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NFL DFS Cash Game Plays

by Justin Bailey
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Week 4 was interesting as Devonta Freeman found pay dirt three times for the second week in a row and a lot of the “safe” plays didn’t really pan out in the manner that we thought they would. Aaron Rodgers managed just 16.26 points, which isn’t going to cripple you, but you’re looking for more output than that with his salary. Salaries will begin to tighten as we progress through the season, so every roster move we make is crucial to have success in our cash games. We’re not only targeting consistency, but value as well. Now let’s get to Week 5!

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Tom Brady ($8,800): It’s hard not to like Tom Brady when he has been absolutely torching opposing defenses this season. The Patriots are featured with an implied team total of 29.75 points, the highest on the slate. Brady has passed for the seventh-most passing yards this season. That might not sound that impressive, but he’s done that in three games, while everyone ahead of him has played in at least four games. The Cowboys pass defense is below-average as Football Outsiders has them ranked 20th in adjusted DVOA and at this point it really doesn’t matter whom Brady is matched up against. The Patriots have 49 red zone plays, tied for third-most in the league; Brady should see plenty of scoring opportunities against a middling Dallas defense.


Philip Rivers ($7,500): Phillip Rivers often goes overlooked in cash games, but in the right spot, Rivers can thrive. Using the RotoViz efficiency app, Rivers has been the second-most efficient quarterback in terms of fantasy points in 2015, second to Carson Palmer. Efficiency output is one of the more crucial stats I look at when constructing my DFS lineups.  What makes Rivers most appealing to me is how much they pass inside the red zone. The Chargers have run 25 plays inside the red zone and have thrown the ball 16 of those 25 times. San Diego has scored 82 percent of their touchdowns in the red zone via passing plays. All these factors contribute to why I like Rivers as a cash game quarterback this week.


Le’Veon Bell ($9,000): Really, you could lock in Jamaal Charles or Le’Veon Bell. What it comes down to, is price. Both running backs are in great spots, but if you need to save the $100, just go with Bell. The Chargers rank 29th in Football Outsiders adjusted DVOA efficiency metric when it comes to stopping opposing running backs and they’ve given up the fourth-most rushing yards through four weeks. On top of that, they’re allowing 4.9 yards per attempt on the ground, dead last in the league. Bell received 29 total touches (seven receptions) in his first start with Michael Vick under center. This offense is going to funnel through Bell while Big Ben remains sidelined.


Justin Forsett: ($7,200): With the absence of Steve Smith, this offense is going to have to funnel through Justin Forsett. It also helps that the Browns are the next team on the schedule for the Ravens. Forsett is one of eight running backs that boast 62 percent or more of the market share of carries for his team, which is the sort of volume we like to see in our running backs. Cleveland has a tough time stopping the run as they’ve given up the second-most rushing yards on the season and allow 4.8 yards per attempt, the second most in the league. The Ravens are 6.5-point favorites at home and Forsett leads Ravens running backs with eight red zone touches through four weeks. The stars should align for Forsett on Sunday to make him a viable cash game play.


Julio Jones ($9,200): The Falcons jumped out to a giant lead on Sunday after Freeman trotted in for three touchdowns. As a result, Julio Jones had a relatively quiet game. Julio ended up playing just 55 percent of the snaps on Sunday because he wasn’t really needed. I won’t be targeting Freeman this week because Washington has one of the best front-7’s in the NFL. Washington hasn’t allowed more than 85 yards to an opposing backfield this season. Since they’re strong up front, I am looking to roster Jones if I can make it work with roster construction. Jones is averaging 13 targets per game, second to DeAndre Hopkins. Jones could be in a perfect funnel spot against Washington because of their strength up front. These are prime spots to get receivers for our DFS rosters. It’s hard to ignore a player who receives 36 percent of the market share of targets on his team and you probably don’t need me to convince you that Julio is a great play in any given week.


Jordan Matthews ($6,800): I know Jordan Matthews has been disappointing the last few weeks, but I’m not going to be quick to dismiss him. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment at this point. However, I am more likely to use a player in DFS coming off a bad game than I am someone coming off a good game. Their price is usually depressed and recency bias is in full effect among a hefty majority of DFS players. Sam Bradford just missed Matthews on a deep ball that would’ve gone for a touchdown and it would totally change the way people view Matthews this week. I can’t ignore the volume that Matthews has been receiving. Matthews has 38 targets on the season, averaging 9.5 targets per game with the Eagles. Matthews has 22 more targets than the next closest wide receiver, Nelson Agholor. The matchup against the Saints is a great one as they rank 32nd in adjusted DVOA against the pass and 27th against No. 1 wide receivers. The Eagles run the second-quickest offense, averaging 22.42 seconds per play, which provides a nice little boost each week. The combination of target volume and the amount of plays the Eagles run on offense is going to keep Matthews in play for me most weeks.


Rob Gronkowski: ($8,400): At this point, it doesn’t matter how expensive Rob Gronkowski is, or who he is playing. Gronk’s price aligns with a high-end WR1 at $8,400. Rostering Gronk will give you a major advantage at tight end over the DFS players who decide to fade him. But the opportunity cost comes into play because the tight end position usually is a position where you can get away with trying to save some cap room to go expensive at the other skill positions. It really just comes down to your read on the other players and games. Usually if I run two cash lineups, I’ll run one lineup with Gronk and the other without him. Gronk is second on the team in market share at 21 percent and he has seven red zone targets, tied for the most with Julian Edelman. Per Pro Football Focus, Gronk has run 110 pass routes and he’s being targeted on 25.5 percent of his routes, fourth-best in the league. Gronk has four of Tom Brady’s nine touchdowns on the season and he’s always a threat to have a multi-touchdown game. He has potential to have lineup-saving weeks and should always be in consideration.


Derek Carrier ($4,500): If I don’t pay up for Gronk, there’s a strong chance I am paying all the way down to Derek Carrier. Jordan Reed is going to miss to some time and Carrier will be the next guy up. Carrier is 6’3” 241 pounds and he can run a 4.55 40-yard dash. Per Player Profiler, Carrier had a 66 percent dominator rating where anything over 30 percent is considered amazing for a tight end. On the season, Kirk Cousins has targeted tight ends 39 times. If Cousin’s target volume towards Reed even transitions a little towards Carrier, he could be in line to see anywhere between four and eight targets on Sunday. If you’re going to punt a skill position in DFS, it makes sense to punt the most volatile one there is.

Justin Bailey
Justin Bailey has been working with Rotoworld since 2015. His stat-forward analysis can also be found on FantasyLabs and 4for4. Follow him on Twitter - @justinbailey32.