Joey Ricotta | December 28th, 2019
The football regular season is all but over. Welcome to the final week of the regular season where things get preseason-ish and downright wacky. The plan needs to be attacking players who we feel will have solidified roles, as many teams will be resting its starters for the postseason, or seeing what they have out of some of their youngsters for next year.
The goal of the cash game article is to outline some of the safer plays, while also, providing options that will help you create the most optimal builds. The whole point of it all is to make some money. Sometimes we won’t, but putting ourselves in the best position to do so is the most important part. That goes without saying, but can sometimes get overshadowed by the results on a week to week basis.
The only thing people want to know is how many points a guy scored, and not necessarily the route in which they got there. DFS is not only a science but a math equation. Let’s dive in, put the pieces together, and try to solve it. Here are my favorite Cash Game Plays for Week 17.
Disclaimer: As always, there will be a lock emoji next to a few of my favorite plays. All of the guys mentioned are viable for cash games, but the ones with a lock emoji are going to be fixtures in my main lineup.
Carson Wentz ($6,100 DK, $7,700 FD)
The Eagles are in a must-win situation, battling it out with the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East Division crown. Through 15 regular-season games, the New York Giants have allowed the fourth-most DK points to opposing quarterbacks (23). Wentz has been sneaky good over the last four weeks, scoring over 20 points in each game. Furthermore, he’s thrown the ball at least 40 times in each of his last six outings. The Giants are getting healthier as the season comes to close, and with that, the offense has seen a rejuvenation of sorts. Wentz could be forced to throw it early and often.
Jameis Winston ($6,600 DK, $8,100 FD)
Never use Winston in cash? Why? The guy just puts up yards, TDs, and points (along with a ton of interceptions). The Atlanta Falcons have one of the worst passing defenses in the league and Winston already carved them up for 313 yards and three TDs earlier in the year, on his way to a 29.3 DK points performance. It’s clear that Bruce Arians and the Bucs have no sheer willingness to run the ball. These two teams combined for 57 points the last time they squared off. I’m willing to guess, Winston will be airing it out a ton in another potential shootout.
Other Targets: Matt Ryan, Kyler Murray (If he plays)
Value: Case Keenum, Brett Hundley (If Kyler Murray is out)
Christian McCaffrey ($10,000 DK, $11,000 FD)
Just jam him in. With all of the uncertainty surrounding Week 17, McCaffrey has to be a fixture. Why would we turn our backs on the always giving CMC now? He’s chasing history to become only the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Also, McCaffrey needs 216 yards to break Chris Johnson‘s single-season record for most yards from scrimmage. With nothing left to gain from this game, and a new coaching search underway in Carolina, you can bet, they are going to do all that they can to give McCaffrey a chance to achieve these milestones. This is the last chance we’ll have to play our weekly free square in 2019. Let’s take advantage of it.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,000 DK, $8,700 FD)
Well, the Cowboys have a lot to play for, and that’s definitely a big part of dissecting the way to attack this Week 17 slate. Zeke wasn’t a smash play last week, but he produced a little over 15 DK points, in a bad matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. He’ll get his normal heavy workload again and the Washington Redskins have given up huge games to running backs lately. Saquon Barkley gashed them for 189 yards rushing and 90 yards receiving last week while adding two touchdowns. Over the last three weeks, the ‘Skins have allowed the third-most rushing yards per game (179).
DeAndre Washington ($5,200 DK, $6,300 FD)
Josh Jacobs had a procedure done on Christmas to take care of a leg infection and has a lingering shoulder injury. On Saturday, he was downgraded to out. As it stands now, the Raiders are mathematically still in contention. They need a lot of help and the early slate of games will provide more clarity as to where they stand before their game even begins. Jacobs had a terrific rookie campaign and is the future of the Raiders’ backfield. In his absence, Washington is in a great spot once again. I don’t see a reason why they don’t rely on him heavily, even if the game turns out to be meaningless because they aren’t saving him to be a feature back next season. The Denver Broncos are a middling defense, ranking 14th in overall DVOA and 18th in run DVOA. Also working in Washington’s favor, out of 32 ranked quarterbacks, Derek Carr ranks 30th in aDOT or average depth of target. Expect some check downs to Washington.
Damien Williams ($4,700 DK, $6,400 FD)
Weeding out the Kansas City Chiefs backfield has been an interesting and rather frustrating task this season. Head coach Andy Reid seems to have pulled the plug on Lesean McCoy, to some extent. McCoy wound up being a healthy scratch last Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. Spencer Ware has been placed on IR with a shoulder injury. Ware and Darwin Thompson each carried the ball five times for only 14 yards. Williams on the other hand, ran 16 times for 65 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs need to win and have the New England Patriots lose to the Miami Dolphins in order to lock up the number two seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye. I could see the Chiefs getting out to an early lead and pounding the ball on the ground with Williams. There’s also a bit of a risk. Andy Reid could decide to call off the dogs and rest Williams in the second half. I don’t expect that to happen unless the Patriots get out to an insanely large lead in the first half of their game.
Other Targets: Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon, Aaron Jones
Value: Ryquell Armstead
You’re going to see a plethora of names at the wide receiver position this week, and that speaks to the uncertainty of the position as a whole. There are some guys in decent spots, but not many that sway me one way or the other. With that said, I felt like it would be best to give you all of the options I’m considering to allow you the decision based on your preferred roster construction.
Michael Gallup ($5,400 DK, $6,500 FD)
The Washington Redskins have been known to get burned by receivers this season, and Gallup should be involved a decent amount in the aerial attack. According to PFF, Gallup has the fourth-best WR/CB matchup on the slate against Danny Johnson of Washington. Dak Prescott didn’t look good last week, but he was dealing with a shoulder injury. He’s still dealing with the injury, but all signs point to him giving it a go. The production and effectiveness will be something to monitor and get a gauge of prior to lineup lock. Given that the game is a must-win, Prescott’s motivation to take as many painkillers as he needs is at an all-time high (no pun intended).
Christian Kirk ($4,700 DK, $5,700 FD)
Kirk’s had one of the weirder seasons of any player. He’s been heavily involved in the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive system, and yet he’s only scored a touchdown in one game all season. Granted, in that game, he actually scored three touchdowns. Nonetheless, the fact remains that he’s entirely too involved to be less than $5,000 on a full PPR site like DraftKings. He was shut out last week for zero catches, but he was targeted five times. I’m willing to assume last week was an outlier game and he’ll make an impact this week. The Rams will be without top cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill is doubtful to play. Kirk is a better play if Kyler Murray winds up playing, but either way at this price, he’s an option to consider.
Greg Ward ($4,700 DK, $5,600 FD)
We just have to continue to rock with this guy. You’ll see later in the article, that I have quite a few Eagles players mentioned. Let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean we should double or triple stack these guys in Cash Games. It simply means, you want to get a piece of its offense, and those are the guys to choose from. I have no problem stacking Carson Wentz with one pass catcher in Cash Games, but using two pass catchers is pushing it. Greg Ward gets a solid matchup, as he’s expected to be guarded by Corey Ballentine, for the most part, out of the slot. PFF has him as the receiver with the highest percentage advantage out of all of the WR/CB matchups this week.
Justin Watson ($4,900 DK, $6,100 FD)
This game has one of the highest over/unders on the slate. Watson has seen an uptick in usage, with the injuries to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. The Bucs toned down his special teams’ usage considerably to only 7% and increased his offensive snaps to 96%. Watson wound up catching five passes for 43 yards and a score. He also saw a season-high ten targets. That might be a bit too much to expect weekly, but seven targets at minimum seem reasonable.
Steven Sims Jr. ($4,700 DK, $6,000 FD)
Case Keenum will be making the start at quarterback for the Redskins, in place of the injured Dwayne Haskins. The ‘Skins could be playing from behind and would like nothing more than to play spoiler against their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Sims has been targeted ten or more times in each of the last two games and has caught three touchdown passes. Scary Terry McLaurin is out with a concussion and that only enhances Sims’ outlook for this week.
Other Targets: Julio Jones, Michael Thomas
Value: Danny Amendola
O.J. Howard ($4,300 DK, $5,500 FD)
Howard has found a way to troll us all, even more so than he has the entire season, by popping up on our radar late in the year as a realistic option, just to really stick it to us season-long fantasy players that drafted him before the season began. The Bucs are very thin at the receiver position, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both out. Howard becomes a focal point in the offense.
Dallas Goedert ($4,900 DK, $6,400 FD)
Zach Ertz left last week’s game and has been ruled out for this one, due to rib and back injuries. That sets up another smash spot for Goedert who reeled in nine of 12 targets for 91 yards and a score en route to a 17-9 Eagles victory over the Cowboys. Being that this is a must-win game, Wentz will likely lean heavily on Goedert who was such an important piece last week. The New York Giants rank 31st in DVOA against the pass (second-worst) at 31.8%.
Other Targets: Austin Hooper, Tyler Higbee (Keep an eye on Rams starters, the potential to rest)
Value: Mike Gesicki (Don’t love it)
If you’re a returning reader, you know, I like to look for cheaper defenses than most people feel comfortable with. I felt like I needed to say that as almost a disclaimer before we get going. This doesn’t necessarily make these defenses “safe,” although I know that’s normally the goal in cash games. Because of the unpredictability at the position, I’m more willing to punt defense in hopes of finding some cheap turnovers. Taking salaries into consideration, here are my favorites.
Chicago Bears ($2,100 DK, $3,900 FD) – Mainly DraftKings
As much as the Bears have struggled at times this season, especially compared to last year, the defense doesn’t deserve to be this cheap any week. Yes, they are traveling on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings, their division rivals. However, the Bears have stymied Kirk Cousins and the Vikings over their last few matchups. In two matchups last year, they allowed only 85 yards rushing TOTAL, and Dalvin Cook was healthy. They allowed only 40 yards rushing in the first matchup this season. Once again, Dalvin Cook was healthy. Cook won’t play in this game and the Vikings are expected to rest a bunch of their starters. Kirk Cousins hasn’t been spectacular against them either, and now the Vikings are likely going to sit him in favor of backup QB Sean Mannion who would make his second career start. That makes the Bears a good cheap option, especially on DraftKings.
New York Jets ($2,700 DK, $3,200 FD) – Both sites
The Jets take the short trip to face the Buffalo Bills and they are fairly cheap across the industry. Josh Allen has been better recently at not turning the ball over, but we know he can. The Jets have been playing better defense as of late and the Bills are locked into their playoff position. It wouldn’t surprise me if Matt Barkley wound up getting the start or a considerable amount of playing time over Josh Allen, in order to rest him for the playoffs.
Other Targets: Baltimore Ravens (vs PIT), Green Bay Packers (@ DET)
Again, keep an eye on all of the ever-changing news prior to kickoff. The big decision, to me, based on the picks given in this article, will be deciding which Tampa Bay and Philadelphia receivers to roster. Getting one of Justin Watson or O.J. Howard and one of Greg Ward or Dallas Goedert will be my priority. Good luck to all and thanks for reading all season long. We will continue to pump out a ton of content and weekly DFS articles for the playoffs.
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