The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Focus – Week 1

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 8, 2018 06:41

The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Focus – Week 1

As you get older, the holidays begin to change. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 4th of July, these are all wonderful times to be certain, but the beginning of September each year produces a joy for me that lasts all the way into the darkest part of winter. No matter what the year, my Minnesota Vikings start each year 0-0 and no matter how often their seasons have ended in tragedy, I always get a moment of hope that there is magic waiting for them in when February rolls around, even if I do give a cold, cynical prediction for a 9-7 record each year. Yes, sports fans, I know that you can relate to these words, because suddenly, Sundays feel so much more alive again for next five months and with the evolution of Daily Fantasy Sports over the last 5 years, it has made the viewing experience better than ever before.

The 2018 season feels like a season of hope for so many teams around the league this year. If you are like me and make watching Hard Knocks on HBO an annual tradition to start the season, even the lowly Cleveland Browns seem to be a team full of hope and optimism going into the year even if they do have a terrible head coach. The magic of the NFL, and what makes it the best team sport by a mile is that everything can turn around for any team within a matter of one season. In baseball and basketball, the deck is stacked so strongly against the smaller market teams that it takes a near miracle for any of them to maintain a solid team for any amount of time. The NBA is particularly bad at this point as there is less and less actual allegiance to teams anymore and a handful of elite players have usurped the brand and made it about the individual players rather than the team. Even when those middle of the road teams get lucky and land a superstar in the draft, it is a rarity that they stay for long and are soon off to team up with to or three other star free agents to form a new super team in Los Angeles or Miami or whatever big coastal city catches their eye. That is not how things work in the NFL and is one of the biggest reasons why fan interest remains so high despite the controversies around the game in recent years.

I bring this point up as it relates strongly to our approach to DFS for the NFL each year. You need to be able to make adjustments just as quickly as teams rise and fall. If you had an incredible 2017 season, I hope you enjoyed it, but it is time to move on. If you allow yourself to stay stuck on what worked last year, realize that it is time to move on. Being that it is Week 1 and we do not have any data to work off of other than what we saw last year, that will be our starting point, but these first couple of weeks are where we learn just how much certain teams have changed. Those shutdown cornerbacks that have been dominant year after year might now be among the worst in the league. Those running backs who have been unstoppable for so long, might now have hit the cliff and begun a steep decline. The quicker you are able to pick up on these sorts of trends, the bigger of an edge you will have over fellow competitors. This is especially important if you want to be successful long term in cash games. By this stage, many of us are reading off of the same sheet of music when it comes to analyzing players and matchups. Where we have the biggest edge is in putting in the hours to see all of these guys in action before the algorithms have a chance to adjust.

I always like to come out swinging right away in cash games each season in Week 1. If you are as passionate about the NFL as I am then there are not going to be many major moves from the off season that you do not already know about. As is the case each year, the salaries for Week 1 came out almost a month in advance of the first regular season games in order to build a little buzz for some of the massive contests that run early in the season. What this means is that injuries that took place during training camp (or unresolved holdouts) were not figured into the salaries for these players which means that there are some pretty easy plug and play options available for us this week to build around. We will see this throughout the year as injuries mount and players are ruled out towards the end of the practice week before games, but the first week always has a few free spaces open to take advantage of to get us started.

My philosophy for cash games in NFL DFS is different than what you see in golf most weeks. In golf, the cut presents some difficult problems for us so much so that we need to do everything we can to find players to get through to the weekend, even if that means we miss out on some of those elite, high dollar players who have a better chance to win. With a roster of nine for NFL as opposed to a roster of six for PGA and with no cut to worry about, we will almost always embrace the stars/scrubs approach as opposed to a balanced roster. If we can use one or two deep value picks each week at a very low salary, it will allow us to then jump up to pick up 2-3 studs. If we miss on the cheap player and they underperform, you can still get those points back with an exceptional day from one of your top players. I always try to shoot for a 3x performance each week in terms of how much I am looking for in terms of points from each player. If I have a $5000 WR, I am looking for 15 points. With our $50k salary cap, that means I am targeting 150 points for the week. There are going to be plenty of weeks where the cash line falls below that number, but very few where that will be exceeded so it makes for an easy reference point. That way, even if the TE that I only paid $3000 for only posts six points, that means I only need to make up three points from another one of my guys to get back on track.

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 8, 2018 06:41

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