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.
One of the best matchups this week pits Andrew Luck ($8,000) against Aaron Rodgers ($9,100). As Fanduel’s pricing continues to be very soft I think your best option is going to be to just plug in one of these two stud options then run out the rest of your team with strong complimentary players. The game has the highest total on the Vegas board at 54.5 and it isn’t particularly close. The second highest is the Saints/49ers game at 52.5 but after that all the games are in the mid 40’s.
With the Packers playing at home Rodgers should be able to rack up some early points and with the Colts likely trailing Luck should have some opportunities for late comeback points. Both defenses have been very susceptible to the pass as the Colts in particular are allowing 298 yards per game which is the fourth worst and while the Packers gross number have been better they have actually been worse on a per pass attempt rate at 8.0 vs 7.8. I will give the slight lean to Luck with the cost savings but if you have the money to plug in Rodgers I don’t mind that at all.
If you want to save money on quarterback your best option is Colin Kaepernick ($7,200). While his price has crept up a little bit compared to where he had been running the last few weeks he is still underpriced. Since he made his debut he has had trouble in the passing game passing for only 187 and 143 yards, respectively. In doing so he has been pretty awful with completion percentages under 50% in both games and being sacked quite a bit. But Kaepernick has really succeeded with what he does best which is run. In the two games he had rushing lines of 8-66 and 9-84. When you are racking up running yards like that and your price is depressed it’s an easy way to reach value.
At running back one of the best values of the week is just plugging in Charcandrick West ($5,600) against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. Jamaal Charles has been put on the injured reserve list and backup Spencer Ware has been declared inactive. That leaves the backfield carries to West. Last year in weeks 7, 8, and 10 when West was given free range of the offense he averaged 22 carries for 92 yards and a TD on the ground plus 3-45 in the air. On top of the volume that West should expect the Jaguars have also been favorable to lean on as they have allowed 121 rushing yards per game which is 7th worst in the league. Finally, I expect the Chiefs to build an early lead which will give West the opportunity to ice the game away. Overall, West is in a good spot and I think you should start your cash lineups with him.
Another favorable matchup this week is lined up for Devontae Booker. In his first game as the lead back Booker looked less than impressive only amassing 54 yards on the ground. But on the plus side he got 19 rushing attempts plus 6 targets in the passing game which he turned into 5-30. Booker also scored a TD and just missed another fumbling at the goal line. With his workload again expected to be high and getting a favorable matchup against the Raiders that rank 5th worst at rush defense in yards allowed per game at 125 you should be able to plug Booker into your lineup and feel pretty good about it.
Finally, if you are looking to pay up this week then look no further than Ezekiel Elliott ($9,200) who gets a great matchup against the Cleveland Browns who rank second worst in run defense at 144 rushing yards allowed per game. Elliott has had a great rookie season averaging 22.7 carries for 114.1 yards (5.0 ypa) plus 2.1-21 in the passing game. Elliot has had a few goalline attempts vultured but still has 5 TD’s on the year. Look for the Cowboys to get ahead early and some of that lead to be built by Elliot’s scoring.
As I mentioned in the outset I really like the passing games in the Packers/Colts game. A big question mark will be the status of Randall Cobb who right now is looking unlikely to play and even if he suits up he will likely be fairly limited. Especially if Cobb scratches, that puts the rest of the receivers in play. Jordy Nelson ($8,200) and Davante Adams ($7,100) are the safest options. Over the last two weeks Adams has been a focus of the offense getting 15 targets which is insanely high and he pulled in an incredible 12.5 of them for 103 yards. He is my preferred option over Nelson who also doesn’t appear to be 100% as he isn’t getting separation and will likely get plenty of attention by Vontae Davis. Even so I think Nelson should be a part of your cash game strategy due to the likely game script.
On the other side of the ball T.Y. Hilton ($7,600) let a lot of people down last week but this week in the shoot out of the week Hilton should line up across from Micah Hyde who just got beat by Mohamed Sanu to the tune of 9-84 last week. Hilton should set that level as close to his floor and have the possibility for one of the best lines of the week.
If you need some salary relief Michael Thomas ($5,800) makes as much sense as anyone in the second highest total on the slate and has seen an uptick in his snaps to 61% the last two weeks. His only week that was higher was week three where he got 72%. His increased snaps have led to more targets as he is up to 19 over the last two weeks and 193 yards. Thomas hasn’t scored during those two weeks which has kept his price depressed but he caught three earlier in the week. One watch out is that at the time of this article release Thomas missed practice on Friday so double check to ensure he will be active in this great spot.
Fanduel made a pretty interesting mistake when they priced Johnny Holton as free. A lot of people think that since Holton is free they should just plug him into their team as he will score over his value threshold no matter what. However, it doesn’t work that way and I am going to recommend not playing him. First of all his stats should be expected to be close to his salary which is zero. Holton has accumulated stats in 4 games so far this year. So right off the bat there is a good chance that he will score zero and his best game of the year was 2-25. A roster spot is more valuable than that. Additionally, as I mentioned earlier the pricing on Fanduel continues to be super soft and there just isn’t much that you can do with all the savings if you utilize him. You can already get pretty much every player you would want anyway so you can’t spend those savings efficiently. Personally, I wish the sites would do more unique pricing scenarios like this to give us options on how to play the game. Right now the game is being priced such that you pick all the best studs and see who does the best and it is taking away some of the fun. Sometimes mistakes lead to opportunities to learn and let’s hope that’s the case with this situation.
Tight end has cost me a ton of money this year as nearly all of my very top tight ends had their upside limited by tight end play. That said one constant this year has been the Lions are the worst in the league in points allowed to defenses at 12.7 and they have to square off against a formable opponent in Kyle Rudolph ($5,000) who continues to be underpriced because of his lack of a huge game. But Rudolph has been consistent this year receiving targets of at least 5 in all but one game. All Rudolph has to do is perform like the average player the Lions have played this year to hit value and he is better than the average player they have played.
Another options that looks appealing is Greg Olsen ($7,500) who is in play because of all the money that you have available this week despite the less than exciting matchup against the Rams. But with how hit and miss the tight end position has been this year just paying up for ‘safer’ production (only 1 game this year with under 6 receptions).
Kickers and Defense
One of the most disappointing teams this year has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week the lucky team facing the Jaguars is the Chiefs ($5,100). So far on the season Bortles has been sacked multiple times in all but one game and has thrown multiple interceptions in two games. The downfall for the Chiefs is they are a bit expensive with what I typically want to spend on defenses. If you want to spend down both options in the Steelers ($4,400) and Ravens ($4,400) game is a reasonable option. I don’t expect this to be a low scoring game but in a battle between two teams that know each other so well and play in a big rivalry look for the trailing team to make some aggressive plays to try to make a comeback and since both quarterbacks are very susceptible to making errors you have a good opportunity to get a late touchdown.
At kicker I think the safe answer is to continue to roll out to of my more favorite plays this season, Mason Crosby ($4,700) and whoever is playing the Colts. Luckily this week that is also Mason Crosby. At $4,700 you can’t go wrong with just plugging in Crosby to all your lineups. That said I like to diversify and since Cairo Santos is priced the same and has a favorable matchup against the previously mentioned Jaguars he is an easy pivot.