Down a Peg
Human beings often blur the line between pride and ego. I would love for someone to proclaim that I am the greatest football writer in existence, but it’s off-putting for those words to come from me. Someone on social media would likely have a clever way of exclaiming the opposite. Humble pie is lukewarm and honest, restraining one’s self of the indulgence of a buttery crust and sugary lattice.
I am incredibly proud of the person I have fought a daily internal battle to become. When others enjoy my work, it sends me into a mindless elation that can’t be retrieved from the stratosphere.
Perfection is unattainable. Greatness is bestowed by others. Applaud yourself privately. There is always someone else working harder and doing the same thing better. Now I’m just listing things my dad would repeat on our trips out of town into the hills every other weekend. His favorite was, “practice, practice, practice.” “Practice” meant golf, baseball, riflery, archery, singing, and cooking.
He wasn’t present for a lot of it after the divorce, but every other weekend was practice on the ranch. He was pushing me to get better at my interests. When the distance and resentment between us grew, I pushed myself with his voice echoing in my subconscious. This epiphany just now poured out into a paragraph. He was there. Here’s one more from Joe the milkman. “You’re going to lose…a lot…at everything. Learn from it.”
My dad didn’t prepare me for losing to my nimble friend, Scott last week. My first head-to-head loss since the Trump administration still has me reeling. What if I’m not the cash game master anymore? Instead of freefalling into a depression, I took a step back and extracted a lesson from the dismay. My other cash games were victorious, so I’m sure the fear I’ve been instilling within Scott is still alive and well (but weakened like Voldemort). We still have a bankroll to build. Let’s hop to it, starting a peg down.
Week 3 DFS Cash Plays
I have a slightly different view from the consensus on how to build winning cash lineups. Instead of focusing on players with a “high floor,” I instead focus on their expected workload. These players often have that safe floor as a result of the VOLUME of opportunities, but they also have a higher likelihood of returning the 3x+ value that most cash games require to end the day above the pay line. A smart cash player has to always consider ceiling as a part of the equation, just maybe weighted lighter than if building for a GPP. I ask myself the same question every time: Does this player’s expected volume of opportunities (EVO) have high odds of accomplishing 3 points per salary dollar, divided by 1,000 (x=3[y/1000]).
KEY INGREDIENT*** — SECRET INGREDIENT*
KYLER MURRAY: @ JACKSONVILLE ($8,300)
There just simply isn’t a reason to fade this offense, especially Murray. He is off to a similarly torrid start as he was in 2020. Don’t let the salary daunt you, this is still a bargain for a guy cracking 30 DK points every week with ease.
JOSH ALLEN: VS WASHINGTON ($7,000)***
Allen is also a wonderful tournament play this week as an undervalued quarterback with limitless upside. Washington hasn’t been a world-beating defense thus far.
JUSTIN HERBERT: @ KANSAS CITY ($6,500)
Don’t let the box score tell you that Herbert was bad against Dallas. He was razor sharp again, only to have two touchdown passes taken off the board from penalties. I would be absolutely shocked if this game doesn’t shoot out and neither team has a reliable running game. Herbert is an easy cash play.
MATTHEW STAFFORD: VS TAMPA BAY ($6,400)
Yes, the Bucs have a good defense…up front. They are nearly impossible to run on, but have been gouged through the air. The slot position has exploited a weak Tampa secondary so far. This is notable because Sean McVay’s offense operates with all of their wide receivers lining up inside the numbers most of the time. Darrell Henderson is banged up, so we might see the Rams take the same approach as the Cowboys and just air it out 50 times.
DANIEL JONES: VS ATLANTA ($5,800)
Who else knew that Danny Dimes knew the Konami Code? After 95 rushing yards against Washington, DFS players simply can’t ignore the embattled signal caller against an atrocious Falcons defense.
JUSTIN FIELDS: @ CLEVELAND ($5,200)
Matt Nagy probably still wants to roll Andy Dalton out there like the Black Knight from Monty Python, but it’s finally Justin Fields SZN. The bargain salary will likely make Fields too chalky for GPP. In cash, he’s an incredible value with extreme rushing upside. Look out for his passing ability to also shine in his debut. This will commence a massive fantasy season for the rookie Buckeye.
DERRICK HENRY: VS INDIANAPOLIS ($8,600)
There aren’t many players in the NFL that get you fired up about football more than Derrick Henry. Normally, I’d give him a fade after more than 40 touches and facing a tough Indy front. What makes this week different is my correct prediction that King Henry is now officially a part of the Titans passing game. Spend up and cash out.
AUSTIN EKELER: @ KANSAS CITY ($7,200)
Shootouts favor running backs with receiving upside. Ekeler is one of the best and still stays relatively affordable on DK, where he is a PPR cheat code. I’m expecting close to 20 touches here and if he can find the end zone again, we’re cooking with peanut oil.
JONATHAN TAYLOR: @ TENNESSEE ($6,700)***
This salary is a travesty. The Titans defense is horrible at all three levels and JT is averaging nearly 20 touches per game so far. There is no reason at all to ignore such a transcendent player in a smash spot at a crazy value.
SAQUON BARKLEY: VS ATLANTA ($6,500)
If you’ve ever taken an IQ test, there are tons of questions that judge one’s ability to detect and follow patterns. Barkley’s pattern is ascending. I hold the minority opinion that Saquon looked incredibly sharp last week. He now will have 10 days rest to ramp up to a Falcons team that lacks any defensive talent to speak of.
DEANDRE SWIFT: VS BALTIMORE ($5,800)
Pass-catching running backs. Roster them in cash. Receptions are ultra-valuable in PPR, especially when the objective is to outscore half of your opponents. Swift might be called upon even more in garbage time with Detroit’s garbage defense against Lamar Jackson et al. Swift is also due for a gargantuan slate-breaking game. Let’s see if it occurs on Sunday.
JAVONTE WILLIAMS: VS NY JETS ($4,900)
Stubbornness is a trait that I withhold for players I truly believe in. Williams is another player trending toward a breakout game. Last week, we saw another 50/50 split between him and Melvin Gordon. The young Tar Heel looked amazing again in contrast with the washed up Gordon. Follow the pattern and increasing volume. The suspense is killing me, but I’ll keep plugging Javonte into this article.
CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE: VS LA CHARGERS ($4,800)
Everyone hates CEH now. He certainly didn’t look spectacular against Baltimore, but it is worrisome that Andy Reid doesn’t trust him to be a lead back. His costly fumble really stuck in my craw, but I won’t fade a back with good hands in a shootout game, especially when his salary will quickly ascend from here.
NYHEIM HINES: @ TENNESSEE ($4,600)
I already mentioned how abysmal the Titans defense is. JT is certainly the bellcow, but Hines has carved a nice role in the playbook and his volume and upside are game flow-dependent. This is another opportunity, with an ailing Carson Wentz, for Indy to rely on YAC to get the job done.
STEFON DIGGS: VS WASHINGTON ($7,600)***
If you’re going to deploy Josh Allen, you certainly must pair him with Diggs. Allen’s funnel to Diggs is like a vacuum; a black hole of targets. Washington has been lit up through the air by lesser opponents already. The league will be on notice about the Bills again after this game.
COOPER KUPP: VS TAMPA BAY ($6,800)
Lock him in again. The connection between Kupp and Matthew Stafford is truly special already. The WR1 in fantasy is still under $7k, making for Benadryl-level chalk in GPP, but proceed with reckless abandon in cash. Kupp is just getting started.
KEENAN ALLEN: @ KANSAS CITY ($6,600)
Both Chargers stud receivers are priced well below the volume they garner every week. The matchup is tough against good Chiefs corners. That should not scare you off of Allen’s prowess from the slot, where Herbert seems to have a nice groove going already. Keenan is sure to see plenty of looks this week.
MIKE WILLIAMS: @ KANSAS CITY ($6,400)
My preseason skepticism at Williams’ ability to take over as the Chargers’ X receiver has fully transformed into an infatuation with the marriage between his new volume and old upside. It’s the power couple of the year and at $6,400, I’m gobbling it up like free pizza.
ALLEN ROBINSON: @ CLEVELAND ($6,200)
The problem with ARob in 2021 was Andy Dalton. No bones about it. Darnell Mooney was the one scooping up more targets. Dalton is a great human being, but nowhere near the football player that Justin Fields is. I look for a breakout from Robinson this week as the rookie’s go-to guy. There will be folks who also forgot how amazing ARob is, making him a nice GPP play too.
CHRIS GODWIN: @ LA RAMS ($6,100)
“God ChrisWIN” is another guy I’ll be rostering in all DFS formats. The Rams will likely have Jalen Ramsey on Mike Evans and we’re still awaiting whether Antonio Brown will be activated from the COVID-19 list ahead of the game. In any case, Godwin operates from the slot and is poised to explode against this defense. I’m baffled that his salary is so low.
STERLING SHEPARD: VS ATLANTA ($5,900)
I’m tempering my Shepard stance today, after my initial excitement to plug him into cash lineups versus Atlanta. Evan Engram is slated to return, which gives Daniel Jones another short-range weapon. This potential dip in targets is a little worrisome, but Engram is such a bad player that we might see him fade away and make way for the Shep Show. He’s clearly the best receiver on this team.
MARVIN JONES JR*: @ ARIZONA ($4,900)
My secret ingredient this week isn’t much of a secret to others as much as he is a guy I hardly ever feel like putting into play. This is the spot. Sub-$5k against a pair of cornerbacks that are well below average is a really shiny beacon. Defense will be optional in this game and neither squad figures to establish the run in fear of falling behind. Jones will fold in nicely as a WR3 or Flex in a lot of cash builds.
TYLER BOYD: @ PITTSBURGH ($4,700)
I just talked about how vanilla Boyd is as a cash play last week. He, Tee Higgins, and Jamarr Chase were all viable in cash last week. Now, with Higgins trending toward not playing, I’ll lean into Boyd as a high-volume target hog that faces a secondary playing much worse than expected so far.
KJ OSBORN: VS SEATTLE ($3,500)
Osborn has been a pleasant surprise this season. I have dubbed him this year’s Travis Fulgham. He has garnered 14 targets and plenty of production so far in Irv Smith’s absence as the third receiving option behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. The Seahawks secondary has been pretty good so far, so I’ll fade the studs and go after the young slot guy until he turns into a pumpkin.
TRAVIS KELCE: VS LA CHARGERS ($8,200)
No-brainer. Moving on. Actually, this is a very tough matchup against Derwin James and the Chargers. You just don’t fade the best in the game…ever. He will never not be a value at the position.
DARREN WALLER: VS MIAMI ($7,600)
You just don’t fade the best in the game…ever. Miami has been tough on defense, but will be without Tua Tagovailoa for this one. Vegas and Derek Carr are scorching hot. Waller will continue to be the focal point of the playbook and always brings upside with his immense volume.
TJ HOCKENSON: VS BALTIMORE ($5,200)***
Volume is king in cash games. So far, Hock has been targeted 20 times in two games. The salary is nice and disrespectful, especially considering Baltimore has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL. Hock is a lock, real talk.
KYLE PITTS: @ NY GIANTS ($4,900)
Another absolute lock is the young Gator, Pitts. The pattern is in his favor, with his usage on the rise. The Giants defense has been very disappointing to date. James Bradberry will likely shadow Calvin Ridley, so Matt Ryan will hopefully see the 6’6″ unicorn streaking down the field wide open all game.
NOAH FANT: VS NY JETS ($4,800)
Athletes in space are so much fun. Not outer space, but it does appear that Fant may be from another planet. The Jets’ roster contains exactly zero defensive backs who are good in coverage, so all of the Broncos receivers should eat. I’ll lock in on the one who is priced reasonably.
EVAN ENGRAM: VS ATLANTA ($3,600)
As much as I think Engram is a trash player with stone hands (I call him Old Stone Hands), he is a tight end in a Jason Garrett offense. At a bargain salary, I’ll be fair and assume he won’t drop all of his targets. I’d be happy to get 10 DK points out of him if I can only fit a sub-$4k salary in at tight end.