We have made it through the dark time. Football is back, week one is here, roster construction is relevant, and everyone is ready to chase their Milly Maker bullets right down to an empty bank roll. Cash games are often overlooked, as they are not nearly as exciting as their top heavy pay out cousins, but are immensely important to building a bank roll and holding longevity in DFS. Throughout the season I will be outlining the high floor, low risk plays who I will be using in cash games. These plays are not cash game specific and should also be used to construct player cores for GPPs. Enjoy my first piece Week 1 cash game core.
Week 1 Cash Game Core
In cash games, more often than not, my strategy is to pay down at the position. The opportunity cost for quarterbacks isn’t nearly as high as the other skill positions, and generally, the best value can be found here. Cheaper is better, but not at the expense of safety.
Carson Wentz – $5300
Wentz is no longer throwing to the likes of Dorial Green-Beckham and Jordan Mathews. This off season, Philadelphia cemented their pass catching core, bringing in both Alshon Jeffrey and field stretcher, Torrey Smith. With no real rushing attack to lean on, I think Wentz, who ranked 6th in passing attempts in 2016, is airing it out early and often. With one of the highest Vegas totals of week 1, this game has all the makings of a shootout. Wentz is underpriced for the floor he provides, and the ceiling he is capable of.
Marcus Mariota – $6800
The Tennessee Titans are poised for a breakout season, and Mariota is at the helm. With a re-upped and revamped receiving core, and an upgraded offensive line, Mariota has everything he needs to keep pace with Oakland, who ranked bottom 6 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks in 2016. The Titans still have one of the most intimidating backfields in Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, but the off-season investments in rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, as well as seasoned veteran Eric Decker, have me confident Tennessee is prepared to pop the cork on Mariota’s arm. This game has THE highest Vegas total of the week, and Mariota should have no problem paying off his 3x salary, as he averaged just over 21 fantasy points at home last year.
Russell Wilson – $6900
Wilson is the most expensive of cash game options, but if anyone is worth the price tag this week, it’s him. The key to winning money in DFS last year was targeting the atrocious Green Bay secondary. They’ve done little to correct this, bringing in CB Davon House, who was benched last year by the Jaguars. Wilson can threaten with both his arm and his legs, after having an entire off season to rehab from the injuries which hindered his rushing upside last year. SEA/GB holds the second highest Vegas total of the week, and I love this spot for Wilson.
David Johnson – $9400
Le’Veon Bell – $9800
I am going to quickly go over the fact that these guys are perhaps the most vital component to every cash lineup. One of these two should be in your lineup every week…. all weeks, excluding no weeks, (Unless they both break their legs simultaneously, and even then, I’m not convinced a one-legged Lev Bell couldn’t find his way into the end zone.)
This week I, personally, am higher on Bell due to game script, and the fact that the Cardinals will easily be able to air it out against the Lions. There is no wrong answer here. Pick one, lock him in.
Todd Gurley – $6000
Gurley is not dead… yet. The Colts will be without Andrew Luck, rolling out backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, and Pro Football Focus’ worst graded front seven. With the Rams in position to take the game, they should favor Gurley as often as possible. The off-season acquisitions of Sammy Watkins and rookie, Cooper Kupp, also work in Gurley’s favor. With competent pass catchers on the field, Gurley shouldn’t be running into an 8 man brick wall. The talented running back should have no problem taking advantage of a depleted run defense, who gave up an average 118.5 rush yards per game, on the road, in 2016. The Fantasy Gods want Gurley to excel in week one, and I think he does.
Carlos Hyde – $4600
Offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan is now in Francisco, and this should bode well for Hyde. Shanahan’s offenses have yielded a top 10 rusher, in 4 of the past 5 seasons. With not much competition for touches, Hyde should see more than a fair share of the work load against a Carolina team that allowed an average of 91.6 rushing yards per game in 2016. Volume is key in fantasy, and Hyde is priced criminally low for an RB1. Narrative Street – Hyde historically performs well on opening day, scoring 23.3 and 35.2 points in each of the last two season openers.
Larry Fitzgerald – $5900
Probably my favorite play of the week, Fitzgerald is literally an oldie but a goodie. He tapered off last year, only amassing 19 receptions for 143 yards and one touch down in the last four weeks of the season. But, with an entire off season behind him, I’m optimistic he can take advantage of the sub par coverage Detroit’s slot corner, Quandre Diggs brings to the table. Diggs was thrown at 46 times in 2016 and allowed 41 receptions. A fresh legged Fitz up against a Lions D that allowed a 72.7% completion rate last year? Yes, please, thank you.
Pierre Garcon – $5300
You don’t have to be the prettiest girl at the bar, just the only girl. This off season, the 49ers released both Jeremy Kerley and Vance Mcdonald, leaving the pass catching duties to Garcon and the underwhelming Marquise Goodwin. Shanahan made it a point to bring Garcon to the Bay Area, and for good reason. The last time these two were together, Garcon hauled in a career high 1,346 yards. Hoyer and Garcon had great chemistry this preseason, and the Panther’s faulty secondary does not scare me. $5300 is too low for Garcon.
Doug Baldwin – $6700
As this matchup against the Green Bay secondary is good for Wilson, it’s great for his favorite target. Baldwin should see a lot of Quinten Rollins this week, who is allowing .36 fantasy points per route run, according to PFF. This is going to be a high scoring gaming, and a favorite red zone target of Wilson’s, Baldwin should easily feast. I can’t stress enough how bad this secondary is. All in on Dougie.
Zach Ertz – $3500
Ertz is probably going to the be the highest owned tight end this weekend. Thanks to Draft King’s pricing algorithm, TE’s are often mispriced and I’m okay with it. $3500 is too cheap for the big bodied tight end playing with his second-year quarterback. Tight end is the hardest position to predict from week to week, but I think Ertz is developing a consistent rapport with Wentz and should see more opportunity with Jordan Mathews no longer in town.
Rams – $3200
Don’t overthink it. The Rams will be popular against a very bad Colts offensive line protecting a turn over prone backup quarterback.
Bills – $3900
Texans – $3800