This article is a data-driven deep dive on strategic decision-making and roster construction for DFS cash games and tournaments. It relies heavily upon FantasyLabs’ extensive suite of analytical DFS tools, as well as advanced metrics and film study. First, I walk through narrowing down the player pool at each position. Then, I lay out how to choose the highest-floor lineup combinations for cash games. Finally, I go game-by-game to present the biggest edges (stacks, pivots, leverage opportunities, etc.) in each.
Week 14 shmoney time.
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens ($7,400 DK, $9,000 FD) at BUF
- Ryan Tannehill, Titans ($5,800 DK, $7,300 FD) at OAK
Lamar Jackson‘s $7,400 DraftKings price tag is too cheap. Jackson failed to post at least 21.28 DK points only once all season, averaging an 8.81 Plus/Minus and surpassing salary-based expectations in 12-of-13 games (92%). Traveling up to Western New York to play Sean McDermott’s defense is no easy task, but Buffalo’s Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.4 rates as a slightly favorable 12th among the 26 matchups on the slate.
FanDuel has taken more aggressive pricing measures with Jackson ($9,000), so it makes more sense to pay down. Ryan Tannehill stands out at $7,300. Since taking over as the starter, Tannehill ranks in the top five among QBs with 23.12 FanDuel points per game. This week he faces Raiders, who are allowing a +5.69 Plus/Minus and 75% Consistency Rating against QBs this season, according to our NFL Trends tool. Those figures which jump to 82% and +6.89, respectively, if you remove the game in which they faced sub-replacement-level Bengals tank driver Ryan Finley.
Running Back (Cash)
- Bilal Powell, Jets ($3,500 DK, $4,900 FD) vs. MIA
- Melvin Gordon ($6,400 DK, $7,300 FD) at JAC
- Leonard Fournette, Jaguars ($7,800 DK, $7,500 FD) vs. LAC
- Dalvin Cook, Vikings ($9,500 DK, $8,700 FD) vs. DET
- Christian McCaffrey, Panthers ($10,300 DK, $11,000 FD) at ATL
Over the past two weeks, Bilal Powell has played 26 snaps to Ty Montgomey‘s 16 and Josh Adams‘ five (Adams was inactive last week). With Le’Veon Bell (illness) out, Powell projects to lead the Jets backfield in snaps and has the top Projected Plus/Minus among all players on the slate on DraftKings.
Melvin Gordon gets a smash spot against a Jaguars defense allowing 204.0 total yards and 1.75 TDs to running backs over their last four games. Gordon is averaging 21.3 touches per game since former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was fired.
Leonard Fournette is a pricing glitch to take advantage of on FanDuel, where he’s $300 cheaper than on DraftKings despite the former’s $10,000 higher salary cap. Fournette is averaging a +5.43 Plus/Minus and 80% consistency rating over his last 10 games — which is all the more impressive given that he found the end zone only three times over that span. The Chargers are ranked 24th in run-defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders.
After leaving Monday night’s tilt with Seattle with a chest injury, Dalvin Cook doesn’t carry an injury designation this week and is the preferred top-tier RB play on FanDuel, where he’s $2,300 cheaper than Christian McCaffrey. The Lions rank bottom-two in FanDuel points (12.17), Plus/Minus (+3.06), and Consistency (60%) allowed to opposing RBs. On DraftKings, though, the gap between Cook and McCaffrey is only $800, and McCaffrey not only has a has a 6.9-point edge over Cook in median projected points, he also has a 2.5-point edge over any other player on the slate. McCaffrey has punished the Falcons for 30-plus DK points in each of the last three meetings and averages 25.52 in five career matchups against Atlanta.
Wide Receiver (Cash)
- Parris Campbell, Colts ($3,200 DK, $4,900 FD) at TB
- Devante Parker, Dolphins ($6,900 DK, $7,200 FD) at NYJ
- D.J. Moore, Panthers ($6,800 DK, $7,100 FD) at ATL
- Julian Edelman ($7,100 DK, $7,600 FD) vs. KC
After practicing for the last couple of weeks, Parris Campbell is slated to make his return from a hand injury. Tampa Bay sets up as a pass-funnel defense, ranking first in rushing DVA but 19th against the pass, and Campbell’s discounted salary is enough to thrust him into the No. 1 spot in our WR value rankings. Campbell has caught five passes in each of his past two full games and saw eight targets in the lone game he played without T.Y. Hilton (calf, out).
As I mentioned last week, Devante Parker continues to make his case as the 2019 “By Default” fantasy MVP. Parker is riding a nine-game streak of double-digit DK points and has been targeted at least 10 times in all four games since Preston Williams (knee) went on Injured Reserve.
D.J. Moore has hit value in all but two games this season and has a top-five median projection on both sites despite being priced as the 10th-highest WR on DraftKings and 14th-highest WR on FanDuel. As I mentioned on this week’s Action Network Fantasy Flex Podcast, Moore’s median target count in a game this season is 10.
As Tom Brady’s frustrations with the offense have mounted, the target share of his most trusted receiver, Julian Edelman, has increased. After averaging 8.2 targets per game over the Patriots’ first five games, Edelman is seeing 11.7 over the last seven, with at least 10 in each game over that span. On the season, Edelman is averaging a +3.85 Plus/Minus and has hit value in 11-of-13 games.
Tight End (Cash)
- Ian Thomas, Panthers ($2,500 DK, $4,000 FD) vs. WAS
The first time I did a podcast with Matt Kelley this season — the Week 11 Action Network Fantasy Flex — he sung the praises of Ryan Griffin against the Redskins, and Griffin came through with a 3-77-1 line that week. The second time, on this week’s Roto Underworld Podcast, he was all over Ian Thomas, and for good reason. Thomas is minimum-priced and faces Atlanta’s 18th-ranked defense in DVOA against tight ends. Thomas caught four balls in relief of Greg Olsen (concussion, out) last week and is averaging 4.0 catches per game in seven career games without Olsen. Thomas has the top Projected Plus/Minus among TEs on DraftKings and the No. 3 mark on FanDuel, and it’s also preferable to pay down at TE, which is the lowest-scoring and most volatile of the four skill positions.
Defense/Special Teams (Cash)
- Arizona Cardinals ($2,300 DK, $3,500 FD) vs. PIT
- Kansas City Chiefs ($3,200 FD) at NE
There’s a few value options priced $2,400 or less that are in play on DraftKings (Bucs, Colts), but I’d lean toward Cardinals DST. As Stuckey points out in our Steelers-Cardinals betting guide, Mike Tomlin is 14-27 against the spread as a road favorite vs. a sub-.500 team, and the line has been moving sharply in favor of Arizona (view live odds here).
On FanDuel, lineups this week work best if you punt the position, and Chiefs DST is ranked No. 4 in Projected Plus/Minus as they go up against a Patriots offense that has allowed a 60% Consistency rate of its past five games.
Roster Build (Cash)
On DraftKings, you can fit in Jackson, McCaffrey, Gordon, Moore and Edelman along with Thomas if you punt with Powell, Campbell, and Cardinals DST. This gives you the two highest projected players on the slate in McCaffrey and Jackson, two top-six WRs in Moore and Edelman, and the No. 1 Projected Plus/Minus at RB (Powell), WR (Campbell), and TE (Thomas).
On FanDuel, you can fit in Cook, Fournette, Gordon, Edelman, Parker, and Moore along with Thomas if you punt with Tannehill and Chiefs DST. This give you a high-floor, high-ceiling core at RB and WR with three top-seven RBs and three top-10 WRs in exchange for punting the one-starter positions with value options.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (GPP)
Our Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, pegs Lamar Jackson‘s odds of finishing as the overall QB1 among the 32 starters at 14% this week, yet in a slate featuring 26 teams, he’s expected to clock in with ownership in the 9-12% range. Particularly on DraftKings, it’s hard to make a case for a better GPP play at QB than unstacked Lamar against a Buffalo defense ranked 22nd in rushing DVOA. At sub-5% projected ownership, Mark Ingram also warrants overweight exposure. Either can also be paired with a Ravens DST that has posted at least 13 fantasy points in five of its last six contests.
It sets up similarly for the Bills, as Josh Allen and Devin Singletary both expected to appear in fewer than 5% of lineups against Baltimore’s 25th-ranked run defense.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (GPP)
Late-season divisional matchups often result in games that end up falling short of the Vegas total, but potential new wrinkles from newly promoted offensive coordinator Scott Turner gives the Panthers offense some appeal. Atlanta’s 26th-ranked defense in DVOA won’t benefit as much from familiarity as it would have now that Ron Rivera has been fired. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Ian Thomas all projected for double-digit ownership, Kyle Allen is the key here at 0-1%.
For Atlanta, Julio Jones is projected for single-digit ownership despite a salary under $8,000. Per the Trends tool, Jones is averaging 22.4 DK points, a +4.32 Plus/Minus and 62% Consistency when priced under $8,000 since 2014. Devonta Freeman profiles as a top-four value against a Carolina defense weaker against the run (32nd in DVOA) and strong against the pass (seventh), but Julio and Matt Ryan profile as better GPP plays, as they’re each expected to garner roughly half as much ownership as Freeman.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (GPP)
At sub-5% projected ownership against a Browns run defense ranked 23rd in DVOA, Joe Mixon clocks in with a top-five Leverage Plus/Minus on both sites.
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (GPP)
Though Phillip Lindsay has failed to take advantage of Denver’s increased commitment to him over the past two weeks in which he handled 30-of-37 backfield carries. That has kept his price depressed for a matchup with a J.J. Watt-less Texans defense that has surrendered averages of 157.3 rushing yards, 66.0 receiving yards, and six total TDs by opposing backfields over the past three games.
Deshaun Watson‘s $7,700 FanDuel salary gives him a 1.6-point edge in Plus/Minus over every other QB on the slate. According to the Trends tool, Denver has allowed each of the last four QBs it has faced to hit values with an average Plus/Minus of +3.22. The Broncos could also be without their most impactful player in pass rusher Von Miller (knee, questionable). One thing to monitor in regard to Watson: The status of wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring, questionable). In three games without Fuller this season, Watson is averaging just 216.3 passing yards and 1.67 TDs. If Fuller is out, Kenny Stills becomes a low-cost, high-upside play at just $3,700 on DraftKings and $5,000 on FanDuel.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (GPP)
Over the last six games, Kyle Rudolph is averaging 4.0 catches and 1.0 TDs per game, good for 13.8 DK points and 11.8 FD points per outing. Despite a matchup with a Detroit defense ranked 30th in DVOA vs. tight ends, Rudolph is expected to draw less than 5% ownership, and potentially as low as 0-1%.
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (GPP)
At 5-8% projected ownership with a shot at leading the Colts in targets, Parris Campbell also makes for a nice pivot off of Jack Doyle and Zach Pascal, who each project to be more highly owned.
Jameis Winston is averaging a +4.61 Plus/Minus and 90% Consistency Rating and deserves weekly GPP consideration. Note that Mike Evans is expected to draw more ownership than Chris Godwin, but both project as +EV GPP plays relative to their ceilings.
Kansas City Chiefs a New England Patriots (GPP)
Since the start of last season, Sony Michel has topped 20 DK points in one-third of his games as a home favorite and is in play as a lower-owned pivot off James White against Kansas City defense ranked 30th in rushing DVOA.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (GPP)
Austin Ekeler benefits from the same matchup advantages as Gordon but is expected to carry sub-5% ownership and has a -0.31 correlation with Gordon this season.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (GPP)
Devante Parker has been a top-five fantasy WR over the past month but may end up being the third-highest owned WR in this game, behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. Against a pass-funneling Jets defense that ranks second in rushing DVOA but 21st against the pass, the Ryan Fitzpatrick-Parker stack is squarely in play. Mike Gesicki is fourth among TEs in targets over the past five weeks and also has high upside, as the Jets rank 22nd in DVOA vs. the position. Fitzpatrick has a +0.89 correlation with Gesicki and a +0.82 correlation with Parker, and Parker and Gesicki have a +0.71 correlation.
In large fields, it’s worth noting the Jets are high on Josh Adams, who they claimed off waivers and used an active roster spot on because they were afraid another team would would do the same, so there’s a non-zero chance he could end up being active and seeing a substantial workload against Miami’s bottom-four run D.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals (GPP)
Even if the Steelers come out flat on the road, it could work to the benefit of Devlin Hodges in terms of volume in what already projects as a pace-up game for Pittsburgh. Hodges is averaging 8.7yards per attempt this season and faces a Cardinals defense ranked 29th in passing DVOA. James Washington has gone for at least 90 yards and a TD in three of his last four games and his potential face-off with Patrick Peterson suddenly looks far from daunting, as Peterson has allowed opposing receivers to hail in 28-of-36 targets for 378 yards and 3 TDs this season. Hodges is projected for 0-1% ownership; Washington, 2-4%.
For Arizona, Kyler Murray is a strong buy-low coming off a bad game last week. Murray is projected for 2-45 ownership and leads all QBs in Leverage Plus/Minus.
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (GPP)
George Kittle has the highest median projection of any player priced under $6,000 on DraftKings. He’s projected to be 5-8% owned and is averaging a +4.43 Plus/Minus and 70% Consistency when projected for single-digit ownership since the start of last season.
Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders (GPP)
Derrick Henry‘s skyrocketing salary is expected to keep his ownership outside the top five among RBs, but in games as a favorite since the start of last season, he’s averaging a +6.91 FD and +6.34 DK Plus/Minus. He could easily finish as the RB1 overall against a Raiders defense ranked 26thin rushing DVOA.
In terms of the passing game, A.J. Brown has been seeing more than 20% of Tannehill’s targets and has a top-two Leverage Plus/Minus. With Adam Humphries (ankle) out, Corey Davis (17%) and Jonnu Smith (15.0%) are also in play in large field contests at 0-1% projected ownership.
For Oakland, Darren Waller has a top-three ceiling projection among TEs and faces a Titans defense ranked 21st in DVOA to the position. He’s a better platy on DraftKings, where he’s projected for 5-8% ownership, than FanDuel, where he’s expected to draw 13-16%. Tyrell Williams is also a nice buy-low, as the Titans rank 27th in DVOA vs. No. 1 wide receivers and will be without top cornerback Adoree Jackson (foot).
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (GPP)
While Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are expected to be among the highest owned players on the slate, Redskins skill players project for next to no ownership pretty much across the board. Derrius Guice displayed 30-point upside last game and now gets a Packers defense ranked 28th in rushing DVOA. Rostering Terry McLaurin gives you exposure to the lowest-owned 44% air-yard share you’ll probably get all season. McLaurin could pay off stacked with Adams or as leverage play n him, as Green Bay’s WR1-Opposing WR1 correlation is +0.47 this season, according to our NFL Correlations Dashboard. Kelvin Harmon also has some large-field appeal after seeing 20% of the targets over his past three games.
Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network and a host of “The Action Network” on Sirius XM Fantasy Radio every Wednesday-Friday at 10 a.m. ET. He also hosts the weekly NFL Betting edition of The Action Network Podcast and is featured each week on The Fantasy Flex edition of the pod, as well. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.
Pictured above: Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas (80)
Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.