Thank a Hero
I recently saw a graphic that made my eyes bulge. Since declaring independence in 1776, the United States of America has been involved in some sort of war for 229 of the 244 years (as of 2020). With war comes the need for servicemembers. Walking among us today are millions of men and women who voluntarily put their life in peril in the name of protecting the American way of life. Veterans, like my wife’s father (USMC-Vietnam) and two brothers (Army-Iraq x2 and USAF-Afghanistan) and my cousin Jill (USMC-Desert Storm), are heroes in my eyes. To all of the veterans stateside and abroad, I extend my deepest gratitude to you and your families.
We will have pseudo-heroes on the football field come Sunday, with NFL stadiums adorned with a smattering of camouflage and other forms of “Salute to Service” messaging. It’s an unfair comparison, but NFL players do put their bodies on the line for the sake of entertaining us. Football scratches a primal itch for a lot of us, delivering the gladiator blood sport action without a real threat of death. Then, there’s me (and you) on the couch, licking bean dip and wing sauce off our fingers before pounding another American lager. A little DFS action is all I need to get my rocks off on any given Sunday. From the moment that Scott Hanson’s gravelly timbre exclaims, “Seven hours of commercial-free football starts now,” I am entranced with star-spangled eyes. Thanks to those heroes, I am free to play this game I love with relative impunity.
Week 10 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*
JOSH ALLEN: @ NY JETS ($7,900)
I think everyone is wondering what the hell happened last week against the Jaguars. Was it the magical Cover-2 shell scheme? Was the “the other Josh Allen” telepathically draining the Buffalo quarterback of his powers to score points? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but he gets to test these theories against the Jets’ abysmal defense. I’m confident it was just an aberration.
TOM BRADY: @ WASHINGTON ($7,600)
What happens when the GOAT gets to square off against a pathetic secondary? You get fireworks. Even with Antonio Brown out and Chris Godwin trending that way, Brady has done more with less better than anyone over his legendary career. Don’t hesitate to roster Tommy Terrific in all formats.
JUSTIN HERBERT: VS MINNESOTA ($7,300)***
The “Machine from Eugene,” as I have dubbed the second-year star from Oregon, has been spectacular in most of his games this season. A home date at SoFi with the putrid Vikings’ defense shouldn’t offer any resistance to this prolific Chargers’ passing attack. Look for Herbert to remedy the recent struggles of Mike Williams in the process of slicing this secondary to pieces.
DAK PRESCOTT: VS ATLANTA ($6,900)
Much like some of the other stud quarterbacks in Week 9, Dak struggled mightily in his first game off the calf injury. As with Josh Allen, I see it as a speed bump on the interstate. Atlanta is terrible on defense when compared to Denver. If Dallas can move the chains this week, they will put up a load of points on the Falcons.
MATT RYAN: @ DALLAS ($6,000)
Matty Ice was one of the bright spots at quarterback in Week 9, and now gets a date with the struggling Cowboys. Look for the Falcons to attack the middle of the field with Gage and Pitts, while testing the perimeter with Cordarrelle Patterson. This contest will have some shootout potential, so Ryan should attempt more than 30 passes.
TAYLOR HEINICKE: VS TAMPA BAY ($5,400)
There hasn’t been anything impressive out of the Washington quarterback after a hot start. Even then, his rushing upside and the perfect passing funnel on the Bucs’ defense means we can expect plenty of scoring opportunities for Heinicke. The Bucs should destroy Washington, so we are counting on Heinicke to take out the trash for us.
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: @ ARIZONA ($8,400)
It was impossible not to smile as I typed this name for the first time in forever. CMC is the Panthers’ offense. Regardless of quarterback, McCaffrey will tote the rock a bunch of times and put up gaudy fantasy numbers in the process. The most perfect cash game player of his era has rightfully reassumed the throne.
JONATHAN TAYLOR: VS JACKSONVILLE ($8,100)
Many fantasy analysts doubted whether JT was “generational” or not. After the last few weeks, there is nary a detractor to be found. His unique size, speed, vision, quickness, patience, and contact balance is a sight to behold on the football field. The Jags haven’t been terrible against the run, but they are in for a reckoning with Indy. The Colts run their entire offense through the running back position. It took a year and a half, but Frank Reich finally realized that JT is good.
DALVIN COOK: @ LA CHARGERS ($8,000)***
Cook has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week. That said, he is still primed for a massive performance against the Chargers. LA is getting mauled up front this season, especially against physical run-first teams like the Vikings. I would be stunned if Cook didn’t go for 25-plus this week with multiple touchdowns.
NAJEE HARRIS: VS DETROIT ($7,900)***
The rookie from Alabama picked up an injury designation this week, but logged a full Friday practice ahead of a salivating matchup with the Lions. This will be Chalk City in tournament play, but Najee’s volume against such a weak run defense leaves me hard-pressed to find a better play at any position on this slate.
AUSTIN EKELER: VS MINNESOTA ($7,600)
Ekeler’s ho-hum performance against the Eagles last week was somewhat disappointing, but it did cause his salary to drop $300 for this home game against the Vikings. I like that. He is still an elite dual-threat running back that is always a strong play in PPR formats.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT: VS ATLANTA ($7,000)
Volume pays the bills in DFS cash games. Not many backs have toted the rock more over the last few years than Zeke. Atlanta isn’t a slouch up front, but Zeke will get his touches, both on the ground and through the air. He also has a built-in touchdown upside that few running backs in the league have on a weekly basis.
AARON JONES: VS SEATTLE ($6,900)
The Packers just won’t ever let Aaron Jones cook. He is obviously a gifted running back, with a bloodhound’s nose for the end zone and a penchant for the big play. Still, we witnessed him spend more than an entire quarter on the sidelines watching AJ Dillon take valuable touches away. He is still a great value this week against a very weak Seattle run defense, especially if Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play.
D’ERNEST JOHNSON*: @ NEW ENGLAND ($4,700)
No Nick Chubb? No Kareem Hunt? Not even Demetric Felton? No problem for the Browns. Johnson was impressive against a tough Denver defense a couple weeks ago. The Patriots have been less-than-stellar against the run this season. Cleveland will pound the run behind their excellent offensive line and spring Johnson for a great value performance this week.
AJ BROWN: VS NEW ORLEANS ($7,800)
Sure, you can add Davante Adams to this list once Aaron Rodgers is cleared, but until then, spend up at running back and save some salary with AJB as the top receiver for cash games. His target share has been massive (over 30%) and he adds some incredible potential after the catch.
TERRY MCLAURIN: VS TAMPA BAY ($7,600)
Value off the bye week has been a staple of my DFS strategy all season. We aren’t getting much of a discount on Scary Terry, but his target volume is near the top of all NFL receivers. Washington will be airing it out early and often against the Bucs, with McLaurin getting the first drink at the trough.
MIKE EVANS: @ WASHINGTON ($6,900)***
If there is a wonderful silver lining to injuries occurring, it is the clarity we get with some of these receiving groups. The Bucs flaunt some of the best starting receivers in the league, but as many as two of them will miss the game in DC. The healthiest of the stars is Evans, who is already among the most-targeted on the team. This is a mismatch made in heaven.
DIONTAE JOHNSON: VS DETROIT ($6,800)
The Steelers spread the ball around a lot more than I expected on Monday night against the Bears. It was the rookie tight end, Freiermuth that scored two touchdowns and an uptick in volume. Diontae is still the bread winner on the outside, especially with Chase Claypool hobbling around. This is a huge matchup advantage for Diontae against the Lions if Big Ben chooses to exploit it.
MIKE WILLIAMS: VS MINNESOTA ($6,600)
The darling of the early season has fallen off sharply the last few weeks. Williams has seen his target share abruptly fall from the loftiest of heights. Against the Vikings, it would behoove the Chargers to attack the outside more than they have lately. Williams is due for a resurgence this week.
MICHAEL PITTMAN, JR: VS JACKSONVILLE ($6,300)
Once thought of as more of a home run tournament-type receiver, Pittman has seen his target share from Carson Wentz hold steady. Wentz trusts the young receiver at all depths on the field now, choosing to pepper him in any situation. His salary is also remarkably low for his recent production.
JERRY JEUDY: VS PHILADELPHIA ($5,300)
On the surface, Philly has done a pretty good job covering outside receivers this season. That was with a healthy Darius Slay, and it belies their ineptitude at forcing incomplete passes. The middle of the field is ripe for the picking against the thoroughly unathletic Eagles’ defense. Jeudy might need to get his numbers through sheer volume, making him a great cash value on Sunday.
RUSSELL GAGE: @ DALLAS ($5,000)
After one game where Gage was active but not involved, he came alive last week with 13.4 points on eight targets. Dallas really struggles to cover the slot, especially if the receiver is savvy and shows good spatial awareness in zone coverage. Gage fits that bill and won’t break the bank.
JAKOBI MEYERS: VS CLEVELAND ($4,800)
It’s one of the most wondrous things in the NFL at the moment. Meyers now has the most receiving yards in NFL history without scoring a single touchdown. I haven’t weighed in on the topic until this week, but I believe he will get his first one on Sunday against the Browns to add to his already-solid workload.
TYLER JOHNSON: @ WASHINGTON ($3,300)***
Just like with Mike Evans, Johnson is a beneficiary of the Antonio Brown injury in this offense. Brady will still be throwing it plenty, and Johnson was one of my top value picks in Week 9. He’s only $200 more expensive than last week and Chris Godwin might also miss Sunday’s game. This is a screaming value and potential free square.
KYLE PITTS: @ DALLAS ($5,800)
The unicorn has fought through double teams and bracket coverage ever since Calvin Ridley stepped away from the team. He is still putting up decent numbers, even if Matt Ryan seems to lose all concept of accuracy and touch when targeting Pitts in the red zone. I say Pitts scores on a long touchdown against Dallas on Sunday.
DAWSON KNOX: @ NY JETS ($4,500)
His hand might still be mangled, but Knox is back for the Bills on Sunday. The middle of the field is a glaring weakness of the Cover-2 shell defense deployed on Buffalo last week. Knox will fill that gap nicely, should the Jets try to emulate the Jags this week.
NOAH FANT: VS PHILADELPHIA ($4,300)***
Fant was activated off the COVID-19 reserve list just in time for his juiciest matchup of the season. The Eagles are abysmal at linebacker and slot corner, allowing nearly an 80% completion percentage. Fant has the speed and range to really gouge this defense. I’m ready for it.
PAT FREIERMUTH: VS DETROIT ($3,900)
The old dog, Big Ben seems to have found himself a shiny new toy in Freiermuth. The Keystone State folks love the rookie out of Penn State more than their own children at this point. His two touchdowns on Monday night were a precursor to more work, especially with injuries in the receiving corps.
DAN ARNOLD: @ INDIANAPOLIS ($3,500)
The most targeted Jags receiver the last four weeks is…(drumroll)…Dan Arnold? He is a newcomer to Jacksonville, arriving via trade with the Panthers a month ago. He is already logging many of his snaps out wide to take advantage of his size and athleticism. Trevor Lawrence is smartly seeking out his security blanket, which won’t cost much against an Indy defense that struggles to cover any position.