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Week 13 DFS Cash Game Review

Week 13 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.

The Lineup:

Won 88% of head-to-heads and cashed in all double-ups.

The Hits:

Diontae Johnson

I was shocked at Johnson's rostership here. going into Week 13, he had at least 13 (!) targets in five of his last six contests. There was no reason to expect that to change this week. The Ravens rank fifth against the run and 24th against the pass in DVOA, and the Steelers have largely abandoned the running game late in games this season. With value at other positions, he was also extremely easy to fit. That partially explains why he wasn't more popular, since many players found the salary to get up from Johnson to Cooper Kupp ($9,000). Kupp has a great day too -- but Johnson outscored him by more than four points at $2,200 less in salary. With much of my lineup being fairly chalky, the bug score at 17% from Johnson was huge here.

Chris Godwin

Godwin was in a similar position to Johnson, in that his target share without Antonio Brown is massive, and the Bucs love to pass. He saw a ridiculous 17 targets which make it very hard for him to fail. The field was on this play (which begs the question, why not Diontae as well?) so it wasn't super impactful, but still good to get a big score. When I decided not to use Brady at quarterback, Godwin was a must for me. Not having exposure to the Bucs offense would be a mistake. (Which is the case most weeks.)

Antonio Gibson and Sony Michel

Both players were way too cheap for their usage, as JD McKissic missed the game for Washington and Darrel Henderson Jr was relegated to an emergency-only role due to injury. The news on Henderson broke fairly late (Saturday night) and he was technically active, which likely limited Michel's popularity here. This screenshot is from a $100 contest, he was only used by 42.3% of the field in my $25 game.

Both players also set up extremely well, with Michel the lead back in a projected blowout against the Jaguars, and Gibson profiling for a massive receiving role with McKissic out. Michel ended up with 24 carries, while Gibson scored 13.3 points in the passing game. It's nice when what's "supposed to" happen, does.

As an aside, I did have my doubts about rostering both Gibson and Heinicke, having been burned by Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey last week. However, this game had a much higher total than Carolina's did last week, and the pairing came in at a cheaper salary, so I was comfortable with it.

Arizona Defense

No flame emoji, but when my defense goes over 3x their salary I'm counting it as a win. Arizona has a great pass rush, and both Bears' quarterbacks are highly mistake-prone. I generally prefer to pay less at defense, but given all the value on the slate and the weakness of the cheaper options, I considered a few units around this price. Miami at $3,300, Minnesota at $3,200, and the Eagles at $3,600. Even getting up to the Rams at $4,000 made some sense this week. The Cardinals have a top-five pass rush though (based on Adjusted Sack Rate) which is crucial. Fantasy scoring comes from quarterback pressure, which creates sacks and turnovers. That means the three main metrics we should be targeting are: Defensive line mismatches, bad quarterback play, and heavily favored teams (since teams pass more when trailing.) The Cardinals checked all three boxes.

The Misses:

Brandon Aiyuk

The last receiver spot came down to Aiyuk and Hunter Renfrow ($5,800.) However, I wanted to leave at least $100 on the table to pivot from Michel to Laviska Shenault ($4,400) if we got a surprise announcement that Henderson was a full-go. That left me with Aiyuk, as going to Renfrow would've cost too much salary.

I had my doubts about Aiyuk, as sometimes players struggle when the team's top receiver (in this case, Deebo Samuel) is missing. We like to think it simply means more targets for Aiyuk, but it can (and did) end up meaning less total passing volume and less scoring. Jimmy Garoppolo attempted only 30 passes, with 12 of them going towards George Kittle. It wasn't a terrible day for Aiyuk, but not what I was expecting. Renfrow ended his day with 22.2 points, so this was definitely a mistake.

Everyone Else:

Jonathon Taylor

The league's best back, taking on the league's 25th ranked run defense as a massive favorite. How could you say no? Taylor was obvious here and went over 3x his salary despite zero passing-game work. With all the other value on the slate, he was easy to get to as well. Sometimes we don't need to overthink it in DFS. That was the case in Week 13.

Foster Moreau

With Darren Waller out, Moreau projected as an every-down player at only $2,700. I prefer paying down at tight end anyway, so this was too good to pass up. With how popular he was, it essentially didn't matter what he scored -- my competition was getting the same points I was. It's nice to be able to plug a player in at the most frustrating position and worry about beating the field elsewhere though.

Taylor Heinicke

I buried the lede a bit here, as Heinicke was my most interesting decision in Week 13. The popular build was either to pay up for Tom Brady or take the savings on minimum-priced Gardner Minshew with Jalen Hurts out. I thought it was better to get my Brady exposure to Godwin, given how concentrated the Bucs offense is. (As it turned out, Godwin outscored Brady by .6 points.) I also didn't trust that Minshew wouldn't totally fall on his face, which left me with Heinicke. Minshew ended up being the better play, but spending more for Heinicke forced me from Cooper Kupp to Diontae Johnson, which turned out better anyway. Many weeks I would've plugged my nose and played Minshew, but the value at running back and tight end made it so I didn't have to. I'd say it worked out.

Wrap Up

This was my favorite kind of week, with a handful of obvious plays (Godwin, Moreau, all the running backs) that a small percentage of the field missed. Before the games even started, anyone without Godwin, Gibson, Michel, and Taylor was already playing from behind. (One could argue the Taylor point, but everybody else was clearly necessary this week.) That meant I effectively was ahead of enough of the field to cash, almost by default. I was able to separate further with Johnson, which turned my day from good to great. After hovering around break-even all year, I'm now well into the black on the season as we head down the final stretch.