The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Picks – Week 16

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte December 26, 2020 06:53

The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Picks – Week 16

I felt really good about my build for Week 15, but came up a little short in many of my cash game rosters, though I did squeak into the money in a few. A couple of close calls proved to be the deciding factor for the week and I was within 2-5 points of cashing across the board.

Late injury news again proved to be a huge factor in building my final team. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being in front of your computer the last two hours before lineup lock. If you are simply a casual player, no big deal. However, if you really want to have any chance of being profitable over the long term, you need to devote those hours to being ready to get creative around the active/inactive announcement that drops 90 minutes before kickoff for the main slate.

This past week delivered a big surprise when Zeke Elliott was ruled out for the week as that had not been anticipated leading up to the game with the 49ers. With Tony Pollard moving up to the starting role, he was immediately a strong play. The 49ers are tough to run against, but the volume would be substantial and he’s shown himself to be a good pass catching back. I debated between Pollard and Fournette and built some lineups with both backs, but had decided earlier in the week that Alvin Kamara was a must play at his price after the news broke that Michael Thomas was placed on the IR. I knew with Fournette that the Falcons defend the run really well so that there was a chance he could end up as a chalk bust if the Bucs ended up having to throw the ball all day. That prediction seemed accurate until the second half when Fournette found the end zone twice on one yard TD runs, bulking up an otherwise tepid stat line. Pollard was fantastic for me as he ended up catching a bunch of passes and scored twice to get over 30 points for the week. Kamara was a little disappointing in only scoring 18.4, though he was so heavily owned that it really did not matter.

At WR, I knew early in the week that I would play Brandon Aiyuk with Deebo Samuel out and Aiyuk again did very well, continuing a strong rookie season. With the Michael Thomas news, Emmanuel Sanders was incredibly cheap as the top target for Drew Brees. He gave us a floor performance, but for 4200, there were not a lot of better value plays that offered as much upside or cap relief. TY Hilton did not do a lot to help me out. He’s killed Houston in recent years and had been playing great over the last few weeks, but did not see many targets and posted a few less points than I would have hoped for given the matchup. He nearly found the end zone on a deep ball late in the game, but got taken down at the 2 yard line, just missing a TD that we desperately needed. I’m fine with using Hilton in that spot. He had demolished that same Texan team two weeks prior to last week and seems to be developing a nice connection with Philip Rivers.

At TE, I was either going to find the funds to get to Mark Andrews or just punt completely and use the dollars to pay up elsewhere. Cole Kmet seemed to be building some momentum, but did zip against the Vikings, though that had a lot more to do with Minnesota’s complete and total inability to stop the run than anything else. It would have have been great to get up to Andrews, but finding those dollars would have been a challenge considering the key players I was targeting for the week.

On defense, all week I planned to punt to Washington. I liked the matchup at home on a messy field against Seattle. The Seahawks have allowed Russell Wilson to get beat up by physical defenses up front, but kept their QB relatively clean all day as Washington was unable to generate a sack and was only able to put up 3 points which was mildly disapppointing.

The big decisions came down to my last couple of roster spots. At QB, I played around with a lot of lineups that started with Mahomes early in the week, but by Sunday, I was locked in on Kyler Murray. Once the Eagles announced that Darius Slay was out, that meant that 3/4 of its starting secondary was gone leaving no corner with any ability to cover DeAndre Hopkins. I considered stacking Hopkins with Murray, but was hesitant as I thought the Chiefs/Saints game would shoot out and wanted to have some exposure to the passing game through KC and Tyreek Hill. The other option that I needed to consider was in paying up for Derrick Henry in an amazing matchup against the Lions. If I paid up for Henry, I would have dropped down from TY Hilton to Russell Gage. There was a lot going on in that last hour and I although I do not think my play was terrible in going with Hill, I think that it was incorrect even at the time I made the call.

In cash games, you should be focusing on taking players at a higher dollar level that have a very defined role going into a game. If you have a choice between a stud running back that is going to touch the ball 25+ times against one of the worst defenses in the league in a game with a perfect script for him to maximize his upside, you should lock him in. Sure, we’ve seen Tyreek go off a few times this season, but the Saints do have a well regarded secondary and did double up on Hill throughout the game. Hill did catch a short TD early in the game, but was largely bottled up outside of that and the Chiefs never really even looked his way deep most of the day due to double coverage. Henry ran through the Lions easily and scored 28.2 DK points without any problem at all.

The other play that was better would have been to just play Hopkins over Hill. With such a depleted secondary, I knew that Hopkins would have a huge day. I considered dropping to Hopkins and upgrading on defense with the extra funds, but ultimately decided to stick with Hill as I had been on him all week and he was at the top of my WR rankings. My play did not miss by that much, but it was the margin between a great week and a losing week. In cash games for DFS, the difference between being profitable and losing money is very slim so it is important to go back every week to see where we can make those key improvements in our process.


Week 15 Team
Kyler Murray 7000 38.14
Alvin Kamara 7400 18.4
Tony Pollard 5200 31.2
Brandon Aiyuk 6300 22.3
TY Hilton 5500 11.1
Emmanual Sanders 4200 11.6
Cole Kmet 3000 3.2
Tyreek Hill 8800 17.4
Washington 2600 3
50000 156.34

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QB DK 50000 FD 60000
Patrick Mahomes 8500 17.0% 9400 15.7%
Deshaun Watson 7600 15.2% 8500 14.2%
Jalen Hurts 7000 14.0% 8200 13.7%
Mitchell Trubisky 5700 11.4% 7200 12.0%


Patrick Mahomes – Mahomes tops my list at QB this week as the Chiefs battle the Falcons at home. The Falcons are tough to run against, but only 19th against the pass. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire out, that should keep the Chiefs throwing even more often than normal, which should lead to another 25-30+ point output for Mahomes this week.

Deshaun Watson – Watson has been star for Houston all season during a tough 2020 campaign, but should have another big week at home against the Bengals. While Cincy did the unthinkable in upsetting Pittsburgh on Monday night, they will have a harder time with a mobile QB like Watson as they rank 27th against the pass this year. Even with the loss of Will Fuller, Watson should still be able to throw for over 300 yards as the Texans have largely abandoned the run game to move the ball, though they did finally work David Johnson into the passing game last week.

Jalen Hurts – Hurts took another big step forward last week against Arizona, putting up massive numbers in a tight loss that came down to the final drive of the game. He’s a threat to run the ball 10 or more times per game and this week, he gets the soft Dallas defense that ranks 24th in the league overall. With Hurts under center and playing in Dallas, conditions are perfect for a shootout between two teams still clinging to a small chance of making the playoffs.

Mitchell Trubisky – The punt play of the week at QB is Mitchell Trubisky. Our biggest worry here is that the Bears get well ahead and David Montgomery does all the work, but with the Jags having the worst ranked pass defense in the league, Trubisky could have a rare 25 point day, especially if the Jags fight to keep it close which they have done a remarkable number of times this season.


RB DK 50000 FD 60000
David Montgomery 7700 15.4% 7800 13.0%
Austin Ekeler 7600 15.2% 7000 11.7%
Miles Sanders 7000 14.0% 7300 12.2%
David Johnson 6100 12.2% 6700 11.2%
Le’Veon Bell 5800 11.6% 6400 10.7%
Melvin Gordon 5600 11.2% 6400 10.7%
Giovani Bernard 4800 9.6% 6000 10.0%

UPDATE – Though it applies more to the WR position, if Keenan Allen is out this week, that is a big boost to Austin Ekeler who would likely take over most of the shorter passing routes for the Chargers. Hunter Henry is on the COVID list as well so Ekeler could be in line for double digit targets this week.

David Montgomery – David Montgomery is making the most of his opportunity as a three down back for Chicago as he’s been on an absolute tear over the last month. In his last four games, he’s rushed for 434 yards and 5 TDs and added 13 catches for 137 yards and 1 TD. His confidence is growing by the week and Matt Nagy is getting him the ball more often. He gets the 23rd ranked run defense in the league this week and though his price is climbing, I think the Bears will still try to get him 20+ touches, especially if they get ahead.

Miles Sanders – Sanders is a boom or bust play, so perhaps a little more GPP than cash, but this feels like the type of game where he could have a ceiling sort of performance against the 25the ranked rush defense in the NFL. If Doug Pederson makes the commitment to get him the ball 20 times, he has 25 point upside in game where neither team will play much defense.

Le’Veon Bell – CEH is out this week which means that Bell will get the start and I would assume about 85-90% of the RB action for the Chiefs this week. Atlanta is tough against the run, but Bell is a great pass catching RB out of the backfield which gives him a nice floor for cash games this week. If he gets up near 20 touches, he should easily hit value in a game where the script is very favorable for him.

Melvin Gordon – With Lindsey and Freeman both out this week, Melvin Gordon will get the bulk of the action out of the backfield for the Broncos this week in a revenge game for Gordon against his former team back in LA. The Chargers rank 26th in the league against the run this season and Gordon will get the rare opportunity to be on the field in more pass catching situations than normal which bumps up his floor considerably.

Giovani Bernard – Gio had 26 touches against the Steelers on Monday night and totaled 97 yards and 2 TDs in one of his best games of the year. He likely will not see quite so many touches again this week, but the matchup is even better as he gets the Texans who rank 29th against the run this season. Gio’s salary was set before he had his monster game so we are getting a very nice price break on a RB that will get the majority of the touches against a team that he should be able to have a lot of success against.


WR DK 50000 FD 60000
Tyreek Hill 9000 18.0% 9400 15.7%
Calvin Ridley 8500 17.0% 8700 14.5%
Allen Robinson 7700 15.4% 7500 12.5%
Keke Coutee 5400 10.8% 6100 10.2%
Russell Gage 5100 10.2% 5800 9.7%
Tee Higgins 4700 9.4% 5800 9.7%
Cam Sims 3300 6.6% 5000 8.3%

UPDATE – I am a little nervous about Tyreek Hill this week as ESPN is reporting that he will play, but that the Chiefs will be ‘monitoring’ him, whatever that means. That sounds to me like there is still some worry on the hamstring which to me means that he’s not going to be full speed this week. That would make me upgrade Travis Kelce and also the other KC receivers for GPP action, though it would be too tough for me to isolate one to feel good about in cash game.

The biggest news of the week comes out of Cleveland where the Browns WR corp came into close contact with COVID and now four of them are out this week. It is a crazy situation, and leaves the passing game up in the air for Baker Mayfield. I’ll add Marvin Hall to the player pool who is priced at $3000 this week. He’s the only WR on DK that is even available with what is left of the group as the Browns were forced to call up members of the practice squad to fill out the group for the game tomorrow. Hall is a speedster who had some success in Detroit earlier in the year and is capable of a making a big play on a vertical route against a bad defense. He really has not played since signing with the Browns so it will be interesting to see how comfortable he is in the offense. With Terry McLaurin now being ruled out for Washington, I think I prefer Cam Sims this week as he’s more experienced in the offense and has been playing all year so he projects better overall and costs only $300 extra from Hall.

I am also going to add AJ Green to the player pool at $3400 after getting creative with some builds. Green has taken a big fat zero on four different occasions this season, but with Tyler Boyd out and the Bengals going up against the 28th ranked pass defense in the league, the bar is really low for Green to clear this week to be viable. He has a very favorable matchup against Vernon Hargreaves this week and the Texans should score often which will force Brandon Allen to throw the ball often to try to keep up. There is some risk here, but AJ has hit value at this salary five times this season and this matchup is about as good as it gets late in his career.

Keep an eye on the Chargers receivers this week. Keenan Allen is again questionable this week and was basically just a decoy in playing against the Raiders last week. If Allen is out, we need to take a look at the entire Chargers offense. Austin Ekeler would certainly be upgraded in a big way with Allen out of the short passing game. Also, Mike Williams is only $4500 and carries no injury designation this week which would make him very appealing against a Broncos secondary that has been depleted from injuries to all of its top corners. Right now, Allen looks like he will be a game time decision so if you have some flexibility in the late games, there could be some interesting opportunities that pop up depending on the news that comes in early in the afternoon.

Tyreek Hill – Hill has been limited in practice this week, but as long as there is no news of a setback on Saturday, he should be full speed against Atlanta on Sunday. The Falcons have a funnel defense where they can stop the run, but struggle against the pass. The will not be a problem for the Chiefs to adjust to with their high powered aerial attack. Hill offers tremendous upside when he is utilized frequently, though at this price, it gets tough to pay up for him.

Calvin Ridley – With Julio Jones out again this week Calvin Ridley is again a great play as he really turns up his play when he’s the primary target. Over the last five games, he’s seen 54 targets and that should not slow down this week in a game that the Falcons are likely to be trailing in by a considerable amount in the second half. The Chiefs are solid against the pass, but volume alone should get Ridley to value again this week as the Falcons offer little in terms of a running attack.

Allen Robinson – Watch the injury report over the next two days, but as long as Robinson suits up, he’s in a great spot against the Jags, especially if the game stay reasonably close. The Jags have the worst pass defense in the league and have an inexperienced secondary that has been allowing receivers to go over 100 yards almost every single week of the season. Despite inconsistent QB play, Robinson still has over 1100 yards this year and should add plenty more this week.

Tee Higgins – With Tyler Boyd out this week, Higgins looks like a nice value play for the Bengals against the Texans. The Texans rank 29th in the league against the pass and have some of the worst CBs in the league to deal with. Though Brandon Allen is not ideal for us to work with, so long as Higgins sees the 7-9 targets I expect, he should be in great shape for the price and opens up plenty of options for us in other spots.

Cam Sims – Terry McLaurin is doubtful to play against the Panthers this week which means that Sims will be the top receiver lining up for Washington. At just 3300, Sims does not need to do a lot to hit value. He’s seen 19 targets over his last three games and I would expect 6-7 this week in this role in the offense. Carolina ranks 26th against the pass this year and Troy Pride has one of the worst grades at CB in the NFL. These plays always make me nervous, but the volume should be there for us against a poor defense.


TE DK 50000 FD 60000
Travis Kelce 8500 17.0% 8800 14.7%
Mark Andrews 5700 11.4% 7000 11.7%
Logan Thomas 4900 9.8% 6000 10.0%
Dallas Goedert 3600 7.2% 5700 9.5%
Dalton Schultz 3200 6.4% 5200 8.7%

UPDATE – Add Austin Hooper to the player pool at $3500. With the entire receiving corp out due to COVID, Hooper is now likely the primary target for Mayfield on Sunday. He played well last week with a stat line of 6/5/41/1 and was solid early in the season before missing a few games due to injury. The Jets are ranked 26th in the league against the TE so this was already a good spot that now looks great for Hooper.

I am also going to add Donald Parham to the player pool at $2500. The Chargers put Hunter Henry on COVID/IR this week and with Keenan Allen still ailing, this would be a good spot for Parham to step in to make an immediate impact on the offense. The Broncos rank 19th against the TE this year and at min salary, he does not have to do much to hit value for us this week.

Travis Kelce – With Kelce, you are essentially getting a 4th wide receiver. I do not even mind pairing him with another TE in the flex if needed since his numbers are so strong that it’s much different than playing two normal TEs together. With 98 catches, over 1300 yards and 10 TDs, Kelce is one of the most consistent pass catchers every week and that should continue against Atlanta who ranks 27th against the TE this season. With CEH out and Atlanta tough to run against, this should be another 20+ point day for Kelce and I will be working hard to get him onto my lineup.

Logan Thomas – Thomas has taken off the last three weeks with 31 targets, including and incredible 15 targets last week against Seattle. With the news that Terry McLaurin is doubtful to play, that really bumps up Thomas this week as a pass catching option for Washington regardless of who is throwing him the ball. He has the athleticism of a WR and the Panther rank 26th against the pass and 20th against the TE this year. With limited pass catching options, I would expect Logan Thomas to continue his recent run of strong play.

Dallas Goedert – Goedert seems to be the TE in favor for the Eagles and should see plenty of action against the Cowboys this week who are the second worst team in the league at covering the TE and are missing their top LB in Leighton Vander Esch. Goedert has seen 37 targets over his last five games and with the Eagles having limited options at WR, he should continue to be a steady presence catching passes from Jalen Hurts.

Dalton Schultz – On the other side of the ball, the Eagles rank 29th against the TE this season and lost a couple of key players in the secondary to the IR last week. Schultz is the 4th option as a pass catcher for Dallas, but he does tend to see about 5 targets per week and does get some looks near the red zone. At this price, he’s nearly bust proof as even a 6-7 point effort gets us close enough to value so that the dollars saved to pay up for another player are well worth the tradeoff.


DEF DK 50000 FD 60000
Browns 3700 7.4% 4900 8.2%
Bears 3600 7.2% 4700 7.8%
Washington 3000 6.0% 4800 8.0%
Texans 2800 5.6% 4600 7.7%
Seahawks 2600 5.2% 3900 6.5%

UPDATE – Add the Jets at the stone cold minimum salary of $2000 this week. With the Browns missing their top four wide receivers, it is going to be much tougher for them to move the ball up and down the field. The Jets have also been a decent defense for the price over the last five games or so outside of two weeks ago against the Seahawks. They’ve scored between 5-9 DK points in the other four games which would be a very solid score for a min priced defense.

Browns – The Browns have one of the top defensive lines in the league and the Jets have arguably the worst offensive line in the league. The Browns will generate a lot of pressure on Sam Darnold all day and that usually leads to plenty of sacks and turnovers.

Bears – The Bears hammered Kirk Cousins last week and have an even easier task this week against Gardner Minshew who will force the ball often as never worries about making silly decisions with the football. This is another huge mismatch between a strong pass rush and a terrible offensive line for the Jags.

Texans – Our pay down option for the week is Houston. The Bengals are again playing turnover prone Brendon Allen at QB and are missing another key player on offense as Tyler Boyd is out with a concussion.


Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte December 26, 2020 06:53

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