Week 12 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 11 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.
Gronk was an easy selection this week, assuming we could find the salary. When fully healthy, Brady has looked his way frequently this season. His RedZone role is important as well, though he didn’t find the endzone in Week 12. This week the Bucs were facing one of the hardest teams to run on, in a game expected to be tight, so the overall passing expectation was through the roof. With Antonio Brown out, and the wide receivers expensive, Gronk provided cheap exposure to the passing attack. This was a ceiling outcome for Gronkowski (other than the lack of a touchdown) but the 10 targets were in line with my expectations
Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton
The Panthers’ offense was a huge letdown this week, scoring only 10 points against the Dolphins. That’s not ideal when rostering both their quarterback and their running back. Some of the overall ineptitude was due to McCaffrey’s injury — the offense has struggled without him all year. Still, they didn’t look much better before that. I expected them to perform better against the league’s 20th rated defense, but (as always) should’ve trusted that Vegas knew better — Carolina was implied for only 20 points this week. (The formula for implied points is (Game total/2)-(spread/2). So this game had a 42 point total, with Carolina as a +2 underdog. 21-1=20.)
Sanders was on pace for a reasonable, if unspectacular, Week 12 before he too exited with an injury. 64 yards on only nine attempts was encouraging, with a reception thrown in for good measure. At $5,100 on a slate where salary was a challenge, he was too good to pass up assuming he was the Eagles lead back. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Both the game environment and Sanders’ injury torpedoed his chances of a solid score.
Michael Pittman and Elijah Moore
I knew I’d be playing two midrange receivers behind Diontae Johnson this week. There wasn’t anybody in the very cheap range to love (although I briefly considered Nico Collins) making getting up to Adams/Kupp/Allen also impossible. I narrowed it down to some combination of Pittman, Moore, Jerry Jeudy, and Tee Higgins. I was somewhat confident in Pittman given the nature of the game (Colts underdogs against the Bucs, who face the league’s highest pass rate and have an injury-riddled secondary.) The logic worked out, except the production was too spread out, with none of their receivers getting over four catches.
I was less confident in Moore but thought the matchup with the Texans and the injuries to Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder would mean a better day for him. He did see eight targets, but they, unfortunately, came from Zach Wilson, which limited their value. Jeudy did even worse, but I should’ve rostered old friend Tee Higgins (who’s been on what feels like every other cash team this year.) He finally had his big day when I left him out of my lineup, scoring 26.4 DraftKings points.
Ben Roethlisberger loves throwing to Diontae Johnson, and Week 12 was no different. Johnson saw an insane 14 targets, making his 18.5 point final score actually a bit of a letdown. He was five yards short of the bonus and failed to score a touchdown, either of which would’ve made this a big day. With JuJu Smith-Schuster done for the year, I expect to go back to the well with Johnson frequently, as long as DraftKing’s pricing algorithm cooperates.
Henderson was too cheap for the lead back in a game that projected to be sneakily run-heavy. Green Bay features a much tougher pass defense than run defense, and the Rams are happy to run the ball if the game allows. Which it didn’t in Week 12, but Henderson was still able to have a solid score thanks to his pass-game work. He handled 80%+ of the running back targets and carries in this one, which is extremely valuable for a (usually) high-powered offense. I doubt we see him below $6,000 the rest of the season on DraftKings.
I’d play the local high school’s Junior Varsity team against Zach Wilson if they cost $2,300 on DraftKings.
This was an interesting week, as despite what looks to be a terrible lineup I actually booked a profit in head-to-heads, though I gave it back and (slightly) more in double-ups. Most of the popular plays this week failed, and I also think I got a fairly lucky draw in terms of opponent lineups this week. Still, it’s hard to expect to make money when your quarterback and your most expensive player are both out of the game by the third quarter.
From a process standpoint, this is a good reminder of an old lesson: trust Vegas. NFL betting markets are highly efficient, so investing that much in an offense implied for one of the lowest totals on the week was an obvious mistake. Pivoting off of either Newton or CMC would’ve been enough for a reasonably profitable day, as both were outscored by their obvious replacements (Taylors Tyrod and Jonathon.) Either one of those would’ve made this a great weekend, as I was within two points of the cash line in every double-up I lost. There wasn’t much I could do at the other spots that busted — the receivers were essentially coin flips, and Sanders’ injury isn’t something we can predict. Still, I consider myself fortunate to escape with 75% or so of the week’s bankroll intact.