NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives): JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Vance McDonald (concussion) have been ruled out.
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 Sunday’s matchup that features the Bills at Steelers, we have a 43-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 43 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)
Saints at Falcons: Captain Matt Ryan, Saints DST, Russell Gage, Alvin Kamara, Will Lutz, Calvin Ridley – (1)
Patriots at Texans ($49400) (256.39%): Captain Duke Johnson, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, Julian Edelman, James White, Kenny Stills – (74)
Vikings at Seahawks ($49700) (251.83%): Captain Rashaad Penny, Russell Wilson, Dalvin Cook, Chris Carson, Kirk Cousins, David Moore – (22)
Cowboys at Bears ($49400) (232.33%): Captain Mitchell Trubisky, Ezekiel Elliot, Allen Robinson II, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, J.P. Holtz – (2)
Giants at Eagles ($47000) (200.3%): Captain Darius Slayton, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard, Boston Scott – (1)
Jets at Ravens ($49300) (212.82%): Captain Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, Mark Andrews, Jamison Crowder, Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin – (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 23-of-43 (53%) winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 42 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 16-of-43 (37%) 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
Sunday night’s one-game Showdown slate features the two current AFC wild card teams with the Steelers installed as 1-point home favorites over the Bills in a laughable 37-point total. The Duck Hodges led Steelers have been unsurprisingly run-heavy, ranking 7th in situation-neutral run rate (45%). OC Randy Fichtner has displayed a serious sensitivity to game script as the Steelers run on just 31% of plays when trailing as opposed to 58% when playing with a lead. The Bills have shown equally strong contrasts in play calling under different game scripts, sporting a 43% situation-neutral run rate versus 58% with a lead and 36% when coming from behind. Understanding how these offenses interact given a projected game flow will be vital to creating stacks that are strongly correlated.
For the first time all season, noted touchdown scorer, Cole Beasley ($9800) is more expensive than John Brown ($9600). Though he’s failed to pop in the box score for three consecutive weeks, there’s no reason for Brown to be priced as the Bills WR2. Leading in target share (24% to 21%), share of the team’s air yards (37% to 17%) and red zone targets (26 to 14) Brown is our clear preferred receiving option over Beasley. Since week nine, Isaiah McKenzie ($3000) has worked as the Bills undoubted WR3 playing on 65% of snaps and running a route on 69% of dropbacks. Over that same time frame he’s managed a serviceable 13% target share and 7% share of the team’s air yards. Dawson Knox ($3200) stands out as a value option priced $800-$1000 too low for someone who is playing on 65% of snaps and running a route on 63% of dropbacks. Not one to rack up much production in the reception and yardage column, we’ll need Knox to hit paydirt for a chance at a ceiling game Thursday night. Devin Singletary ($9400) has taken over as the Bills clear RB1 since week nine, on the field for 73% of snaps and handling 49% of the team’s rushing attempts to go along with a 14% target share. As Silva noted in matchups, Josh Allen ($11200) projects to have his hands full with a Steelers defense that leads the NFL in sacks and QB hits. Allen does possess slate-breaking ability with both his arm and legs as evidenced by his 95/439/8 rushing line through 13 games.
An aggravation to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee injury will force him to miss week 15, leaving James Washington ($7000) as the Steelers WR1. In the previous three games that Smith-Schuster missed, Washington has seen 22% target share and a massive 45% share of the team’s air yards. Working against Washington is the Steelers recent lack of pass volume and a matchup against one of the league’s best pass defenses who has allowed the second-fewest pass-plays over 20 yards to opposing receivers. Lining up opposite Washington, Diontae Johnson ($6400) has also seen strong usage in Smith-Schuster’s absence with a 28% target share and 30% share of the team’s air yards. Though he’ll see his fair share of Tre’Davious White coverage, an efficient 9.3 aDOT and an appearance on the week 15 buy-low model make Johnson our preferred receiving option over Washington. Vance McDonald (concussion) was also ruled out ahead of Sunday’s matchup leaving Nick Vannett ($1800) to handle the Steelers tight end duties. In his lone game without McDonald, Vannett played on 76% of snaps and ran a route on 75% of dropbacks keeping him in play as a low floor/low ceiling flex option against a Bills defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. James Conner ($10600) is on track to suit up Sunday, further complicating an already messy Steelers backfield that could also feature Benny Snell Jr. ($2600), Jaylen Samuels ($1200) and even Kerrith Whyte Jr. ($200) in any given game. Conner hasn’t played a full game since week eight making it difficult to project him to resume the role that saw him handling 63% of the team’s rushing attempts coupled with a 14% target share. However, as the Steelers fight for a wild card spot, we’re tentatively projecting a feature role for Conner assuming he’s able to go without limitation. Duck Hodges ($8200) viability, and the Steelers pass game as a whole, is entirely tied to projected game script. In a back-and-forth affair or if the Steelers fall behind early there will be enough volume to boost the projections for both Hodges and his receiving options who are all underpriced.
* Captain Josh Allen, John Brown, James Conner – Given Allen’s rushing upside we’re comfortable rostering him with as little as one Bills receiver or as many as three. In our ‘Captain Josh Allen’ lineups we can set a group to include all Bills pass catchers and set the limitations to at least one and no more than three.
* Captain James Conner, Josh Allen, 2 Bills Pass Catchers – Given the Steelers sensitivity to game script, a ceiling performance from Conner likely comes in a game where they build an early lead and put the ball in his belly 20+ times. In that scenario the Bills offense is more likely to approach a 65% pass rate bringing Allen and his receiving options into play on the other side.
* Captain John Brown, Josh Allen, Diontae Johnson – We’re not buying Cole Beasley priced as the Bills WR1. We’re betting on Brown’s talent + usage to turn in a Captain worthy performance. An appearance on the week 15 buy-low model adds confidence he’s due for some positive regression.
* Captain Devin Singletary, Duck Hodges, James Washington – It appears that Singletary has finally dusted old man Frank Gore and claimed undisputed RB1 status. Since week 11 Gore’s share of the rushing attempts have declined from 32.4% > 31.9% > 26.5% > 16.7%. As the lead back in a run first offense, Singletary has a clear path to 100-yards and a touchdown even in a difficult matchup.
* Captain Duck Hodges, 2 Steelers pass catchers, Josh Allen – The Steelers 69% pass rate when trailing presents a volume upside for Hodges that we’ve yet to see in his first three starts. If the Bills get out to lead behind the arm of Josh Allen, it will create a game script that makes Hodges an intriguing Captain option at reduced ownership.
* Captain James Washington, Duck Hodges, John Brown – Washington’s massive 45% share of the team’s air yards in games that JuJu Smith-Schuster has missed is difficult to ignore. If the Bills don’t elect to shadow Washington with top shutdown CB Tre’Davious White he’ll see more Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson coverage, running 65% of his routes in their primary coverage areas.
* Captain Diontae Johnson, Duck Hodges, Devin Singletary – Like Hodges and Washington listed before him, we need the Steelers to be trailing for Johnson to see enough volume to warrant Captain consideration. With a team-leading 28% target share in games that Smith-Schuster has missed, Johnson is the most likely candidate to soak up Hodges checkdowns.
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.
Cole Beasley – Though he’s been more productive in recent weeks, Beasley trails Brown by a decent margin target share, air yards and high value targets near the end zone. Beasley does benefit from a matchup against the beatable Mike Hilton.
Dawson Knox – Playing on 65% of snaps and running a route on 63% of dropbacks, Knox is involved enough to offer touchdown-or-bust value in a neutral matchup.
Isaiah McKenzie – Since laying claim to the Bills WR3 job in week nine, McKenzie owns a 13% target share on a safe 5.2 aDOT.
Benny Snell Jr./Jaylen Samuels – As noted above, we’re projecting a near full workload for James Conner in his first game back. If we get word he’s limited or the Steelers err on the side of caution, Snell projects to get the first crack at early down work while Samuels would mix in on passing downs. The best way to handle the Steelers backup RB situation is to create a group limiting lineups to no more than one of Snell, Samuels and Kerrith Whyte.
Frank Gore – Though Singletary has begun distancing himself from Gore, we can still expect the vet to see anywhere from 15%-25% of the team’s rushing attempts. In a run first offense its possible Gore gets 5-7 rushing attempts and syphons a goalline touch from Singletary.
Nick Vannett – Zach Gentry, who has played 35 total snaps this season, is the only healthy tight end behind Vannett. Priced at $1800, Vannett is a high floor/low ceiling value option.
Johnny Holton/Tevin Jones/Deon Cain – In weeks 12-14 with JuJu Smith-Schuster absent, Holton, Jones and Cain split WR3 snaps (27%, 41% and 21%) and routes run per dropback (10%, 49% and 33%). During that span, Jones saw five targets, Cain two and Holton was not targeted. With Vance McDonald also ruled out, there could be an increased emphasis on 3WR sets bringing all three into play. Jones is our favorite of the bunch but we should create a group to limit our lineups to no more than one of Holton, Jones, Cain.
Robert Foster – Foster is the only other Bills receiver to see meaningful playing time over the previous three weeks, in on 27% of snaps and running a route on 29% of dropbacks. His insane 26.8 aDOT means he and Allen need to connect just once to pay off his stone minimum salary.
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:
* Josh Allen
* James Conner
* Cole Beasley
* John Brown
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Duck Hodges
* Diontae Johnson
* Dawson Knox
* Isaiah McKenzie
* Tevin Jones