WATCH: Todd Gurley posts yet another Monster Game
I am mainly a cash-game player. Cash games refer to any contest in which roughly 50 percent of the field gets paid out, such as head-to-head, double up or 50/50. I try to get a certain volume of head-to-head action every week and then supplement that with other cash games if my head-to-heads don’t get picked up.
Each week, I’ll review my cash-game lineup in this space. Sometimes I’ll lose, but hopefully, I’ll win more often. Either way, I’ll post it here and give you my thought process.
Late news shaped the fantasy football slate once again, which certainly shouldn’t be a surprise at this stage of the season. Adjusting to the statuses of James White (ankle), Semaje Perine (groin) and Michael Thomas (hamstring) were keys. This also was a slate that had a ton of strong yet high-priced running back plays. Parsing between some close decisions at that position was another key.
MY MUST PLAYS
Rex Burkhead (knee) was ruled out early in the week, and James White (ankle) was ruled out early Sunday morning. That left the Patriots with Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden at running back. But if you follow the news closely, you knew that Gillislee had been a healthy scratch since Week 8, and Bolden has exclusively played on special teams. We also knew that Gillislee has no pass-game role. So we could project a big bump in both carries and targets for Lewis against arguably the NFL’s worst rush defense in the Bills. At $6,000, this was a lock despite all the strong RB plays available.
Keenan Allen had one of the best possible matchups for a wide receiver against the Jets. He also was completely over his back injury, and the Chargers needed this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Furthermore, I projected Allen for the most targets on this slate and his price was down $700 to $7,700. I wasn’t going to pass on this high-volume, underpriced spot in a full-PPR format.
With DeSean Jackson (ankle) out, we knew Buccaneers rookie WR Chris Godwin would start and play almost every snap. As discussed in Leverage, he also had an awesome matchup against a Panthers defense that is strong against all positions except wideouts. Godwin also is an explosive athlete and college dominator. So at the stone minimum $3,000, this was a layup.
MY WANT PLAYS
The only quarterbacks I really considered were Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Drew Stanton. With so many running backs having similar value projections, I didn’t feel a strong need to punt with Stanton and spend up. So I thought the best play was Newton thanks to a truly unique rushing floor – he came into Sunday averaging 9.1 rushes per game over his last 11. Newton also had an elite matchup against a Bucs defense that has crumbled under injuries.
Melvin Gordon came into Sunday with at least 23 touches in three straight games. Austin Ekeler (hand) also was limited to special teams. So Gordon was locked into the three-down plus goal-line role against a dead Jets team starting Bryce Petty and missing run-stuffing DE Mo Wilkerson (coach’s decision). Gordon, armed with a big pass-game role, was underpriced significantly for his touch projection. The only reason he wasn’t a must-play was because of other quality RB options above him such as Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley.
With Marqise Lee (ankle) and Allen Hurns (ankle) both out, the Jags were very thin at wideout. I expected Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole to play almost every snap, with Jaydon Mickens and Jaelen Strong mixing in. The matchup with the 49ers was a good one for wideouts, not only because they play so fast and severely lack corner talent, but also because they’ve been dominant against the run since getting MLB Rueben Foster back. Rather than go down to a low-ceiling play in the snow like Kendall Wright, I thought it was worth it to spend a little more to get to a concentrated pass-game option in a good matchup.
My flex/TE/DST decisions went down to the last few minutes before lock. I toyed with all kinds of combos containing Christian McCaffrey, Kenyan Drake, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley. The tight end options were plentiful as well with Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Evan Engram, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Cameron Brate, Eric Ebron and Antonio Gates all options. In the end, I prioritized avoiding what I projected to be TD-dependent tight end plays in Gates/Brate/Ebron and also prioritizing a three-down plus goal-line role. I thought the best way to fit that was with Drake’s Le’Veon Bell/Todd Gurley kind of role and Walker in a potential shootout with the Rams. In order to fit that, I had to go to my cheapest “in play” defense: the Bengals. They had both Vontaze Burfict and Dre Kirkpatrick back and were facing a Lions team playing without three of its starting offensive linemen. There was also significant reverse line movement toward the Bengals.
Week 16 Results
I was very stubborn and refused to play Antonio Gates despite his role change and $2,500 price tag. In hindsight, simply taking that path instead of a weak tight end play would have opened up a ton. I either should have punted with Gates or gotten up to my favorite tight end play: Travis Kelce. So considering that error and that I didn’t get on Todd Gurley, I was happy to emerge with a small win. Prioritizing Dion Lewis based on Sunday morning news was obviously the key.
Week 1: 149.58 points, won 92.9 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 2: 168.32, won 61.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 3: 95.28 points, won 25.6 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 4: 130.86 points, won 40.1 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 5: 123.26 points, won 43.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 6: 175.84 points, won 93.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 7: 137.82 points, won 61.7 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 8: 134.22 points, won 66.7 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 9: 155.56 points, won 69.0 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 10: 121.62 points, won 73.8 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 11: 114.66 points, won 14.6 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 12: 198.92 points, won 100 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 13: 94.56 points, won 10.1 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 14: 164.66 points, won 79.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 15: 128.84 points, won 47.3 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 16: 134.60 points, won 57.3 percent of head-to-heads.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.