Cash games in daily fantasy football are an “easier” way to get a higher return on your investment (ROI). Of course, nothing is easy in betting and fantasy, but beating half the field in a cash game is far easier than finishing in the top 3% of a large field guaranteed prize pool (GPP.)
What I try to do when building cash games is to lock in the three running backs with the highest projected touch total of the week. Various DFS pros echo this process throughout the industry. There is some push back on whether or not three running backs in cash games every week is optimal. While I understand that no strategy should be set in stone and every week is different, fantasy is a game of volume. Running backs, more often than not, have an easier projected touch total than wide receivers. Ask Kenny Golladay how volatile targets can be.
With that said, there is a handful of running backs I consider cash game viable for NFL Week 8.
Cash Game Picks
|Player||Price||Team Total (via Pinnacle)||RB Car%||Target%||Snap%|
Let me touch on the running backs I left out first.
Didn’t make the cut
The Giants have shown a propensity to remove Barkley in blowouts, which limits his floor and ceiling, while his 74% snap share is ahead of just one of the top five running backs I am considering. His team total is a nice 20.5, so he makes for an excellent GPP play. At just $300 less than Christian McCaffrey, however, I don’t see myself playing Barkley in cash games.
I didn’t include Kamara because I’m not confident he plays this week. It would make sense for the New Orleans Saints to rest him this week, considering they have a bye after this game. If Kamara were to sit again, Latavius Murray would be a strong consideration in cash games. If Kamara were to play, I would relegate him to GPPs given the injury and the possibility he doesn’t get the full complement of snaps considering the Saints could blow out the Arizona Cardinals.
If Gurley doesn’t log a TD, he is a massive liability in fantasy. He has found the end zone six times this year, but I’d rather lean on touches and targets over touchdown variance for my cash game picks. He is sandwiched between Leonard Fournette and Chris Carson in Draftkings pricing, so I don’t see myself getting to him in any format this week outside of full Bengals/Rams game stacks. He is more attractive on Fanduel, where touchdowns mean a little more considering the 0.5 points per reception (PPR) format.
Johnson is hurt, which makes him untouchable in cash games. The Cardinals also signed two running backs this week, which does not look good for Johnson’s projections. I can’t even see using him in GPP’s, but we probably won’t have to decide as I predict the Cardinals rule him out of this game against the Saints.
Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Sony Michel
I never like to use two down running backs in cash games because if the game script gets away from them, you’re left “holding the bag,” so to speak. None of these players have a target share higher than 6%, so they are out of consideration for cash games.
I can’t bring myself to use Gordon. Maybe that is bad since Anthony Lynn has stated he wants to give him MORE touches going forward. He has been so inefficient with those touches that I can’t justify playing him in cash.
I’m going to run down the table and give my thoughts on each running back I deem playable in cash games this week.
McCaffrey is one of the biggest questions this week. We know his upside, and his workload is nearly unmatched. The San Francisco defense is easily the most robust test McCaffrey has had to date. That tough matchup is reflected in his team total (17.5) as well. I think there is enough value at wide receiver this week where you can comfortably fit in McCaffrey, but I don’t think he is one of the top values on the board. If you want to leave him out of your cash games, it feels a little dirty, but seems justifiable. I’m very intrigued as to what other DFS players will do this week.
Fournette was a lock cash game option last week, and I view him in the same ilk this week. He has the second-highest team total (22.5) of the high priced running backs and is playing at home, which is always a plus for running backs. He never comes off the field (91% snap share) and is due for some significant touchdown regression, given his yardage total thus far. We could see an explosion in touchdowns this week from Fournette, which would make him a must-own to get over the cash line this week.
Carson has separated himself from Rashad Penny after those early fumbling problems. Pete Carrol loves to run the ball and seems to love Carson. If the Seahawks get out to a big lead, we know what they want to do. Carson isn’t dead in a negative or neutral game script either, evidenced by his 11% target share. He has one of the higher team totals (28.75) on the board, and if Matt Ryan plays, he will play in a pace up game for the Seahawks. Carson is one of the top week 8 NFL cash game options this week.
After the drudging the New York Jets received on Monday Night Football, no one will want to go to the Jets in NFL DFS. Bell is playing on the road, which isn’t ideal but isn’t that much of a detriment either. His snap share (92%) is the second-highest on the board while his target share (20%) is also the second-highest, both behind McCaffrey.
While McCaffrey has led all of fantasy football in fantasy points this NFL season, daily fantasy is a pricing game. That makes Bell a far better value for your cash game lineups than McCaffrey for NFL Week 8.
Despite having a favorable workload and price, Chubb is off the cash game radar for me. With Bell just $300 more and Chase Edmonds $400 less, Chubb has fallen into pricing purgatory. His talent and upside keep him in play for GPPs, but I can’t justify advising him for cash games.
Last week, with David Johnson available only in an “emergency role,” Edmonds played 94% of the snaps, had a 19% target share, and owned 96% of the team’s running back carries. The Cardinals did sign two running backs onto the roster, but I think that more speaks to the potential unavailability of Johnson than a threat to Edmond’s workload. His snap share might dip into the mid-low ’80s, but at just $6200, it is going to be very hard to not look in Edmonds’ direction this week.
Arizona plays at the 2nd fastest situation neutral pace in the league via Football Outsiders, and they’re playing in a dome this week, which has historically been an offensive friendly environment. Our own Tommy Garrett called Edmonds a must-add off the waiver wire this week, and it’s easy to see why.
Lower priced options
With Alvin Kamara ruled out in Chicago last week, Murray played 83% of the snaps, had 15% of the targets, and owned 93% of the carries. I don’t see a reason for that workload to change if Kamara were to miss another week. At just $5800, Murray offers arguably the best combination of floor, ceiling, and value on the slate. The Saints’ team total is currently the highest on the board according to vegas lines, which is favorable for Murray’s touchdown equity. He also runs behind the best offensive line among the running backs listed in this article.
Johnson will surely be the “talk of the town” all week on DFS advice shows. There is merit to playing him. He saw 64% of the snaps and 66% of the carries when Kerryon Johnson left last week’s game. However, that is mitigated by just a 2% target share in that game. His team total is very nice, and Johnson himself is a promising athlete with explosive traits. He falls in line with the “two down grinders,” however, as we can’t confidently project him to get pass game work with J.D. McKissic in the same backfield. The game environment projects well for him, and at just $4900, he opens up a lot in your cash game lineup; I’m not sure if he is necessary, however.
There is plenty of value at wide receiver, and I don’t think McCaffrey is a necessity this week. Johnson is a value according to our rankings (RB22), and he does let you fit him in, however. I don’t think it’s the most optimal build.
For cash games this week, I have narrowed the pool down to McCaffrey, Fournette, Carson, Bell, Edmonds, Murray and Johnson.
Fournette is the first one in for me. I see him as a value at $7800, given his workload.
The next two spots are tricky. Carson is in a tremendous spot and I want to fit him in if possible. Bell, Edmonds, and Murray are all strong plays as well. Pay attention to the news as that always shapes how you should build your cash game lineups.
I hope you found this DFS advice column actionable. Good luck this weekend, and be sure to be on the lookout for all other fantasy football content provided by the Pro Football Network.
James Aguirre is a writer for PFN covering NFL betting and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter @PFN_James.