NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives):
Editor’s Note: For Evan Silva’s breakdown on every player in this game, click here. That is the best analysis on the game you will find. This article’s focus is to highlight specific strategies for this Showdown slate, not the game itself.
Editor’s Note 2: To review our thoughts on general Showdown strategy, review the top portion of this article.
SHOWDOWN STRATEGY & 2019 TRENDS
The most important part to being successful in one-game Showdown contests is constructing a highly correlated lineup built around how we think the game will be played. As we head into Thursday’s matchup that features the Bills at Cowboys, we have a 36-game sample that we can analyze for winning roster construction and look at any meaningful trends to apply moving forward. The winning lineups for the first 36 games are as follows:
Packers at Bears ($47700 Salary Used) (191.66% Total Ownership): Captain Allen Robinson, Aaron Rodgers, Tarik Cohen, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Jimmy Graham, Packers DST – Lineup entered (3) times
Steelers at Patriots ($46100) (223.0%): Captain Tom Brady, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Stephen Gostkowski, Rex Burkhead – (1)
Texans at Saints ($49900) (244.79%): Captain Deandre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Kenny Stills, Will Lutz – (13)
Broncos at Raiders ($49000) (240.32%): Captain Josh Jacobs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cortland Sutton, Tyrell Williams, Darren Waller, Brandon McManus – (1)
Buccaneers at Panthers ($48500) (225.70%): Captain Chris Godwin, Cam Newton, Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen, Joey Slye – (1)
Eagles at Falcons ($49300) (253.86%): Captain Julio Jones, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins
Browns at Jets ($48300) (237.27%): Captain Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, Le’Veon Bell, Browns DST, Austin Seibert, D’ernest Johnson – (4)
Titans at Jaguars ($48600) (258.3%): Captain Marcus Mariota, Leonard Fournette, Gardner Minshew, D.J. Chark Jr., Jaguars DST, Adam Humphries – (1)
Rams at Browns ($49700) (238.92%): Captain Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Nick Chubb, Browns DST, Greg Zuerlein –
Bears at Redskins ($50000) (235.64%): Captain Mitchell Trubisky, Case Keenum, Terry McLaurin, Bears DST, Paul Richardson Jr., Taylor Gabriel – (11)
Eagles at Packers ($47300) (245.93%): Captain Jordan Howard, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Carson Wentz, Jimmy Graham, Geronimo Allison – (4)
Cowboys at Saints ($47800) (231.88%): Captain Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys DST, Will Lutz, Saints DST – (3)
Bengals at Steelers ($48700) (198.22%): Captain James Conner, Mason Rudolph, Joe Mixon, Diontae Johnson, Steelers DST, Jaylen Samuels – (1)
Rams at Seahawks ($50000) (273.06%): Captain Cooper Kupp, Chris Carson, Gerald Everett, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, Greg Zuerlein – (748)
Colts at Chiefs ($47200) (241.73%): Captain Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack, Colts DST, Byron Pringle – (1)
Browns at 49ers ($46400) (239.74%): Captain Matt Breida, Jarvis Landry, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Tevin Coleman, 49ers DST – (4)
Giants at Patriots ($46700) (322.95%): Captain Patriots DST, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate, James White, Brandon Bolden – (53)
Steelers at Chargers ($44700) (198.69%): Captain James Conner, Phillip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Benny Snell Jr., Steelers DST – (1)
Lions at Packers ($49800) (265.43%): Captain Matt Prater, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson, Jamaal Williams – (23)
Chiefs at Broncos ($47000) (225.37%): Captain Chief DST, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman – (1)
Eagles at Cowboys ($46300) (231.89%): Captain Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Cowboys DST, Dallas Goedert, Brett Maher – (4)
Patriots at Jets ($48800) (242.5%): Captain Patriots DST, Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas – (73)
Redskins at Vikings ($49900) (262.92%): Captain Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Vikings DST, Adrian Peterson, Dan Bailey, Dustin Hopkins – (343)
Packers at Chiefs ($49600) (244.78%): Captain Aaron Jones, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Moore, Jamaal Williams, Damien Williams, Mecole Hardman – (2)
Dolphins at Steelers ($49700) (259.67%): Captain JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Diontae Johnson, Allen Hurns, Chris Boswell – (8)
49ers at Cardinals ($48800) (252.12%): Captain Kenyan Drake, Jimmy Garappolo, Kyler Murray, George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, Andy Isabella – (2)
Patriots at Ravens ($49600) (236.43%): Captain Julian Edelman, Lamar Jackson, James White, Mark Ingram III, Mohamed Sanu, Nick Boyle – (1)
Cowboys at Giants ($48200) (215.3%): Captain Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Daniel Jones, Cowboys DST, Jason Witten, Brett Maher – (3)
Chargers at Raiders ($49600) (284.1%): Captain Melvin Gordon III, Phillip Rivers, Josh Jacobs, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Raiders DST – (12)
Vikings at Cowboys ($49600) (215.38%): Captain Randall Cobb, Dalvin Cook, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr. – (3)
Seahawks at 49ers ($49900) (240.23%): Captain Chris Carson, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers DST, Deebo Samuel, Jacob Hollister – (24)
Steelers at Browns ($49100) (219.24%): Captain Baker Mayfield, Jaylen Samuels, Mason Rudolph, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, Browns DST – (2)
Bears at Rams ($49800) (290.15%): Captain Todd Gurley II, Cooper Kupp, Mitchell Trubisky, Taylor Gabriel, Rams DST, Tarik Cohen – (59)
Chiefs at Chargers ($49500) (182.25%): Captain Austin Ekeler, Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen, Phillip Rivers, Hunter Henry, LeSean McCoy – (14)
Colts at Texans ($49900) (258.29%): Captain DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, Jonathan Williams, Eric Ebron, Ka’imi Fairbairn – (144)
Packers at 49ers ($46200) (217.84%): Captain George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Davante Adams, Jamaal Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase McLaughlin – (1)
Ravens at Rams ($49800) (196.98%): Captain Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, Marquise Brown, Robert Woods, Willie Snead IV, Tyler Higbee – (15)
When we review winning lineups we can think backwards and determine what game script ideas and correlations went into constructing each roster. In the week nine MNF matchup, we knew it would be contrarian to build a lineup assuming Dallas scored only through the air and fade Ezekiel Elliot, who projected to be the highest owned player on the slate. With Prescott at Captain and multiple Dallas pass catchers in the FLEX spots, it made sense to get a piece of the Giants pass game as there would be increased pass volume in a come from behind effort. After the core was locked in it was all about maximizing points. We had very little appealing value on this slate and we know as dropbacks increase so do the opportunities for defenses to produce fantasy points via strip sacks and interceptions making the Dallas DST an exceptional play. A flukey late game defensive touchdown was the icing on the cake for the winning lineup Monday night. While it’s impossible to do on full-slates, building rosters or setting groups around an expected outcome is often the optimal strategy on one-game Showdown slates. We encourage you to look through the other winning rosters listed above and think through the process that would lead to each construction.
DST & KICKER STRATEGY
Now on 21-of-36 (58%) winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 35 slates DST’s are averaging 8.3 DraftKings points at a $4200 average salary and 21% ownership. If we break this down further by favorites versus underdogs, we see favorites priced up to $5100 and owned at a 29% clip as opposed to just $3300 and 13% ownership for underdogs. To this point, the highest owned DST’s (Bears, Patriots, Vikings and Steelers) have paid off by finding their way onto the winning roster but because DST scoring is extremely high variance and scoring events like turnovers and defensive touchdowns are largely unpredictable, we may be able to leverage the field by rostering the cheaper, lesser owned option. It’s worth further noting that DST’s in higher total games are underowned relative to their probability of ending up on winning lineups. DST’s on Showdown slates featuring a total greater than 45 have been owned on average 16% and maintained a 7.7 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 15-of-36 (42%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.7 DraftKings points on average at $3500 and 24% ownership. If we look at all fantasy performances through seven weeks we see that DST’s offer a wider range of outcomes and a higher ceiling than kickers due to the ability to score points via touchdowns. Thus far kickers have been priced “reasonably” by DraftKings, resulting in adequate or better point per dollar median projections. If prices start to rise, or if ownerships rise, these options become less viable GPP picks. Conversely, DraftKings has shown a willingness to aggressively change pricing based on matchup and opposing team total for DST’s. Whether we’re MME players or building just a single lineup, the ability of similarly priced players to outscore both kickers and DST’s will determine how often we need to roster either position. Read through our ‘notable players’ section for more slate specific thoughts on kickers and DST’s.
TEAM-SPECIFIC ANALYSIS & NOTABLE PRICE CONSIDERATIONS
Thursday afternoon features a Second Helping Showdown with $100k to 1st on DraftKings. The Bills head to JerryWorld to take on the Cowboys as 7-point road underdogs with a 45.5-point total. The Bills own the league’s 25th ranked situation-neutral pass rate (55%) while the Cowboys come in at 12th (61%). As touchdown dogs, we can reasonably project the Bills to fall into negative game script, when trailing they have shown a willingness to trust the arm of Josh Allen with a 64% pass rate while the Cowboys pass rate falls from 61% to 49% when playing with a lead.
John Brown ($9200) enters week 13 with a healthy 25% target share accompanied by a massive 40% share of his team’s air yards. Often miscast as a boom-or-bust, big-play dependent option, Brown has been incredibly consistent failing to score double-digit DraftKings points in just one game this season. Ex-Cowboy Cole Beasley ($7400) owns a not-so-dusty 21% target share and 18% share of the team’s air yards. Beasley also ranks 2nd on the team with 13 red zone targets, indicating the four touchdowns are no fluke. Isaiah McKenzie ($1000) is questionably priced as the Bills clear WR3. Since week nine, McKenzie has played on 69% of snaps and run a route on 72% of dropbacks while earning a 13% target share. On previous slates, similar underlying usage would have been priced around $4000, the depressed salary allows us to fit more expensive options. Dawson Knox ($4400) has played on 63% of snaps and run a route on 59% of dropbacks. Knox has seen a 10% target share on the season with a one-game peak of 20% making him a low ceiling flex option even in a plus draw against a Cowboys defense that has allowed the league’s ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Since returning from injury in week seven, Devin Singletary ($8400) has played on 64% of snaps and carried 38% of the team’s rushing attempts. Along with lead back duties on the ground, Singletary has been the preferred pass catcher running a route on 60% of dropbacks. The only knock on his usage is that old man Frank Gore ($3200) has maintained a substantial role, stealing a 35% share of the rushing attempts and seeing ten carries inside the 5-yard line to just two for Singletary. Though the format favors Singletary’s skill set, Gore is incredibly underpriced for his 15-touch + TD upside. Tough matchup aside, Josh Allen ($10600) checks in with one of the slate’s highest ceilings and a clear path to a Captain worthy performance behind his rocket arm or Lamar Jackson-esque rushing volume.
After a brutal week 12 game against Stephon Gilmore, Amari Cooper ($8800) heads right into an equally difficult matchup against Bills shutdown CB Tre’Davious White. In games where both Cooper and Michael Gallup ($8000) have been healthy, Gallup leads in target share (23% to 22%) and is just behind Cooper in share of the teams air yards (28% to 29%). With a better matchup, price and near identical usage we should prioritize Gallup over Cooper Thursday afternoon. Randall Cobb ($7600) has earned his elevated price tag after looking like the Cowboys best receiver over the past three weeks. Despite the strong recent performance, Cobb is a distant third on the team with twin 17% target share and share of air yard numbers. He has only out-targeted Gallup and Cooper in 2-of-10 games making a path to outscoring one or both of the top Cowboys receivers unlikely. With basically zero YAC ability and an uninspiring 5.7 aDOT, Jason Witten ($5000) continues to be nothing more than a high floor/low ceiling flex option unless he stumbles into the end zone. As Silva noted in matchups, the Bills wisely refuse to stack the box with eight defenders leaving Ezekiel Elliot ($11200) with the Cowboys best possible matchup. Following the week eight bye, Elliot has commanded 79% of the team’s rushing attempts, a number bested by only Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. The concerns about Elliot’s involvement in the pass game are warranted following four straight games with no more than four targets, though he has run a route on 73% of dropbacks in those games. Simply put, he’s not coming off the field in close games and becomes the top overall Captain option with the highest likelihood of being the top scorer. As Silva noted, Dak Prescott ($10800) will have his hands full with a Bills defense that ranks 7th in sack rate and 11th in QB hit rate. We’re willing to fade the matchup and bet on Prescott’s talent as he should come in at less than normal ownership for a home, favorite QB given the public’s overreaction to the matchup.
*Captain Ezekiel Elliot, Josh Allen, Cole Beasley – Captain ownership is routinely flatter than ceiling projections would suggest they should be. This will once again be the case with Elliot who will go underowned relative to the % chance he is the top overall scorer.
*Captain Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup, Blake Jarwin, Frank Gore – Prescott showed in week 12 he was not willing to test the shadow coverage of Stephon Gillmore, targeting Cooper on just 2-of-33 attempts. If we think Tre’Davious White can once again erase the Cowboys top receiver it will funnel more targets to secondary options.
*Captain Josh Allen, Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott – Typically we’re not willing to Captain a QB without guaranteeing we have a pass catcher in the flex. Allen’s rushing ability makes it possible to go naked and run it back by locking up all of the Cowboys touchdown equity.
*Captain John Brown, Josh Allen, Ezekiel Elliot – Brown has seen over a 40% share of the team’s air yards in 6-of-10 games. If the Bills are forced into more dropbacks in a negative game script, Brown is capable of capitalizing on a massive workload.
*Captain Michael Gallup, Dak Prescott, Isaiah McKenzie – Sometimes on one-game Showdown slates you’re forced to take a stand. At a cheaper price tag, better matchup, similar ownership and near identical usage we think there’s a reasonable chance Gallup is able to outscore Cooper and the rest of the slate making him the top Captain option.
*Cowboys Onslaught – We have a 7-point home favorite with a favorable matchup at the RB position and strong usage spots for the pass catchers. We could see a situation where multiple skill position players + one of the DST/K combine to form a 5-and-1 lineup build in a slaughtering of the Bills.
Notable Players not already listed as Captain above:
If a player is listed above as a Captain option or as part of a stack they are worth rostering as a stand alone flex as well. As discussed above the need to roster kickers and DST’s is tied to how many rosterable players we have in the same salary range. Because DraftKings is unwilling to price up kickers to a level that would reflect their median projections, we’re left with very few players who are priced around them that present the opportunity to outscore them. Pricing on DST’s has been slightly more fluid based on the matchup and opposing team’s total but they too remain underpriced relative to their median projections. While constructing rosters, consider the game environment/outcome necessary for these cheap players to beat the kickers and/or DST’s.
Amari Cooper – Working in Cooper’s favor is that his price had already been adjusted from $10200 to $9200 to account for the difficult matchup with Gillmore and then it dropped another $400 after putting up a bagel in week 12.
Devin Singletary – Though he’s been sharing carries with Frank Gore and working behind him at the goalline, Singletary’s touch projection and role in the pass game against a Dallas defense that has allowed the league’s second-most targets to running backs keeps him in play.
Randall Cobb – If White is able to erase Cooper it will funnel more opportunities to Cobb who has held off father time en route to three consecutive strong box score performances.
Cole Beasley – If we believe the perimeter CB’s in Dallas are able to contain John Brown Beasley’s bankable slot role becomes even more valuable as Josh Allen’s safety blanket.
Jason Witten – As mentioned above its a fool’s errand to expect Witten to produce much in the yardage column. His zero touchdowns on four end zone targets presents a glimmer of hope for some positive TD regression.
Dawson Knox – With a less-than-stellar target projection and no usage spikes to speak of, Knox is just a touchdown-or-bust flyer.
Frank Gore – With touch totals of 15, 12, 6 and 11 over his last four games to go along with ten carries inside the five yard line, Gore is a strong candidate for a cheap touchdown.
Blake Jarwin – The more athletic of the Cowboys tight ends, Jarwin at least possesses a skill set that gives him a path to a ceiling game. The shaky usage creates an incredibly low floor at $3000.
Tony Pollard – Since the week eight bye, Pollard has owned a 10% share of the rushing attempts and 10% share of the team’s targets. Above average usage for a $2600 price tag.
Isaiah McKenzie – McKenzie is simply $3000-$3500 too cheap and should be viewed as the slate’s top value option.
Again, roster construction and correlation are the most important factors for GPP success in the Showdown format. But understanding who will be popular helps. A rough guide to who we think will be the most owned:
Higher projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Ezekiel Elliot
* Dak Prescott
* Josh Allen
* John Brown
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Randall Cobb
* Jason Witten
* Dawson Knox
* Frank Gore
* Blake Jarwin
* Isaiah McKenzie