I am mainly a cash-game player. Cash games refer to any DraftKings contest in which roughly 50 percent of the field gets paid out, such as head-to-head, double up or 50/50. For more on what I look for in cash games, check out this primer or the positional looks for quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
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 and give you my thought process.
The theme of this week was running back value. There were four that I thought were really strong values due to injuries: Shane Vereen, Christine Michael, Charles Sims and Melvin Gordon. Deciding how to deploy them was the key to Week 3.
MY MUST PLAYS
- I thought Ryan Tannehill was in the best spot of any quarterback this week. The Dolphins were making their home debut, the Browns’ borderline NFL-caliber defense was in town, Arian Foster’s groin injury left an already poor running attack completely inept, difference-making DeVante Parker (hamstring) was healthy and Joe Haden (groin) was out. The only argument against Tannehill you could make is that he’s “not good,” but that’s rarely something I worry about when a player has previously shown a ceiling at the NFL level. Tannehill also satisfied my pay-down-at-QB in full-PPR preference as he was only $6,200.
- Pairing a QB and WR in cash games obviously raises your ceiling but also lowers your floor. It’s something I don’t mind doing when I both really love the stack and am mainly playing H2Hs. Regardless, there was no way I was building a cash lineup without Jarvis Landry this week. He’s a weekly staple at the top of my target projections and the player I picked before the year to lead the NFL in catches. Landry’s low aDOT (average depth of target) enhances his catch rate as well, which is great for cash games. Throw in the aforementioned amazing matchup and spot at home, and Landry was a must for me.
- The replacement back I projected for the biggest bump in usage was Charles Sims. As noted in Leverage, he had very little competition for market share, was playing at home in a neutral matchup and is game-flow independent (AKA operates as the Bucs’ lead back whether ahead or behind on scoreboard). We don’t find safe, unquestioned usage like that for $4,900 often.
- Once Thomas Rawls (shin) and C.J. Prosise (wrist) were deemed out, Christine Michael was ticketed for a monster workload. Not only would he be the obvious early-down back, but he was also going to get third-down reps thanks to the absence of Prosise. On top of that, the Seahawks were at home as a big favorite against a talent-deficient/uptempo 49ers team which allows opponents to rip off a massive number of plays. Michael had left a bad taste in fantasy owners’ mouths a few times before, but this was the peak spot at $5,000.
MY WANT PLAYS
- I warmed more to Melvin Gordon late in the week as thoughts of a Colts blowout subsided. I suspected Andrew Luck was more banged up than the Colts let on, and I knew he’d miss Donte Moncrief and I didn’t expect Vontae Davis (ankle) to be 100 percent. So with a decent projected game script and increasing confidence in Gordon’s pass-game usage, he became someone I wanted as a three-down plus goal-line back. I toyed with moving off him to Shane Vereen Sunday morning, but was scared by the presence of Orleans Darkwa more than I was scared of Dexter McCluster.
- Jordan Reed was my favorite tight end of the week by a wide margin, but paying $6,500 given all the Redskins’ weaponry was not something I was overly comfortable with. I also wanted to get to Dwayne Allen or Travis Kelce, but couldn’t make it work from a salary perspective. So I settled for Pitta, somewhat buying into the “best friends narrative” with Joe Flacco and seeking that low aDOT/high-catch rate I look for in cash games.
- Obviously, there was a lot of value this week. That meant we had a lot of extra money to spend. Although Antonio Brown was no great value at $9,600, he was extremely safe in a bounce-back spot. The Eagles were also missing starting CB Leodis McKelvin. Brown is always going to be someone I want in cash as long as the spot is reasonable and I’m not forcing poor cheap plays into my roster.
- I thought about DeVante Parker, Stefon Diggs and Sterling Shepard in the WR3 spot. Parker was quickly scratched as I didn’t want to double-stack WRs with Ryan Tannehill. I thought Stefon Diggs was a chase play (more on that in this week’s solo pod) and I had Benjamin projected for slightly more targets than Shepard. So even though Vontae Davis (ankle) was active for the Colts, I thought Benjamin was still safe given the injury-narrowed concentration of Philip Rivers’ targets.
- I don’t ever consider a defense a “must play” because of the unpredictably volatility at the position. But I really wanted to use the Dolphins as Cody Kessler made his first career NFL start on the road with Terrelle Pryor, Andrew Hawkins and Ricardo Louis his top-three WRs. Also, by using the MIA D/ST with Tannehill/Landry it meant that if the defense got shredded, the pass game would be forced to be aggressive.
Week 1: 100.38 points, won 7.3 percent of head-to-heads. No recap available.
Week 2: 160.0 points, won 87.0 percent of head-to-heads.
Week 3: 182.26 points, won 94.5 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.