By: Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. No fluff this week, here we go into the content.
DFS Cash Game Lineup Advice – Week 8
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 last week, absolutely not. However, this week, I did limit the table to players in (or not far outside) “Starting” range for their position so that it would be more applicable to cash games (because no one is starting risky scrubs unless they’re free squares in which case keep reading). 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.
Andy Dalton ($5,700 on DK and $7,600 on FD) – Dalton is my top cash game play on both sites even though Rivers has nice value on FanDuel. His price is dirt cheap this week, more so on DraftKings. Dalton ranks in the top half in the league in protection rate, but is pretty boring in basically all other metrics. His pass-catchers rank very well, however, in terms of efficiency and also separation at target (courtesy of PlayerProfiler). Dalton’s teammates rank fourth in the league in target separation, which means completing passes is easier for Dalton than other QBs. Dalton matches up against an Indianapolis secondary that is allowing the 4th most points per game to opposing QBs, and they just lost their star rookie safety Malik Hooker, so it probably won’t get any better for the Colts. This also makes Tyler Kroft a nice value this week. After a rocky start, Dalton has been good in positive matchups against Green Bay and Cleveland, and most people are probably down on him based on tough matchups against Buffalo and Pittsburgh. I’m all in on Dalton this week to have a nice game, as Indy simply can’t match up against the Bengals’ skill position players (who appear later in this article, though I wouldn’t use all of them at once).
Kirk Cousins ($6,400 on DK and $7,800 on FD) – Cousins has the 12th easiest matchup this week for quarterbacks, and has scored over 20 fantasy points in his last four 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 addition of Josh Doctson who is receiving more playing time should help. It’s amazing the production Cousins has had this year given that he hasn’t really had a wide receiver to throw to yet. Cousins is a great play this week on both sites, and is in a game against Dallas which features much better offense than defense, so should see plenty of scoring.
Carson Wentz ($7,200 on DK and $7,900 on FD) – If you want to spend up this week at the position, it has to be for Carson Wentz, but his value is better on FanDuel. Carson Wentz ranks in the top 10 QBs in the NFL in pass attempts and deep ball attempts, so the volume is great. He ranks in the top 5 QBs in the NFL in pass yards, air yards, touchdowns, True Passer Rating, rush attempts, rush yards, and fantasy points, so the efficiency is there too. Carson Wentz is simply throwing and running a lot, and doing well when he does, which is the perfect recipe for a tasty dish of fantasy success. Add in that Wentz has the 3rd best matchup for QBs this week against San Francisco, and Wentz should be a lock for Top 5 production, with potential to finish as the #1 scoring QB for the week.
Joe Mixon ($4,700 on DK and $5,900 on FD) – I am willing to keep saying this every week until it happens, and I am fully behind those who considered that Mixon might be the best running back in the 2017 rookie class, but it’s coming. The Joe Mixon breakout is coming, unless, that is, Marvin Lewis proves to be stubborn for the rest of the year (which is entirely possible). I’m considering the last game an anomaly because Mixon played very little (which bamboozles me), but in the three games prior, Mixon had 200 rushing yards, 134 of which he created by either breaking or evading a tackle. He also broke or evaded 18 tackles on 50 carries, which is impressive. He ranks 15th in the league in that metric, despite ranking only 24th in carries. Mixon gets a juicy matchup against the Colts (2nd most fantasy points allowed to running backs), so the only thing holding him back is whether he touches the ball. That, unfortunately, is why Mixon is a risky cash game play, but I’ll have plenty of exposure regardless and am prepared to take the loss if I’m wrong.
Alvin Kamara ($5,900 on DK and $6,400 on FD) – Kamara is far from a free square, but he’s a nice value on both sites, as DraftKings awards the full point per reception, but FanDuel has his salary one position lower. Kamara ranks 7th in the league in targets and receptions among running backs. He has the highest yards per carry mark of any running back in the league at 6.3, and ranks fourth in yards per touch at 6.7. His rate of runs over 15 yards is also fourth in the league at 8.8%, so the big play upside is certainly there. Kamara almost never sees a stacked box, as teams have to respect Drew Brees, and he’s often used in passing situations, so he’s incredibly efficient. The Bears have been susceptible to similar backs including Jerick McKinnon, and Kamara is averaging 15 carries + targets in the last two games, so I’m happy to use Kamara on either site this week.
LeSean McCoy ($8,700 on DK and $8,400 on FD) – McCoy has once again been the workhorse back this year and is coming off a huge game. He has at least 19 carries and 23 touches in his last three games, including 19 total targets. Jordan Matthews should be returning this game, which may open things up slightly. Buffalo may have to score to keep up with Oakland if the Raiders offense shows up, and McCoy has shown himself to perform independently of game script, so he’s a very low risk play this week. It’s hard to go wrong at the top of the slate, but I’m glad to take McCoy on both sites this week.
A.J. Green ($8,600 on DK and $8,500 on FD) – Green is the chalk play this week, but I’m still playing him everywhere in the 7th best matchup for WRs. All the reasons I like Dalton apply here. On top of all that, Green is seeing a huge 31.8% target share, which is good for 4th in the league among WRs. Green ranks 2nd in the league among WRs in receiving yards. Green has been incredibly efficient this year, ranking 3rd in yards per route run. I love building around a Dalton-Green stack this week in cash games.
Demaryius Thomas ($5,900 on DK and $6,900 on FD) – At the time of writing, Emmanuel Sanders missed practice Thursday and appears to be trending towards not playing. However, I still love Thomas (mostly on DraftKings) either way. Facing a Chiefs defense that is surrendering the 2nd most points to opposing WRs, the Denver passing attack is in a nice spot this week. Thomas is seeing a 23.7% target share, good for 15th among wideouts, and that would figure to increase if Sanders is out again. Thomas has two dud games this year, but otherwise has seen at least 8 targets and has double digit PPR points in all 4 games including a 22.3 point game two weeks ago. This is a get-right spot for Thomas.
Michael Thomas ($7,600 on DK and $7,500 on FD) – I like Thomas much more on FanDuel this week. This is not an ideal matchup for Thomas (just below average for WRs), but death, taxes, and Drew Brees at home. This shapes up to be a good spot for the Saints offense, as they should be able to get out to an early lead, which means players will score to get there, so it’s not as bad as people make it out to be for the passing attack. Regardless, Thomas is seeing 9 targets per game and a 24.7% target share, both of which rank in the top 12 among wideouts. Thomas has seen 8 or more targets in all but one game this season, and has 6 red zone targets. He should feast this week in the dome.
Josh Doctson ($3,900 on DK and $5,200 on FD) – Doctson is as close to a free square as we get this week. He doesn’t have much of a floor yet, but has clearly usurped Terrelle Pryor as the WR1 on the Redskins, which we like for fantasy. Doctson was an elite college producer at TCU, so we know the talent is there. He also has excellent athleticism and measurables for his size (6’2” and 202 lbs.). Last week, he saw 93% of the offensive snaps and ran 38 pass routes. He turned 5 targets into 3 catches for 39 yards, which is underwhelming, and the reason he’s a risky play. However, as the lead wideout on a solid passing attack. Doctson is primed for a real breakout this week. If you want to spend down on him and load up elsewhere, it’s not a bad strategy at all.
Kyle Rudolph ($4,500 on DK and $5,800 on FD) – While it looks like Stefon Diggs is trending towards playing, the Vikings are coming up on their bye week, and it would make much more sense to sit him. If Diggs plays, I will become more interested in Thielen, which seems counter-intuitive, but it’s because Diggs will draw Jason McCourty in coverage, and McCourty has been excellent. Otherwise, Thielen may see more of him. However, either way, I like Kyle Rudolph and don’t feel the need to spend up at Tight End this week (or really any week). Opposing TEs are torching the Browns this year. The Browns have surrendered over 60 yards or a touchdown in every game except one this year (against Jack Doyle). They have surrendered over 12 PPR points in all of those games. This is a get-right spot for Rudolph, who has averaged over 25 pass routes per game through his last five games, and just over eight targets per game in his last three. If Rudolph doesn’t feast in this game, only the return of Teddy Bridgewater can save him this year.
Hunter Henry ($4,800 on DK and $5,500 on FD) – In another plus matchup this week against New England, I like Henry again until his salary catches up to his usage. Henry is a better value on FanDuel this week, but is a good play on both sites. Henry’s snap share has increased in four straight weeks now, and he’s run over 20 pass routes in each game. Henry has double-digit PPR points in every game this year where he has seen a target (Weeks 1 and 3 are total anomalies at this point), and in his last two games he has 163 receiving yards. Continuing on last week’s report, in the last three games, his usage has surpassed that of Antonio Gates. The torch is now passed, as Gates saw his lowest usage of the season last week (34.6% snap share and only 9 pass routes run), and Henry is now a safe play in fantasy, as well as a nice value in DFS. The Chargers will likely have to throw a lot in this game, so Henry has a ton of upside, too.
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.