DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports)

DraftKings Week 1 Cash Game Plays

Week 1 has finally arrived and it’s time to dissect salaries and set a DraftKings Week 1 cash game lineup. The first week of DFS will perennially present ample amounts of value. DraftKings salaries were released in early August and many player situations have changed since then. This inefficient pricing affords us the unique opportunity to roster multiple studs.

If you missed the primer to this article, I’ll examine which players check the required cash game boxes. There are certain criteria that have been statistically proven to correlate with fantasy performance. We’ll try to identify the players that meet them.

DraftKings Week 1 Cash Game Plays


Carson Wentz ($5,300)

Boxes Checked: Favorite, team-implied total, value play, projected game script.

In cash games, I recommend lower priced quarterbacks the majority of the time. Quarterbacks aren’t competing with other players for touches, therefore their production doesn’t have the wide range of outcomes found at other positions. This week that’s especially important because we have some studs to play at running back. I’ll start by saying Wentz is on the road, which is not optimal, but he is on the favored team with a 25-point implied point total. The Game Splits App shows that Wentz was nearly three fantasy points better as a favorite last season. Wentz seemed to improve coming down the stretch in his rookie season, hitting 3X value on DraftKings in five of his final seven games, including road matchups against the Seahawks and Bengals. The Eagles have also added a solid red zone target in Alshon Jeffery. Wentz doesn’t need much to meet value; 250 yards and two touchdowns would suffice. The bottom line is Wentz doesn’t check a number of boxes we normally like in a cash game play, but he is solid enough at his depressed price.


Carson Palmer ($6,000)

Boxes Checked: Matchup, team implied total, favorite, touchdowns inside 10, projected game script.

The Cardinals will be on the road, but at least it’s in a dome at one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The Lions allowed quarterbacks to torch them at home in 2016, surrendering an average of 18 fantasy points per week to opposing QBs, which is 3X for Palmer this week. In addition, the Cardinals are favored, which is a positive for cash game QBs. They also have a team implied total of 25 points. I’m even fine pairing Palmer with David Johnson and trying to capture all of the Cardinals touchdowns with the hope that Johnson may catch one from Palmer. Palmer tied for third in touchdown passes inside the 10-yard line and David Johnson also ranked high in red zone usage. The bottom line is the Cardinals can score in a hurry so there should be plenty of opportunity for both players to cash in. The game should remain close, which will require Palmer to throw until the very end. The reasonable price on DraftKings sets Palmer apart from some of the other high priced options.


Running Back

David Johnson ($9,400)

Boxes Checked: Market share of carries, market share of targets, carries inside the 5, game-script independent, team implied total, favorite.

We need to target bellcows in cash games in order to lock in all the touch opportunity they provide. Johnson commanded a huge market share of both carries and targets in 2016 and that trend should continue. Johnson saw a 75 percent market share of red zone carries, 21 percent share of red zone targets, and a 20 percent share of total passing targets. Johnson was only one of two RBs to have more than 20 carries inside the five yard line. He’s a focal point of the Cardinals offense and guarantees high-floor production with huge touchdown potential. The matchup against the Lions is one that we need not worry about, mainly because of Johnson’s game script independence. The Cardinals have an implied total of around 24 points, which isn’t the highest of the week, but still a good total. Get Johnson in your lineup and figure everything else out around him.

 CarriesCarries RankTouchdownsTouchdown RankMarket ShareMarket Share Rank
Inside the 5222nd121st81.5%1st
Inside the 10332nd132nd80.5%1st
Inside the 20532nd142nd73.62nd

Le’Veon Bell ($9,800)

Boxes Checked: Market share of carries, market share of targets,  defensive matchup, game-script independent, team implied total.

I normally wouldn’t write up the two most expensive  running backs, but the early salary release has created some inefficient pricing. There is enough value at other positions that cramming Johnson and Bell into your cash game lineup can work. Like Johnson, Bell is game-script independent, but it never hurts to be a 9-point favorite. In addition, the Steelers have an implied point total of 28.25, the second highest on the slate. Although we tend to prefer home favorites, Bell averages more yards and touchdowns on the road in his career, so that’s not going to keep us off him. The Browns had a measly rate of just six percent tackles for loss, meaning they didn’t get much penetration in 2016. The absence of Myles Garrett also helps Bell.

LeSean McCoy ($8,200)

Boxes Checked: Home favorite, team implied total, projected game script, matchup, market share of carries, market share of RB targets.

Another running back with a monster salary? LeSean McCoy is in as great a spot as Bell and Johnson and provides some savings. Game script should be in McCoy’s favor as the Bills are are currently 8-point home favorites with an implied team total of 24. McCoy should be in line for added goal line work as well. McCoy only carried the ball on 31 percent of the Bills plays from inside the 5-yard line last year. However, the Bills have let go of everyone McCoy had to compete with for carries and passing targets. The Jets’ defense seems to be in rebuilding mode as well. The only reservation I can think of when it comes to McCoy is that the Jets stack the box in an attempt to stop the only offensive weapon the Bills have left. That’s not enough for me to shy away from Shady.  You can’t roster all three of the stud backs listed thus far, but you should have two of them.

Todd Gurley ($6,000)

Boxes checked: Home favorite, projected game script, matchup, market share of carries, red zone carries.

Todd Gurley is in a great spot to open the 2017 season. The Rams are a home favorite against the Colts who were gashed by running backs last year. The Colts didn’t do much to shore up their defense. The Rams have an implied point total of 22.5, which is about as low as I can go and still feel comfortable with a player in cash. Gurley’s recommendation comes with a bit more qualitative than quantitative support. The Rams don’t have much behind Gurley, so he should be in line for an even higher rate of red zone carries that his 70+ percent from last season. Preseason targets and some coach speak lead us to believe that Gurley will play more on passing downs and be more of a pass catcher this season. At only $6K, I like Gurley’s odds to hit 3X value.


Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin ($6,900)

Boxes checked: Team implied total, game script, projected targets, projected red zone targets, depth of target, match up.

You can afford Doug Baldwin only if you aren’t cramming in Bell and Johnson, which is fine. The Seahawks are hovering near a 24-point implied point total. They are also projected to lose, which means potentially extra pass plays down the stretch in an attempt to play catch-up. Baldwin will undoubtedly lead the team in target market share. He could even see a bump from last year’s 25 percent target market share and 21 percent red zone target market share due to the departure of the Seahawks’ third option, Jermaine Kearse. The Seahawks threw in the red zone 57 percent of the time last year. I think this game can be a sneaky shootout that results in Baldwin getting double digit targets. Aside from Jimmy Graham, no one else is commanding targets in Seattle. If you have the cap space, Baldwin is about as high as I care to venture in terms of high priced receivers this week. He is a luxury though, not a necessity.

Pierre Garcon ($5,300)

Boxes Checked: Projected market share of targets, depth of targets, projected game script, home team, team-implied total.

Pierre Garcon caught my eye in the “dress rehearsal” Week 3 preseason game. Brian Hoyer locked onto him often which resulted in six receptions on seven targets. It’s difficult to say that Garcon will dominate the target share in San Francisco before the regular season begins, but one look at the depth chart and it’s obvious that should be the case. Garcon will be running the types of routes I target for cash games, the ones that don’t have a wide range of outcomes. Garcon works the short to intermediate routes which have a high catch rate resulting in a high floor for fantasy receivers. The wide receiver position is one that can benefit from garbage time, especially in PPR format. According to the Vegas lines, the 49ers will be trailing in this game as five-point dogs with a 22-point implied total. I think Garcon is in for a big target share. I also think the 49ers will have to throw often which sets up well for him.

Kendall Wright ($3,200)

Boxes checked: Projected market share of targets, depth of targets, projected game script, home team.

If we’re jamming in two stud running backs, we need salary savers elsewhere. With the injury to Cameron Meredith, massive value opened up in the Bears’ passing game for Week 1. I’m going with Wright over Kevin White because of the savings and the nature of his targets. Wright should see the short to intermediate work out of the slot, and he should also see a sizeable market share of targets. In addition, the game script should allow for a garbage time bump in receptions. Vegas projects the Bears to lose by about a touchdown. Chicago’s implied team total isn’t ideal at 21.25 points, but Wright is almost minimum priced, and we really don’t need a touchdown for value. Wright can smash value with just 60 yards on six receptions.

Tight End

Zach Ertz ($3,500)

Boxes Checked: Projected target market share, depth of targets, favorite.

The tight end position in cash games starts and ends with Zach Ertz. He’ll most likely be extremely chalky, but his current price doesn’t reflect the trade of Jordan Matthews. In the two games Matthews sat out last year, Ertz scored 22.9 and 41.9 fantasy points. Matthews not only leaves targets on the table for Ertz, but Ertz will probably occupy the same area of the field as Matthews did, the underneath routes. The Eagles are on the road but are favored with a solid implied team total of 24.25 points. Last year the Eagles spread their target market share around to several receivers, however, I think that will be different Sunday. With Josh Norman covering Alshon Jeffery, targets could be funneled Ertz’s way. The ultimate selling point, however, is the super affordable price. 



Honorable Mention

A quick note on players that just missed the cut. Bilal Powell and Carlos Hyde are solid cheap options at running back, however, their game scripts and low implied total kept them off the list. I struggled with Kendall Wright versus Robby Anderson, but ultimately the team implied total, home field advantage, and $600 savings gave Wright the nod.

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RotoViz Contributor, RotoViz
Pat has been a daily fantasy sports writer and player since 2013. Before writing for Rotoviz, his work could be found on RotoGrinders, ProjectRoto, DraftDay, FantasyPros, and Fantasy Insiders.

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