Welcome back for another week of Cash Game Cornerstones. Last week we had some really nice hits with Big Ben, Christian McCaffrey, and Tevin Coleman but had a huge miss with spending up for Antonio Brown.
In my opinion, the process was still good. If you told me before the games started on Sunday that Big Ben was going to throw 60 times for 452 yards and 3 touchdowns and that AB84 would have 17 targets, I would have thought he smashed for sure.
Every week you should be going back and looking at your cash game team and evaluating your process. If your process is sound, stick with it. If you think you’re process could use some improvement jump in the TFA Slack chat and we’ll help get you on track.
With that said, let’s get to this week’s Cash Game Cornerstones.
Patrick Mahomes: DK $7,000 / FD $8,900
I don’t know what to say about Mahomes start to the 2018 season other than it’s just been absolutely ridiculous. Mahomes has racked up 10 touchdowns the first two weeks, completed 69% of his passes, and leads the NFL in Intended Air Yards with a mark of 12.1 yards per attempt.
The DFS sites have taken notice and raised Mahomes price but I’m not sure it’s high enough (especially on DK) to make me want to stay away. The Chiefs draw a match-up with a 49ers team that doesn’t have the pieces to take away any of Mahomes top options and Vegas certainly agrees with Chiefs having a 31.25 implied team total.
Through two weeks the 49ers secondary has been picked apart by Kirk Cousins in week 1 and toasted for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns last week by Matt Stafford.
Regression is going to set in at some point for Mahomes but to what degree remains unclear. The Chiefs have scored all 10 of their touchdowns this season through the air. They’ve run the 30th fewest plays per game (mostly because they’ve been so efficient). At some point the gunslinger Mahomes is going to have a reality check but I’m not sure it’s this week.
As you can see from the NextGen Stats Passing Chart below, Mahomes was completing passes at all three levels last week and I’d expect that trend to continue this week.
Deshaun Watson: DK $6,100 / FD $7,700
I mentioned Watson in this article last week and he bounced back 310 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. I’m going right back to the well this week as the Texans get a home match-up with the Giants.
As a real-life Quarterback, Watson has his limitations. He’s not overly accurate, holds the ball too long, and occasionally forces the ball into triple coverage. But as a fantasy quarterback, he’s just what we’re looking for. Watson pushes the ball downfield consistently (12.0 average intended air yards) and makes plays with his legs.
The Giants primarily play man coverage which is great for running quarterbacks like Watson as the defenders often find themselves with their backs to the QB. In his 8 career starts Watson has averaged 5.7 points per game rushing, which gives us a nice floor in cash games.
It’s early in the week but right now I prefer Watson as my mid-range Quarterback of the week.
Other Cash Game QB’s to Consider:
Jimmy Garoppolo – Likely chasing points against a Kansas City defense that ranks last in DVOA
Drew Brees – Has completed 81% of his passes and now heads to Atlanta where the Saints will have to put up points.
Cam Newton – The Panthers are banged up on the offensive line and are utilizing short passes to McCaffrey as it’s running game. Cam’s ability to score fantasy points with his legs gives him a safe floor.
Matt Ryan – His fantasy stats were inflated last week with 2 rushing touchdowns but he still seems under-priced considering the Falcons implied team total of 28 points.
Christian McCaffrey: DK $7,800 / FD $7,900
McCaffrey is a little expensive for Fanduel cash as it’s not that much more to just pay up for Kamara or Gurley but he’s squarely in play on DK.
Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner wasn’t lying when he told us that McCaffrey was going to be the teams’ bell cow back. McCaffrey logged 85% of the snaps in week 1 and followed that up with 94% of the snaps in week 2. McCaffrey leads the Panthers with a 34% target share.
McCaffrey isn’t your traditional between the tackles grinder. He’s a modern, get your best player in space against a slower linebacker type of player. The good news for McCaffrey is that the Bengals linebackers without Vontez Burfict are just that…slow.
Since the start of last season, the Bengals have allowed 957 receiving yards to Running Backs, the second most in the league. The Bengals allowed 10 catches for 54 yards to the Colts tandem of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins (who are those guys?) and coughed up 8 catches for 91 yards to Ravens backs in week 2.
Coming off a 14 catch performance against the Falcons I’d expect McCaffrey is licking his chops with this match-up on deck. As you can see from McCaffrey’s Week 2 Route Chart, he’s a dynamic player out of the backfield.
Tevin Coleman: DK $6,400 / FD $7,300
Coleman’s price has risen and he’s not the free square he was a week ago when the sites hadn’t accounted for Devonta Freeman’s injury but he’s still a solid value in week 3. With Freeman out Coleman played 65% of the snaps and I’d expect that number to rise slightly in a competitive NFC South week 3 match-up.
The Falcons have the third highest implied team total on the board and are 3 point home favorites against the Saints. The Saints run defense has looked solid but they’ve also faced off against two of the worst run blocking units in the NFL.
The Falcons offensive line ranks 15th in Football Outsiders Adjust Line Yards but where they excel is getting to the second level, ranking 6th in that metric. Coleman ran a 4.44, 40 at the combine and has the jets to turn any run into a long touchdown.
Other Cash Game Running Backs to Consider:
Corey Clement – In the event that Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (old/hamstring) get ruled out Clement would be a must play against the Colts.
Alvin Kamara – He’s expensive but the Falcons are missing 2 key pieces to their defense and have allowed the most receiving fantasy points to running backs in 3 straight seasons. I prefer Kamara to Gurley on the high end this week.
Kareem Hunt – The Chiefs have scored 38 and 42 points the first 2 weeks of the season and haven’t scored a rushing touchdown. That’s going to change at some point.
Giovanni Bernard – Steps in for the injured Joe Mixon. Gio’s pass game involvement makes him game script proof.
Julio Jones: DK $7,900 / FD $8,700
Full disclosure: I never get Julio Jones right. Julio has 45 receptions since his last regular season touchdown. I don’t even know how that’s possible for a player of Julio’s caliber. Despite the Falcons OC’s Steve Sarkisian’s horrendous red zone play calling, I’ll chalk it up to variance and positive regression will set in soon.
Last season in two games against the Saints Julio got loose for 12/248/0 and I’d expect more of the same this year. Jones leads the Falcons with 28 targets and has accounted for an NFL high 71.7% of the Falcons Air Yards.
I always have some pause before playing Julio in cash games. He’s just not as consistent as you’d like but the depressed price tag has me biting this week.
Cooper Kupp: DK $4,900 / FD $6,300
The first step to accumulating fantasy points is getting on the field. Kupp has played 132 of the Rams 135 offensive snaps this season.
Kupp has 15 targets over the first two weeks of the season. More important than the 15 total targets though is that seven of those targets have come in the red zone. Kupp has converted those seven targets into four catches but only one touchdown. The red zone usage for Kupp is nothing new as he had seven games last season with multiple red zone targets.
The Rams offense is extremely efficient and projected to score 27.5 points this week despite a tough match-up with the Chargers. Kupp runs the majority of his routes in the slot and should avoid the Chargers top cover man Casey Hayward for the majority of the game.
Tyler Boyd: DK $3,700 / FD $4,700
If you’re scraping the bottom of the wide receiver pool for value this week I don’t mind taking a shot on Boyd. Boyd is kind of the quintessential post-hype sleeper. Highly productive coming out Pittsburgh, the Bengals selected Boyd in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. Last season Boyd really struggled and fell out of favor with the Bengals coaching staff.
It appears Boyd has turned over a new leaf this season and has out-played fellow young Bengals receiver John Ross in both snap count and productivity so far.
Running the majority of his routes out of the slot Boyd will square off with Panthers nickel corner, Captain Munnerlyn who Pro Football Focus ranks as the 80th best corner in the league this season.
Boyd is coming off an impressive 6/91/1 performance vs. Baltimore and should look to build on that this week in Carolina.
Other Cash Game Wide Receivers to Consider
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen – The dynamic Vikings duo get a dream matchup at home against a Bills team that can’t score or stop their opponents from scoring.
Michael Thomas – Thomas is off to a red-hot start the season and has converted 30 targets into 28 catches. The third-year receiver out THE Ohio State University has 3 touchdowns if 4 career games against the Falcons.
Will Fuller – Has scored 8 touchdowns in 5 career games with DeShaun Watson. Giants top corner Janoris Jenkins is likely to shadow DeAndre Hopkins, leaving Fuller matched up with backup B.W. Webb as Eli Apple(groin) is unlikely to play.
Geronimo Allison – Allison has produced when given playing time with Aaron Rodgers in his short career. He provides cheap exposure to a high powered offense. The Redskins don’t shadow with Josh Norman and I do have some concern that the Packers just stick Allison on Norman’s side of the field to free up Davonte Adams.
Tyreek Hill – He’s #good. His quarterback is #good. Doesn’t get the volume the other WR’s in his price range get but he makes the most of his opportunities.
Aside from Jack Doyle in week 1, going cheap at Tight End has been tough sledding. I think this week on Fanduel paying up for either Zach Ertz in a good spot against the Colts or Travis Kelce against the 49ers is the way to go. On DK though, the pricing is a little tighter and I still prefer trying to spend down.
Jared Cook: DK $4,000
Cook came back down to Earth last week after a week one explosion. Luckily for Cook, he draws another great match-up against the Dolphins this week. Last season the Dolphins ranked as one of the bottom 3 teams against tight ends and it doesn’t appear that will change this season.
The Dolphins allowed 5/62 to Titans Tight Ends in week 1 and then gave up 7/92 to Quincy Enunwa who despite being listed as a WR plays a quasi Tight End role for the Jets with Neal Sterling leaving early in the game with a concussion.
Jack Doyle: DK $3,500
The Colts surprisingly jumped out to an early lead on the Redskins last week and Andrew Luck’s pass volume was significantly less in week 2. I’d expect Luck back north of 40 pass attempts in this contest on the road vs. an Eagles that was unable to contain Ryan Fitzpatrick last week.
While fellow tight end Eric Ebron has caught a touchdown in both games this season it’s still Doyle who is getting the most opportunity. Doyle has ran 47 more pass routes than Ebron this year and received 6 more targets. With the Colts likely trailing in this one, I expect Doyle to get the volume to pay off his price tag in cash games.
Other Cash Game Tight Ends to Consider
Ian Thomas – The youngster dropped a would be 17-yard touchdown last week and gets a dream match-up against the Bengals that have given up lines of 12/124/1 to the Colts in week 1 and 8/74/1 to the Ravens tight ends in week 2. Thomas played 95% of the snaps and ran over 40 pass routes in his first career start last week.
Ben Watson – Ageless Ben is pretty much touchdown or bust. Brees just missed him for a score last week. Without Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, the Falcons are vulnerable in the middle of the field.
Minnesota Vikings: DK $4,300 / FD $4,900
I struggle with paying up for the top defenses each week because of the volatility in defensive scoring. If there’s ever a week to just play the top defense it may be this one. The Vikings are without question a top 3 NFL defense and get a dream match-up with the Bills at home.
Through 2 weeks the Bills have thrown 4 interceptions and been sacked 11 times. The Vikings are 17 point home favorites and I honestly can’t write a single nice thing about the Bills offense.
Dallas Cowboys: DK $2,200 / FD $3,400
The Cowboys have quietly put together a nice defense. Up front, the Cowboys can put pressure on the quarterback and have tallied 9 sacks in 2 games.
The Seahawks offensive line has struggled to protect Russell Wilson and have given up 6 sacks in each game.
Without security blanket Doug Baldwin and red zone threat Jimmy Graham, Wilson has struggled to develop any type of rhythm so far this season. Perhaps that changes at home in front of “The 12th Man” but for the low cost, the Cowboys defense is a low risk, high reward play.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Colts skill position players – Jack Doyle (hip), T.Y. Hilton (Quad), and Marlon Mack (foot) all aren’t practicing again Thursday. Doyle’s absence would thrust Eric Ebron into cash game consideration. I expect T.Y. to play but should he and Doyle sit there’s a ton of market share of targets opening up.
Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi – Both Eagles backs are missing practice again Thursday. Their absence puts Cory Clement as a lock in all formats.
Jadeveon Clowney – Clowney (back) says he’ll play this week at home against the Giants. The Giants gave up 6 sacks last week to the Giants and now have to face Watt and Clowney. Texans D at home is in play.
LeSean McCoy – McCoy is questionable with a rib injury. If McCoy can’t go Marcus Murphy might be interesting in tournaments at near min salary but the match-up is far from ideal.
Dalvin Cook – Cook missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury. If he’s unable to suit up Latavius Murray would step in. Murray is priced up a bit and the Vikings offensive line play hasn’t been great but as a 17 point, home favorite would still be a solid play against a Bills team that can’t stop anyone.
Leonard Fournette – Fournette (hamstring) has been limited in practice this week after sitting out last weeks win against the Patriots. The Jags have no reason to rush Fournette back as they’ve average 31 points per game in the four games he’s missed over the last two seasons. His absence certainly boosts the floor and ceiling of Blake Bortles and his pass catching options.
Thanks for reading and best of luck this week!