“Play the good players.”
When constructing a cash-game (H2H, double up, 50/50) lineup, that quote is only half-kidding. We want to use the players we are absolutely sure about, the ones with the highest statistical floors – even if it means sacrificing a ceiling. We don’t worry about ownership percentages or game theory at all.
Of course, playing the good players is a little more complicated than it sounds. Some tips to remember when building your cash-game lineup:
1. Target 2.5X Salary
Our goal is to get at least 125 DraftKings points with our cash-game lineup. Most weeks, that will be enough to reach the top 45 percent of the field and therefore into the money. To get there, each player on our roster needs to 2.5x his salary. So in Week 1, Drew Brees costs $8000, meaning he would need 16 DK points to meet value in cash games. Dez Bryant costs $8700, so he needs 17.4 DK points. Of course, some of our guys will 3.5x, others will 1x and one may 5x. But when doing projections, we should always be thinking about the probability a player hits 2.5x.
2. Quarterback Flexibility
There’s a school of thought out there that we need to pay up for an elite quarterback in cash games. I don’t attend that school. Since quarterbacks have the ball in their hand on every play, we can more accurately project their outcomes. I will always at least consider a min-priced ($5000) quarterback because we know he’s going to have a ton of chances to make plays. A min-priced receiver may only see two targets and a min-priced running back could end up way under his touch projection for a lot of reasons. In most cases, it’s far easier for a quarterback to hit 12.5 points than a running back or wideout to hit 7.5. For example, I’d be shocked if min-priced Tyrod Taylor didn’t go over 12.5 in Week 1.
3. Game Flow + Running Backs
Generally speaking, running backs fare better when their team is ahead on the scoreboard. That’s especially true for some backs and less true for others. What we don’t want to happen is to find our cash-game running back on the bench in the second half because his team is losing. That’s why strict two-down backs like Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Chris Ivory and LeGarrette Blount are risky cash-game plays. We have to be absolutely positive their respective teams are going to be winning to use them in this format – and simply being favored by six points in Vegas isn’t enough.
Ideally, our cash-game running backs will be game-flow independent. This means they are on the field and heavily involved in the offense whether their team is ahead or behind. Of course, these are usually the most expensive runners – guys like Le’Veon Bell, Jeremy Hill, C.J. Anderson, Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray. Fitting two or three of them in your lineup isn’t possible, but striving to remain as game-flow neutral as possible at running back is necessary.
4. Deeper Wideout Statistics
It’s fun to watch guys like DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson and Martavis Bryant play. It’s not fun to use them in cash games. One of the best advanced stats to look at for cash-game wideouts is aDOT, a ProFootballFocus metric which stands for Average Depth of Target. The most reliable receivers are the ones with a low- or mid-range aDOT, as there’s a direct correlation with catch rate. Of course, catches are gold because we get a full point-per-reception on DraftKings. Target count, aDOT and catch rate need to make sense when selecting your cash-game wideout.
Cash-game lineups should not be rocket science. Use the guys that get the most touches, the most high-percentage targets and the quarterbacks most likely to 2.5x value. We worry most about the floor of our projections and then work toward medians and ceilings. We don’t care what anyone else is doing; eating chalk is more than fine, in part because far too many people will try to get cute with their cash lineup. So, we play the good players in our cash games and profit.