Those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it. One of the best ways to improve is to analyze what you’ve done previously. Large field tournaments that pay out a million dollars are quite sexy but the smart play for most DFS players are cash games (H2H’s, 50-50’s, Double Up’s). Cash games are the best way to build up your bankroll. Below is a look back at my cash game lineup from Week 1 in order to be better in Week 2. An accurate analysis can provide a foundation for future winnings.
David Johnson & Le’Veon Bell (RB) – Last week your entire offense started with the decision of what you would do with these guys. I made the decision early on that I would be on Team Jam ‘Em In and play both. The Detroit Lions were 29th in the NFL last year at defending running backs through the air. David Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and 4 touchdowns … as a running back. Those statistics would have ranked him as a top-35 fantasy WR. Overall, he averaged 26.6 DK pts last year. In his final six games that he was healthy, he earned 30+ DK pts four times. His matchup with Detroit is juicy. Le’Veon Bell averaged 28.0 DK pts last season, including dropping 37.1 on the Browns. He might even be a better receiver out of the backfield than DJ (if that is possible) since his average depth of target was -0.1 and he averaged 6.9 yards per target. In other words, he usually caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and gained at least 7 yards. That is remarkable. They are the best RBs in the NFL and had great matchups. Paying up for both of them gave me the highest floor possible (in theory).
Larry Fitzgerald (WR) – He led the NFL in receptions last year with 107. He is a workout machine. He is well-respected. He has great hands. He’s as tough as they get. His quarterback, by all accounts, was playing well leading up to the first game against a bad Detroit secondary. In the first game of the 2016 season, he put up 28 DK pts against New England! His floor was high and he has touchdown upside because of his hands and strength. Besides, Fitz should be going against Quadre Diggs, who was ranked 94 out of 110 cornerbacks (according to Pro Football Focus). Not only did he have a high floor, but I thought he could also possibly be the highest scoring WR of the week. He was going to be chalk for a reason.
Kendall Wright (WR) – I didn’t want to play Kendall Wright but his price was too low. Realize that not all penny stocks are good values and you can even lose money on a penny stock. All starting players that are close to minimum priced are not guaranteed to hit value even though they are dirt cheap. With Wright, I felt confident that he’d be targeted quite a bit and when you are talking about cash games, it is all about volume and opportunity. In 2013, Dowell Loggains was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans when Kendall Wright went for a career-high 1,079 reception yards. Wright averaged 8.7 targets that year. The pair have been reunited in Chicago and there was no clear cut #1 receiver. he is a slot receiver going against a Falcons team that is not overpowering in the secondary. This game was also one of the highest projected totals of the day so I thought that this was a no-brainer.
Zach Ertz (TE) – Zach Ertz will be the chalk at Tight End for cash games among the top players. If you are not playing him in your cash games then you probably need to re-examine your process. You can easily fade him in tournaments because his ownership might be too high but not cash. He is too stinkin’ cheap and way too talented to ignore this week. The Redskins allowed the 2nd most amount of catches last year to TE’s. Jordan Matthews is gone and he played a lot in the slot so that part of the field (where a TE is normally hanging out) should be more open. Ertz averaged 10 targets per game in the last 7 games of 2016 as rookie QB Carson Wentz finally started to get comfortable. He also had 24.2 DK pts against Washington last December. This was a free space.
Los Angeles Rams (DST) – I usually pay down at DST if I can find someone that I am comfortable with. I was not comfortable with anyone below the Rams. I considered the Cardinals because I always like the Cardinals, but was concerned about playing the high-powered Lions in Detroit and I rarely play road defenses. The Colts couldn’t protect Andrew Luck so they definitely weren’t going to protect Scott Tolzein. Picking a DST is all about getting a team that can get pressure on the QB. Once that happens, all kinds of bad can happen. The Colts are bad and the Rams have an aggressive defense. I liked Houston the most as I thought they would go crazy on Jacksonville but there was no way that I could get up to them.
Brian Hoyer (QB) – I was on the Carson Wentz bandwagon for most of the week. He was the pick of most of the experts that I trust. But once I made the decision to be on Team Jam ‘Em In and play both Bell and DJ, then that forced me on to some other plays. I like Hoyer. I think he has been a decent QB and last year, he had three 20+ DK pt games in the five that he played in. I liked the idea of him being reunited with offensive genius Kyle Shanahan. Plus I thought that this would be shoot out with the 49ers being forced to throw a lot.
Carlos Hyde (FLEX) – Hyde had scored two touchdowns in the season opener each of the last two years. He can catch balls out of the backfield. There was no viable back-up in San Francisco so Hyde looked like a workhorse back. I also trust a Kyle Shanahan offense to find creative ways to get the ball to his talent. Carolina’s defensive front was a little worrisome but figured when the 49ers got down in the second half that Hyde would become more of a pass-catching option. His $4,600 price was too good to pass up.
Pierre Garcon (WR) – This was the pick that I struggled with the most because I didn’t want a third 49er in my cash lineup but I couldn’t find another receiver that I felt as comfortable with. I considered Cooper Kupp, Paul Richardson, Robby Anderson and Rishard Matthews but none of them gave me the security of a slot receiver who went over 1,000 yards last season.
RECAP – As usual, am I results-oriented or process-oriented? This was easily a week that could cause me to panic and have a knee-jerk reaction for next week. Once I locked in the 6 players that I did, my lineup came down to three decisions. There is nothing that I would do differently once I locked my 6 spots in. I could have gone with Kizer at QB but that actually would have put me on the Texans and would not have changed the outcome. Besides, I wasn’t high on Kizer like some of the experts were. Carlos Hyde was practically a lock for me, as well but I did leave him as an option if I could make a safer pick.
A case could be made that my process was flawed since the three players I was making a decision about were all 49ers. If you are deciding on 49ers and end up picking them then you might not be that smart. However, I think all three of them were good cash game plays. In retrospect, there was too much question about them as a group and you should rarely be questioning yourself about your cash lineups. You should have a strong degree of confidence. It is not like I had three Steelers or Falcons. That was a flaw. I should have picked one or two and left it at that. Even if I liked them better individually than other options, as a collective whole, there was too much risk putting so many eggs in the same basket.
The only way to dominate this past week was to have the Jaquars or Rams DST and then having McCoy or Gurley. I really liked McCoy. He was my third favorite RB but I didn’t feel that he was priced low enough when compared with Bell or DJ. I didn’t trust Todd Gurley for cash even though he was in a good situation because we’ve seen that before and be disappointed. He was in a lot of my GPP lineups just in case but not cash. Even if I had went with McCoy or Gurley to save money and get a better QB, I would have picked Le’Veon Bell over DJ (though it would be like picking your favorite child) when it came down to it because of the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns. My results would not have been better.
Hindsight is 20-20, however, was the outcome a result of variance or a bad process? No logical person could have predicted that Bell and DJ would both be busts this year. Most logical people would say that having three 49ers in a cash lineup was risky. I won only 48% of my H2H’s (after winning 60% last year). Each week, thousands of DFS players are burdened with the “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda”, but we can’t be stressed by this. Having a trustworthy process and believing in your research is a long-term +EV.