I am mainly a cash-game fantasy football 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.
This slate was extremely deep at the running back position, which created some interesting decisions around Todd Gurley. Do we take his ridiculous floor/ceiling combo at $9,800 or use three of the cheaper values below him? And if we do take the savings, which wideouts do we use that extra money on? I grappled with those questions right up until lock.
MY MUST PLAYS— As noted in Leverage, James Conner was easily my favorite running back play of the week. I expected the rested Steelers to come out of their bye and dominate an overtime-drained Browns team playing back-to-back road games. Conner, of course, continues to play the Le’Veon Bell three-down plus goal-line role but we get him for roughly $2,000 cheaper than Bell typically is priced at. The price, role and matchup left Conner as a layup but he was only 56.1 percent owned in the $25 single entry double-up due to all the depth at the RB position.
— The Steelers D/ST jumped off the screen on first glance and I never wavered. As mentioned above, I loved this spot as a whole for Pittsburgh at home against the mistake-prone and tired Browns. Furthermore, the Steelers quietly have one of the league’s stronger pass rushes and Joe Haden/Mike Hilton are strong in the secondary. The $2,300 tag in this spot was absurdly low.
MY WANT PLAYS— The pivotal decision of the week was whether to play Gurley at $9,800. He was obviously a very strong play, and it was not overly difficult to fit him under the cap at that price. But it was a difficult decision because there were five other great plays at RB: Conner, Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt, Kerryon Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. In most situations, I’d side with the depth at the position and grab the cheaper, equally strong values. But the lineups where I came off Gurley didn’t get me enough upgrades at wideout to make me think it was worth it.
— Once I decided to use Gurley, I knew I’d have to use one of Johnson or Lindsay in my RB3 spot. My first instinct was Johnson, as Theo Riddick (knee) remained out. We knew the rookie would have a majority share of early-down work plus almost all of the pass-down work, creating a game-flow independent situation for a talented player. The only reason I thought Lindsay was a cut below was out of fear he’d lose pass-down work to Devontae Booker if/when the Broncos got behind at Arrowhead.
— I only considered four QBs this week: Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Goff. As always at this ever-condensed and tight-outcome position, I let my remaining salary dictate the choice. I couldn’t fit Mahomes in this build and had enough to get to Rodgers. Given red-zone passing rates between Rodgers and Goff, I thought Rodgers was the better choice. Overall, the ideal weather in this likely shootout was the place I wanted to be instead of a spot like Jameis Winston on the road in some wind.
— I wanted to get to Vance McDonald or O.J. Howard at tight end. And I could have gone down to Lindsay (from Johnson) or down to Goff (from Rodgers) to make it work. But I decided C.J. Uzomah’s every-down role in one of the best possible matchups was good enough to not make any sacrifices elsewhere.
— With Cooper Kupp (knee) out, I expected the same enhanced role for Robert Woods as projected in Week 7. But this time, Goff actually would have to pump up the volume as Rodgers projected to put serious stress on the Rams defense. So at just $6,800 and operating as the no-doubt No. 1 wideout for the Rams, Woods was a priority for me at the wideout position.
— I really didn’t like much at the wideout position. As always when this is the case, I’m looking to spend down. I considered Anthony Miller after the Allen Robinson (groin) news broke, but I didn’t really expect a role change. The Bears simply could slide Josh Bellamay into A-Rob’s relatively meager role (15 targets over previous three weeks) and keep Miller in his slot role as part of a windy, likely low-scoring game. So I decided to go with Martavis Bryant, who I projected as the new No. 2 wideout for the Raiders in a potential shootout for just $3,400.
— All my lineup builds kept landing in the $4K wideout range. And I really didn’t love anyone there. I considered Jordy Nelson (no upside), Chris Godwin (rotational role), Christian Kirk (QB concerns) and Michael Crabtree (no upside). In the end, I wanted a bit of exposure to the Chiefs since I didn’t have Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce or Patrick Mahomes. Sammy Watkins quietly had seen at least five targets in 5-of-7 games this year and has true No. 4 overall pick talent. I knew the floor was lower than a Crabtree/Jordy type, but I thought the ceiling on Watkins was worth taking on the risk.
WEEK 8 RESULTSI took two airballs in my lineup and was still able to have a very strong week. That has to be some kind of new record. Of course, one key was getting huge games out of Conner and Gurley. But the real difference-maker was landing on Watkins, who went off for a season-high 33.7 DK points at $4,600. It speaks to something I’ve been concentrating on all season — taking ceiling into account even in cash games as today’s NFL is a different beast. The Nelson and Crabtree likely outcomes usually just aren’t going to be good enough in this high-scoring environment.
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.
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.