The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Selections – Week 4

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 28, 2019 01:54

The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Selections – Week 4

There were some good lessons learned from Week 3 that I want to talk about before diving too far into Week 4. What started off as a promising Week 3 in the early portion of the main slate evaporated late in the afternoon as I was let down by several key players in my lineup and came away with a loss. Anytime that I have a loss, I always want to make sure that I go back to try to understand why it came out the way that it did and if there was anything that I could have done to prevent it or if their were any opportunities that I missed where I could have added easy value and opened up better options on the rest of my roster.

Something that I probably have not been emphasizing enough is that in order to be successful throughout the season, it is vitally important to be tuned in to what is going on the last two hours before kickoff. Most of the injuries each week are pretty well known in advance, but during the season, there are always a handful of surprises that hit on Sunday morning that we likely have not been thinking about up until that moment. Often times, these are the best opportunities for us to improve our position over the rest of the field as only some of the other owners are going to take this information into account.

My brain did not go the right direction on Sunday morning when the news broke that James White would miss the game with the Jets on Sunday due to the birth of his child. In my head, I was thinking about Sony Michel and that it would likely increase his roll in the Patriots offense. His salary of 6100 was not unreasonable so I looked at a couple of different ways where I might fit him into the offense. That was a very Level 1 approach to thinking about the situation. My thinking was off in a couple of ways worth sharing with you. The first thing I should have considered was that the Patriots have very defined roles within the running game. They use certain player primarily in the run game and others in the pass. White’s role is mostly in the passing game and Sony has never really been a great pass catching back.

The Pats break down the backfield through three player: Sony in the run game, White in the pass and Rex Burkhead as a the bridge between run and pass. Now, I liked the game script for Michel as I thought the Pats would take a big lead and be grinding the clock which should give him plenty of chances for touches later in the game and perhaps a few extra shots around the goal line. What I really should have been thinking about was who would be picking up the touches from James White. Since Burkhead is versatile as a pass catcher, naturally, he would be more likely to slide into the White role.

The next thing that we need to think about in that scenario is salary. If going through the players and touches is not enough to figure out who to play, then salary is the obvious component to consider. Rex was only $3900. Burkhead was already getting about 11 opportunities per game before White being out and White was getting 8-9 per game. Just in running through the numbers, giving Burkhead 6-7 and Michel 2-3 gets us to exactly where Burkhead ended up on Sunday which he turned into 11 carries for 47 yards and a TD and 7 targets, 6 catches, and 22 yards which equated to 18.9 DK points for the week. Sure, the TD was fortunate, but even without that, the extra touches still would have given him more than a 3x day, which is always our starting point for what we are looking for out of each player based on their salary (back of napkin target on DK each week, $50k in total salary, looking for 150 points, thus 3x, Burkhead salary 3.9k means 3x would be 11.7 points, which he would’ve beaten even without the TD).

The important part of using these types of plays when they pop up is not so much the performance itself, but for what it allows us to unlock in being able to move up to get other players. When you get that extra salary available, it might allow for you to go and get another star player in a great matchup. Some owners were able to leverage up in such a way that they were able to play both Zeke Elliott and Christian McCaffrey last week. Zeke was in the obvious smash spot and even though he did not have the monster game, it was about the easiest 19 points ever and that was his absolute floor. If Miami had not burned themselves by blowing several great scoring chances in the first half, it is likely Zeke remains in that game and picks up much of the yardage and fantasy points that Tony Pollard picked up in mop up duty as they both ended the day with over 100 yards rushing and Pollard locked in a late TD.

Now, the other key that owners used to get to CMC was to start Kyle Allen for the Panthers. He ended up being priced at $4000 last week, the floor for a QB salary. This was a situation where if yu had any confidence at all in Allen, then it was okay to give him a shot. We haven’t seen him in any meaningful action outside of a mop up effort against the backups of New Orleans in the last game of 2018 where he played well. He deserved more consideration than I gave him last week. Don’t get me wrong, I have made the move to play the min salary QB on a number of occasions to mixed results, but Allen’s situation was unique. When you do play the QB at min salary, one big benefit is that they do not need to do much to hit value for the week. While we aim for 3x across the board as a performance minimum, in reality, we want our QB to do a little more since they are touching the ball on every play. If you get 12 points from your starting QB, it feels like a disaster even though technically, he’s earned his salary for the week.

However, we had every reason to believe that Allen would exceed that low 3x bar for a $4k player. He was up against the Cardinals who are missing their best two CBs and have given up a lot of total yardage to QBs this season. Furthermore, the Cardinals play an uptempo style that maximizes the number of plays they get off during the game, including a disproportionate number of passes. Given that Carolina also plays fast on offense, this was a formula for a much higher floor than normal. Of course, this has gone against me before where young players end up looking like a deer in the headlights under pressure, but the threat here was pretty low.

In the end, I was not undone by either of the decisions above, but by the fact that I got minimal performances from a couple of players in the late portion of the main slate. Larry Fitzgerald did fine as an early TD helped to carry him to an okay effort. Chris Carson sucked many of us in again. I think the question we were all asking going into his game with the Saints was, ‘He can’t possibly fumble three games in a row, can he?’ The answer to that question was and emphatic YES! That fumble put the Seahawks in a deep hole and they spent the rest of the day trying to throw their way out of it, during which Carson spent the majority of his time watching from the sidelines.

The big decision that hurt me was a late tinker…again. Much like Week 1, I made a late costly switch. I decided I had to go get Zeke for big dollars over Dalvin Cook. I knew Zeke would be heavily owned and if he had one of those monster Zeke days, I would be in trouble. I figured both the Vikes and Cowboys would have a favorable running game script so I figured both guys would be close in touches. Unfortunately, the move up from Zeke forced me to select one Charger as opposed to two like I originally wanted to play. I always get a little nervous about stacking a RB/WR together in a cash game, but if the situation is right, I do not have a problem with it. Both Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler seemed to be in a nice spot against the Texans last week, but I ended up going with the player who I felt would get more touches and with many of them being targets. Ouch. Keenan had another massive day and Ekeler did not get going the way I would have hoped. It was a close call that could have gone either way and unfortunately, I made the wrong choice last week.

Remember, winning in cash games takes your full focus every week. Information on players is available to a wider degree than ever before so we need to go beyond just selecting good players each week. We need to be selecting the right players each week. Part of that comes through the research that we do during the week, but those last couple of hours on Sunday are where we need to lock all the way in to make sure that there are not any final pieces that we are missing out on before kickoff.

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 28, 2019 01:54

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