The Hogmanay Plunge
There isn’t one nice word that rushes to the forefront to describe the year of our Lord, 2021. I’m fairly certain it would take some concerted effort to derive positivity from the most recent 365 and one quarter-day ellipse around our yellow dwarf star. It is assured that some of the most annoying New Year traditions will grace the television airwaves, coupled with icons of today’s pop culture (whom I struggle to recognize) sipping Dom Perignon from a private booth above the cesspool known as Times Square.
New Year’s Eve is decidedly a day of reflection, resolution, and any other re-(insert word) you can scrape from the dictionary. Since I, along with most others, haven’t stuck with a New Year resolution for more than a couple hours in the last decade, I went searching for a new tradition. I discovered some intriguing options.
In the Sacred Ground (say it in the thickest brogue possible) of Scotland, from where my ancestors hailed, folks spend the last two days of the Roman year celebrating Hogmanay. Hogmanay’s most popular tradition is the “first footing,” where one is encouraged to be the first to pay a visit to friends and neighbors, often accompanied by a symbolic gift of some type. On New Year’s Day, the locals culminate the celebration with a harrowing dip in the frigid Firth of Forth. This tradition is also emulated here in the US, sometimes called the Polar Plunge.
I take the plunge into my pool every January 1st, after I light a fire nearby and have warm towels pulled from the dryer. It’s quite the rush and feels amazing, but I can’t help but go full George Costanza, “I WAS IN THE POOL!” It also seems to be the only way I’ll ever hit the Olivia Newton-John notes from the Grease soundtrack.
In Italy and Spain, some wear new, red underwear (if it isn’t new, it isn’t lucky) and throw old things out the window. In Switzerland, they plop a dollup of cream on the floor for good fortune (and a sour smell that lingers into February). In Greece, they hang pomegranates from doorways, only to promptly smash them into the door for (you guessed it) good fortune in the coming year. The juicier the smash, the better the year upcoming. In Germany, the people melt lead and cast it into water to make shapes that help them see the future (ironic that lead poisoning causes blindness). My new favorite is the Catalonian tradition, where the children are tasked with finding L’home dels nassos, or the man with many noses. Apparently, he has as many noses as days are left in the year. The stupid kids don’t realize that on New Year’s Eve, he has but one nose and could be anyone. What a ruse!
The New Year is an opportunity, much like one on any other day. Time is a construct, but humanity is a species with cyclical idiosyncrasies. “New year, new me” is a genius way to sell cars and gym memberships. The new year rekindles our strongest feelings of body dysmorphia and other forms of psychological warfare. Some folks peel the shrink wrap off their Sexy Firemen of the Midwest calendar and strive to earn more money in the new year than in the last. I could always be richer and skinnier, but my new year begins the day after the Super Bowl.
Of course, we could all use an extra jingle in our pockets in 2022. What better way than to take a polar plunge into the DraftKings coffers with another profitable NFL DFS main slate? We have now stacked two wildly successful weeks together and are hitting a stride as elegant as AJ Brown’s to wrap up the 2021 regular season. Our value section, “Under the Table” was insanely profitable in Week 16, featuring Joe Burrow, Justin Jackson, Byron Pringle, and Isaiah McKenzie. Save some ball-drop bubbly for Sunday afternoon when we do it again!
Week 17 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: VS ATLANTA ($8,000)
Josh Allen is a freaking stud. He does it all for the Bills, who looked like a championship contender again last week in Foxborough. The Falcons are jockeying for a higher draft pick at this point, while Buffalo is fighting for that top seed again. I expect an easy 25-30 points from Allen this week.
MATTHEW STAFFORD: @ BALTIMORE ($7,100)
The hits keep coming for this decimated Ravens’ secondary. They were utterly embarrassed by their hated division rivals last week, relinquishing over 500 passing yards to Joe Burrow & Co. This week, they get the most productive wide receiver in the game today and his gunslinger quarterback. Stafford tends to do well when his receivers are running wide open all game.
Rocking the Suburbs
JOE BURROW: VS KANSAS CITY ($6,900)
Whew! I was one of the few who predicted Joe Burrow to be the best quarterback play on the board last week. The Chiefs have completely flipped the early season script, going from one of the worst defenses to one that is formidable and fearsome. I still love the matchup advantages for the Bengals here, especially through the air. Burrow and his trio of gifted wideouts will still rack up the passing production and return value, even at a cool G more expensive than last Sunday.
JALEN HURTS: @ WASHINGTON ($6,600)
Hurts usually is a slow starter to games, but has the sixth-highest FPPG on DraftKings among quarterbacks. He is priced as the tenth-highest salary this week against a defense that was literally fighting each other on the sidelines in Dallas last week. The Birds might not have the firepower to hang a 50-burger on the no-namers, but Hurts will be a perpetual value on DK, with upside to spare.
Under the Table
TREY LANCE: VS HOUSTON ($4,800)***
After another string of lies spewed from Kyle Shanahan’s lips, we should have already known that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t suiting up with the ligament in his throwing thumb completely torn from the bone. I, along with the Texans, have been preparing for Lance to get the start this week at a scintillating price. It will be incredibly chalky to roll the rookie out in GPP contests, but for cash games he provides a points-per-dollar value that helps immensely with filling out a surefire winner.
JONATHAN TAYLOR: VS LAS VEGAS ($9,000)***
JT is a generational running back who is matchup proof and gets the volume he deserves every week. He is facing a Raiders defense that is 30th versus opposing running backs. Jonathan Taylor is only $9k this week. Roster Jonathan Taylor and build from there.
Rocking the Suburbs
DAVID MONTGOMERY: VS NY GIANTS ($6,500)
Monty was one of my core plays last week, with resounding success. His volume is the main attraction for cash games, which overcomes any lack of efficiency in an offense run by the inept and moronic Matt Nagy. Even at $800 more than last week, I don’t see any reason to fade Monty against the most pathetic excuse for a franchise in the NFL.
DEANDRE SWIFT: @ SEATTLE ($6,000)
He’s baaaaack! Where I never believe Shanny, I really trust Dan Campbell. He says Swift looks incredible and is operating at full strength. We just saw what a heavy running game can do to the reeling Seahawks. The Georgia Bulldog will smash on Sunday, hopefully without much chalk in GPP because of the uncertainty around his workload.
Under the Table
KE’SHAWN VAUGHN*: @ NY JETS ($5,200)
As much as it pains me to agree with Fantasy Mansion, Matt Kelley, I cannot ignore the writing on the wall that Vaughn has a brighter future in Tampa Bay than Ronald Jones. Either back is fine to roster this week against the god damn Jets, but I’ll err on the blowout and better receiving narrative with the kid from Vandy. I’m not enamored with the price hike on the lower end running backs by DK, but I’ll still get great value with guys who will be on the field and getting high-value touches.
COOPER KUPP: @ BALTIMORE ($9,500)
Kupp is the most productive receiver in the game today and faces one of the weakest coverage units on Sunday. My only concern is that the embarrassment of passing riches for the Rams might not require as much of a concentration of target volume for Kupp, resulting in an albatross of salary weighing down a winning build. I still won’t lose sleep with him in there either.
STEFON DIGGS: VS ATLANTA ($7,900)
One of the best skinny stacks on the board is the tried-and-true Allen to Diggs stack. The Falcons have one good defensive player on their entire team, AJ Terrell. He won’t draw Terrell on every snap, which leaves him running amok most of the game. I believe Diggs will see a ton of target volume in this game and return insane value if he finds the end zone.
Rocking the Suburbs
JAYLEN WADDLE: @ TENNESSEE ($6,700)***
There was a lot of uncertainty around the Bama rookie during draft season. We hadn’t seen him in game action since fracturing his ankle early in the 2020 season. We now know why he was such a heralded prospect. Waddle has taken the league by storm in the second half and now has a date with a Titans secondary that is atrocious. I will be waddling on Sunday because of how overweight I will be on him in my builds.
BRANDIN COOKS: @ SAN FRANCISCO ($6,000)
Beware the COVID weight loss journey, but also heed my advice on this pick. NorCal native (Stockton) Cooks returns to the Bay Area to face a really bad secondary. His target volume from Davis Mills (from Stanford) has been stupendous this season. I think the Texans make this a game against the 49ers, via an explosive passing game from Mills and Cooks.
Under the Table
MICHAEL GALLUP: VS ARIZONA ($4,800)
I was playing Cowboys receiver roulette last Sunday night for the Showdown slate and correctly guessed Amari Cooper and Dalton Schultz. This week, I’m hitching my wagon to the uber-talented Colorado State product, Gallup. He is playing for a big contract and will be barking loudly against the 27th-best defense at defending wide receivers. The salary is downright insulting, which is perfect for cash games.
ZAY JONES*: @ INDIANAPOLIS ($3,900)
The sneakiest target monster in the NFL lately has been Jones, averaging more than seven looks over his last five games. Where Hunter Renfrow has deservedly seen a big salary hike over that time frame, Zay has not. I will slip him into certain cash lineups as a final puzzle piece, and won’t even feel bad about sliding down to Bryan Edwards against an opportunistic-but-burnable Indy secondary.
TRAVIS KELCE: @ CINCINNATI ($7,300)
No, I’m not fading Mark Andrews. I just prefer Kelce and Kittle for this particular slate. I fully expect a massive shootout between these two teams, which typically means Kelce and/or Tyreek Hill is melting the nuclear reactors. I believe the Rams will have an answer for Andrews, where the Bengals won’t for Kelce.
GEORGE KITTLE: VS HOUSTON ($7,100)
We found out last week that the way to predict a down week for Kittle was when the 49ers face a formidable front seven, Fake sharp Shanny will keep his prized tight end in to use his magnificent blocking skills and run fewer passing routes. Houston poses no such front, giving me extreme optimism that the rookie quarterback will lean on Kittle all game.
Rocking the Suburbs
ROB GRONKOWSKI: @ NY JETS ($6,200)
Mike Evans is still on the mend from his hamstring injury and Antonio Brown missed Thursday and Friday practice with his ankle flaring up. Gronk could be in line for a nice bump in volume this week in a game that nobody expects to be close. I do know that Brady and Gronk have bullied the Jets for many years and Sunday is primed to be a throwback performance.
ZACH ERTZ: @ DALLAS ($5,200)***
How very rare for a player to face the same team three times in one season. Ertz has owned the Cowboys in his career as an Eagle and scored in each of his games against them this season, including the contest right before his trade to the desert. I hate to say it, but I had Ertz locked into my DFS lineups for both of those games and will do it again on Sunday. Ownage is ownage.
Under the Table
COLE KMET: VS NY GIANTS ($3,400)
It has been a sad week, with the deaths of the beloved John Madden and Betty White. Jimmy Graham(pa) as a red zone vulture is alive and well, keeping the young Kmet’s salary very reasonable for his consistent target volume. This has been remarkable, with the revolving door at quarterback and a buffoon coaching the team. The Giants are terrible at every facet of the game, including covering tight ends as talented as Kmet.