DFS Roundtable: Cash Game Construction

In your Week 6 cash games, how do you plan to construct your lineups at the RB and WR spots?

At first glance, Week 6 looks like an ideal one for a RB-centric approach to lineup building. Most of the safest and strongest running back plays find themselves in neutral or positive matchups, including a dance between the Rams' and Jaguars' poor run defenses that looks destined to produce at least one high-level RB line (and possibly two). And WR pricing looks especially tight, with options like DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Hogan skyrocketing in salary, and low-upside guys like Jarvis Landry seemingly priced near their ceilings.

In your Week 6 cash games, how do you plan to construct your lineups at the RB and WR spots? Will you be focusing hard on the top-salaried RBs and their sparkling volume/matchup outlooks? Or is there a high-cost WR1 you'll insist on fitting in everywhere?

Danny Tuccitto: For the Sunday main slate on DraftKings, my numbers are showing 16 running backs with a cash game value probability higher than 33% (i.e., likely to hit 3x). That count is a nearly identical 15 for wide receivers, but there are more wide receivers and more lineup spots for them. So what I'm saying here is that your math checks out: There's more cash game value to be had at running back this week.

Now, within those two "likely to achieve value" groups, running backs that cost $7000 or more are Gurley, Fournette, and Kareem Hunt, while Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas, and DeAndre Hopkins are receivers that cost that much. Therefore, I think the way to go this week is to use three cash game lineups matching one of the three wide receivers with a pair of the three running backs.

Jeff Pasquino: In doing some prep work for the Power Grid this week, I worked through several DraftKings lineups to find one I really liked – and it resulted in going with three running backs (two under $5K) and one high-end back. That left me with just enough money to get the top choices at QB/WR/Defense and also a top-three choice (best value) at tight end.  Filling in the wide receivers with one "punt" choice at wide receiver is the way I am choosing to go. I believe that a cheap wide receiver (under $4K) in cash can get me a 6-60 type day that hits the 3x mark I want to achieve, and even if he falls a few points short, the rest of the lineup should make up the difference.

In general for cash, I'm usually looking at a combination of ownership and productivity, since if a player is highly owned and underperforms in cash, it does not set you back very far at all.  That's why I want as many top-five options as I can get, and usually start there with any value plays in that range that I can find.

Jason Wood: I'm not sure I'm going to focus on running backs more than normal this week. In the Jaguars vs. Rams game you mentioned, it's worth noting the implied total is just 43.5 points, with the Jaguars forecast for 23 points and the Rams 20.5 points. I can see the game going over, but when the handicappers see this as a tight, defensive matchup, I pay attention. I can tell you that Devonta Freeman is going to be heavily involved in my cash game plans. The Falcons lead with way with a projected total of 29.25 points and are expected to bury the Dolphins. Freeman is productive in any game script, but this week as big favorites and Julio Jones less than 100%, he has as advantageous an outlook as any running back this season. At the top of the salary scale, I want no part of Le'Veon Bell against a Chiefs team rolling to the #1 seed in the AFC. In the same game, however, I'm all for playing Kareem Hunt.

James Brimacombe: Running backs are always the answer when deciding which position to pay up for in cash games. Both Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley have been averaging 24.4 touches a game this season and both are almost locks this week, even in a game where they face off against each other. It is much easier to predict a running back to see volume than it is for a wide receiver to get x targets. Not only do Fournette and Gurley have great matchups this week, they also have little competition behind them taking touches away and receive a good deal of the passing game pie. All of it makes them high end plays to build a cash lineup around.

Chris Feery: I agree with James: paying up for running backs is typically a wise choice for cash games. The predictable volume is tough to pass up, whereas the top-flight wide receivers are typically no lock to see the target volume needed to justify their lofty prices. Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette make for fine choices as the guys have already mentioned, while Devonta Freeman looks to be in a good spot against the struggling Dolphins. As Jason pointed out, the stars are aligning in terms of game script, and Freeman should be in line for a healthy volume as the Falcons protect the lead. I’m willing to pay up for Kareem Hunt also, as the explosive rookie sees a ton of opportunities in the efficient Chiefs offense.

Dan Hindery: On FanDuel, I agree with James and Chris that you just pay up for two of the top-four running backs in cash games. The pricing is soft enough that you can still fit in a top quarterback and decent receivers. 

On DraftKings, it is a much harder decision. It is a fascinating week for roster construction in cash games from a big-picture perspective. We finally see some value at the lower-end of the running back salary scale that allows you to go that direction if you want. In broad terms, we have seen two vastly different cash-game paradigms on DraftKings over the past two years. In 2015, it was usually profitable to find a pair of cheap running backs that were underpriced either due to injuries to the starter or because DraftKings often underpriced pass-catching backs (e.g. Theo Riddick). The cheap running backs would allow you to fit in two-of-three top receivers (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham), who each had incredible seasons. In 2016, there were fewer cheap options at running back and both David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell were in the midst of historic seasons. The profitable course was to squeeze both top backs into your lineup most weeks and fill in with bargain receivers. Both the “2015 build” and the “2016 build” are viable options this week. 

The “2015 build” would take advantage of all of the sub-$5,000 running back value (Jerick McKinnon, Mark Ingram II, Alvin Kamara, possibly Elijah McGuire) to get solid volume (especially in the pass game) at bargain prices and then pay up for a couple top receivers (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jordy Nelson stand out). With more strong value options at running back this week, the stud-WR lineup makes sense for maybe the first time all season. 

The “2016 build” would include a pair of top running backs (of Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, and Kareem Hunt), a value running back in the flex and three lower-priced receivers. This is also a viable course because the three backs above are seeing huge volume but haven't yet been bumped way up in price like Le'Veon Bell.