NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives): Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is inactive
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 Chiefs at Broncos, we have a 19-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 19 games are as follows:
Packers at Bears: Captain Allen Robinson, Aaron Rodgers, Tarik Cohen, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Jimmy Graham, Packers DST
Steelers at Patriots: Captain Tom Brady, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Stephen Gostkowski, Rex Burkhead
Texans at Saints: Captain Deandre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Kenny Stills, Will Lutz
Broncos at Raiders: Captain Josh Jacobs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cortland Sutton, Tyrell Williams, Darren Waller, Brandon McManus
Buccaneers at Panthers: Captain Chris Godwin, Cam Newton, Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen, Joey Slye
Eagles at Falcons: Captain Julio Jones, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins
Browns at Jets: Captain Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, Le’Veon Bell, Browns DST, Austin Seibert, D’ernest Johnson
Titans at Jaguars: Captain Marcus Mariota, Leonard Fournette, Gardner Minshew, D.J. Chark Jr., Jaguars DST, Adam Humphries
Rams at Browns: Captain Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Nick Chubb, Browns DST, Greg Zuerlein
Bears at Redskins: Captain Mitchell Trubisky, Case Keenum, Terry McLaurin, Bears DST, Paul Richardson Jr., Taylor Gabriel
Eagles at Packers: Captain Jordan Howard, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Carson Wentz, Jimmy Graham, Geronimo Allison
Cowboys at Saints: Captain Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys DST, Will Lutz, Saints DST
Bengals at Steelers: Captain James Conner, Mason Rudolph, Joe Mixon, Diontae Johnson, Steelers DST, Jaylen Samuels
Rams at Seahawks: Captain Cooper Kupp, Chris Carson, Gerald Everett, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, Greg Zuerlein
Colts at Chiefs: Captain Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack, Colts DST, Byron Pringle
Browns at 49ers: Captain Matt Breida, Jarvis Landry, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Tevin Coleman, 49ers DST
Giants at Patriots: Captain Patriots DST, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate, James White, Brandon Bolden
Steelers at Chargers: Captain James Conner, Phillip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Benny Snell Jr., Steelers DST
Lions at Packers: Captain Matt Prater, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson, Jamaal Williams
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 six SNF matchup we knew James Conner would be in line for bell cow type usage with Jaylen Samuels injured. With the Chargers as 6-point home favorites we knew it would be contrarian to assume the Steelers control the game and Captain Conner, paired with the Steelers DST. The winning lineup was filled out by fading the more popular members of the Chargers pass attack and instead taking advantage of the reduced ownership on Mike Williams and Hunter Henry. 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 12-of-19 (63%) winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 19 slates DST’s are averaging 8.1 DraftKings points at a $4100 average salary and 20% ownership. If we break this down further by favorites versus underdogs, we see favorites priced up to $4800 and owned at a 29% clip as opposed to just $3400 and 11% ownership for underdogs. To this point, the highest owned DST’s (Bears, Patriots) 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 7.3 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 9-of-19 (47%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.9 DraftKings points on average at $3500 and 23% ownership. If we look at all fantasy performances through three 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, defenses and 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. Whether we’re MME players or building just a single lineup, the ability of cheap 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 night’s matchup between the Chiefs at Broncos features the 5th highest week seven total at 48.5-points with the Chiefs listed as 3-point road favorites. We’ll see differing styles as the Chiefs (1st) and Broncos (22nd) are on opposite ends of the pass rate spectrum when games are within one score. The Broncos offense may benefit from an increase in pace as the Chiefs rank 3rd in situation neutral pace and have struggled to control time of posession. The increased play volume can help improve the viability of all fantasy assets in the Mile High City.
Tyreek Hill ($11,200) smashed in his return from injury with a 5/80/2 line on 10 targets but as reported prior to kickoff, Hill was limited to playing on just 51% of snaps. He has been a full participant to start the week so we can tentatively expect him to return to his full-time role that saw him command a monstrous 37% of the team’s air yards in 2018. We’ll get at least one more week without Sammy Watkins as he was ruled out Wednesday afternoon. Behind Hill, 3WR sets will include Demarcus Robinson ($6,800) and Byron Pringle ($2,800). In weeks 5-6 with Watkins injured, Robinson ran a route on 88% of dropbacks and saw a 14% target share to go along with a 20% share of the team’s air yards. Pringle has worked as the direct backup to Watkins and stands to see the biggest usage increase with him out. Pringle has run a route on 72% of dropbacks and managed a 15% target share in Watkins absence. Mecole Hardman ($5,800) will handle any snaps leftover by Hill, Robinson and Pringle. Travis Kelce ($9,800) once again failed to pop in the box score in week six, with the question marks at WR we can simplify things by playing Kelce, the team leader in targets (49) and runner-up in air yards (515). The Chiefs running back situation is increasingly frustrating as Damien Williams ($6,600) and LeSean McCoy ($6,200) have cannibalized each others opportunities in back-to-back weeks following Williams week return. As Dwain noted in the Utilization Trends column, two weeks into Williams return from injury there is no predictable pattern for how the Chiefs will deploy their RB’s. Because of the unknown and their similar floor/ceiling projections it makes sense to simply roster the lesser owned of the two. Patrick Mahomes ($12,000) has managed to perform well in back-to-back weeks despite less than ideal game environments. As Pat noted in the Snaps and Pace column, due to the Chiefs inability to prevent teams from gashing them on the ground they’ve been reduced to running the eighth-fewest plays per game on average. If we can assume the slightest improvement from the Chiefs defense it would instill even more confidence in Mahomes slate leading median + ceiling projection combination.
With one of the better Showdown prices we’ve seen through seven weeks, Courtland Sutton ($7,600) was not treated as a true WR1 by DraftKings. Sutton’s second year breakout is no fluke as he’s running a route on 94% of dropbacks, handling a 23% share of his team’s targets and commanding a massive 44% share of the air yards. With a matchup that should lead to increased pass volume, we can feel confident about Sutton’s ability to produce a Captain worthy performance. As a full participant in practice, we have no reason to doubt Emmanuel Sanders ($6,400) role for Thursday’s game. Removing week six where he left early with a knee injury, Sanders was lockstep with Sutton in every major metric. If our opponents overreact to back-to-back abysmal performances we can take advantage of an ownership discount on Sanders. DaeSean Hamilton ($4,800) handles the WR3 role for Denver and has seen acceptable usage for his salary on a slate that offers few value options. Hamilton is running a route on 69% of dropbacks and ranks 5th on the team in target share (12%) and 4th in air yards (11%). In a run first offense the Broncos two-headed monster at the running back position offers plenty of appeal. Philip Lindsay ($8,800) leads the team over Royce Freeman ($6,000) in share of rush attempts (52% to 41%), target share (14.4% to 13.7%) and attempts inside the 10 yard line (10 to 5). The opportunity split between Lindsay and Freeman is close enough that it makes sense to play both in the same lineup or to simply play the cheaper Freeman over Lindsay and assume TD regression hits in week seven. As Silva noted, the Chiefs have been lit up for 157/818/4 (5.21 YPC) by opposing RB’s. Though Noah Fant ($3,400) has largely failed to produce in the first six weeks, his snaps (69%) and routes run (70%) are encouraging at a reduced price. The Chiefs can be beaten by the TE position making Fant a solid low owned option in the Broncos pass attack. Joe Flacco ($8,000) will benefit from facing a Chiefs D that has been unable to get pressure on the QB. As Silva noted, the Chiefs rank 26th in sacks and QB hits and Flacco has been truly elite from a clean pocket this year. As injuries mount on the Chiefs defense Flacco may be able to take advantage, even in this run first offense.
*Captain Patrick Mahomes + 3-4 Chiefs – Following back-to-back poor performances it’ll be less likely our opponents build for a Chiefs blowout. Mahomes could return to his magical ways and support ceiling games from multiple pass catchers.
*Captain Joe Flacco, Courtland Sutton, 2+Members of Chiefs Pass Game – If the Broncos are forced to abandon their ground game or if Broncos touchdowns come through the air, Flacco + Sutton is a strong pairing.
*Captain Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay, Patrick Mahomes – It’s no secret the Broncos preference is to keep the ball on the ground and the Chiefs defense may not be equipped to stop them. Captain the lesser owned Freeman and pair him with Lindsay to capture all of the rushing upside. (We can also Captain Lindsay with Freeman in the FLEX and differentiate elsewhere).
*Captain Damien Williams, Courtland Sutton, Joe Flacco – Given the uncertainty surrounding the Chiefs backfield and the other options in this game, Williams will go incredibly under owned and we know the lead back in the Chiefs offense offers multiple TD upside.
*Captain Courtland Sutton, Joe Flacco, Damien Williams – Sutton’s 44% share of the team’s air yards leads the entire NFL. The only thing that has prevented him from truly erupting to this point is the low volume nature of the Broncos pass attack. If they run more plays or Flacco is forced into more dropbacks he could have a monster night. (If you’re finding it difficult to differentiate your Sutton + Flacco lineups, it makes sense to Captain Emmanuel Sanders + Flacco instead.)
*Captain Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes, Royce Freeman – Hill’s game changing ability was on full display in week six on just 51% of snaps, with an elevated price tag and Chris Harris coverage on tap, ownership may be slightly depressed.
*Captain Travis Kelce, 5 Broncos – If Hill is in fact bottled up by Harris along with the other question marks at WR, Kelce may be the Chiefs pass catcher to own and may soak up a vast majority of Thursday night’s opportunities.
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.
Demarcus Robinson – Robinson will once again be third in the pecking order for targets and air yards behind Hill and Kelce.
Emmanuel Sanders – Removing week six where Sanders left early with an injury, Sanders is seeing enough targets (21%) and air yards (33%) to pay off his $6,400 price tag.
LeSean McCoy – McCoy led the Chiefs backfield in week six, handling 73% of the team’s rush attempts. McCoy is interchangeable with Damien Williams listed above as either one could be the lead back on any given week.
Mecole Hardman – Hardman will rotate in but has seen fewer snaps, targets and air yards than Pringle since week five.
Daesean Hamilton – Hamilton is the Broncos primary slot receiver, running 86% of his routes from that position. If Kendall Fuller is inactive he would receiver a matchup bump.
Noah Fant – Fant’s 70% of routes run per dropback combined with the Chiefs surrendering .53 DraftKings points per route run to the TE position give him an upside at his price.
Byron Pringle – Pringle will once again serve as Watkins primary replacement. His Showdown salary dropped from $4,400 in week six to $2,800 for Thursday night making him one of the better salary savers on the board.
Jeff Heuerman – Heuerman is running a route on 34% of Flacco dropbacks and has seen 10 targets through six weeks, just enough usage to keep him in play as a dart throw at his $800 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:
* Patrick Mahomes
* Tyreek Hill
* Travis Kelce
* Phillip Linsday
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Demarcus Robinson/Mecole Hardman
* Damien Williams
* Royce Freeman
* Noah Fant