under 11.5 fantasy points, he has shown a nice floor. In a great matchup with a division rival in a game that the Falcons will need a win, I like Ryan to have his best game of the season.
Cam Newton ($6,600 on DK and $8,000 on FD) – Newton has finally gotten back to showing us the rushing ability that we all craved as fantasy players. He posted no more than 44 rushing yards in the first 5 games, and now fewer than 44 rushing yards in the last 5 games. He has over 70 rushing yards (nearly 2 bonus Pass TDs in value) in 3 of his last 5 games, and a rushing score in 2 of the last 5. Newton has shown both a solid floor and a high ceiling (3 finishes as a Top 2 QB in weekly scoring in the last 7 games). Newton finished as the QB1 in weekly scoring last week against the Dolphins. The Jets surrendered 59 rushing yards to the combination of Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer, and 35 yards and a touchdown on the ground to Tyrod Taylor. The Jets (8th most fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs) have yielded rushing production to QBs, so Cam Newton should be a nice dual-threat this week.
Tevin Coleman ($6,500 on DK and $6,200 on FD) – I like Coleman more on FanDuel than DraftKings this week, but he is a strong play anywhere with Devonta Freeman ruled out again this week. Coleman has now seen 20 carries in 2 straight games, and scored a touchdown in 3 straight games. While he has not been particularly evasive, this volume in a good matchup (TB is allowing the 11th most fantasy points to opposing RBs) should yield solid results. Coleman has been bottled up in his two starts, not breaking off big plays as he usually does, but he ranks 4th in breakaway run rate (15+ yards) this season among RBs, so big plays should be coming. Coleman’s volume provides a nice floor, and his pass-catching ability provides a nice bump in PPR. The big-play ability, which we cannot ignore, gives him a huge ceiling in a game that should yield a favorable game script for the Falcons.
Duke Johnson Jr. ($4,600 on DK and $5,500 on FD) – Johnson has a lower floor than I normally like, and I normally try not to believe coach-speak too much, but in this case, it’s too enticing. The Browns have come out and said that they intend to give Duke Johnson a “big workload” this week. Many analysts (myself included) have long believed that Johnson is the better back than Crowell and should get more work in Cleveland. Johnson profiled as a workhorse at the University of Miami, and is the leading rusher all-time for the Hurricanes. Johnson has continued his success in the NFL, but has always seemed overlooked. This year, he ranks 4th in yards per carry, 4th in targets, and 3rd in yards per touch among RBs. He ranks 15th among RBs in yards created per carry at 1.55, so his efficiency and ability to create for himself has actually been exceptional this season. Meanwhile, Isaiah Crowell ranks outside the top 24 RBs in targets and yards created per carry, 50th in yards per carry, and 44th in yards per touch. Maybe I’m being hopeful, but I’m envisioning a world where Johnson gets at least 15 carries and 5 targets, and my crystal ball says that turns out well. The Bengals are allowing the 11th most fantasy points to opposing RBs, so I’m willing to take a shot on Johnson this week on both sites.
Kareem Hunt ($8,000 on DK and $7,700 on FD) – Hunt has a depressed price on both sites because he has still failed to find the end zone since Week 3. However, the Bills are surrendering the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing RBs, so I’m definitely going back to the well once more. Touchdowns are the only thing missing, from Hunt’s resume in recent memory. He ranks 4th in opportunity share, 6th in carries, 8th in red zone touches, 2nd in rush yards, and 7th in receiving yards. The production is all there, just not the scoring. Regression should hit, and hit in a positive way. Hunt has actually been stellar on his own as well, ranking #1 in breakaway runs (8th in breakaway run rate), 7th in yards per carry, 6th in yards per touch, 1st in evaded tackles, and 1st in yards created (11th in yards created per carry). All this to say that Hunt has both exceptional volume and exceptional efficiency – you can’t really ask for a better profile for fantasy purposes. The touchdowns should come, and then he will be producing at elite levels once again.
Cooper Kupp (5,000 on DK and $5,400 on FD) – No Robert Woods for the Rams. No Marshon Lattimore for the Saints. This looks like a great spot for Cooper Kupp (and Sammy Watkins, thought Watkins hasn’t seen volume reliable enough for cash games). Kupp is the best value relative to ECR I’ve seen all year at any position on FanDuel, and still good value on DraftKings with his PPR upside. Kupp has seen 19 targets in three games since the Week 8 bye, including 3 red zone targets. All of those rates should increase with Robert Woods out. Kupp’s ceiling has been limited, but he should return value on his low salary and allow you to reach up for players with more upside. Kupp is locked into my cash game lineup.
Corey Coleman ($4,300 on DK and 5,800 on FD) – Coleman gets one more chance to be the true #1 this week until we might see Josh Gordon return. I’m of the belief that Gordon might help Coleman by drawing attention away, but the volume last week (11 targets for 6-80) makes Coleman a very encouraging play this week, even in a tough matchup. Coleman was able to churn out the highest output by a WR this season against the Jags besides Antonio Brown, so the matchup does not scare me off him this week. In Coleman’s limited action this season, he’s seen 33.3% of the red zone targets, good for 4th in the league among WRs. If he sees volume near his workload last week, I like his chances to put up a strong day and find the end zone. At his price, it won’t take much to hit value for cash games.
Antonio Brown ($9,700 on DK and $9,600 on FD) – Brown is the best WR in the game and there are plenty of good values this week. Go ahead and fit him in your lineups. He will torch the Packers in a great matchup, especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster sidelined.
Bonus: I also like Michael Thomas as a higher-end option in a game with two potent offenses. Thomas ranks 7th in the league in target share, and has shown a nice floor this year. His lack of TD production is the only thing holding him back from elite status, and that should regress positively.
Jared Cook ($4,600 on DK and $5,500 on FD) – Cook is the only choice for me on FanDuel this week. The Broncos have allowed the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing TEs this season. Cook ranks 9th in targets, 3rd in air yards, and 5th in receiving yards among TEs, but only has 1 touchdown this season. He is another positive scoring regression candidate. Cook leads the Raiders in receiving yards (yes, this is true), and yards per reception if you don’t count 2-catch Johnny Holton (also true). Cook’s catch rate is also higher than Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, and Seth Roberts. Jared Cook is actually having a quietly excellent season (relatively speaking). In a great matchup, I like both Cook’s floor and his ceiling. He’s an auto-play on FanDuel for me.
Tyler Kroft ($3,900 on DK and $5,700 on FD) – Kroft is my choice on DraftKings this week, though pricing is a bit tighter (no values stand out as much). The Browns have been the 2nd-best matchup for opposing TEs this year, and Kroft torched them in their last meeting, catching 6 of 7 targets for 68 yards and 2 TDs. All you can really ask for in a TE is 6-7 targets, which Kroft has not been seeing of late. Take advantage of his slump and cash in this week in a great bounce-back spot. Kroft has a good chance of finding the end zone this week (6th among TEs in end zone target share at 33.3%).
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.