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Joe 2 Pro: Week 1 – Cash Game And Tournament Strategy

Russell Wilson

If you missed my first article introducing the “Joe 2 Pro” series, you can read it here. It gives a brief overview on how to attack daily fantasy sports without feeling utterly overwhelmed, and what I plan to cover in this Joe 2 Pro series. Each week I’ll give a general overview of my cash game and tournament strategy for the upcoming slate of games.

Cash Game Strategy

Running Backs

When it comes to cash games, you want to minimize risk in your player selection and select players that tend to have high floors. In a full PPR site like DraftKings this would certainly include pass-catching running backs. RBs I am favoring in week one include Andre Ellington, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, and Fred Jackson. FanDuel is half-PPR, so pass-catching RBs will still hold more value over RBs who don’t receive as many receptions out of the backfield. We’ve all lost games by fractions of a point; all those marginal half-points matter at the end of the week. Spending on RBs should be the foundation of your cash game plays each week as they’re often less volatile than the other positions, with the exception of the quarterback position.


QB are the other position to which I will typically allocate a larger portion of my salary in cash games. It’s not a necessity, but if the match-up favors that particular QB, I’ll often try and get some exposure to rushing QBs. Colin Kaepernick against Dallas in week one would be a staple of some of my teams this week. The Cowboys and 49ers game also is tied for the third-highest total points at 51.5. Kaepernick didn’t look stellar in the preseason and struggled at times last year, but this Dallas defense is atrocious and this match-up certainly favors Kaepernick. Some other QBs I’d pay up for this week include Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Andrew Luck. Manning, Luck, and Brees all scored 16-plus fantasy points in over 75 percent of the last eight games in 2013. This gives them some of the highest floors you could ask for when competing in cash games. You don’t have to always spend a substantial amount of money for a top-tier QB, but how safe would you feel knowing you have money riding on the performance of Geno Smith? I think Smith could be a viable QB option for cash game plays this week, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be a little nervous about having money riding on his shoulders.

Tight Ends

Tight ends have the lowest floor when it comes to fantasy football because they’re so volatile. If I don’t pay up for Jimmy Graham in cash games, I’ll chase the guy who I think is most likely to score. Arizona and Jacksonville ranked 32nd and 31st in FPPG allowed to TEs. This makes Ladarius Green/Antonio Gates and Zac Ertz intriguing plays due to their inviting match-ups and cheap prices across the industry. With Dwayne Bowe suspended for the first game, Travis Kelce could step in and play a big part in this offense against a Tennessee team that allowed the ninth most FPPG to TEs.

Wide Receivers

I often turn to the Las Vegas betting lines when trying to make my lineups. The Broncos and Colts has the leagues highest O/U at 55 points. Getting some exposure to the receiving options on both teams should be a must this week. Emmanuel Sanders could make for a great value play this week with Wes Welker out.


When selecting WRs for cash games, I tend to look for heavily targeted WRs, if I’m looking for a tie-breaker, I chase big-bodied red zone threats like Vincent Jackson and Eric Decker. The reason for targeting bigger bodied WRs is because they typically have higher TD rates than smaller WRs. The picture above, thanks to Jonathan Bales’ Twitter feed illustrates why RotoViz favors bigger WRs.

Tournament Strategy

When it comes to the larger playing fields in tournaments, my strategy tends to shift a different direction. Especially if you’re looking to take down the first-place prize. In tournaments, you want to seek out those highly volatile players like C.J. Spiller, T.Y. Hilton, or take a shot with Ladarius Green, who had an absurd 15.03 AYA with Philip Rivers last year.


If you’re new to DFS, an optimal way create your lineup for tournaments, also known as guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), is to stack a QB with one of his WRs, TEs, or sometimes both. This is because if a QB has a big game, then one of his receiving options is also likely to put up some big numbers. To get an idea of who I want to stack, I refer back to the Las Vegas betting lines and look for the games with the highest O/U.

The Sunday night game between Denver and Indianapolis has an O/U of 55. One trio of players I am looking to put together from that game is Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, and Demaryius Thomas. With Wes Welker out, Sanders should see an uptick in usage and the Colts allowed the 10th-most FPPG to opposing WRs last year. Julius Thomas could also be an option if you prefer him over Sanders, but the Colts only allowed three TDs to TEs last year1 and they were the seventh-best versus TEs last year. Using the RotoViz GLSP App the range of outcomes for the Manning and Thomas duo makes me think that this pairing could be an optimal play. The GLSP Apps are one of my favorite tools when trying to construct the rosters for my DFS line-ups.

GLSP_Projections_–_QB          GLSP_Projections_–_WR  GLSP_Projections_–_TE

Hilton tends to be a boom or bust candidate each week, as he had 11 single-digit games last year, but with an O/U of 55, I think Hilton is likely to be a boom candidate as the Colts try and keep up with the Denver offense. I’d likely seek a lot of exposure to this match-up.

The Falcons at home is an appealing match-up with an O/U of 51.5. While the Saints defense was much improved last year under Rob Ryan, I want to have some exposure to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Atlanta had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and this is likely to be a high scoring game with Saints scoring with ease. Ryan scored 16 or more fantasy points in 75 percent of his games last year,2 and he was without Jones and had a hobbled Roddy White for the majority of those games.

Sky’s The Limit

A final note on GPP strategy is that you need to seek out the more volatile players. Tournaments typically pay out the top 10-to-20 percent of players. In a larger playing field, you need to seek upside if you want to have a chance at claiming that first place prize. Some players I am targeting for GPPs in Week 1 that have potential high ceilings include Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Ladarius Green, and Torrey Smith.

Thursday start

A quick note on the Thursday slate. Unless you’re playing on a site like DraftKings with late-swap, I tend to fade the Thursday games completely because I don’t like having my rosters locked two days before kick-off. Injuries happen and things can change quickly between Thursday and Sunday. If you are playing the Thursday game, sometimes you can gain an advantage by fading those players completely.3 If the typical fantasy acquisitions for those games don’t do well, which we’ve seen repeatedly in Thursday night games, you can gain an advantage over the players who load up on Thursday night plays. For some reason, people will force Thursday night players into their lineup because they want to watch their players play that night. If you’re high on guys playing that night, feel free to play them. I just wanted to make the point that you DON’T have to play people on Thursday night just because your contest starts on Thursday.

Specific plays for each site should posted between now and Friday.

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  1. One of them was to Thomas.  (back)
  2. FanDuel scoring  (back)
  3. If you don’t like any of the players.  (back)

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