The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Focus – Week 16

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte December 22, 2018 05:18

The Daily Spin – NFL Cash Game Focus – Week 16

This season just keeps getting better for us as the weeks roll by. At the start of the year, it felt like we might be in for a real fight this season to consistently stay ahead of the field in cash games, but over the last 6 weeks or so, we have been absolutely cruising. I think part of it comes from being consistent with the research every single week and not taking anything for granted and much of it comes from seeing things solidify around the league as far as player usage and performance for teams.

Fortunately, my RB centered approach built around Mixon, Zeke and Samuels (who became a must play for me once Conner was announced out) worked out well even if a heavily owned Zeke slightly underperformed. It certainly was not a runaway victory by any stretch, but so many players ended up being busts around the league last week that just getting solid players onto the roster was enough to get across the payline. Even in areas where I initially felt like I flopped like at TE with Vernon Davis, things worked out okay as pretty much every relevant TE in the league had a bad day which meant that the savings I gained there actually meant that Davis was the ‘right’ move after all. I knew that going into last week that it would be one of the most challenging weeks of the season as we really had to take some risk at the WR position. Three of the five punts that I listed last week did really well and two flopped. I used Sterling Shepard and still ended up with a win so I hope that you had Larry Fitz, Jordy or Foster as your cheap option from my picks. At QB, I was initially kicking myself hard for playing Kirk Cousins after I saw that Tom Brady was 45% owned and started the game against the Steelers with a long TD pass. Even that did not end up working against my team though as Brady had a very ordinary afternoon and did not throw another TD. At just over 133 points for the week, I cashed in all of my double up contests for the week, one of the lowest cash lines all year.

The first couple of weeks of any season are all about seeing how teams begin to develop their identities. For many, it is a process that takes all season, while others go through long stretches where there is not a lot of turnover or change. This season got off to a wild start on the offensive side of the ball and defenses were nowhere to be found, but now that we are late in the season, the colder weather has arrived, teams are battling for playoff position and some teams are beginning to throw in the towel. If a cornerback plays poorly in the first week or two of the season, it immediately shows up on our chart as someone to target, but the information is too limited and incomplete to weight too heavily initially. By Week 16, the numbers are pretty indicative of how a player or unit will perform for a given matchup. If a defense ranks 30th against pass catching backs with two games to play, it’s a good bet that they are not going to find magic to fix the problem before the end of the year.

While having these statistics available to us does create an advantage over novice players, lets face it, there are a lot of people who have access to this data who we are going to run up against at all levels of competition whether it is a $5 double up or a $1500 GPP. What has to separate you from the others this time of year are some of the small details that are forgotten about or ignored all too often.

One of the things that I really want to put emphasis on going into these final two weeks, and especially Week 17, is that it is really important to adjust your player pool beyond just looking at the mathcup on paper. With just two weeks to go, about half the league at this point has no shot at all at a playoff berth and many had their hopes crushed just last weekend to make it official. After this week, you will be able to slice away another 3-5 teams that will officially be out of the mix going into the final week of the season. Many of these teams will start to shut down players who are dinged up and in some cases, even with the starters out there, you will see a noticeable change in the way the players approach and play these final two games. Nobody wants to ruin their 2019 season during a meaningless game in December of 2018.

In tournaments, this creates some really interesting opportunities as backups are suddenly thrust into the mix and usually at a very low price. This allows for some creative lineup builds where you are able to put together some extreme stars/scrubs rosters that probably look ugly on paper, but will have huge upside potential in the right circumstances. However, in cash lineups, where I generally put most of my action, there is a flip side to this coin as well.

I bring it up as I was totally burned in Week 17 in this scenario. I started a WR named Roger Lewis for the NY Giants. They had been decimated at the position, were about to finish up 3-13 and were playing with very little fire. Lewis had been decent in the three games leading up to the finale and had been getting plenty of targets, even if he had not been able to put up any eye popping numbers. He was cheap and it opened up some salary cap space up top. Of course, he barely saw the field throughout the game. I was seething by the second quarter (not a rarity for those of you who track me on Twitter each week) and my team was dead with the zero that he posted for the afternoon.

In hindsight, I have nobody to blame, but myself for taking a zero. The Giants were not a competitive team and thus, I should have expected the unexpected for the day. When teams have nothing to play for to end the year, be ready to see them do just about anything in terms of personnel groupings or overall strategy. A lot of times, coaches just want to get a look at a few particular players in order to start thinking about position groups for the following year. In this case, the Giants knew that Lewis was serviceable at best, but not someone they had any real long term interest in moving forward. Unfortunately, we were the last ones to know about this decision and it cost us.

This situation is avoidable. All it requires is for you to start chipping away at the number of teams you want to focus on from week to week to end the year. If you can find teams that are still motivated to go out and win games, stick with them even if it the matchup is not quite as perfect as you would like. All playoff bound teams and those still in contention for the playoffs should move to the top of your list. Also, each year there are usually one or two young and hungry teams on their way up that want to make a statement despite having no shot at the playoffs. Last year, that team was the Jimmy G led 49ers. This year, it is the upstart Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield. In this situation, you can continue to use younger players for your teams as they generally are the last ones to lay down even after being eliminated from contention.

On the other end of the spectrum, and this could be in play next week, there are going to be teams that are locked into their playoff seed going into Week 17. It seems likely that the Saints will have the 1 seed nailed down in the NFC so they may end up approaching their final game with the Panthers the same way they would a late preseason game. Brees may get the start, but only play a few drives just to stay in rhythm and the star players may be resting for the whole game or at least a portion of it. You really want to avoid these teams the most in the late weeks. We are a little more fortunate this year in that nobody has their position locked down yet and most could still move up or down in the conference if they are not careful. This should give us plenty of good options for Week 17, especially since all but possibly one game are on the main slate for afternoon.

Sign up for an FGI account today to see the rest of this post.

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte December 22, 2018 05:18

Log In

Having trouble logging in?
Try logging in here

Our Partners