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 amateur DFS players are cash games (H2H’s, 50-50’s, Double Up’s). Below is a look back at my cash game lineup from Week 14. An accurate analysis can provide a foundation for future winnings.
Eli Manning (QB) – He was practically free at only $500 above the minimum. He was at home and though Dallas was 10-1, they don’t have a dominate pass defense. Going against a strong run defense and being a slight home-underdog, I believed the Giants would take to the air. The Cowboys had given up 20 TD’s and an average of 285 passing yards to opponents this year. I personally don’t like Eli. I don’t like the Giants. He hasn’t had a particularly strong fantasy season so far with an average of 16.5 DK points, but he had 19.5 points in the first meeting and had 5 straight games of 13+ points so it is not like he’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. I typically pay down at quarterback because the gap between the top-tier performers and lower-tier performers is not as wide as RB or WR. Did I mention he was PRACTICALLY FREE?!? Man, I still don’t like Eli.
Devontae Freeman (RB) – Atlanta was fairly big road favorite against the Jeff Fisher-led (but soon to be not-led) Rams. The Rams have been a train-wreck and Atlanta is firing on all cylinders. More importantly, the Falcons top two WRs (including all-world, Julio Jones) were going to miss this game. Freeman had scored 20+ points (including 2 TDs) in each of the last two weeks against good run defenses in Kansas City and Arizona. I loved Freeman in this spot against a dysfunctional team where he projected for a huge usage, especially if the Falcons got up early. I liked him almost as much as Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson and so I was okay taking him instead of fitting both of the studs in the lineup. Tevin Coleman was a slight concern but Freeman has 11 red zone carries and has gotten the ball more in the last two weeks since Coleman’s return.
David Johnson (RB) – I have played DJ every week this season except for the Jets and Vikings because they had great run defenses. He went for 37.8 and 38.0 points, respectively in those two games. I now play DJ no matter what. He was a lock for me even before seeing the opponent. He is game-flow independent. If Arizona is winning, he is the bell cow back. If Arizona is trailing, he becomes the WR target. He was tied with Odell with 34 targets in the last three weeks. Did I mention David Johnson NO MATTER WHAT?!?
Jeremy Hill (FLEX) – Starting RB against the Brownies who is getting heavy usage is a must-consider. Since I am not a fan of Hill’s, the price was a little steep but it’s Cleveland for Pete’s sake – don’t over think it. He is not real efficient or good, but don’t isn’t always important in DFS. In cash games, usage/volume (and to an extent opponent) is everything. High usage vs. the Brownies – CHECK! In 5 of his last 6 games, he reached double-digit DK points, which made him a safe play for cash with some upside potential since it was against the BROWNIES!
Jamison Crowder (WR) – I don’t normally like Washington WR’s for cash games because you don’t always know who is going to get the volume in certain games. But rostering DJ limited options a little bit. With all of that said, I really like Crowder. He has had at least 85 yards and/or a TD in the last seven games. He has had double-digit DK points in all but one game this year. That is Erik Decker like production and I loved me some Erik Decker in cash games. Jamison was a good bet to reach value and possibly have upside against a struggling Philadelphia secondary. His consistent performance this year made me comfortable even with the spread it out tendencies of the Washington passing game.
Jordan Matthews (WR) – He was coming off a slight injury that limited him in Week 13 but in weeks 9-12, he saw 10+ targets in every game. I didn’t figure he’d see much of Josh Norman as he doesn’t go out of his way to cover slot receivers. Cash game is all about volume and I expected Matthews to get a lot of it.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR) – He was coming off a bad performance at Jacksonville but that was with rookie QB Paxton Lynch. With Trevor Simien returning, I anticipated he would receive a good deal of targets and they might be more accurate. He got 9 targets in the Jacksonville game but only caught 3. Going into Week 14, he had 9+ targets in five straight games. He also had a monster game of 32 DK points in Week 12 against the Chiefs. Talented player receiving a high volume – sign me up!
Jason Witten (TE) – I hate Tight Ends in fantasy football. I probably hate them more than kickers. Don’t get me wrong, I love TE’s in real life. I don’t think the majority of coaches utilize them enough, especially when they have a struggling or young quarterback. However, real life is not fantasy. In fantasy, I hate Tight Ends. They are inconsistent. Ladarius Green was the chalk but I didn’t like him enough to roster him. I thought Tyler Eifert and Cameron Brate had a ton of upside but wanted to use them for tournaments (by the way, my Eifert lineups won me some money because – CLEVELAND). That led me to good OLD reliable Jason Witten. Per Al Ziedenfeld, Witten has been a top-5 TE on the week in each of the past 8 games vs. the Giants. This year, in the opening vs. the Giants, Witten saw 14 targets and accumulated 15.6 DK points. At a low $3,100, this was a pretty easy decision. Essentially he’d only have to catch 5 passes for 45 yards to meet value.
Colts (DST) – Defense/Special Team touchdowns are tough to predict. That doesn’t stop me from trying, however. I really liked Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans) and Minnesota (vs. Mr. Pick-6 Blake Bortles) this week. But I decided to use them in tournaments because of the potential high upside. I really liked my roster and was looking for a DST to fit in that I could stomach. I eventually settled on the Colts. They were a home favorite which meant the opponent would be forced to play catchup and air out the ball. Their opponent in Week 14? One of the more mistake-prone quarterbacks in the NFL, Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans. I didn’t love the pick but I could live with it.
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 week 15. Before submitting my lineup in Week 14, I ask myself if I can live with every selection I made and whether or not the selection has sound rationale.
I decided to go with only one of the dynamic duo, which would allow me to plug in three mid-priced WRs instead of trying to gamble at those positions. With having Freeman as someone that I liked almost as much as Bell and DJ, that made me feel more comfortable going into Sunday and allowed me to have a balanced with lineup with a decent floor and a high ceiling. I have no regrets taking DJ over Bell (though I am leaning toward using both for Week 15, but that is because I don’t love someone like I did Freeman).
Hindsight is 20-20, however, was the outcome a result of variance or a bad process? I have won 65% of my H2H’s this year since developing my process. My score wasn’t great this week but I still won 52% of my H2H’s. 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.