This season I am going to be taking a slightly different approach to the standard “play these guys” articles that are readily available across the industry. Instead what I am going to do is basically walk through my thought process as I am building my lineups so hopefully you not only learn who to start this week but continue to refine your analysis and lineup building skills. If you haven’t read my preseason series on how to transition to DFS you should do so to get an understanding of my approach to DFS Here are parts 1, 2, and 3. In that series there are two key things to think about on a weekly basis as we are setting our cash lineups. First of all, I challenge you to come up with your cash game plays before you read my article or any other articles. This gets you to critically think about every position before you start to get swayed by public opinion. Secondly, if you recall I am a strong proponent of playing multiple cash lineups. As such I will discuss the key plays of the week as well as who your secondary options should include.
The pricing is very soft on Fanduel this week so you can afford just about any of the players that you are really interested in. In particular, the price on just about every quarterback is lower this week than last week. Additionally, as the week goes on there is likely to be another injury or two that opens up even more value. As such you might as well target some of the best players at quarterback which is the safest position in DFS and will help limit your downside in cash games. I tend to like to play the same bankroll level every week but in week’s like this when the pricing is so soft it is worthwhile to consider moving your in play money down because a lot of the skill has been taken out of the game as it will just come down to which of the best players do well and matchup analysis doesn’t matter as much. That said the best expensive options this week are Matt Ryan ($8,500) and Andrew Luck ($7,900), but neither are in must play matchups.
Matt Ryan has had an incredible start to the season surpassing 300 yards in 4 of 7 weeks and threw for over 2 touchdowns in 5 of 7 games. Ryan has also been very efficient so far this year completing 67.6% of his pass attempts for an amazing 9.6 yards per attempt with only 4 interceptions. This gives Ryan a very solid floor to stand on. Unfortunately he went below this floor last week throwing for only 273 yards and a touchdown. This poor performance will likely keep some people off him as his matchup this week against the Packers is much more difficult than his matchup against Chargers last week which allows you get him at a value. Most weeks I would avoid Ryan but with extra cash available this week he is well worth spending your money on.
Like Ryan, Andrew Luck has thrown for over 300 yards in 4 of 7 games this year including last week’s game against the Titans when he only had T.Y Hilton, Jack Doyle and a bunch of street free agents and he accumulated 353 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-26 win against the Titans. This week Luck gets both Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief back. Moncrief, in particular will be a big boost to Luck’s pass catching corps. Additionally, Luck has a slightly plus matchup against the Chiefs who have been allowing 270 yards per game. Again Luck doesn’t have a must play matchup but with the money left over it doesn’t hurt to have him in your lineup.
In reality there are about 10 other quarterbacks that all have similar value this week including Aaron Rodgers ($8,800), Tom Brady ($8,700), Cam Newton ($8,300), Russell Wilson ($8,200), and Jameis Winston ($7,400). Most likely you aren’t going to win or lose your cash games based on your quarterback selection this week as each of the above quarterbacks are in decent but not great spots and are priced fairly competitively. I will likely be filling out my other positions first this week and looking at quarterback as a secondary consideration.
Unlike quarterback your selection at running back is a lot simpler. Tevin Coleman and C.J. Anderson are all but officially declared out for the week meaning that Devonta Freeman ($6,900) are Devontae Booker ($5,600) are going to get a huge boost in their workloads.
We all know what Freeman is capable of as he knocked out point totals of 39.8, 35.4, 29.2, and 31.6 from weeks 3-6 last year before wearing down throughout the year. The way Freeman wore down is a good reason why the Falcons have relied so heavily in Coleman this year. But without Coleman in the fold the Falcons are going to rely on Freeman again and he should have a good shot at 20 total touches. In order to reach cash game value Freeman needs approximately 14 points. In games that he got 20 touches last year he scored over that in each of the games. In what is likely to be a high scoring game against the Packers the odds of him reaching value are high.
Unlike Freeman we don’t have much data on what Booker will do in an extended role. So far this year though Booker has looked solid averaging 4.8 yards per attempt on 51 touches. He has also been capable in the passing game with 9 catches for 69 yards. Those stats are better than you would expect out of a fourth round rookie but the Broncos have a solid offensive line that relies heavily on the running game and running backs in the passing game. Add Booker’s prime matchup against the Chargers in what will likely be a higher scoring game for the Broncos defense and Booker’s expectation should be a lot closer to his GPP value than his cash game value. At running back even a lesser prospect can perform well in the right situation and Booker has the opportunity to shine this week.
Your third option this week is Spencer Ware ($7,400) who gets a prime matchup against the Colts defense that just gave up 28 points to the Titans. Since Charles injury in week 4 Ware has scored 23 and 20 points over the last two weeks. Charles was a surprise active last week but he didn’t cut into Ware’s time much as Ware racked up 17 carries and 2 receptions. There is a good chance Charles is inactive this week which would solidify the workload for Charles but even if Charles is active Ware is a solid option at RB.
If you followed my primary wide receivers plays last week you likely cashed in your cash games. I am going back to the same core group of guys this week. Mike Evans ($7,900) was heavily targeted in Vincent Jackson’s absence last week as expected. Evans saw 13 of Winston’s 30 targets (43%). Even with the Bucs going so heavily to the ground recently Evans will be able to survive with that type of volume. With his price actually falling after his effort last week there isn’t a much safer play at receiver. Your only risk is the lack of pass attempts in recent weeks.
Julio Jones ($9,200) is also coming off a huge game where he was targeted 15 times and caught 9 for 174 yards. Jones is getting an insane amount of attention from opposing defenses with Roddy White retiring this offseason but it hasn’t stopped Jones from having some huge games. If a team doesn’t completely sell out to stop Jones games like last week are going to be the norm. Even if the Packers completely sell out to stop him they may not be able to as they are ranked 26th in defense against opposing defenses wide receiver 1. Jones is also getting healthier as the season goes on. Plugging both Jones and Evans into your lineups to start is a wise choice.
Like Jones, A.J. Green ($8,500) has been getting a ton of attention from opposing defenses as the Bengals don’t really have anyone else that scares the opposing defense. Even with that type of attention Green has received at least 8 targets in every game this year including last week where he caught all 8 for 169 yards and a touchdown. Green could be shadowed by Josh Norman which would increase the risk of Green as a game play but Norman didn’t stop Odell Beckham for getting 7-121 earlier this year.
My other favorite option is Randall Cobb ($6,800) who gets a great matchup against the Falcons who are allowing the second most passing yards per game at 315 per game. Over the past three weeks Cobb has seen his targets take off as he has averaged 12.3 targets after averaging only 6 per game for the first 3 games. Rodgers has realized that Jordy Nelson just isn’t getting the type of separation that he used to get prior to his injury and Rodgers is starting to look for Cobb a lot more and Cobb has answered the call reaching cash game value in each of the three games. Cobb’s great performance has resulted in a price decrease of $300 since he has started getting targeted more which means he is a great value and should continue his trend of reaching cash value.
The New York Jets have been getting torched by tight ends who are allowing opposing tight ends to surpass their catch total by 21% so far to date. This week the lucky guy to face him is Gary Barnidge ($4,800) who has been heavily targeted all year long and hasn’t fallen below 5 targets since the week one opener and has consistently reached about 60 yards per game with totals of 66, 59, 76, 57, and 66 in his last 5 games. Barnidge will likely slide under the radar a bit since he hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this year but even the Browns score touchdowns occasionally and if Barnidge can find the end zone he will be one of the top plays of the week.
Kickers and Defense
As always there are a lot of different ways you can play the kicker position but I will likely be taking a similar route to what I did last week going with Stephen Gostowski ($4,900), Matt Bryant ($4,800), Cairo Santos ($4,600), and Mike Nugent ($4,600).
On the defensive end you should have no trouble paying up for some of the better options like the Vikings ($5,200) and the Broncos ($5,000). When deciding between those two the Vikings have the better matchup this week against the Bears but they are on the road whereas the Broncos will likely be leading against the Chargers which could allow them to force some fumbles and interceptions despite a game that is likely higher in scoring. Finally, if you need some savings don’t be afraid to go with the Jets against the Browns who continue to struggle each week.