Levitan’s DFS Gambling Range Review: Week 1

I gamble about 60% of my action each week in “cash games”. Cash games refer to any contest in which approximately 50% of the field is paid, such as head to head, double up or 50/50. I try to get as much one-on-one action as possible each week and then supplement that with other cash games. To learn more about the competition selection, go here.

Every week I will review my range of gambling games in this space. Sometimes I will lose, but I hope I will win more often. Anyway, I’ll post it here and give you my thought process.

This was a particularly tough slate for a week 1. Typically, we get slam-dunk values ​​due to price releases six weeks before the lockdown. But there have been very few preseason injuries and DraftKings have done a good job evaluating fringe guys with growing roles. It was impossible to be comfortable with every spot in your lineup.

MY ESSENTIAL GAMES
* Christian McCaffreyCombined’s outrageous receiving ability in a true workhorse role gives him the profile of a $10,000 player on DraftKings full plus bonus PPR format. At $8,500 at home against Jacoby Brissett, CMC was a lock for me. Players don’t have to be “cheap” to be great value.

* Michael Pitman was arguably the cheapest player on the slate, as I noted in this video. He’s clearly a very good NFL WR, he has very little target competition, he got a QB upgrade, and he was facing a Texas defense that ranked 31st in yards per play allowed last season. At only $5500, it was a no-brainer.

*Regular readers know that I often have trouble making the decision to pay for Travis Kelce. This week I thought Kelce was a must. He had the best playing environment on the slate, Tyreek Hill is gone and he only had $6600. Typical Kelce prices are between $7,200 and $7,800.

But just as important as that, the context of the TE position was strange. I usually like to play with guys like Mo-Alie Cox, Gerald Everett, David Njoku, etc. But they were all very expensive, not in that $2,500 to $3,000 range. And so with Kelce undervalued (and in such a good place) plus the overpriced “pumping boots”, Kelce’s lock became clear.

MY WANT TO PLAY
* Saquon Barkley was almost a “must” for me. We just don’t get highly explosive/athletic RBs that play well in the passing game and on the goal line with a ticket for 80%+ snaps…at just $6100. The only reason he wasn’t a lock was because of systemic risk with NYG and the need to save money somewhere. I looked at some 4-WR lineups because the Christian Kirk, Juju Smith-Schuster, Elijah Moore, Michael Pittman group was so strong in that low $5,000 range.

* I watched a few lineups that played Dameon Pierce on Aaron Jones, then went from Jahan Dotson to Marquise Brown. But the other sacrifices I had to make there were too much to bear. So I stuck with Jones, hoping he works as a primary pass catching option and gets 4-6 catches – as well as 10-14 carries.

I thought it was close between Jones ($6700) and D’Andre Swift ($6800). We had Jones just 0.9 points ahead in our projections, with very big projections on both. With Allen Lazard out, I decided to go Jones. Looking back, Swift was perhaps the better game – he’s less threatened by Jamaal Williams than Jones is by AJ Dillon.

* The only QBs I considered were Jalen hurts, Lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones. I prefer kicking QB (rather than RB/WR) when there is a real viable punt and the slate is tight. So Danny Dimes at just $5000 with a reasonable rush floor was intriguing. But I wasn’t going to face Dimes and Saquon together – way too much systemic risk with the Giants. There was also no clear team for me playing Dimes without Saquon.

So I was more than okay going with Hurts, in arguably the best game he’ll face all year. Not only is the Lions attack sneaky, but their defense is atrocious. And the game was in a dome, with AJ Brown now in the mix. I actually left money on the table to play Hurts over Lamar Jackson here due to the game environment.

* I didn’t want to do a WR punt at all. Not with Christian Kirk, Juju Smith-Schuster, DJ Moore, Tee Higgins and Marquise Brown, all underrated with high ceilings. But we had to sacrifice somewhere on that slate and in cash, I often sacrifice to WR when forced to.

This led me to Randall Cobb, which I clearly don’t like as a 32-year-old slot receiver. But given the state of the Packers’ WR body and Aaron Rodgers’ love affair with Cobb, I thought he was the safest punt. Cobb’s underlying parameters are reasonably reasonable and his chemistry with Rodgers is unquantifiable. I preferred Cobb over Romeo Doubs because I thought Doubs would tour on the outside with Christian Watson and maybe even Amari Rodgers.

* I looked at all kinds of different combos for my third WR spot. George Pickens, facing Christian Kirk, Juju Smith-Schuster or Marquise Brown, playing totally with Wan’Dale Robinson at a mini price.

In the end, I felt better (but not great) about Jahan Dotson thanks in large part to pre-season use. He played every snap with the Carson Wentz band in August, is a former player for a rookie, and was very productive in the Big 10. At $3400, at least we knew he’d be there for every snap in a good game . Shout out to Silva, who told me he’d rather play Dotson than Pickens straight up during the last-minute livestream.

* As always, I worry about D/ST last. I’m willing to remove it altogether in many setups because scoring is so unpredictable and quiet. So I considered bears, jets, commanders, jaguars, dolphins, among others. This team actually had enough money to go up to the Dolphins, but I preferred Commanders (even without Chase Young) because I expected more setbacks and mistakes from Trevor Lawrence.

Week 1 Results
It certainly wasn’t a perfect week. Aaron Jones instead of D’Andre Swift was probably a mistake, and maybe I should have gone to another D/ST with the money I had left. But overall, I’m happy with the team I played with. I understood the background of Travis Kelce well and rode with the elite role of Saquon on more WR intensive builds. I think I got a little lucky with Jahan Dotson, who turned five targets into two touchdowns. But sometimes you have to run as well as play well.

Results since the beginning of the year
Week 1: 172.02 points, won 80.7% of head-to-heads

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