Joey Ricotta | December 1st, 2019
Alright, it’s time to cook up some winning lineups. Speaking of cooking, eating, etc. Hopefully, you were able to gobble up some nice holiday money on the solid three-game Thanksgiving slate we had. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to, but I did put away plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. So, I’ll take my gains (in more ways than one) where I can.
As always, the goal of the cash game article is to outline some of the safer plays, while also, providing options that will help you create the most optimal builds. The whole point of it all is to make some money. Sometimes we won’t, but putting ourselves in the best position to do so is the most important part. That goes without saying, but can sometimes get overshadowed by the results on a week to week basis.
The main thing people want to know is how many points a guy scored, and not necessarily the route in which they got there. DFS is not only a science but a math equation. Let’s dive in, put the pieces together, and try to solve it. Here are my favorite Cash Game Plays for Week 13.
Disclaimer: As always, there will be a lock emoji next to a few of my favorite plays. All of the guys mentioned are viable for cash games, but the ones with a lock emoji are going to be fixtures in my main lineup.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,400 DK, $8,600 FD)
Can this guy get much better? Well, if we look past his last game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the answer is no. In week 11, against the Chargers, Mahomes had his roughest game all around. It was the only game of which he’s started and completed where he failed to throw for at least 250 yards. And he also threw just his second interception of the season. That being said, the Chiefs are fresh off their bye week and Mahomes destroyed the Oakland Raiders in Week Two, with 443 yards passing and four touchdowns. The Raiders are also third-worst in terms of passing DVOA (28.2%). I expect Mahomes to come out firing and carve them up. The only concern is the weather. Keep an eye on the windy conditions.
Carson Wentz ($5,800 DK, $7,300 FD)
Last week was supposed to be Carson Wentz week. That was until the injury bug and Philadelphia weather had other ideas. This week, however, the weather shouldn’t play a factor, as it looks to be a beautiful Florida day. The Eagles seem to be getting healthier at the right time as well. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are both expected to return. Offensive linemen Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks are also expected to play. The Miami Dolphins are dead last in terms of DVOA against the pass (46.1%). The Phins also allow the fifth-most DraftKings points per game (23) to opposing QBs. Putting people on edge is the fact that Wentz hasn’t thrown for 300 yards since Week Six. As inconsistent as Wentz has been this season, I think this is a potential get-right spot.
Another Target: Nick Foles
Value: Andy Dalton
Christian McCaffrey ($10,500 DK, $11,000 FD) 🔒
If you can afford it and feel comfortable with the lineup you are able to build around McCaffrey, lock him in. I’m not going to spend all day talking about him, because at this point, everyone on the planet knows how good he is. And frankly, although some of you may be reading this for entertainment purposes, I guarantee that would be the least entertaining part of the article. Let’s leave it at this, Run CMC is really good, the matchup is fine, and you can absolutely play him.
Jonathan Williams ($5,300 DK, $6,800 FD) 🔒
Ever since Marlon Mack went down with a fractured right hand, Williams has stepped up and played well in his place. The Colts plan on using a mixture of Williams, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines again this week, so they say. I think that’s just coach speak. Williams seems like the main back and has been utilized that way recently. He’s been the one getting the majority of the work, and he’s produced. He received 13 carries for 116 yards against Jacksonville. Then last week, his number was called 26 times for 104 rushing yards and a touchdown. Williams also caught all three passes thrown his way.
The matchup isn’t great, but it isn’t horrible either, as the Titans rank 12th against the run. With many pass-catchers out due to injury, it seems logical to think Frank Reich will attempt to establish the run at all costs. The Colts haven’t been great in pass protection, but they are the third-ranked team in rushing yards per game (144.2). Williams will attempt to achieve a Colts feat last done by Edgerrin James in 2004, rushing for 100 yards in three straight games. If the offensive line plays to its capabilities, he has a good chance of doing that.
Phillip Lindsay ($5,000 DK, $6,300 FD)
Coach Vic Fangio said he’s the number one back but is he really? Lindsay and Royce Freeman split snaps last week at 27 apiece. However, the difference in touches for the past three weeks have been extremely favorable for Lindsay, out-touching Freeman 41-19. Basically, when Lindsay’s in the game, more times than not, he’s getting the ball. When Freeman’s in the game, he’s either been out there as a decoy or in the game to block.
The price is very intriguing and the matchup isn’t bad either. The Los Angeles Chargers are sixth-worst in DVOA against the run (0.5%). The unknown variables surrounding Drew Lock who will be making his first career start could possibly throw a wrench in the Chargers’ defensive scheme and in turn allow Lindsay to escape free for some big plays. Lindsay’s receiving abilities are also better than Freeman and that bodes for PPR formats such as DraftKings.
LeSean McCoy ($4,800 DK, $5,800 FD)
Shady has been the definition of the Chiefs’ backfield. Shady in the sense that we never really know how to approach it week to week because we don’t have a good sense of who Andy Reid will rely on. However, this week could be a different story with Damien Williams ruled out. The windy conditions in Kansas City, could force the Chiefs to take more of a ground and pound approach, or maybe even utilize McCoy with short passing routes. Furthermore, the Oakland Raiders are tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs (five). Also, while their rushing yards allowed per game number is just over 100 (104.3), which puts them near the middle of the pack, they’re worse than that according to DVOA, standing 23rd against the run. McCoy provides cheap access to a potent offense in a favorable spot.
Other Targets: Le’Veon Bell, Saquon Barkley
Value: Miles Sanders, Ronald Jones (Don’t love it)
Davante Adams ($7,000 DK, $8,000 FD)
I was very high on Adams when he was just below the $7,000 range and I think we should still be when he’s right at $7,000. Normally, Adams is in the mid $7,000 to $8,000 range. When healthy, he’s one of the most talented wideouts in the game. Whether it will be Janoris Jenkins or DeAndre Baker covering Adams, he will have the advantage. The Giants’ defense comes in 27th in pass DVOA (25.9%). Since returning from injury, Adams has gathered at least seven passes along with double-digit targets in every game. Clearly, Aaron Rodgers favors him and the recent volume speaks volumes about the Packers’ wide receivers as a whole.
The lone worry has to be the weather. It’s expected to be nasty, wet and snowy. Not an ideal situation for a guy that’s dealt with turf toe all season. We’ll have to see just how bad the surface conditions look prior to lock. The targets will undoubtedly be there, but if the surface is brutal, Adams may have difficulties getting in and out of cuts. And that could also set up more of a rushing attack gameplan for the Packers.
DeVante Parker ($5,700 DK, $6,000 FD) 🔒
Consistency. Isn’t that a weird thing to say when speaking about DeVante Parker? How long have we waited for his underlying stats and talents to surface? They are finally appearing this year. Parker has strung together double-digit fantasy points in eight straight games. Ryan Fitzpatrick clearly loves looking his way. Since Fitz took over as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback in Week Seven, DeVante Parker has averaged over nine targets per game, including double-digit targets in each of the last three. Pro Football Focus and Player Profiler both have Parker listed to go up against Eagles’ corner Jalen Mills.
Mills grades out as the best Eagles’ cornerback but the Dolphins move Parker around from right to left and use him in the slot as well. Mills isn’t expected to shadow cover, but Parker still has the height and speed advantage over him. The other two cornerbacks, Avonte Maddox and Ronald Darby grade out poorly. Parker has big play ability. Elaborating on that, if the Dolphins fall behind, as expected, they may be forced to take some shots downfield. Being that Parker is their one-true vertical threat and he has the height and speed advantage, he could be in store for a monster game.
Tyler Boyd ($5,500 DK, $6,000 FD)
Probably, the least surprising news of the week, but A.J. Green will be inactive once again. DFS sites across the industry continue to price Boyd as if he’s not the number one wide receiver on a team that throws the ball the third-most per game percentage-wise (66.62%). Contrary to popular belief, the Jets aren’t terrible against the pass. They aren’t exactly world-beaters, but they hold their own. Brian Poole isn’t a great matchup for Boyd and he’s used as the Jets’ primary nickel cornerback.
However, the volume is too excessive to ignore. Boyd remains ranked in the top 10 for total targets among receivers and 15th in receptions. Getting a serviceable signal-caller back (despite what you may think of him overall), Andy Dalton is an upgrade over Ryan Finley. Given the matchup, it’s too risky to call him a lock, but Boyd is definitely in my player pool for the price.
Dede Westbrook ($5,000 DK, $5,700 FD)/Chris Conley ($4,500 DK, $6,000 FD)
Nick Foles is back playing and so far, throwing the ball a ton. In his first two games back, he’s thrown 47 and 48 passes respectively. I can make cases for both Westbrook and Conley. Westbrook saw more offensive snaps last week, but in general, Conley has been seeing more. Although he has also played in one more game than Dede. They both receive consistent targets, for the most part. Conley is the cheaper of the two but both are significant discounts from DJ Chark who is the best overall option. Although the way my lineups are shaking out, I’m finding it difficult to pay for him. Taking the discount with one of these two makes the most sense.
Pick your poison. I think either one of them could exploit this despicable Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary that ranks near the bottom in virtually every category imaginable. Some interesting stats that could sway your opinion, Westbrook has received six red-zone targets on the season compared to Chris Conley only receiving one. That’s as many red-zone targets as the rarely used Ryquell Armstead. Making Conley’s case, he ranks seventh in the NFL in average targeted air yards (15.4). Ultimately, the deciding factor should boil down to the remaining salary after locking in our cornerstones.
Other Targets: Alshon Jeffery, DJ Chark, Robert Woods
Value: Allen Hurns
Travis Kelce ($7,200 DK, $7,100 FD)
In a similar fashion as Christian McCaffrey, Kelce is always in play. I’ll never tell you not to use him and he’s one of the most consistent Tight Ends in the game. Kelce is the second-most frequently targeted Tight End in football, behind only Zach Ertz. I want exposure to the Chiefs’ offense and I think I can get to them without using Kelce, but he’s their best offensive weapon not named Patrick Mahomes, in my opinion. Oddly enough, Kelce is actually due for positive TD regression. He’s grabbed four TDs on the season, but not as many as he should have, given the amount of red-zone usage.
Only one of his TDs have come from red-zone targets, despite being among the leaders in red-zone targets. Kelce leads the NFL with 47.6% of his team’s passing attempts inside opponents’ 10-yard line. The next player even close to the same percentage of targets inside opponents’ 10-yard line is Larry Fitzgerald with 38.1%. And he has three TDs compared to Kelce’s one. Kelce caught ten TDs last season and eight the year before. As aforementioned, the Raiders can definitely be punctured through the air. If it floats your boat, pay up for the goat (Tony Gonzalez isn’t available, but Chiefs fans will appreciate the reference).
Jack Doyle ($3,300 DK, $5,000 FD) 🔒
Turn your media player down. Jack Doyle is on high volume alert! T.Y. Hilton has already been ruled out after suffering a setback to a lingering calf injury. Eric Ebron was placed on injured reserve Monday with ankle problems. Who else are they going to throw the ball to? Zach Pascal? We can look back to 2017 for solid evidence of Jack Doyle and Jacoby Brissett having good chemistry. The first year Brissett was the main man as the Colts’ quarterback, Eric Ebron had yet to arrive and was still playing football for the Detroit Lions.
Jack Doyle was the featured tight end weapon and it was the only year he’s made the Pro Bowl. He finished the season with 80 catches, 690 yards receiving, and four TDs. In the Colts first matchup against the Tennessee Titans this season, Doyle received three targets and Ebron had four targets, while also catching a TD. I know I’m simplifying this a lot, but if you add together the combined targets, it’s safe to assume Doyle will get seven targets in this game. I like Doyle’s chances to smash value at his price tag.
Another Target: Darren Waller
Value: Tyler Higbee
If you’re a returning reader, you know, I like to look for cheaper defenses than most people feel comfortable with. I felt like I needed to say that as almost a disclaimer before we get going. This doesn’t necessarily make these defenses “safe,” although I know that’s normally the goal in cash games. Because of the unpredictability at the position, I’m more willing to punt defense in hopes of finding some cheap turnovers. Taking salaries into consideration, here are my favorites (one for each of the two main sites).
Cleveland Browns ($2,600 DK)
The Browns will be who I’m looking at on DraftKings. The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t get that much worse on the offensive side of the ball. James Conner is doubtful and JuJu Smith-Schuster has been ruled out. Mason Rudolph was benched during last week’s game, which might actually be a good thing for the Steelers. Devlin Hodges took over and will start this game. Nonetheless, the Browns rank just outside the top 10 in pressure rate (26.4%), and that doesn’t fare well against the Steelers’ line who will be playing without Maurkice Pouncey. Duck Hodges making only his second career start, could be a turnover machine waiting to happen.
Pittsburgh Steelers ($3,700 FD)
The Steelers defense has been a solid unit for the majority of the season. They rank third in DVOA (-13.9%). Yes, they had a stinker fantasy-wise the last time these two teams matched up. But the hope is that some of Baker Mayfield‘s earlier season struggles will return, and the price is nice on FanDuel. The Steelers rank second in pressure rate (30.7%) and fourth in sacks with 38 total. I expect this defense to be fired up and fighting as hard as they can to get to Baker, especially if you believe in revenge narratives.
Other Targets: Carolina Panthers (vs WAS), Eagles (@ MIA)
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