Fantasy Football: Best Conference Round DraftKings Cash-Game Plays (DFS)
We made it to the finish line, gang. After 19 weeks of DFS, we’re heading into the final week of multi-game contests. There’s just two games on the slate (obviously), leaving our choices limited. Because of that, this article isn’t going to feature the same number of players it typically does. When you’re playing on a slate this small, you need to choose your weapons and stick with them throughout the lineup.
Seeing this is a cash-game article (50/50’s, Double Ups, Head-to-Heads), we need to approach it looking for stability, but how much stability can you really have when there’s just four teams playing? Because of that, there’ll be more risk in the lineup than usual, but it’s also more important than ever to get the players who are projected for a big game, no matter the cost, like the way we did with Le’Veon Bell and Leonard Fournette last week. Now is not the time to go bargain shopping. Let’s talk about the players who should be at the core of your cash lineups.
Blake Bortles (at NE) $5,000
This may sound odd trusting Bortles, but Tom Brady is simply too expensive to trust against the Jaguars defense. But know this – by playing Bortles, you’re also getting a part of Brady, because if the Patriots offense scores points on the Jaguars defense, like oddsmakers expect, that means Bortles will drop back to pass a lot more often than they’d like him to. There were three games this season where Bortles failed to throw at least one touchdown, and he threw the ball less than 35 times in each of those games. The Patriots opponents averaged 36.9 pass attempts per game, the third-highest mark in the NFL. The fact that Leonard Fournette is banged up and struggled after injuring his ankle last week, Bortles is going to have to step up. At the very least, we should see some garbage time points for him, along with some rushing totals. He’s now rushed 15 times in the two postseason games for 123 yards. Spending down at the quarterback position allows us to spend up elsewhere. If you’re really against him, Case Keenum is the only other one I’d consider.
Dion Lewis (vs. JAX) $8,100
This is one of those times where you have to use the highest projected running back, no matter the cost. Over the last three games, Lewis has averaged a ridiculous 28.3 touches per game, including at least 24 touches in every game. He’s turned those touches into 35.3, 31.3, and 23.1-point outings with DraftKings scoring, hitting value every week. It’s important to note that each of those games were without Rex Burkhead playing, so we have to temper expectations with him returning, but if we know anything about Bill Belichick, he’s going to ride the hot hand. Just because Chris Hogan dominated before his injury, he’s caught just two balls in the two games since returning to the lineup. Lewis is the highest projected running back, and you need to play him.
Jerick McKinnon (at PHI) $5,100
We talked about it last week – the importance of knowing the scoring settings of DraftKings, and that McKinnon’s skill-set fits PPR scoring more than most. It also just so happens that the Eagles stuff the run on a consistent basis. Why is this a good thing for our running back? Because he’s the one who sees the majority of targets in the short passing game. With Adam Thielen dealing with a back injury that caused him to miss practice time, don’t be surprised to see McKinnon more involved than usual. Despite stopping the run, the Eagles did allow 91 receptions to running backs this year (10th-most in the league), as well as five receiving touchdowns (tied for the second-most in the league).
James White (vs. JAX) $4,900
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – James White is tearing up the NFL playoffs. After failing to score a rushing touchdown all season, White found the end zone against the stiff Titans run defense last week. He also added another four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown through the air, propelling him to a 20-point performance. It’s likely that he saw the four carries because of Rex Burkhead being inactive, and though it seems like Burkhead is going to play in this game, he may be limited after a four-week absence. White is going to be involved in the passing game, and that’s where we’re looking to get our value. Over the last four games, the Jaguars have allowed a massive 26 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns to running backs/fullbacks. It’s clearly a weakness in their game, and it’s likely because of teams dumping the ball off quickly due to their absurd pass-rush. White is cheap enough to take a chance on him.
Stefon Diggs (at PHI) $6,100
He should be playing with a bit more confidence after his game-winning catch against the Saints. His matchup is also a lot better against the Eagles, as they don’t have Marshon Lattimore in their secondary. Ronald Darby is a solid cornerback, but he’s far from a shutdown one. He also doesn’t shadow, meaning Diggs will see both him and Jalen Mills in coverage. While Mills has drastically improved from year-one to year-two, he’s still allowed nine touchdowns in his coverage, which is the most in the NFL. Knowing the Vikings will have trouble running the ball, and the fact that Adam Thielen has a back ailment, Diggs should be targeted heavier than usual in this game. There have been five games this year where Diggs was targeted at least eight times, and here are his averages in those games: 6.4 receptions, 105.4 yards, 1.2 touchdowns, and 25.3 DraftKings points.
Nelson Agholor (vs. MIN) $4,800
When paying up for Dion Lewis and Rob Gronkowski, we’re going to need some savings at wide receiver, and Agholor fits that role. In the three full games he’s played with Nick Foles, he’s averaged just under five targets per game, 46.0 yards, and 0.33 touchdowns. While that’s not going to impress Julio Jones or anything, that type of performance would give us value at his price. Let’s talk about the Vikings biggest strengths: Stopping the run, holding No. 1 wide receivers in check, and getting after the quarterback. None of that negatively affects Agholor, who plays about 80 percent of his snaps out of the slot, which means he’ll avoid Xavier Rhodes in coverage. He should come with a solid floor, which is all we’re looking for at this price.
Marqise Lee (at NE) $4,400
While playing Bortles, we want to attach his top wide receiver, which should be Lee. After returning from his multi-week ankle injury, Lee saw just one target against the Bills during wild-card weekend, but after another week removed from the injury, Lee totaled a team-high six targets against the Steelers. When in the lineup and seeing targets, Lee has been relatively consistent this year. In the 10 games with at least six targets, Lee averaged 5.4 receptions for 65.0 yards, and 0.3 touchdowns, which amounts to an average of 14.1 DraftKings points. Considering we’re expecting 35-plus pass attempts from Bortles, it’s very likely that Lee sees at least six targets in this game, as he saw 96 of Bortles’ 410 pass attempts before going down with his ankle injury in Week 15. That’s a 23.4 percent target share, which would have been among the league leaders. At just $4,400, Lee is somewhat of a no-brainer.
Rob Gronkowski (vs. JAX) $7,900
Again, you have to play the guys like Gronkowski in cash on a slate this small. There are rumblings that the Jaguars will match Jalen Ramsey up with him, but it’s hard to see that happening. While being held in to block (45 percent of the time), Ramsey would essentially be taken out of the play. Even when Gronkowski lines up in the slot (53 percent of his routes run), it’s not an area where Ramsey often operates, as he played just 64-of-1,148 snaps in the slot this season. I’m not betting against Gronkowski on a two-game slate.