By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
DFS Cash Games – Week 7
I’ll start off with a quick introduction to this series, since it is new to FFDynasty260. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you like fantasy football, and if you like fantasy football, I’m going to assume you play fantasy football, and if you play fantasy football, I’m going to assume it’s not going well in all of your leagues. It’s been a crazy year, and my teams are faring worse than in years past. However, there is one saving grace, and that is DFS, which has been going well. DFS is Daily Fantasy Sports, for which I have a separate article explaining the basics for those who want a DFS 101 crash course. Simply put, DFS is the best way to take out some of the things we all hate, such as injuries, and just focus on drafting the best team each week. Since the games only last one week, you get to start again the following week. DFS can be a ton of fun, but only if you play it right and do your research. Remember, the house always wins (i.e., the sites take a cut of all entry fees), and there are a lot of talented players out there, so you have to be above average to profit, which is a high bar. This is a good place to start. This series will focus on cash game lineups for each week and will highlight some of the best value plays objectively (not all of which I’ll necessarily endorse), and some of my top picks as well.
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, Tyrod Taylor has the 25th highest salary on DraftKings this week, and his ECR is 12th, so his value is 25-12=13.
Do I like all of these players for cash games? Not at all. I omitted Brett Hundley because he cannot be counted on to have enough of a floor for cash games. The same argument applies to Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Marqise Lee, and Austin Hooper. However, their values were too high to leave out. 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. On this chart, I really like George Kittle and Hunter Henry this week because they have both been playing more offensive snaps of late, running more pass routes, and seeing target volume. Neither one has a scary matchup, so I like both at their respective values.
Some other plays this week I really like:
Tyrod Taylor ($5,100 on DK and $7,000 on FD) –The top value output on DraftKings, and still excellent value on FanDuel, Taylor is in a great matchup this week against a Buccaneers defense that is second-easiest matchup for opposing QBs, per PlayerProfiler. This is the same Tyrod Taylor that has finished as a Top 12 fantasy QB in points per game each of the last two seasons, just with a depleted receiving corps. With LeSean McCoy being involved in the passing game, I still like Taylor this week and love the rushing upside he adds. Taylor won’t light up the passing game, but he is currently #1 among QBs in rushing attempts per game with 6.4, and has carried twice in the red zone, so rushing scores are always a possibility. He’s averaging 24.2 rush yards per game, but without Charles Clay and possibly without Jordan Matthews, Taylor may have to carry the load here. His floor is safe, and his ceiling is high enough that he’s a great play this week.
Kirk Cousins ($6,500 on DK and $7,500 on FD) –Cousins has the seventh easiest matchup this week per PlayerProfiler, and has scored over 20 fantasy points in his last three games, including two of them over 25 fantasy points. The emergence of Chris Thompson this year has helped Washington’s offense and Cousins in the passing game. The Jordan Reed impact is still yet to be felt this year, but against a stout Eagles rush defense, the passing game should be in full force, particularly considering that the Eagles should score easily against the Redskins defense which just lost a top pass rusher in Jonathan Allen. As a six-point underdog with an O/U of 49, which is the second-highest of the week, expect scoring and expect Cousins to throw plenty.
Dak Prescott ($7,300 on DK and $8,400 on FD) – If you want to spend up at QB, Prescott is my preferred option against a weak 49ers defense. Prescott has the ninth best matchup for a QB this week per PlayerProfiler. He ranks 8th in pass attempts per game and also 5th in rushing yards among QBs, so is able to provide fantasy production in both ways. With two rushing TDs through 5 games, the rushing upside is hard to ignore. The third highest scoring QB in points per game despite playing the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, and Rams, Prescott should be in a position for a huge day.
Orleans Darkwa ($3,700 on DK and $5,100 on FD) – Darkwa is basically a free square this week, and there are very few reasons not to play him in DFS. He broke out against the Broncos, who have been the best defense against the run, and his salary hasn’t caught up. Darkwa carried 21 times last week and averaged over 5 yards per carry, which is a great mark. Seattle is a tough matchup, but it’s hard to find volume this cheap, so I’m still an advocate for Darkwa at his very cheap price tag.
Mark Ingram ($6,700 on DK and $7,100 on FD) – A better value on FanDuel, Ingram is still a good play on both sites. Ingram saw 25 attempts and also 5 targets last week, and while these numbers may regress slightly, even if he sees 20 touches instead of 30, he is good value in a strong Saints offense. He received all of the red zone carries, and now that the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers, the Saints may be playing from ahead, which lends more to Ingram than rookie Alvin Kamara. This game also has a high O/U at 47.5, so Ingram has a decent chance to find the end zone. Keep playing him until the salary catches up.
Leonard Fournette ($8,600 on DK and $9,000 on FD) – Fournette has been nothing short of elite this year, and my recommendation hinges on him playing (he is dealing with an ankle injury that is not believed to be serious). The Rams are the fourth best matchup for opposing RBs according to PlayerProfiler, so Fournette is in a great spot to have a field day. His volume is safe regardless of game script, as the Jaguars have shown they won’t shy away from the run, and his production cannot be questioned. The only risk with Fournette in this game is his ankle. If he stays healthy, it’s hard not to imagine him being a Top 3 RB this week, and perhaps the top scorer of the week at the position.
Demaryius Thomas ($5,800 on DK and $7,100 on FD) – Thomas shredded one of the stronger pass defenses, and one of the better CBs in Janoris Jenkins, last week for 10 catches at 133 yards. His partner Emmanuel Sanders will miss this game, which leaves Bennie Fowler as the next man up for targets. Thomas should be fed the ball, and even in a tougher matchup, the volume should give him a safe floor and a nice ceiling. He currently has a 24.4% target share, good for 14th among WRs, and it should increase without Sanders active. Thomas has lacked fantasy production this year in part because he has no targets in the end zone, and only two in the red zone, but the touchdowns should come.
Julio Jones ($8,500 on DK and $8,800 on FD) – Jones is worth every penny this week, and is my favorite high-end WR on the slate. Going up against a Patriots defense that has been gashed by the pass this year, Matt Ryan should also have a nice day, and Mohammed Sanu might miss this game. Jones should see plenty of targets, and he is currently seeing 22.4% of the team’s targets. The Patriots simply have no one that can guard Jones, so he is a strong bet to finish as the top WR of the week. Atlanta is a four-point underdog in this game, and the O/U is a massive 54, so the Falcons should throw plenty, and should also score plenty. Jones has been held back by not scoring TDs this year, but he is another candidate for positive TD regression. The Falcons only have 5 end zone targets as a team, and Jones saw two of them, so it’s not for lack of trying. If they start throwing the ball near the goal line more, Jones should see some balls come his way. I love him on both sites this week and he should have a field day.
Jarvis Landry ($6,800 on DK and $7,000 on FD) – On paper, the matchup for fantasy is bad, but that is due in large part to Morris Claiborne having a very strong season. Landry is unlikely to matchup against Claiborne, so the matchup is fine for him specifically. Landry is seeing 10.8 targets per game, which is a 32.3% share of team targets (4th among WRs). He’s also seen three red zone targets, which is one more than Julio Jones, so Landry actually has some upside that he didn’t have as much in previous years. Not much more needs to be said beyond the volume Landry is seeing, as that alone makes him a strong play, particularly on DraftKings where the scoring is a full point for each reception.
George Kittle ($3,600 on DK and $4,800 on FD) – Kittle has played over 90% of the team’s offensive snaps in two of his last three games, and ran 43 and 37 pass routes in those two games. The third game, he only ran 17 routes, but still saw nine targets (caught seven of them for 83 yards and a touchdown). In the last three games, then, Kittle has either seen great production or great usage. Kittle has seen seven red zone targets in the last two games, and was a favorite target of QB C.J. Beathard. Beathard is familiar with Kittle, which bodes well for him becoming a nice security blanket, as the two of them went to the University of Iowa together and are both rookies. This all bodes well in a game where the 49ers will likely be trailing and thus throwing the ball plenty. Kittle is also a favorite stash of mine in fantasy leagues, and I think he can be used if you struck out on someone like Tyler Eifert.
Hunter Henry ($4,200 on DK and $5,200 on FD) – Finally seeing the usage he deserves, Henry is a strong TE play this week in a plus matchup for the position against Denver (5th best via PlayerProfiler). Henry’s snaps have increased in three straight weeks, and he’s run over 20 pass routes in each game. Henry has seen 15 targets over the last two games for 132 yards on eight receptions. He also has scored in two of his last three games. Most notably, in the last two games, his usage has finally surpassed that of Antonio Gates. The torch is being passed, and Henry is now a safe play in fantasy, as well as a nice value in DFS.
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“>@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.