Week 5 DFS Cash Game Review

I’m mainly a cash game player. DFS cash games are when (roughly) 50% of the participants (roughly) double their money. Regardless of where you land in the final standings, you either double up or walk away empty-handed. In this space, I’ll share my lineup from the prior week, and discuss some of the thought processes behind how I arrived at the places I did. Some weeks I’ll win, and some weeks I’ll lose (ideally more of the former) but hopefully it can help you understand the type of thought process that goes into being a successful DFS player. As always, I welcome any feedback, questions, or challenges on twitter.

The Lineup:

Won 53% of head-to-heads and cashed in 90% of Double Ups.

The Hits:

Derrick Henry ($9,000)

It almost seems silly to talk about Henry here. At 73.5% rostered, King Henry was 26.5% under-utilized (do the math.) I truthfully would’ve paid another $1,500 or so for Henry here. With CMC and Dalvin Cook out and with Alvin Kamara’s passing role significantly reduced, Henry was clearly the best running back play on the slate.

We always want to roster Henry when the Titans are favored (they, like most teams, run the ball much more while leading.) The Titans were only favored by 4.5 here, but that was an overreaction based on a bad game in Week 4 (in which they were missing both of their top wide receivers.) I actually thought that having one of the receivers back was ideal for Henry — it was enough to keep defenses honest, but still limited enough that they’d prefer to pound the rock. 34 Points seems almost disappointing for Henry at this point. At his rostership, there wasn’t much of an edge to playing him, but it felt good to know 26.5% of the field was dead before the games even started.

Alexander Mattison ($5,500)

With Dalvin Cook being ruled out Sunday morning, and a dream matchup with the Lions, Mattison was an obvious play here. I was vacillating between Damien Williams and Leonard Fournette at similar price points before the Cook news, but Cook being out made the choice easy. Honestly, Mattison would’ve been a solid play even with Cook in, assuming a limited role like Cook had last week.

Had we known earlier in the week Cook was out, I suspect Mattison would’ve been even more highly rostered. The sickos, like me, glued to their TVs and twitter feed Sunday morning were rewarded again. Both Williams (16.4 points) and Fournette (21) ended up having solid games, but would’ve cost me a lot of money compared to what Mattison scored.

Davante Adams ($8,200)

Finding the salary for Davante was a priority for me here. Every lineup I built throughout the week started with him and Henry, and went from there. Adams had a down week (by his standards) last week, scoring only 12.4 points. However, he still saw 11 targets, so the role was there. With Cincinnati’s offense being capable of keeping up with the Packers, this was the best situation of the year for Adams.

Adams was rostered at a much higher rate in this contest ($100 buy in) than in lower stakes (51% in the $25 contest.) This is a good way to evaluate your play — results are noisy on a week to week basis. Player’s that are used by more of the field in higher stakes are usually good long term plays.

Ezekiel Elliot ($7,000)

At only 5.1% rostership, my day came down to Zeke. Had he failed, I had no shot at winning anything. With the Cowboys as 7-point favorites, I thought this was a great spot for Zeke. Other than Week 1, the Cowboys have shown a desire to be a run-first team. Dak Prescott hasn’t topped 27 pass attempts since then. This week was no different, Dak threw 32 passes while Elliot and Tony Pollard combined for 35 carries. I got some luck with Elliot’s touchdowns here, but I still think the process was correct. Given my bad luck on Daniel Jones (see below) we’ll call it even.

Eagles Defense ($2,200)

As always, I didn’t focus too much on defense this week. My only real choices were between Philadelphia and Washington at $100 more (this lineup left $100 on the table.) It was basically a toss up, but I broke the tie by using adjusted sack rate. Found here, it’s a measure of sacks that adjusts for down and distance. Philly ranked eighth heading into the game while Washington was way down at 28th. QB Pressure is the biggest driver of defensive scores. It leads to sacks, fumbles, and interceptions. The eagles overperformed my expectation, but the reasons for using them over Washington were solid.

(My actual process is to combine the defense’s adjusted sack rate, with the adjusted sack rate allowed by the opposing offense. The Eagles and Football team’s opponents this week were .1% away from each other in sack rate allowed. In this case, the defensive rates were effectively all that mattered. Since I almost always target lower-priced defenses, I just compare the few defenses I’m interested in then go from there. It would probably be better to make a spreadsheet of every matchup — which would be my suggestion to you — but this works fine if time is an issue.)

Ricky Seals-Jones ($2,500)

I’ve mentioned in weeks past a desire to return to my cheap tight end roots. This week, with Logan Thomas out, RSJ was in line to be Washington’s only tight end, and was priced at the minimum. I’m surprised he wasn’t more popular, but Evan Engram and Mike Gesicki were reasonably cheap and also in line for increased targets due to injuries. All three players were within 1.2 points of each other, so taking the cheapest option was clearly the right call.


The Misses:

Daniel Jones ($6,000)

The only quarterbacks I really considered this week were Jones and Trey Lance (who was $300 cheaper.) I ultimately went with Jones due to the savings provided by Mattison. I should’ve stuck with Lance — Jones left in the first half with a concussion. It wasn’t just injury though, Jones missed on his first six passes. My bet was on Jones’ rushing ability, but with half of his receivers missing due to injury (and Saquon leaving early on) the lack of weaponry made it hard for Jones to get much going. Lance didn’t have a great day, but the 12 or so extra points would’ve made my day much more profitable.

Curtis Samuel ($3,000)

After Samuel had four catches in his first game back from injury, I got greedy going back to the well. His early rush was encouraging, I was hoping for more of those with a banged up Antonio gibson in the backfield. I’m not sure if Samuel left early due to injury, or was simply uninvolved in the game plan. Either way, getting up to Kadarius Toney ($4,000, 32.6 points) or Laviska Shenault ($4,800, 6.8 points) clearly was the better play. Salary was a struggle this week, so I don’t feel too bad about it (the sacrifices made in order to get to them could’ve hurt more than the benefits, at least if I went with Shenault).

Everyone Else:

Keenan Allen ($6,500)

I might need to accept that Keenan is no longer the WR1 in Los Angeles, with strong-armed QB Justin Herbert preferring to push the ball downfield to big Mike Williams. There was a 2nd quarter play where Herbert ignored a wide open Allen 10 yards down the field to throw a 40ish yard jump ball to Williams. That one fell incomplete, but many of them haven’t. Allen still leads Williams easily in targets, but William’s downfield role is much more valuable.

I briefly considered Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb at similar price points — either of which would’ve been somewhat better. In retrospect, the correct move was to save the salary on Allen and come up from Samuel. I’m not sure how I would’ve arrived at that pregame though, and many weeks the opposite construction will be better.

Wrap up:

I squeaked by with a 20% or so ROI this week. Most of the time it’s either much higher or solidly negative. Most weeks it’s going to come down to one or two players you take a stand on. Zeke was mine this week (Jones and Allen to a lesser extent.) I feel very good about my process on Elliot, so no regrets here. Jones without many of his weapons was clearly a mistake, though an early exit due to a concussion was also some bad luck. Fortunately the week’s other chalk quarterback, Trey Lance, didn’t bury me here. All in all, not my best week, but anytime I make a profit I’m happy.

For the year, I’ve won right around 60% of my head-to-heads, and 56% of my double-ups, good for a ~10% ROI. With how efficient cash games are these days, I can live with that.. My goal before the season was 15%, so let’s see if we can get there in the next few weeks.


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