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 but hopefully I’ll win more often. Either way, I’ll post it and give you my thought process.
This was a very straightforward week for me in cash games. I knew I was going to play three of my four favorite running backs (Jordan Howard, Jerick McKinnon, DeAndre Washington, Le’Veon Bell). I also knew I’d pay up for one of the elite quarterbacks in an elite spot, pay up for Antonio Brown and pay down at tight end. That left very few tough decisions.
MY MUST PLAYS
- The Steelers were facing the purest example of a funnel defense. By just about every metric, the Jets came in with an elite run defense and an atrocious pass defense. The Steelers were also at home, where the pass game has extremely skewed positive splits. In situations like this, I’m forcing Antonio Brown into my cash game lineup. It became very easy to do that given the price of the running backs I liked.
- With Eric Decker (shoulder) sidelined and the Jets having no prayer of slowing down Ben Roethlisberger, it was an ideal spot for Brandon Marshall to get volume. It was also an ideal breakout spot after two tough matchups (at Arrowhead, vs. Seahawks). Marshall’s relatively weak game log also created a price break down at $7,100 relative to his targets and talent. We also know that opposing WR1s in the same DK lineup (Antonio Brown and Marshall in this case) have strong positive correlation.
- Perhaps I should have thought harder about my tight end selection. But with Zach Ertz’s ribs fully healed and a matchup with the league’s worst TE defense (Lions had given up 18 TDs to tight ends in their last 20 games), I never thought about moving off him. I was comfortable with his snap count (83 percent in his last game) and his role in a game I expected the Eagles to be trailing in. Ertz’s long history of mediocrity wasn’t a huge concern given the $3,500 price tag.
- I fully expected DeAndre Washington to share work with Jalen Richard and possibly lose goal-line opportunities to Jamize Olawale. The Sunday morning report that the Raiders would give DWash/Richard equal work and then ride the hot hand didn’t change anything. The situation was as I described in Leverage – an explosive, three-down player with a 10-12 touch floor plus the upside for a lot more in one of the best possible matchups for a running back at $400 over minimum. I wasn’t going to overthink it. The results weren’t great, but Washington did get nine carries, five catches and a fistful of red-zone chances. Given the price, it’s still a play I consider a “must.”
- As we discussed on The Edge, Jerick McKinnon would have been priced around $5,000 if the Vikings had played on Sunday instead of Monday in Week 4. He was also at home facing a Texans D/ST without J.J. Watt and ranked 30th in run defense DVOA. So even though we knew Matt Asiata would vulture goal-line work, McKinnon’s role in a game where he’d almost certainly have positive game flow made sense. By rostering McKinnon and DeAndre Washington instead of Le’Veon Bell, I comfortably could get in one of the three elite QBs plus Brandon Marshall and Antonio Brown.
- There’s an art to deciphering the words of NFL coaches. Some coaches rave about all their players no matter what, others outright lie and some tell the truth. John Fox isn’t one I completely trust, but his words plus the video of Jordan Howard’s Week 4 performance sold me. After Howard tore through the Lions for 132 yards on 26 touches, Fox said “I think he’s outstanding. We’ll ride him pretty good going forward.” There was every reason to believe him heading into another plus matchup, this time with the Colts. That made Howard underpriced at $5,200 given the rare three-down plus goal-line role.
MY WANT PLAYS
- Ben Roethlisberger at home against the Jets would have been a “must play” most weeks. But with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers also in elite spots at very similar price points, Ben was merely one of the three I considered. That said, saving $500 by going Ben over Rodgers gave me some flexibility with my defense. On top of that, using Ben with Antonio Brown gave me the correlation/upside I like when playing head-to-heads. Unlike 50-50s or double ups, a 95th percentile lineup in H2H is far better than a 65th percentile lineup. Furthermore, using Ben gave me the optimal game stack correlation: QB1/WR1 and opposing WR1.
- I thought it was very close between Julian Edelman and Jarvis Landry for cash. I had them projected for similar targets and had similarly excellent matchups. I landed on Edelman because he was $400 cheaper, because his team projected to score far more points and because he gave me exposure to Tom Brady. Once I was locked into Ben Roethlisberger, having no exposure to the return if Angry Brady was scary.
- My favorite D/ST plays of the week for cash were the Patriots and Vikings. However, I wasn’t going to sacrifice my optimal position players to get them. So I settled on the Ravens in a home game with 20+ MPH wind against the Redskins and Kirk Cousins (who is far more mistake-prone on the road). Although not getting the Vikings in this week certainly hurt, I don’t regret not forcing my way on to them – they needed a punt return TD to really smash. Predicting these special teams touchdowns is not something I think is practical.
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. Click here for recap.
Week 3: 182.26 points, won 94.5 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 4: 131.12 points, won 42.5 percent of head-to-heads. Click here for recap.
Week 5: 149.70 points, won 60.9 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.