Week 10 DFS Lineup Review
I’m mainly a cash game player. DFS cash games are when (roughly) 50 percent 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 Week 10 DFS lineup, 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.
D’Ernest Johnson and Mark Ingram II
Grouping these two together because the thesis was the same. Both players were unexpectedly in line to carry the bulk of the mail for their respective teams running games (and have a reasonable receiving role.) I actually thought it was likelier than not that one of the pair at least mildly disappointed this week, but at $9,200 in combined salary that was fine. Both of them going over 20 points was the best possible scenario here, which is what happened. I was actually surprised that ~10% of lineups didn’t have Johnson, and ~30% didn’t have Ingram. (Both of those numbers were higher at lower stakes.) There were a lot of other solid backs this week, but the value of this pair was tremendous. By playing both, we basically got a free pass ahead of (at least) 30% of the field. Easy game.
A late rushing touchdown turned Dak from an “ok” to a “great” play this week. Quarterback was actually the toughest spot for me this week. With the value at running back, we didn’t need to save salary there. However, Taylor Heinicke — and once Big Ben was ruled out, Mason Rudolph — both felt like better points-per-dollar plays than the high-end quarterbacks. In the end, we don’t win contests based on points-per-dollar, so raw scoring matters. I was actually set on Tom Brady for most of the week, but questions around the health of his receiving options led me to pivot late on Sunday morning. With immobile quarterbacks like Brady, effective weaponry is especially important. That switch proved huge, as Brady was held under 15 points. A part solid process by me, part luck, but I’ll take it.
I preferred the Titans here against the Saints. Tennesee’s pass rush is far superior, and they were taking on a backup quarterback(s) at home. However, I needed the extra $400 to make the rest of my lineup work. When Roethlisberger was ruled out, that cemented my decision to go with my hometown Lions. The weather also projected to be slightly rough in Pittsburgh, which is a boost to defenses. The day was saved by not one, but two fumbles in overtime (was it the wet ball?) but we got there. Seven points from a defense that cheap is a win, flame emoji or not.
14.8 points from the historically volatile wide receiver position doesn’t quite feel like a miss to me, but I’ll abide by DraftKings’ snowflake emoji. Regardless, we know by now how ridiculous Adams‘ role is. I generally don’t love paying up for wide receivers in cash games (which has led to a few losing weeks thanks to Cooper Kupp explosions) due largely to their broad range of outcomes (compared to quarterbacks and running backs.) However, there wasn’t a ton of other places to spend salary this week, so Adams was the safest bet. He saw 11 targets, so the process was fine. The Seahawks just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, allowing this game to be played slow and conservatively on both sides. At his rostership levels, it wouldn’t matter much either way regardless of the outcome.
Allen was a priority for me here. This game had the highest total on the slate, with Allen serving as the Chargers’ top receiver the last few weeks. He caught eight of eleven balls, and narrowly missed a bigger day. Two more yards and he gets the 100-yard bonus (three points) and 21 points. I expected him to be more popular this week, so I was pleasantly surprised at the rostership levels. Keenan’s weekly targets are just so high as to always be in consideration with full-PPR scoring.
Essentially every high-end running back seemed like solid cash plays this week. Jonathon Taylor, Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, Dalvin Cook, and even potentially Christian McCaffrey all were solid options. I preferred Harris though, who had a tremendous matchup with Detroit. He also was second among all backs in targets heading into the week. With JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool both missing, I expected a lot of passing work for Harris. It didn’t’ quite work out that way (four catches on four targets) but he still had a solid day. “Only” four catches and no touchdown was honestly near the bottom of his range of outcomes this week, especially in an overtime game.
Conner (15.4 points) and Taylor (27.6) proved to be the more popular options this week. Taylor could’ve easily had 40 had the Colts not let up a bit with a big lead, so I was slightly lucky there. On the other hand, I never thought Conner was that solid of a play. With Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins both out, the chances of the offense totally imploding against a tough Panthers defense was high. That was what happened, which allowed Conner only 10 carries as the Cardinals trailed most of the way. Overall offensive expectations are such a huge part of predicting running back success. It’s what the 40% of the field who restored Conner missed in my opinion. (Not that Conner’s score was bad at his $6,300 salary. However, as noted above, there weren’t a lot of reasonable ways to spend that extra salary this week. Raw scoring matters.)
We’re back to rostering the cheapest tight end with a reasonable target projection. I tried spending up to the mid-range a few times this year and failed each time. The floor for essentially every tight end (except maybe Kelce) is the same — 0. There isn’t enough to separate the $5,000 or so tight ends from players like Arnold to justify the expense. Arnold has 30 targets in the four games leading into Week 10, with a minimum of five in any game. Five catches for 67 yards on seven targets were exactly what I wanted out of him. The two-point conversion was a nice touch though.
Jeudy was the last player I put on this roster. I didn’t really love any of the receivers in his price range, but he was coming off eight targets the previous week and taking on a mediocre Eagles secondary. This was a borderline “miss” but he did enough to not tank my lineup. The only other player I seriously considered was Jakobi Meyers, who outscored Jeudy by 3.8 points. Meyers saw only four targets in Week 10, although he did catch his first career touchdown, so I think the process was correct
A Note on Mike Evans:
Evans was used by about 70% of the field in the $100 Double-ups in Week 10. The thesis was clear: the Bucs throw a lot, are without Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and potentially Chris Godwin (who ended up playing, but may not have been full strength.) That should leave a ton of production for Evans. However, I think that line of thinking is incorrect. We’ve seen a few situations this year when the “last man standing” has totally failed, despite otherwise solid matchups. (Derrick Henry without both Titans receivers, various Cardinals wide receivers when “short-staffed”, AJ Brown without Julio and Henry, etc.)
My theory is that besides lowering the overall offensive expectation, defenses key in on the best player left for these teams. That’s what I saw happening with Evans in Week 10, especially if Godwin was limited. Evans was held to only two catches, although they went for 69 yards and a score. That worked out to less production than Allen (at $100 less) and not even four points over Jeudy (at $1,600 more.) While this theory will likely burn me at some point, I think it will work out more often than not.
I had a great week, easily cashing all of my double-ups and winning 89% of my head-to-heads, putting me solidly back in the black for 2021. The most popular lineup had Evans and Conner instead of Jeudy and Harris — with my lineup winning by a mere 1.8 points. That lineup was somewhere north of 25% of my competition this week. Failing to beat them would’ve meant still cashing in double-ups, but a big dent to my head-to-head ROI. For what it’s worth, I believe they were luckier than I was — with late touchdowns from both Evans and Conner saving otherwise terrible days. Pivoting off the more popular builds feels incredible when it works, and terrible when it doesn’t. I’ll enjoy my big win this week.