Welcome back for week 14 of Cash Game Cornerstones. It’s hard to believe that it’s already week 14 and the season is starting to wind down. At this point in the season, it’s time to start considering some additional factors into our cash game consideration. The weather starting to get bad in certain areas of the country. The wind has shown to be the biggest weather-related impact on fantasy scores. Sustained winds over 15 miles per hour are pretty much a no-go for me when targeting passing game options. Also a teams motivation starts to play a part as well. Teams like the Raiders, Jets, 49ers, etc have their eyes on the future and potential draft picks more so than winning games. I’m not saying you can’t play guys from bad teams this time of year, I’m just saying it makes their options slightly more volatile than teams that are in the playoff hunt.
There are a few different ways that you can go in cash this week. My pool of cash game quarterbacks will most likely consist of Big Ben ($6,800), Jameis Winston ($6,200), Aaron Rodgers ($6,000), Andrew Luck ($5,900) and Deshaun Watson ($5,900). All of these QB’s are in pretty good spots this week but as of right now Watson is my favorite.
When I’m choosing my cash game quarterback I don’t just want a guy with a high floor, I want a high ceiling as well. Watson with his elite athleticism and fearless downfield throwing certainly possesses the kind of ceiling that we like.
It’s December and bad weather is starting to hit but we won’t have to worry about that at all with the Texans playing indoors on Sunday. The Texans have throttled Watson back a bit after suffering a scary lung injury early in the year which forced him to drive to games, rather than fly with the team.
Watson exceeded 30 pass attempts last week for the first time in six games and has 16 rushing attempts over the last two weeks which leads me to believe that he’s close to fully healthy.
The Colts got shutout last week but I feel like that was definitely an anomaly and not something that I’d anticipate here which should force the Texans to put the ball in the air. From a match-up perspective, the Colts are a bit of a pass funnel as they rank 4th in Football Outsiders DVOA against the run but just 21st against the pass.
I’m not sure how much it really matters but when these two teams faced off in late September, Watson lit up the Colts for 375 yards and two touchdowns and racked up another 40 yards and a score on the ground.
This week the common theme in cash games will likely be to play at least one and probably two of Jaylen Samuels ($3,700), Jeffrey Wilson Jr ($3,800). and Justin Jackson ($3,800) and then pay up for a top end guy in either the other RB spot or the flex. All three of the aforementioned backs are great values from a point per dollar perspective. I’d expect Wilson to be the highest owned with Samuels not far behind. Jackson will be the least owned of the three as he faces the most competition for snaps and usage.
At the higher end of the spectrum, Christian McCaffrey has seen his price spike to $9,300 on the road against a Browns defense that ranks 26th in rush defense DVOA. Rookie stud Sa’Quon Barkley isn’t far behind at $8,900 and has scored fewer than 20 DK points just once all season. The red-hot Ezekiel Elliott ($8,600) gets an Eagles defense that has fallen off a cliff this season. Alvin Kamara and the Saints travel on the road to face a Bucs defense and their 30th ranked run defense. In three career games against the Bucs, Kamara has scored 46.1, 30.8 and 32.2 DK points.
I prefer the slight discount that I get with Zeke and Kamara than the sky-high prices of CMC and Barkley. If I were forced to choose only one it’d be Zeke.
Zeke is absolutely rolling right now with four straight games with 25+ DK Points. Most notably the Cowboys have started using the Ohio State product more as a receiver lately. Elliott has at least five targets in six straight games which raises his already high floor.
On the season the Eagles rush defense ranks 20th in DVOA but have dropped off substantially over the last four weeks. The Eagles gave up 187 total yards and two touchdowns to Zeke in week 10, 103 yards and two touchdowns to Mark Ingram in week 11, 142 total yards and two scores Saquan Barkley in week 12 and 98 yards, including a 90 yard touchdown run to Adrian Peterson on Monday night.
The top end of the wide receiver position is loaded this week. Antonio Brown ($9,000) faces the 32nd ranked pass defense without starting running back James Conner which should put the Steelers in a pass-heavy game script. Michael Thomas ($8,600) heads outdoors but gets the Bucs 29th ranked pass defense. Davonte Adams gets the 31st ranked pass defense in the Packers first game sans incompetent Mike McCarthy. O’Dell Beckham squares off with Josh Norman and the Redskins, whom he torched for 8/136 earlier this season. Target hogs Julio Jones ($7,900) and DeAndre Hopkins ($7,800) are both under-priced in winnable match-ups. My favorite cash game play though Keenan Allen ($7,400).
Coming off a 19 target game on Sunday Night Football I fully expect Allen to be mega chalky this week and that’s okay in cash games.
The Bengals defense has completely given up. They can’t stop the pass and don’t even try to stop the run which should put the Chargers in scoring position frequently on Sunday. Prior to Sunday nights monster performance, Allen was already heating up with a score in three straight.
At the cheaper end of the wide receiver position, I think Chris Godwin ($4,900), Adam Humphries ($4,900) and Courtland Sutton ($4,500) are all cash viable options. Humphries represents the safest floor, Godwin isn’t far behind and certainly offers a higher ceiling than Humphries.
Sutton is interesting as the Broncos lost Manny Sanders and his massive target share. I’m not sure Sutton is ready to be a teams number one option in the passing game but we’ll find out this week just how ready he is. Already trending the right way, Sutton racked up career highs last week with 7 targets, 4 catches and 85 yards. It was the first time that he’s exceeded 11 DK points all season.
So last weeks min priced Matt LaCosse experiment didn’t exactly go as planned. Luckily I didn’t end up there after Kareem Hunt news broke. This week the options are similar to last week. Travis Kelce ($6,700) is the high-end option, Eric Ebron ($5,700) the mid-priced choice, and a variety of TD or bust options priced below $4,000. Several people will certainly flock to Gronk at what has to be his lowest price in several years at just $4,800.
I probably won’t have the salary to fit Kelce in, in cash games so I’ll take the discount with Ebron. With Jack Doyle out of the mix, Ebron has been a target monster for the Colts and racked up 10 catches on an absurd 16 targets last week. While I certainly wouldn’t project Ebron for 16 targets again this week, I think it’s certainly fair to pencil him in for somewhere between 7 and 10 targets.
There’s certainly some noise in the tight end DVOA numbers but the Texans rank a lowly 29th against the position. Ebron got the Texans for 5/40/1 when these teams played in September and I could definitely see him outperforming those numbers this week.
There isn’t a clear number one option at defense this week. Like most weeks defense will be the last position that I try to fill when filling out my cash game roster. At the high end, the Chargers ($3,500) are in a great spot at home against the Jeff Driskel led Bengals. The Saints D ($2,700) has been hot of late and they get to face off against a turnover-prone Jameis Winston in potentially poor weather. Near the salary floor, the Chiefs ($2,300) face the Ravens at home where they’ve been solid all season.
Thanks for reading. Best of luck in week 14!