Hot Cash From the King of Spice

Pinkies Up

His name was Carl Ruiz, but everyone affectionately called him “The Cuban.” Carl was a staple as a competitor and judge some of my favorite Food Network Shows, including Guy’s Grocery Games (GGG) and Chopped. He was the first television personality I actually enjoyed following on social media. His charisma and joie de vivre were matched only by his talent in the kitchen. Furthermore, he was always interacting with his fans. If you were sipping bourbon and eating a hot dog from a street cart on a Tuesday night, you could summon The Cuban with the hashtags “ruizing” or “pinkies up.” He shared his love of indulgence with the world every day and was beloved by all.

Carl tragically and suddenly passed away in September 2019. I was reminded of the anniversary of his death recently. I poured my Jim Beam (his favorite) and grilled up some kosher dogs with spicy brown mustard and grilled onions (also his favorite). His spirit lives on and will persist. I never got to meet the Cuban in person, but he made a profound impact on how I live my daily life through his kindness online. The message he projected to his followers and friends was always “do what makes you happy every day.”

Playing DFS makes me happy, especially when we all win together. The world has been a nasty place to live in the last couple of years. Find that enjoyment and unabashedly go for it. Carl would be making light of all the ridiculousness and raising a glizzy and a glass to us all, with a ringed pinky finger flapping in the breeze. Week 4 in the NFL has some great opportunities to double up with ease in cash games. Let’s drink to that. Salud!

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*

Quarterbacks

JOSH ALLEN: VS HOUSTON ($8,000)

Allen was the smash spot for the Nimble crew last week. He is a cool G more expensive this week but faces another amazingly soft matchup. Buffalo is running the ball more effectively than last season, but not more frequently. Allen is an easy cash gameplay every week.

RUSSELL WILSON: @ SAN FRANCISCO ($7,100)

Russ sure loves to cook, especially in the Bay Area. The 49ers defense is lacking je ne sais quois on defense without Robert Saleh calling the shots. With his receivers limping around, we also might see the resurgence of Mr. Unlimited on the ground.

MATTHEW STAFFORD: VS ARIZONA ($7,000)

You better stay off the tracks, because this passing game train isn’t slowing down any time soon. Stafford is a perfect fit for this McVay offense, making quick decisions down the field for tons of big plays. The Cards have a good pass rush, but their corners are below average. Play with confidence.

JALEN HURTS: VS KANSAS CITY ($6,900)

I’m loving that even Hurts’ bad games are fantasy gold. Between rushing and garbage time, he seems to be a lock for 20+ points. In a 50/50, that’s like one of those “set it and forget it” ovens from the infomercials.

DAK PRESCOTT: VS CAROLINA ($6,700)***

The 3-0 Panthers are getting way too much respect with this Dak salary. Carolina is feasting on bad quarterback play so far, but Dak is carving up defenses like an expert butcher. Without Jaycee Horn, the Cowboys passing attack is going to rip this defense to pieces.

TAYLOR HEINICKE: @ ATLANTA ($5,900)

Pick on the bad defenses in all DFS formats. It’s easy money. In his two starts, Heinicke is averaging 23.7 DK points. Atlanta’s pass defense is so ugly, even their mothers are rejecting Facetime calls. The Washington QB is also a sneaky GPP play, with Antonio Gibson nursing a shin injury.

Running Backs

Jan 20, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) reacts during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

DERRICK HENRY: @ NY JETS ($8,800)

Holy mother of chalk, please forgive us for our sins. I will be wedging Henry and Kamara into all my cash lineups with a shoe horn. Roster percentage be damned, we’re chasing big volume here. The Jets figure to be behind from the jump in this one, with a 250-pound nail in the coffin dishing out the blunt-force trauma.

ALVIN KAMARA: VS NY GIANTS ($8,400)***

We all guessed that the Saints offense would run through Kamara this year, as long as Michael Thomas was on the shelf. We also decided after Week 2 that Jameis Winston is still himself and Sean Payton wouldn’t be keen on putting a lot on Winston’s shoulders. Kamara should absolutely shred this Giants defense, now that they lost their middle linebacker for the season.

NAJEE HARRIS: @ GREEN BAY ($6,800)

My best cash call from last week was Mr. 19 targets himself. Did I see that coming? No. Can we expect it to continue? Actually, yes. Big Ben is not averse to checking down and Harris is a great weapon in the passing game. The Packers also don’t have the strongest run defense, so Najee should continue his consistent production.

DEANDRE SWIFT: @ CHICAGO ($6,200)

It’s official. DraftKings hates Swift. What more does he need to do to get an appropriate salary? I’m not mad, I’ll keep locking him into all my cash games and reaping the rewards. On receiving alone, he is worth every penny.

ZACK MOSS: VS HOUSTON ($5,300)

Who? The guy who was a healthy scratch in Week 1? Are you flippin’ serious?! Yes, Moss has re-asserted himself as the more productive Buffalo running back over Devin Singletary. Houston’s run defense is atrocious and Moss has also been valuable in the screen game.

TREY SERMON: VS SEATTLE ($5,000)

We aren’t likely to see Elijah Mitchell this week either, so Kyle Shanahan will begrudgingly turn to the higher pick from Ohio State again. The leading back last week was their fullback, but Seattle’s big weakness is stopping the run-off tackle. Sermon is in store for a monster game.

KENNY GAINWELL: VS KANSAS CITY ($4,300)

It turns out that Dougie wasn’t the only coach that refuses to give the ball to Miles Sanders. The garbage time and third-down passing work are going to the Memphis rookie, who is primed for the most volume of his young career against the Chiefs. This could also turn into the best GPP value on the slate.

CHARLOTTE, NC – AUGUST 27: D.J. Moore #2 of the Carolina Panthers is pushed by Miles Killebrew #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on August 27, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

Wide Receivers

DAVANTE ADAMS: VS PITTSBURGH ($7,900)

The target share is massive, the talent is even bigger. The absence of any other receivers with redeeming talent means the entire passing game runs through Adams. The Steelers corners have been exploited down the field all season, making for another no-brainer spend-up week for Davante.

COOPER KUPP: VS ARIZONA ($7,800)

This might be the most I’d spend on a player like Kupp. His regression week is coming, but until we see it, you can’t help but invest in this offense as a whole. We are also due for a Robert Woods week, but I think both guys are getting fat against Arizona.

TERRY MCLAURIN: @ ATLANTA ($6,900)

Bad defenses pay our bills in DFS. The Falcons also allow us to eat steak after the bills are paid. McLaurin is the apple of Heinicke’s eye and should have a humongous target share. I’m all for it, especially with his game-breaking upside to complement the volume.

DJ MOORE: @ DALLAS ($6,600)***

I’m not too keen on playing Sam Darnold this week, with CMC ruled out. I am, however, big on the potential of Moore breaking out against an exploitable Dallas secondary. Tre Diggs was NFC Defensive Player of the Month but doesn’t travel to shadow receivers. I expect Joe Brady to move Moore all over the formation to exploit the matchups and get him a lot of looks.

DEEBO SAMUEL: VS SEATTLE ($6,500)

As the season progresses, we can really solidify which trends will continue. One of these unexpected trends is the huge share of targets that have gone to Samuel. George Kittle is nursing a calf injury and Brandon Aiyuk hasn’t quite reaffirmed his role from last season. Seattle’s defense has been a letdown so far this season. Deebo is in another great spot to see work in the passing and rushing game.

ODELL BECKHAM JR: @ MINNESOTA ($5,800)

I was super impressed with OBJ’s first game back last week. He commanded a 31% target share from Baker Mayfield. He now squares off with an abysmal Vikings’ defense that is getting barbecued by everyone. This is more of a value than most players on the board.

COLE BEASLEY: VS HOUSTON ($5,400)

My good friend, Jordan Vanek pointed out that the Houston Texans run a lot of zone coverage. Their personnel is so bad that running man coverage would be a terrible idea against a passing attack as dangerous as Buffalo’s. Jordan’s point was that Beasley is the Bills’ weapon of choice against zone coverage. After a huge Week 3, the Beez should once again outpace his salary and return a huge value.

MICHAEL PITTMAN JR*: @ MIAMI ($5,400)

Don’t look now, but Carson Wentz has a thing for Pittman. He is peppering him with targets for the last two weeks. Miami is a solid defense, but expect more of the same volume from the USC product. Trust is a strong factor in predicting cash game values.

ROBERT WOODS: VS ARIZONA ($5,300)

Pepperidge Farm remembers when you could flip a coin between Woods and Kupp. Now, they are separated by $2,500 on DK. The volume hasn’t been as bad as the results, however, so plugging Bobby Trees into your cash lineup at a bargain could be quite fruitful. Arizona isn’t keen on covering any wide receivers this season, so take the value and run with it.

COREY DAVIS: VS TENNESSEE ($5,000)

You guys know I love a good revenge game. Although I don’t think there were any hard feelings between the Titans and Davis upon his departure, the narrative is there for a big game. Tennessee’s defense is horrible and Davis’ volume has been huge for New York. Zach Wilson loves to chuck the ball in Davis’ direction and this time, he might actually be open.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – DECEMBER 27: <> at Arrowhead Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Tight Ends

TRAVIS KELCE: @ PHILADELPHIA ($8,100)***

Lock it in this week (and every week). Philly’s defense is just as fraudulent as I surmised before they were whipped by the Cowboys in primetime. The linebackers, namely Singleton, were lost in coverage all game. Now, imagine them trying to cover someone like Kelce. He’s still the WR3 overall in PPR scoring.

KYLE PITTS: VS WASHINGTON ($5,000)

It’s going to happen, guys. I have faith. Eventually, Arthur Smith is going to remove his head from the darkness and actually scheme some looks for his talented first-round pick. He hasn’t been terrible, and the snap share is still really solid (and rising). Washington has been a disappointment on defense on par with Matt Ryan at quarterback.

LOGAN THOMAS: @ ATLANTA (4,900)

In the same vein as Heinicke and McLaurin, we’re not reaching for the brakes when it comes to attacking the pathetic Atlanta defense. Thomas is as reliable and consistent as any tight end not named Kelce or Waller. He’s also not priced too prohibitively.

TYLER CONKLIN: VS CLEVELAND ($3,500)

Now that Conklin is in the mix, we saw KJ Osborn fade away last week. The Cleveland pass rush is incredible, so Cousins will be looking to get rid of the ball quickly. I love this value play, especially after his target share last week against Seattle.

DALTON SCHULTZ: VS CAROLINA ($3,400)

The Top-2 graded tight ends on PFF are Travis Kelce and (drumroll…) Dalton Schultz? I am shocked. I have never been impressed with Schultz’s game (as a Dallas fan), but he is balling out this season. Carolina’s defense has been amazing, albeit against the softest schedule in the NFL. The price is right to get a piece of a nice shootout game.

EVAN ENGRAM: @ NEW ORLEANS ($3,000)

Yes, he’s still a terrible football player. Engram also is a healthy receiver on a team devoid of them at the moment. Shepard and Slayton are out, Golladay is questionable, and Collin Johson is just really tall. Engram figures to get another healthy workload in the offense, even if we can’t trust him to catch or hold onto the ball.

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