Fantasy Football: Adam Levitan's Week 17 Cash Game Review

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.

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Perhaps I’m biased, but I thought this was the best slate of the season. We had late-breaking injury news with Davante Adams/Antonio Brown/Spencer Ware, odd resting situations with the Cowboys/Saints/Seahawks and some lesser-known players getting big chances. I thought there was a good chance a deeper understanding of the dynamics inside each game and inside each team would pay off.

MY MUST PLAYS

— It’s rare I consider a quarterback a must, but I thought this was a unique spot for Patrick Mahomes. The Raiders were on a short week and coming off their Super Bowl — a win over the rival Broncos on national television in perhaps the last game ever in Oakland. They are the worst team in the league at generating pressure, which is where Mahomes shines. And most importantly, Mahomes’ $7,100 tag was clustered right around all the other “in play” quarterbacks, making him very easy to fit.

— I’ve probably written more words on Chris Godwin than any other “prospect” over the past two years. I wasn’t about to pass on him at $4,300 in one of the best possible spots — perfect weather for a December game with DeSean Jackson (heel) out and the Falcons’ defense in town. Godwin was set to play nearly every snap and has truly unique talent in one of the NFL’s most pass-happy and vertical offenses.

— I thought JuJu Smith-Schuster was priced appropriately if Antonio Brown (knee) was healthy. But with Brown looking like he’d be limited at best, I expected JuJu to be featured even more than usual in an ideal matchup against the Bengals’ historically bad defense. Even without Brown and in a potential blowout, I didn’t think the motivated Steelers would move away from their pass-first ways.

— There were not a lot of “free” points on this slate. We had injuries or rest situations with almost every star at both running back and wide receiver. One star who I expected to get his usual workload and was healthy was Saquon Barkley. The matchup against the Cowboys wasn’t great, but Barkley figured to benefit from facing of a lot of second-stringers. Given all the sub-$4K values we had available, fitting Barkley was easy.

— The running back position was surprisingly thin this week, particularly when we expected Spencer Ware (hamstring) to play and siphon work from Damien Williams. Meanwhile, the Saints only had two running backs active and one of them (Mark Ingram) was only expected to play sparingly. So we had Dwayne Washington ticketed for a floor of 10-12 touches with upside for tons more at $3K with a competent Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. There’s normally opportunity-cost considerations at running back, but this week was an exception given the lack of quality options.


MY WANT PLAYS

— Travis Kelce was set up perfectly against the Raiders, and he was a borderline must. But I also liked the spots for Zach Ertz and George Kittle — and would have been OK going down to them if I needed the salary. Regardless, it was clear that paying up for these motivated and high-ceiling tight ends was optimal this week given the lack of good plays in the $6-$7K range at RB/WR.

— Before the Davante Adams (knee) news, I had Kendrick Bourne ($3,800) in my WR3 spot. When we got the Adams news I made a simple swap to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who I expected to play every snap with Aaron Rodgers. Adams commands such a massive target share that it was easy to find ways for MVS to see 7-10 targets in a fine matchup at home with one of the league’s best quarterbacks. I preferred him slightly over Jake Kumerow due to more familiarity with Rodgers.

— The 49ers traveled to Los Angeles without Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin and Matt Breida. I expected a lot of 3-and-outs and short fields for the Rams to work with. So it set up nicely for C.J. Anderson, who looked extremely fresh in Week 16 while dominating first-team reps. The Rams’ offensive line remains one of the best in the league, and the goal-line opportunities Todd Gurley normally gets would go to CJA. I did consider pivoting off Anderson ($5,400) to Damien Williams ($6,100) after the Spencer Ware (hamstring) news broke, but decided to stick in the end so I could stay on Kelce.

— The Chiefs were my favorite D/ST all week. I mentioned how good this situation was for the Chiefs in the Mahomes notes above. I also love using the Chiefs in Arrowhead when I expect them to have a big lead. When Derek Carr is asked to make plays in known passing situations, we can expect plenty of defensive scoring. Especially given the lack of offensive weaponry around him.


Week 17 Results

This was my favorite slate of the year. We had 15 games to parse through, and there was a lot more information-influenced feel than simple matchup/price considerations. I know these kind of slates are my strongest slates, so I was really happy to run pure and have my best week of the season. Thanks to everyone for following along this season, explaining my thought process in this space helps me get better. Good luck in the playoffs.


Year-To-Date Results

Week 1: 198.72 points, won 76.0 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 2: 128.38 points, won 32.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 3: 173.06 and 147.96 points, won 57.7 percent of cumulative head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 4: 213.18 points, won 74.0 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 5: 144.7 points, won 60.5 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 6: 185.0 points, won 94.8 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 7: 150.0 points, won 88.3 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 8: 161.44 points, won 78.7 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 9: 158.08 points, won 60.1 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 10: 138.92 points, won 80.5 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 11: 153.9 points, won 80.2 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 12: 151.58 points, won 50.1 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 13: 141.0 points, won 41.1 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 14: 150.68 and 125.78 points, won 48.0 percent of cumulative head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 15: 146.0 points, won 90.3 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 16: 146.06 points, won 28.0 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 17: 176.34 points, won 97.9 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.