It took a lot of willpower to not play Kareem Hunt in cash after I talked him up all last week (#KareemHuntWeek). I didn’t love him any less by the time Sunday rolled around. And he still came through with 19.2 DraftKings points.
But cash games aren’t just about playing the guys with the best raw projections. We need to consider:
- The best values according to projection vs. salary
- How each play affects the rest of our lineup
Factoring that stuff in — and spending way too much time messing around with my lineup — I eventually decided that Gio Bernard was the play over Hunt. And it wasn’t even that I thought Bernard was a better value (although he certainly turned out to be). It was what the savings I got from going down to Bernard allowed me to get elsewhere. By also moving from Travis Kelce to Hunter Henry and punting at DST with the Jets, I was able to play Kyler Murray and Davante Adams. Those 2 guys were key to the week.
We’ll keep these dynamics in mind as we get to the Week 8 picks. It looks like this will be our first serious “weather week” of the season, with potentially impactful winds in the following games:
Titans at Bengals
Patriots at Bills
Raiders at Browns
Vikings at Packers
Bears at Saints
I don’t start making weather-based decisions until late Sunday morning when we have more accurate forecasts. At that point, we want to be wary of games with 20+ mph winds. Data shows that passing games are adversely effected at that point.
I’ll highlight a few extra guys in this article this week so you can pivot off players in the wind games if necessary. We’ll be updating our projections on Sunday morning, so make sure to check back with the Lineup Generator for the top values at every position.
Derek Carr, Raiders ($5,500)
He’s the play at QB if we don’t have worrisome wind in Cleveland.
Carr is having a great season. He’s topped 20 DK points in 4 of his last 5 games, including last Sunday against a tough Bucs defense that embarrassed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers the previous week.
Now Carr gets a struggling Browns pass defense that ranks bottom 4 in passing yards and TDs allowed. Cleveland is sitting 19th in DK points allowed to QBs and 30th in adjusted fantasy points allowed.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers ($5,400)
He’s an easy pivot if we need to get off Carr. Garoppolo probably even has more upside.
Kirk Cousins is the only QB who’s been relatively disappointing vs. Seattle this season. The other 5 QBs to face the Seahawks have all scored 26+ DK points.
Not surprisingly, the ‘Hawks rank dead last in DK points allowed to QBs and 31st in adjusted fantasy points allowed.
Garoppolo, meanwhile, has played well since that disaster in Miami, completing 74% of his passes and averaging 9.4 yards per attempt over his last 2 games.
Derrick Henry, Titans ($8,000)
He’s not the auto-play that he was back in Week 6. Henry is $700 more expensive now — and this matchup isn’t quite as good.
But it’s still an excellent spot. The Bengals rank 21st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA and have coughed up 5.1 yards per carry to RBs. Cincinnati has faced 11th most RB carries and allowed the 4th most RB rushing yards.
The Titans’ 29-point implied total is 2nd-highest on the week.
Kareem Hunt, Browns ($6,900)
OK, this is Kareem Hunt Week.
Seriously, though, the matchup is even better on Sunday vs. the Raiders than it was vs. the Bengals. Vegas ranks 29th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA and 31st in adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs.
Hunt got all the usage we could have asked for last week. He played 90% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps and handled 18 of 19 RB carries and all 4 RB targets.
Jamaal Williams, Packers ($6,100)
Williams got better usage last week than we usually get from Aaron Jones. He played 89% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps and racked up 19 carries with 5 targets.
No, Williams isn’t as talented as Jones. But he’s also about $1,000 cheaper than where Jones is usually priced. So he’s a nice value here — assuming Jones misses Sunday’s game vs. Minnesota.
If Jones returns, pivot down to Giovani Bernard ($5,800) or Myles Gaskin ($5,200).
Keenan Allen, Chargers ($6,200)
Someone at DraftKings messed up.
Allen was underpriced last week, exploded for 25.5 DK points and then didn’t move in salary.
He’s racked up an absurd 53 targets in 4 full games with QB Justin Herbert. That’s 13.3 targets per game — or a full-season pace of 212 that would set an NFL record.
Allen has a challenging matchup vs. Broncos slot CB Bryce Callahan. But price + projected volume makes him a strong cash-game play.
A.J. Green, Bengals ($4,500)
If you'd told me we’d be playing Green in a DraftKings cash game 3 weeks ago, I would have laughed you out of this article.
But he’s come back to life over the past 2 games, scoring 17.6 and then 15.2 DK points. More importantly, he’s seen a team-high 24 targets over that span.
Green is simply too cheap for a WR seeing that type of volume. The cherry on top is Sunday’s plus matchup vs. the Titans’ 28th-ranked WR defense.
Brandon Aiyuk ($5,800) or Kendrick Bourne ($3,500), 49ers
Playing WRs against the Seahawks has worked well so far. Seattle has allowed the most catches and yards to WRs — despite already having their bye week. The ‘Hawks rank dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs by a wide margin. They’re providing a 61.7% scoring boost to the position. The next worst team is at 34.5%.
Deebo Samuel’s absence on Sunday will leave Aiyuk and Bourne as San Francisco’s top 2 WRs.
Aiyuk is the exciting play. The 1st-round rookie has been efficient this year, averaging 8.8 yards per target, and is coming off a season-best 6-115 line.
Bourne is the better pure value, though. He averaged 5.3 targets with Samuel out over the season’s first 3 weeks and has a similar volume projection on Sunday. Give us 5-6 targets against Seattle for $3,500 and we’ll take our chances.
Darren Waller, Raiders ($5,600)
Waller is underpriced and possible to fit into cash lineups this week.
He leads all TEs with 9.3 targets per game. That’s helped him tally double-digit PPR points in 5 of 6 games and 15.8+ in 4 of those — valuable consistency at a notoriously volatile position.
Waller has a plus matchup on Sunday vs. the Browns, who rank 28th in DK points allowed to TEs and 29th in adjusted fantasy points allowed.
Jonnu Smith, Titans ($4,100)
Smith isn’t a safe play considering he never runs a bunch of pass routes. But I’m willing to roll the dice on him at this price and in this matchup.
The Bengals have allowed 6 TE TDs just over the past 3 weeks. Not surprisingly, they rank dead last in DK points allowed to TEs.
Smith, meanwhile, is tied for the TE lead with 5 scores. Despite the spotty usage, he’s seen at least 4 targets in all 5 of his healthy games, averaging 6.2 per.
Harrison Bryant, Browns ($3,200)
If you’re looking to save at TE, Bryant is your guy. He cashed in on Austin Hooper’s absence last week, hauling in 4 of 5 targets for 56 yards and a pair of scores.
Now, Bryant was used in a TE committee alongside David Njoku, running a route on a just-decent 62% of QB Baker Mayfield’s drop backs. So he’s not the safest bet. But for the price and matchup vs. a middling Raiders TE defense, Bryant is a fine play.
There’s not a single DST that really stands out this week. Here are the 3 I’ll be considering for cash games:
The Bengals have allowed a league-high 4 sacks per game and might be missing their starting LT, RT and C this weekend.
A bad matchup vs. the Saints, but the Bears remain a quality defense, sitting 8th among main-slate DSTs in DK points per game. And the weather might be crappy in Chicago on Sunday.
The cheapest home favorites on the slate. Cleveland has been an opportunistic defense this year, averaging 2 takeaways per game.