We’re back at it again! Week 6 is here and we’re squarely in the middle of the NFL grind, trying to make a profit in our cash games. This week sets up as an interesting one with so many projected blowouts. That means a ton of potential late-game rushing opportunities, and adversely, garbage time for those teams trailing. It’s shaping up to be a week where there’s going to be a ton of diversity in cash game lineup construction. Let’s get right to it and look at which players are in superior matchups and make for strong plays.
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When I first started looking at this slate, I was amazed at how many quarterbacks that I believed were viable options. I’ve mentioned it several times here, but in cash games, I don’t think it’s necessary to pay up at the quarterback position. In fact, paying down is a great way to create some salary relief without sacrificing too many fantasy points considering the typical range of outomes for quarterback scoring performances.
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That leads me to Kevin Hogan ($4,600). Hogan took over for DeShone Kizer last week in the second half of the Browns’ game, completing 16-of-19 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He also picked up an additional 30 yards on the ground rushing. Accuracy is what led the Cleveland coaching staff to benching Kizer, and after last week’s performance, Hogan looked to have it in spades. He’ll now take on a Texans team that is currently a 10-point home favorite, but will play against a defense that’s been decimated by injuries lately. Priced at just $4,600, it won’t take much for Hogan to reach cash value (3x) given his rushing upside and plus-accuracy against what should be a mostly prevent defense in the second half.
There’s some interesting mid-range priced quarterbacks, but two who have grabbed my attention are Kirk Cousins ($6,800) and Deshaun Watson ($6,700). Cousins and the Redskins are playing the 49ers at home where they are an anticipated 11-point favorite. Given Rob Kelley’s injury status and Samaje Perine’s ineffectiveness, it wouldn’t shock me to see Washington’s gameplan to center around the passing game as the way to move the ball. Cousins has so many viable options it’s hard to decipher which one may lead the team in targets; I’d lean foregoing any kind of stacking and rollout naked Cousins. This 49ers secondary should be an easy one for him to pick apart.
Watson has been a revelation to begin the year, posting highly efficient numbers throwing the ball (8.3 percent TD rate) and rushing the ball (22-179-2). He gets a cupcake matchup against the Browns, who are allowing their opponents to complete a league-leading 74.0 percent of their passes. Each quarterback they’ve played has scored multiple touchdowns against them. It’s difficult to argue against starting Watson considering how hot he’s been to start the year and the plus matchup he has.
This is going to be a wild week in cash games. There’s an argument to be made for each of the top-six highest priced running backs in cash. There’s also a tremendous number of value plays for us to take advantage of and build some incredible lineups. The value combined with the vast selection of plays is really going to differentiate cash lineup construction and we could see a very wide range of outcomes in 50/50s and Double Ups this week.
Le’Veon Bell ($9,600) draws the highest price tag of the week. He and the Steelers will look to rebound at Arrowhead Stadium after last week’s disaster of a game. The Chiefs have allowed the second-fewest DK points to opposing running backs to start the year. Most of that is led by the team allowing just 17 receptions to the RB position — tied with Seattle for the fewest in the league. They’ve held James White (3-30-0), Darren Sproles (2-30-0), and Chris Thompson (1-4-0) to quiet receiving games, despite all of their teams facing negative game scripts with the Chiefs being the only 5-0 team. Coming off a 10-reception game, it’ll be interesting to see how PIT game plans for this one. I’m not taking anything for granted with this coaching staff though following last week’s disaster of a game plan.
On the other side of the ball, Kareem Hunt ($8,200) makes for a very sound play. PIT has allowed the second-most rushing yards, second-most rushing touchdowns, and third-most DK points to opposing running backs. Stacking Hunt with the KC DST looks like a solid move given Ben Roethlisberger’s performance this year.
My favorite running back to pay up for this week is Leonard Fournette ($8,000). He checks a lot of the boxes we’re looking for in cash games — playing at home, team is favored, seeing significant volume, etc. The Jaguars lead the league in rush play percentage (55.2 percent), and we’ve seen this team continue to pound the ball week after week with Fournette. He’s averaging 21.8 carries per game and 3.6 targets per game, significant volume for a running back. He’s also in a plus-matchup against a Rams defense that’s allowing the most rushing touchdowns and fourth-most rushing yards to begin the year. Stacking him and his DST against Jared Goff looks like another sound play.
Mark Ingram ($4,400) is without question the punt play that I’ll be prioritizing in my cash games. Ingram’s touch totals have climbed every single week so far (11, 12, 16, 18) and it wouldn’t shock me to see it rise a fifth consecutive week with Adrian Peterson now out of the picture. Ingram has out-snapped teammate Alvin Kamara ($4,500) 52.9 percent to 35.1 percent and out-touched him 57 to 30 to start the year, making me lean Ingram’s way over Kamara’s in cash. The line opened with the Saints being 3.5 home favorites against the Lions, and has now moved to 6. That’s some rather significant movement and something to keep an eye on as we get closer to kick off, but it’s just one more reason to lean on the Saints’ primary rusher to close out the game.
Jerick McKinnon ($4,100) will be a popular option given his price tag and the fact that’s he coming off a massive game on national television. He’s in a great matchup against the Packers and stands to benefit from negative gameflow. Bilal Powell did not practice both Wednesday and Thursday this week, trending towards an Elijah McGuire ($4,600) week. McGuire has done well in limited run, seeing double digit carries in back-to-back weeks and also will face negative gamescript against the Patriots.
There’s just so many different avenues for cash game players to pursue when it comes to the running back position. It’s shaping as a very interesting week.
I’m not sure if this is a week you need to pay up for wide receiver, but Antonio Brown ($9,300) is in an ideal matchup against the Chiefs. Brown has played the Chiefs four times in the last three years (including playoffs). He’s averaged a 5.8-92-0.75 stat line over that span. Brown runs 53 percent of his routes from the left side, which should allow him to spend most of his day against Terrance Mitchell and avoid Marcus Peters. Mitchell has manned almost exclusively the right side of the field, lining up there 89 percent of the time. He has been credited with the most receiving yards allowed in coverage among all CBs to start the year (414). Brown could have a field day against him.
The mid-priced wide receivers this week can be some difference makers in cash games. Golden Tate ($6,800) and Larry Fitzgerald ($6,800) should both be in great spots here, respectively. Tate can tear up the slot against Kenny Vaccaro, who is allowing the second-most yard per route covered (2.02). Fitzgerald should be in a shootout at home with the Buccaneers. Fitz will run wild against slot CB Robert McClain, our No. 106 graded corner out of 109 qualifying.
Jarvis Landry ($6,600) has started this year with target totals of 15, 11, 7, and 10. He’ll take on an Atlanta team that is currently an 11.5-point home favorite. That should lead to some significant garbage time for Landry to whoop on slot CB Brian Poole. Poole has allowed the third-most receiving yards out of the slot so far this year and has allowed 18-of-24 targets to be caught against him. Garbage time fantasy points are still fantasy points last time I checked, and Landry should have no problem picking them up this week.
Pierre Garcon ($6,300) returns to Washington and is also in line for some garbage time fantasy points as major underdogs. Garcon has 10, 8, and 11 targets over the last three weeks and could do some damage against a Josh Norman-less secondary.
Davante Adams ($5,700) has an ideal matchup on the outside against Trae Waynes. Waynes has allowed the fifth-most receptions and seventh-most receiving yards in coverage to start the year. He’s allowing 0.36 fantasy points per route covered – eighth-worst among all boundary corners. He’s currently our 90th-ranked corner. Adams is averaging 7.8 targets per game and has scored four touchdowns already. I’d expect Aaron Rodgers to shy away from Xavier Rhodes’ shadow coverage on Jordy Nelson and focus on Adams instead.
I’m not a huge proponent of paying down at WR, but there’s a case to be made for Ricardo Louis ($3,900). He has the second-highest value on the main slate according to our DFS Lineup Optimizer. Louis has had 8 and 9 targets the last two weeks, playing on 80.1 percent of the team’s snaps. That’s a huge jump from Weeks 1-3 where he saw a total of 11 targets and played on 49.1 percent of the snaps. Houston’s secondary hasn’t been anything to write home about, and Louis has a beatable matchup against the Houston boundary corners.
Last week was tough for tight ends. This week there seems to be a case to be made for every price range. That’s just how things go in the NFL.
Tinkering with cash lineups throughout the week is a natural process for many DFS players, but the one consistent play I’ve been leaving in my lineup is Zach Miller ($2,900). Miller saw 7 targets from Mitch Trubisky last week in the rookie QB’s debut, garnering a 27 percent target market share. The Bears are 6.5-point road dogs and will be forced to pass in this game. The Ravens aren’t a liability against covering tight ends per se, but that Marcedes Lewis three-score game is difficult to get out of my mind. Miller’s cheap price allows a lot of flexibility in roster construction.
I’m also very keen on Cameron Brate ($3,900) and the Tampa Bay offense this week. Arizona just let Zach Ertz pick up 6-61-1 on 12 targets last week. Six of Brate’s 22 targets have come from inside the red zone, and it’s paying dividends. He currently leads the team with three touchdowns (scoring in three-straight games) and it wouldn’t shock me to see him reach the end zone again in this potential shootout.
It’s not often we see so many double-digit spreads in a week. There are currently four that fit that bill and a fifth game (NE-NYJ) at 9.5. I’ve already mentioned the Chiefs ($3,200) and Jaguars ($3,600) as teams I’m interested in. Other cash game defenses to consider include the Falcons ($3,500), Texans ($3,900), and the Patriots ($3,300). Looks like a good week to pay up at the DST position.