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Week 4: Cash Game Cornerstones

Welcome back for another week of Cash Game Cornerstones.  Last week we had some really nice hits in this article with DeShaun Watson, Tyler Boyd, and correctly called Kamara over Gurley but when it came time to make lineups I made a few mistakes.

Conviction. What is conviction? Conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion. You may be wondering how this applies to DFS and specifically cash games.  The answer is simple. When we’re playing cash games we need to have conviction in our plays. You need to truly believe in some combination of the players’ talent, match-up, and opportunity.

Last week in cash I made a mistake. I played guys I didn’t have true conviction in. Looking back at my lineup two mistakes really stood out. I played Latavius Murray and Cory Clement in cash. There was certainly merit to playing both of them.

Murray was stepping in as a 16.5 point home favorite against what we thought was a lifeless Bills team.  However, the Vikings have a terrible offensive line. Murray isn’t involved in the passing game at all, and to top it all off Murray priced a little high at $5,800 (on FD @$5,100 Murray was a strong play).  My thinking was that Murray was a virtual lock for 20 carries. It turns out he wasn’t and only got two carries.

Clement was cheap.  He was a home favorite and expected to be the lead back in a committee in an explosive offense with Wentz back under-center. But there were certainly questions as we knew the Eagles would use multiple backs and it wasn’t clear what the market-share of opportunities would look like.  Clement ended up only getting 55% of the snaps and Wendell Smallwood ended up getting the all-important touchdown.

I know I lacked conviction in these plays as I made 20 GPP lineups and had zero shares of Murray and Clement. The moral of the story is that if you lack the conviction to play your cash plays on GPP lineups, then they aren’t strong enough plays to be used in H2H’s or Double Ups either.


QB: Andy Dalton: DK $5,400 / FD $7,400

Dalton struggled on the road last week in Carolina but still managed a solid fantasy output, posting 352 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his 4 interceptions on 46 attempts.  Dalton made a few bad throws but one of the four interceptions was on at the end of game heave and the other John Ross appeared to completely quit on the play.

This week the Bengals head further south to Atlanta to take on a Falcons defense that has been hit hard with injuries this season.  Gone from the Falcons defense are both starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen as well as speedy linebacker Deion Jones.  Also on the injury report as questionable are defensive ends Takk McKinnley and Derek Shelby and cornerbacks Brian Poole, Justin Bethel, and Damontae Kazee.  There simply just aren’t a lot of healthy bodies on this Falcons defense.

After a strong start on opening night against Nick Foles, the Falcons defense has given up 31 fantasy points to Cam Newton in week 2 and 47 to Drew Brees in week 3 and suddenly rank near the bottom of the league in DVOA against the run and the pass.

Dalton has the weapons to attack this defense with the ultra-quick Gio Bernard filling in for Joe Mixon, A.J. Green appears to be fine after leaving last weeks game, Tyler Boyd is having a breakout season, Tyler Eifert is healthy and played a season-high in snaps last week, and the speedy John Ross is always a threat to bust a big one.  I’d be very surprised if Dalton didn’t find a way to eclipse the 300-yard mark this week and likely multiple touchdowns.

Other Quarterbacks to Consider:

Drew Brees: Drew Brees has been red-hot to start the season with 1,078 passing yards, 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions all while completing a league-leading 80.6% of his passes.  Brees fantasy stats are slightly inflated as the Saints have fallen behind frequently this season and have abandoned the run.  The Saints rank 4th in the NFL passing on 68% of their plays.  Brees heads outdoors for the first time this season to take on a burnable Giants secondary that ranks 24th in DVOA against the pass.

Phillip Rivers: The Chargers have a slate high implied point total of 28.75 points against a 49ers team that is potentially depleted following the loss of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.  The 49ers have other injury concerns as well.  Cornerback Richard Sherman and Safety Jaquiski Tartt are both unlikely to play.  Free safety Adrian Colbert is also questionable after leaving last weeks game against the Chiefs.

Eli Manning: After a slow start to the season Manning and the Giants offense appeared to wake up last week against the Texans.  This week Manning gets a match-up at home against the Saints who have been touched up by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, and Matt Ryan.  The Saints have turned into a pass funnel defense ranking #1 in Football Outsiders Run Defense DVOA metric and 32nd in DVOA against the pass.


Alvin Kamara: DK $9,600 / FD $9,100

Kamara got 20 targets last week against the Falcons. I repeat, Alvin Kamara got 20 targets.  It’s so rare to see any player get 20 targets let alone a running back.  Kamara is a special talent and this will be his last game as the full-time bell cow with Mark Ingram set to come back from suspension this week.

The Giants haven’t faced anyone with the pass-catching acumen of Kamara this season but did allow a receiving touchdown to Lamar Miller last week and another one in week 1 to T.J. Yeldon.  As you can see from Kamara’s NextGen Stats route chart from last week, he’s far from your typical pass catching back.

Kamara Kamara is certainly expensive but with Todd Gurley off of the main slate, he’s far and away the top option.

Giovanni Bernard: DK $6,300 / FD $6,400

I just talked about Kamara getting 20 targets last week.  Well, those 20 targets came against the Falcons, whom Bernard gets matched up against this week.  Over the last two weeks, the Falcons have allowed 29 receptions to Kamara and Christian McCaffrey.  While Gio isn’t used quite as extensively in the passing game as those two pass-catching thoroughbreds he’s no slouch either.  Over the last five games that Joe Mixon has missed, Bernard has caught 5, 6, 7, 3 and 6 passes.  The Falcons have allowed the most receiving yards to opposing running backs each of the last three seasons.  With all of the injuries, it certainly looks like they will struggle to contain running backs again this season.

Gio locked in 100% of the Bengals running back touches last week (Mark Walton did get a carry that was called back by penalty) including three in the red zone. Bernard’s pass-catching floor provides him with a safe floor on PPR sites and the red zone work provides a huge bump to his ceiling.  Joe Mixon is going to be out again this week, making Giovanni Bernard is an absolute cash game cornerstone.

Other Cash Game Running Backs to Consider

Melvin Gordon: The MG3 train was slowed down last week by the Rams defense but I don’t think there’s much to worry about here.  The Chargers are implied to score 28.75 points this week and I’d expect Gordon to be a key cog in their scoring.  The 49ers run defense has yet to allow any running back to eclipse 50 yards rushing but did surrender two TD’s last week to Kareem Hunt.

Ezekiel Elliott: Much has been made of the Cowboys offense and their failure to adapt to the modern NFL.  While this is 100% true this is daily fantasy and all we care about is this week and this week Elliott is in a great spot.  The Lions run D was gashed on the ground for big plays by the Jets and 49ers in the first two weeks before finally showing up at home against the Patriots last week.  As a home favorite in a good match-up, I’d expect Zeke to eat this week.

Sony Michel: Rex Burkhead has landed on injured reserve with a neck injury presenting Michel with a golden opportunity.  I’d expect Michel to handles most if not all of the goal line carries as well as the bulk of the total rushing attempts.  I am slightly concerned that Tom Brady pretty much said in his post-game press conference that James White needs to be on the field more.  While I think Brady is probably right, teams simply don’t draft running backs in the first round and then set them on the bench… unless you’re the Seahawks.


18 SEP 2016: New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) during the game between the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints played at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Allen Robinson: DK $5,900 / FD $6,500

Robinson has accounted for 42% of the Bears Air Yards this season and is the number one receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 4 Air Yards Buy Low Model.  The only bad news is that his quarterback is Mitchell Trubiski and a large portion of his targets aren’t really all that catchable.

The match-up, however, is absolutely pristine.  The Bucs rank 27th in DVOA against the pass and have allowed the 31st success rate against passes as well.  Only the Saints have given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Bucs.

Robinson is running 32 percent of his routes out of the slot and that number should increase with rookie slot receiver Anthony Miller missing time with a shoulder injury.  The Bucs have been destroyed by receivers running out of the slot in the first three weeks as Michael Thomas, Nelson Agholar, and Juju Smith-Schuster all had productive games against Tampa Bay.

Sterling Shephard: DK $4,900 / FD $6,200

With top corner Marshawn Lattimore shadowing the opposing passing games top option, secondary receivers have lit up the Saints defense.  Last week Calvin Ridley broke out for 7/146/3.  In week 2 Antonio Callaway had his most productive day as a pro going for 3/81/1.  In week 1 Chris Godwin had a touchdown while DeSean Jackson went nuclear for 5/146/2.

The Saints benched Ken Crawley after week 2 but were forced to put him back in late in the game with Ridley absolutely feasting against P.J. Williams.  The Saints also lost stud slot corner, Patrick Robinson last week to injury.

The Giants will be without pass-catching tight end Evan Ingram this week which should increase Shephard’s market share of Eli Manning’s targets.

Tyler Boyd: DK $4,600 / FD $5,800

I mentioned Boyd in this article last week and he delivered with an explosive 6/132/1 performance.  I’m coming back for more this week.  As I mentioned above the Bengals draw a great match-up against a Falcons defense that is decimated by injuries on the back end.  As you can see from the NextGen Route Chart below, Boyd runs the majority of his routes from the slot where he’ll face Falcons slot corner Brian Poole who has already allowed two scores this season.


Other Cash Game Wide Receivers to Consider

Julio Jones: Don’t look now but Julio is in a great spot again.  If you’re team #NeverJulio that’s fine too.  I feel compelled at this point to chase the Julio touchdown regression.

Michael Thomas: Thomas has caught an insane 38 of 40 targets through two weeks and now gets to face a Giants secondary that has nobody that can contain him.

Jarvis Landry: Landry has target totals of 15, 7, and 15 this season and now has a quarterback that will throw into tight windows down the field.


 (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Eric Ebron: DK $3,600 / FD $5,500

With Jack Doyle out last week we expected a spike in both production and opportunity from Ebron.  In typical Ebron fashion, he disappointed, totaling 33 scoreless yards on 5 catches.  The good news though is that Ebron played 88 percent of the snaps and received 11 targets from noodle armed Andrew Luck.

The Texans ranked 32nd in Football Outsiders, DVOA against tight ends this season.  Given the opportunity, match-up, and price Ebron is safe for cash games again this week.

Other Cash Game Tight Ends to Consider

Jared Cook: Cook had a touchdown taken off the board due to a penalty last week and I’m not sold that the Browns have solved their problems against tight ends from a season ago where they ranked 32nd in DVOA against the tight end position per Football Outsiders.

Ben Watson: The cheapest way to get exposure to the Saints offense is via Watson.  Ben had a season-high six targets last week and produced a 5/71 line.  Watson will continue to fly under the radar until he scores a TD.  The Giants rank mid-pack against tight ends this year after allowing a tight end to score a touchdown in an unfathomable 10 straight games a season ago.


Green Bay: DK $3,500 / FD $4,300

After looking like a team that had zero chance of winning an NFL game through 2 weeks the Bills proved Chris Berman was right all of those years and that nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

Despite last weeks improbable victory the Bills lackluster offensive weapons and shoddy offensive line keep them as a target for opposing defenses.

Chicago: DK $2,600 / FD $4,300

Facing off against a quarterback that has thrown for 400 yards in three straight games is a bit scary but I’m not afraid to do it with this Bears defense.  The Bears have a fierce pass rush and have recorded 14 sacks and forced 8 turnovers through two games.  The Bucs have not shown any ability to run the ball which should create plenty of chances for Khalil Mack to get after Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday.

Injury Situations to Monitor

Keenan Allen – Allen appeared to bang his knee up towards the end of last weeks game against the Rams and has proceeded to sit out both Wednesday and Thursday.  His absence would be a boost to both Mike and Tyrell Williams.  Also, indirectly more targets in the short to intermediate area may flow to Melvin Gordon and uber productive Austin Eckler.

Doug Baldwin – Baldwin has returned to practice this week and says he’s good to go.  It remains unclear if the medical staff agrees but his return would push Tyler Lockett back outside where he’d see more of Patrick Peterson.

Randall Cobb – Cobb popped up on the Thursday injury report with a hamstring.  I haven’t seen anything definitive on if this is a new injury or just a maintenance day for the veteran.  Cobb has a great match-up in the slot against the Bills if he’s good to go this week.

Sean Lee – Dallas is going to be without Sean Lee this week.  Via The Quant Edge injury splits the Cowboys allowed 4.88 yards per carry without Lee last season compared to just 3.52 with Lee.

Thanks for reading everyone. Best of luck this week!


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