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-process behind how I arrived at the places I did. Some weeks I’ll win, and some weeks I’ll lose (hopefully 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.
Won 56% of head-to-heads and failed to cash in all Double Ups
Derrick Henry ($8,800): As soon as I saw the schedule for the week, I knew I was playing Henry. Regardless of price, Henry as a heavy favorite is too good to pass up. With Julio Jones and AJ Brown both missing, I (correctly) assumed that Henry would be in for an extra large workload – even by his standards. As it turned out, the Titan’s depleted wide receiver room probably hurt Henry more than it helped him. Tennessee never really played with a comfortable lead, and the Jets loaded the box to stop Henry. Still, anytime you can get 33 carries out of a back, they’re a good play. I wish he was more involved in the pass game (season-low two targets) but I can deal with 28.7 points at almost any price.
DJ Moore ($6,600) and Chuba Hubbard ($5,900) I’m including Moore and Hubbard together because of the process that went in to picking them. It made sense to lock in most of the Panthers production with CMC out by rostering Moore and Hubbard. Logically, unless the Panthers fell on their face at least one of them would be in for a big day. At their prices, it wasn’t too hard to get them both. I didn’t think I could accurately pick which of the two would have the big day in this matchup, so I didn’t bother. Moore performed better of the two, but the bet paid off. As a group, they scored 44 points at $12,500 of salary. That works out to 3.52 points per $1,000 in salary, good for a 176 points if you could do that across an entire lineup.
Dak Prescott ($6,700) Prescott and Jalen Hurts ($6,900) were the only players I considered here. There was some chatter about Justin Fields, but even against the Lions I wasn’t ready to trust him. Usually, I try to pick players based on game environment and matchup. That wasn’t the case here, Prescott was the choice based on ability. The talent around him helped too, but Prescott is simply a better player than Hurts. Hurts ended up outscoring Prescott by around four points, but either guy ended up being fine here.
Davante Adams ($7,900): As referenced above, I toyed with various other receiver groupings, but ended up finding my way back to Adams (who I preferred from the beginning.) With the exception of Cooper Kupp, Adams has had the best role in the league so far. I trusted Adams, who’s had that role for a lot longer than Kupp. I also thought the Rams’ matchup was sneakily bad against an underrated Cardinals D. My projection on Adams’ role was correct, but he had an uncharacteristically inefficient game. He caught only six of his 11 targets, and failed to find the endzone. Normally, his score wouldn’t be a “miss” for a wideout, but at his price it is. For what it’s worth, he still slightly outscored Kupp. In retrospect, playing two mid-range players over Adams and Samuel was the move.
D’Andre Swift ($6,200): This was the decision that ruined my Sunday. I was torn between Swift and David Montgomery ($5,800), even considering entering two lineups as a hedge. I decided to listen to the coach-speak and follow the targets, rostering Swift. Naturally, Montgomery outscored him by 16 points. This one was obviously a mistake from the start. The home favorite running back, who isn’t in a committee, is always going to be the better play. Especially when he comes with $400 in savings. The lesson here is to avoid listening to coach speak. What do we expect Dan Campbell to say when a reporter asks him if Swift has earned a bigger role? This one hurts.
Curtis Samuel ($3,000): I actually wanted to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($3,200) here, but needed the $200 to get up to…D’Andre Swift (ugh.) Samuel had the best shot of any of the minimum-priced wide receivers though. (On DraftKings, the floor price for wideouts is $3,000.) With the Football Team struggling to get production behind Terry McLaurin, Samuel back from injury seemed reasonable. Essentially anything other than a 0 here would’ve been acceptable to me, and Samuel got to 5.9. For the record, Westbrook-Ikhine has the exact same score.
Lions Defense ($2,200): After Justin Fields’ debut performance, getting the defense against him for only $2,200 was a no-brainer. I almost always want cheaper DSTs, especially when they set up this well. Did it feel great rostering two Lions? Of course not. Did it work out? Also no. But the savings from the other reasonable defenses were crucial here, so it’s not really a miss.
Will Dissly ($2,600): I was getting pretty sick of spending around $5,000 on a tight end to get three points, so spending $2,600 to do so was an improvement. I wrote last week about reexamining my process on spending up for mid-range tight ends. Essentially everyone at the position other than Travis Kelce is fragile on a weekly basis (even Kelce had a dud this week.) As referenced above with the Lions, saving some salary at a high-variance position made sense. Dissly wasn’t a total dart throw either — (co?) starting tight end Gerald Everett missed the game, and wide receiver Tyler Lockett was banged up. None of the $5,000-$6,000 tight ends topped nine points this week, so this was a hit from a process standpoint.
This week was a heart breaker. Roughly half-way through the 4th quarter of the late games, I was winning all of my double ups. A few minutes later, they were all lost. I spread my play pretty close to 50/50 between head to heads and double ups. That means, even with a 56% head-to-head win rate, I lost about half of my buy in. (With the 10% rake on a head to head, 55% win rate is breaking even. I also won at a higher rate in lower-dollar head to heads, so even at 56% I was a slight loser there.)
Had I stuck with Montgomery over Swift (or even over Hubbard, as I considered briefly) I would’ve cleaned up. Cash games are brutal, very frequently one wrong decision can break your weekend. Unfortunately, with how sharp the field is, one right decision can’t make it. Luckily, this was an obvious fixable mistake. I’m a native Detroiter and a lifelong Lions fan, so there may have been some bias that snuck in here too. Usually my bias flows the other way (as is obviously correct with the Lions) but not this time. Of course, reading Detroit-centric news stories did me no favors here either.
On the year, I’ve split my Double Ups down the middle, with a 2-2 record. I’ve won 62.5% of my head-to-heads, good for a 12% ROI. (Assuming wins are evenly distributed across buy-in levels. They aren’t, but it’s not a major swing in either direction.) An overall ROI of 6% (average of my 12% H2H and 0% DU ROIs) isn’t ideal, but in today’s hyper-efficient DFS, I’ll take it. Next week is another chance, and I can’t wait.