Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
DFS Cash Games – Week 11
Welcome back to the DFS Cash Game series on FFDynasty260. No fluff this week, here we go.
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. 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 ($6,700 on DK and $7,900 on FD) – Andy Reid and company are coming off a bye. In addition to that, Smith is facing a New York Giants defense that is surrendering the 3rd-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Smith ranks 4th in the league in passing yards, 8th in touchdowns, and has only thrown 1 interception on the year, which is astounding. Smith has only ranked outside the top 15 QBs in weekly scoring once this season, and it came against a solid Los Angeles Chargers pass defense (a division game, which is normally tougher). Since that game, Smith has finished as a QB1 in 5of his 6 games, except against Denver (also a division game). The matchups for both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are excellent, so Smith should have a nice day throwing to his main targets.
Blaine Gabbert ($4,900 on DK and $6,000 on FD) – This is definitely my “YOLO” pick of the week, but I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and use him. Gabbert looked decent in the 2017 preseason, which was his last game action. In his two most active starts, he averaged just over 9 yards per attempt, which is exceptional efficiency. He matches up against a Houston Texans defense that is surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Houston is a stronger rush defense than pass defense, so Gabbert will have to produce for Arizona to put up points. He’s also an 88th-percentile SPARQ-X athlete among QBs, so don’t rule out his ability to scramble. This is a high-risk play, but his salary is so cheap that the other players you can fit in will be well worth it if he has even a decent game.
Honorable mention: Blake Bortles, but it looks like he will be playing in a blizzard with intense wind. If the weather is good, the matchup against Cleveland is too good to ignore.
Kareem Hunt ($8,000 on DK and $8,600 on FD) – Hunt’s price is depressed a bit this week, especially coming off a bye week into a matchup that is 12th-best for opposing running backs. In their two games since the bye week, however, the Giants surrendered 162 rushing yards to the Rams and 186 to the Saints. Only the Denver Broncos have failed to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark as a team against the Giants this season. With Hunt’s 84.6% Opportunity Share (carries + targets among team’s RBs), which ranks third in the league, it’s fair to expect most of the production to come from him. His only knock for fantasy is that he hasn’t scored since Week 3. However, he ranks 2nd in rushing yards, 7th in receiving yards, 4th in yards per carry, 1st in runs of 15-yards or more, and 1st in evaded tackles, all among running backs. Even without a score, Hunt should produce today, and maybe he’ll even find the end zone.
Joe Mixon ($4,000 on DK and $5,900 on FD) – Mixon is a DraftKings free square this week, though I may not use him on FanDuel. His price is way too low to ignore, even despite lackluster production (that is not his fault). Mixon ranks 6th in yards created (yards after contact plus yards from completely avoiding a tackler untouched), which measures a running back’s ability to create yards independent of how well their line blocks for them. He does this despite ranking only 22nd in carries, which is excellent, and culminates in a ranking of 5th in yards created per carry at just over 2, an exceptional mark. The Denver Broncos are the 7th-worst matchup for opposing running backs, but with Jeremy Hill done for the season, Mixon should see an expanded role, even though that has yet to come to fruition. He has ranked inside the top 24 RBs in weekly scoring in each of the last 3 weeks, despite seeing only 14, 16, and 10 touches. Mixon should return value on his low price tag.
Tevin Coleman ($5,800 on DK and $5,900 on FD) – Coleman is your FanDuel free square of the week, but is actually appropriately priced on DraftKings. On a 41.1% Opportunity Share (9.2 carries and 2.8 targets per game), Coleman ranks 23rd in fantasy points per game. With an expanded opportunity (assuming Freeman is out), Coleman should see closer to 20 touches, which would extrapolate to almost 20 fantasy points per game (PPR). Coleman ranks 3rd in runs of 15-yards or more, despite ranking only 31st in carries, netting a 2nd overall ranking in Breakaway Run Rate, all among running backs. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and if he sees closer to 20 touches, there’s a good chance he breaks a long run. In Coleman’s two double-digit carry games (14 and 20 carries), he produced 192 total yards and a touchdown, good for 27.2 fantasy points between those two games. For a guy who is the same price as Marshawn Lynch, and cheaper than C.J. Anderson on FanDuel, Coleman sets up with a great chance to return nice value. He’ll be in all of my FanDuel lineups, even in a tough matchup against Seattle, who has held three of their last four opponents to under 51 rushing yards or less as a team (NYG, WAS, and ARI, though, none of which are great rushing attacks). Coleman isn’t on the main slate, so fire up those Sun-Mon contests.
Sterling Shepard (6,3500 on DK and $6,500 on FD) – A FanDuel special again this week, Shepard is the best value on the slate. Shepard has 24 targets in his last two games since returning from injury, and has turned those into 16 catches for 212 yards. Shepard faces a Chiefs secondary that is weak outside of Marcus Peters, who does not shadow, and should not line up across from Shepard much in the slot. Overall, the Chiefs rank as the best matchup for opposing WRs, so Shepard should see plenty of nice matchups on his routes. Shepard’s 32.8% Target Share over the last two games indicates that he should see heavy volume in this one. He’s a great play this week on both sites, but is a better value on FanDuel.
Michael Crabtree ($5,900 on DK and 7,500 on FD) – Crabtree is the DraftKings special of the week, with the 22nd highest salary among WRs, and an ECR of 8th at the position. Against a Patriots secondary that has given up plenty of production this year (3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs), Crabtree should have a field day, especially given his reliability and Amari Cooper’s struggles this year. Crabtree has only two games this season with under 7 targets, and hasn’t scored in his last two games, so this sets up as a nice bounce-back game with his price depressed. Crabtree ranks 8th among WRs in end zone target share at 40%, so his chance of scoring looks good in a game that could easily be a shootout (O/U of 54.5).
Tyreek Hill ($7,100 on DK and $7,600 on FD) – A theme seems to be developing. The Chiefs offense should shred the Giants defense. I wouldn’t recommend using all of the Chiefs offense in one lineup, as you limit your upside by doing so, but each player listed is in a good spot and can still have a good game. The Giants are the 12th-best matchup for WRs, and Hill should move around enough to avoid Janoris Jenkins. Hill is only seeing 6.6 targets per game, but ranks 4th among WRs in yards after catch, 7th in yards per target, and 6th in yards per route run, so he doesn’t need immense volume to produce. Hill has only seen fewer than 6 targets once this season, and it was in the Chiefs’ last game against Dallas. If Antonio Brown hadn’t gone berserk on TNF, I’d say Hill could finish as the WR1 on the week, but the WR2 isn’t bad for his upside, either, and Brown isn’t on the main slate, of course.
Travis Kelce ($7,300 on DK and $7,500 on FD) – Chiefs again, here we go. He’s usable on DraftKings, but he is priced as the most expensive TE. Kelce is the 3rd-highest priced tight end on FanDuel, so he’s an automatic play for me this week. The Giants have surrendered a score to the opposing TE in 10 straight games. Now they face one of the league’s best tight ends in one of the league’s better passing attacks. No more needs to be said. Kelce is in the best spot he’ll be in, probably in his entire career, to have a monster fantasy line this week. If you use the other KC players, Rob Gronkowski is a nice pivot at basically the same price. Gronk has a nice matchup, too, and it looks like WR Chris Hogan will be out again. You’re really splitting hairs between the two elite TEs.
Tyler Kroft ($2,900 on DK and $5,300 on FD) – Definitely a DraftKings-only play, but Kroft is a great value at under $3,000. Denver’s one weakness is through the tight end position, surrendering the 2nd-most fantasy points per game to the position. Kroft has been on the field for over 90% of the team’s offensive snaps every week but one since Week 1, and that game was against Cleveland, where he caught 6 passes for 68 yards and 2 TDs. Kroft has seen between 4 and 7 targets in every game since Week 1 except against the Jaguars (still finished as TE11 on the week), and he’s finished as a TE1 in weekly scoring all but three times in that span. He’ll be overlooked because he is coming off of two games without producing, but he saw 6 targets in the last game, which is all you can ask for out of a cheap tight end. Kroft is so cheap that he allows you to pay up at other positions, which is more valuable on DraftKings, too, with the lower salary cap.
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.