It might be Week 18, in the aftermath of the most tumultuous fantasy football season in history, but there is one very unique main slate left for us DFS junkies. The DFS lobbies will be teeming with jilted season long losers and cash-flush winners alike.
The GPP sharks’ eyes will roll back into their heads from the alluring scent of fresh blood in the water. They live in a constant state of darkness and chaos, only emerging from their dungeons once the last petal falls from the 2021 campaign. Week 18 will shine light on some of the most obscure names in the NFL in a fleeting seven hours of commercial-free pandemonium.
The final week of the regular season precludes Black Monday, where all of the remaining bad coaches in the league are relieved of their duties. Some of those coaches will empty the clip and put forth a game that leaves listless fans wondering where that was all season. The others are lame ducks, their vacant, lifeless eyes peering beyond their doomed team into the distance.
My most successful DFS escapades have come in the final stanza of the season. I still enjoy throwing my hat into the DFS ring for playoff slates and other sports, but nothing beats a main slate sweat with players who haven’t seen this much playing time since college.
This is the final edition of Hot Cash this season. I want to put forth my sincerest thanks to all of you for reading this season. Hopefully, you all were equal parts entertained and enriched by this content. Feel free to send me a DM on Twitter.
Week 18 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 NY JETS ($8,100)
You’re going to want to focus on stud players with something meaningful to play for. Last season, the Bills had already locked up the top seed in the AFC going into Week 17. Josh Allen still played nearly the entire game and put up good numbers. This season, they are expected to steamroll the Jets en route to another AFC East title and potential first round bye. Allen will be a spend-up wrecking ball.
Rocking the Suburbs
MATTHEW STAFFORD: VS SAN FRANCISCO ($6,700)
The Rams are sick and tired of losing to the 49ers. Stafford has pulled through with some decent fantasy performances, despite turning the ball over at an alarming rate the last few weeks. Everyone will be focused on Cooper Kupp chasing history. The 49ers won’t be able to prevent Stafford from becoming the quarterback for the two most productive seasons for wide receivers in NFL history.
TAYSOM HILL: @ ATLANTA ($6,200)***
The Saints need a win Sunday. Standing in their way is a hapless Falcons team with a multitude of offseason distractions on the horizon. Hill is a fantasy dynamo, especially when Alvin Kamara is on the field. My projections have Hill as the highest points-per-dollar value on the slate.
Under the Table
TYLER HUNTLEY: VS PITTSBURGH ($5,700)
Right behind Hill on the points-per-dollar chart is the former Utah Ute, Huntley. He ran into a buzz saw with the Rams last week. Although Pittsburgh is decent up front, I can still envision Huntley putting up some serious points on them with a playoff berth on the line and Lamar Jackson not quite ready to go.
JONATHAN TAYLOR: @ JACKSONVILLE ($9,300)
You might recall rookie Jonathan Taylor facing the Jaguars in the final regular season game last season. If you weren’t impressed with the young man until that point, his 30 carry, 253 yard, two touchdown performance for the ages definitely brought about an emotional response. Ironically, he faces the Jags again to end the season and is a mere 266 rushing yards shy of 2,000 (with a playoff spot on the line).
ALVIN KAMARA: @ ATLANTA ($8,300)***
I’m all over the Hill-plus-Kamara tandem this week. The Saints can clinch a playoff berth with a win and some help from the Rams in the same late window. I think the rushing volume will be immense for both players, with plenty of the passing volume also falling squarely on Kamara’s shoulders. Atlanta’s front seven is a myth, so don’t fret spending up on AK41 and/or JT this week.
Rocking the Suburbs
DAVID MONTGOMERY: @ MINNESOTA ($6,800)
The DraftKings algorithm has racked up quite the criminal history with a few players this season. Monty is definitely on that list, especially this week. The Vikings and Bears are both out of playoff contention, but rivalries run deep. I also believe Matt Nagy is the type of coach with such supreme arrogance that he still thinks he’s coaching for his job. This will be a good, hard-fought game with Monty running roughshod over the 23rd ranked Minnesota rush defense.
DEVIN SINGLETARY: VS NY JETS ($6,000)
The longstanding sentiment that the Buffalo running game is all Josh Allen has recently been disproven with the emergence of FAU standout, Singletary. I recall watching the little guy dip and dart through the Conference USA under the tutelage of one Lane Kiffin. He has been making the most of his high-value touches the last three weeks, casting aside Zack Moss and Matt Breida after each led the backfield at times this season. I don’t need to tell you to roster running backs against the god damn Jets.
Under the Table
CHRIS EVANS: @ CLEVELAND ($4,400)
Joe Mixon is out for Sunday, relinquishing the backfield to Samaje Perine and the rookie Evans. Early in the season, when Mixon was nicked up, Evans proved to be a very potent part of the passing attack. Perine might be the “starter,” but I’ll always defer to the receiving threat. Joe Burrow is also out, giving Brandon Allen the reins to check down copiously against the Browns.
PATRICK TAYLOR*: @DETROIT ($4,000)
It remains uncertain how much the skill position starters will play for the Packers, given that they’ve already locked up the top seed in the NFC. I would be stunned if it was past halftime. With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon likely to don street clothes early on, Taylor is an ultra-sneaky min-priced back with plenty of juice. Jordan Love will be check-down Charlie once he is taking the snaps.
COOPER KUPP: VS SAN FRANCISCO ($9,700)
It seems apropos that Kupp is chasing down Calvin Johnson’s receiving yards record this week. Megatron’s quarterback that season? Matthew Stafford. Back then, they were trying like hell to get Johnson to 2,000 yards and fell just short. Kupp will get a million targets in this game, both to chase Megatron and Michael Thomas’ 149 reception mark in 2019. Kupp will also be the avenue to which the Rams take to clinch the NFC West and possibly eliminate their bitter rivals from playoff contention.
AJ BROWN: @ HOUSTON ($7,000)***
The Mississippi monolith is the last remaining healthy weapon for Ryan Tannehill. The Titans need a win to lock up the top seed in the AFC and the only first round bye. They hold the tiebreaker over Kansas City by way of smashing them to pieces in Week 7. Even if Derrick Henry isn’t back in a major way this week, I forecast Brown to get a ton of work all over the field against a putrid Texans defense.
Rocking the Suburbs
BRANDIN COOKS: VS TENNESSEE ($6,300)
I tried to tell y’all about Cooks last week. He turned his NorCal reunion into 19.6 DK fantasy points and more than a 3x value. At only a $300 markup this week, and a much more favorable matchup against a bad Titans secondary, I will fire him up once more. Cooks is the most underrated and underappreciated receiver in the NFL. I will not be the one to overlook him and miss out on easy money.
DARNELL MOONEY: @ MINNESOTA ($5,900)
Andy Dalton is great for Mooney. Mooney is great for Justin Fields. Both statements equal Darnell Mooney is good at football. He is a target monster and it cannot be undersold how he has simply performed better than former All-Pro, Allen Robinson. I would love another 13 targets this week, but will settle with more explosive plays against an abysmal Vikings coverage unit.
Under the Table
RAY-RAY MCCLOUD III: @ BALTIMORE ($3,800)
Big Ben’s aDOT was disgusting on Monday night. McCloud has assumed the JuJu Smith-Schuster mid-range role in this offense, except the giant leap in athleticism over JuJu hasn’t been realized because Ben has been so erratic with his targets. Down at this salary, I will still take that 10 target game. Here’s hoping that the bludgeoned Baltimore secondary will relinquish more than 35 receiving yards.
DEONTE HARRIS: @ ATLANTA ($3,200)
I loved Harris last week, but it was unsuccessful. His bout with COVID left him with limited practice reps, which translated into limited snaps on the field. Now with a full week of practice with the first team, we will see the explosive playmaker get some more run from the slot and assume his regular play packages in the Sean Payton offense. This is a steal with massive potential.
MARK ANDREWS: VS PITTSBURGH ($7,500)
Volume pays the bills and Tyler Huntley loves him some Mandrews. The Steelers aren’t slouches against the tight end position. They held Andrews to 9.0 fantasy points earlier in the season. That was with Lamar Jackson running around and torching the back end with Hollywood Brown. I believe there will be a different script to this game.
Rocking the Suburbs
ZACH ERTZ: VS SEATTLE ($5,300)***
I incorrectly assumed that Zach Ertz would score another touchdown in his third game against the Cowboys this season. He still garnered nine targets, catching seven of them for 41 yards. The Seahawks are horrendous in the middle of the field on defense. I can’t envision Ertz not getting another heap of targets in this game with much more upside.
PAT FREIERMUTH: @ BALTIMORE ($4,600)
When Diontae Johnson was placed in COVID protocols yesterday, I had the asterisks next to the Muth as my top play. Diontae was promptly removed from the protocols today, so the Muth is not quite as luth now. He is still a really solid value play at tight end this week, as the Ravens simply cannot cover receivers of any kind. The Steelers’ frustrating brand of high-volume, low efficiency and aDOT passing is going to flood the field in cheap PPR points.
Under the Table
JOSIAH DEGUARA: @ DETROIT ($2,900)
You might not remember this, but DeGuara was the third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, after the infamous Jordan Love pick and the less-controversial AJ Dillon in the second. Even if Green Bay pulls their studs early in this game, I do believe they give the Sacramento kid a long, hard look in this game with Love. That way, they might have some clarity in an offseason with many potential uncertainties.