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 Sunday’s matchup that features the Colts at Chiefs, we have a 14-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 14 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
DST & KICKER STRATEGY
The analysis in this section will continue to evolve as we get more information about winning Showdown lineups. Now on 8-of-14 winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through fourteen slates DST’s are averaging 7.4 DraftKings points at a $4100 average salary and 19% ownership. If we break this down further by favorites versus underdogs, we see favorites priced up to $4700 and owned at a 26% clip as opposed to just $3500 and 11% ownership for underdogs. 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 7.2 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly more productive than DST’s to start the Showdown season and have found their way onto 8-of-14 winning rosters. Kickers are scoring an insane 8.4 DraftKings points on average at $3400 and 25% 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
Sunday night’s Showdown contest features week five’s highest total game at 56, a full touchdown higher than the next closest. The Chiefs and their league-best offense will face the Colts as 11-point home favorites. Following Andrew Luck’s retirement, the Colts are firmly on team Establish The Run, ranking 30th in the NFL in situation neutral pass rate. The script remains the same when they fall behind, attempting passes well below league average. The Chiefs on the other hand, rank 2nd in situational neutral pass rate at 69% and tend to stick to that game plan whether playing from behind or ahead. Perhaps the Chiefs high powered aerial attack can force Jacoby Brissett into more dropbacks on Sunday.
The Colts offense should receive a huge boost with T.Y. Hilton ($8,000) on track to play. His participation in Thursday and Friday’s practices are a good sign and he is expected to play Sunday night. Hilton has once again been a monster for the Colts when on the field, commanding an elite 27% target share and 45% share of air yards. There is still some concern with his quad injury and his outdoor splits but we can’t roster six Chiefs. Hilton provides us access to a ceiling on the Colts side of the ball. Zach Pascal ($4,200) is priced as the Colts WR2 for Sunday night, we should see him start opposite Hilton with Chester Rogers ($3,600) getting a vast majority of the slot work. With Parris Campbell ruled out, we’ll continue to see a 3-man rotation behind Hilton that includes Pascal, Rogers and Deon Cain ($1,200). The Colts are running 3WR sets on 75% of their plays meaning all three receivers will be on the field enough to see the type of opportunities to pay off their cheap price tags. Cain may actually be the most underpriced of the group as he led all Colts WR’s with 73% snaps and was 2nd in routes run at 76%. Eric Ebron ($5,000) is once again proving to be a touchdown-or-bust option seeing fewer snaps (43%) and routes run (49%) than teammate Jack Doyle ($4,800). After Ebron posted an insane 35.6% end zone target share in 2018, he’s fallen back to earth as he and Doyle are at an even 8.3% share through week four. In weeks 1-3 when Marlon Mack ($6,800) was fully healthy, the Colts leaned on their lead back giving him 67% of rushing attempts and allowing him to run a route on 55% of dropbacks. Mack ultimately ended up playing in week four after dealing with a calf injury during the week but sustained an in-game ankle injury. He has followed a similar practice regiment heading into week five but it’s unclear what type of workload he’ll be able to handle. We understand Nyheim Hines’ ($6,600) appeal as the Colts passing-down back in a game they project to be trailing. However, Hines ran a route on fewer dropbacks (44%) than any Colts WR listed above in week four and we have no reason to believe that will increase Sunday night. Given the expected game script, Hines will garner some ownership but there are players priced around him and others well below him who stand out as better options. Jacoby Brissett ($8,400) is disrespectfully priced as the cheapest Showdown QB through the first 15 slates. While the Colts preference is to keep the ball on the ground, as 11-point road underdogs they may not have a choice but to air it out.
With Tyreek Hill on the shelf for at least one more game Sammy Watkins ($8,800) will get another opportunity to be the man in Kansas City. Watkins has posted elite WR1 usage numbers in Hill’s absence but hasn’t popped in the box score since week one. Running a route on 98% of dropbacks with a strong 24% target share and 28% of air yards, Watkins actually seems slightly underpriced Sunday night. To further cement his case as a top play, he popped in Josh Hermsmeyer’s week five buy-low model and gets to face off against a Colts defense that, as noted in matchups, is getting beat by slot receivers where Watkins lines up 68% of the time. Demarcus Robinson ($7,200) checks in as the Chiefs WR2 and most likely candidate to catch a Patrick Mahomes bomb. Of players with at least 10 targets, Robinson is 2nd in the NFL with a 17.9 aDOT. As Silva notes, this matchup is difficult for outside receivers as the Colts zone defense is more attackable in the middle of the field. Mecole Hardman ($6,200) may also benefit from the same positive matchup as Watkins, he is running 51% of his routes from the slot position. Travis Kelce ($10,000) gets a dream matchup against against this Colts defense that has been worked by less talented TE’s. Kelce continues to see WR1 type usage, running a route on 84% of dropbacks and commanding 27% of the team’s air yards. LeSean McCoy ($7,400) will be rejoined by Damien Williams ($7,000) who missed weeks three and four with a knee injury. In weeks one and two with both backs healthy, Williams led the team in rushing attempts (46%), routes per dropback (58%) and targets (11). Neither McCoy or Darrel Williams ($6,400) did enough to run away with the RB1 job in Williams’ absence and we expect this situation to return to a two-headed RBBC led by Damien Williams, with McCoy working in behind him and Darrell Williams largely relegated to a bench role. Patrick Mahomes ($12,800) takes over as the highest priced Showdown player through the first five weeks. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Mahomes is not one of the top six scores on the slate. In a week four game where he failed to score a touchdown we would have still needed him in a FLEX position to win a GPP. Mahomes should have no issue dicing up this Colts zone defense.
*Captain Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, 2 Colts pass catchers – It will be difficult to have a contrarian build with Mahomes and Kelce as they’ll be the two most popular players on the slate. Running this group back with two of the cheaper Colts pass catchers gives us flexibility to include lower owned, mid-priced options.
*Captain Demarcus Robinson, Patrick Mahomes, T.Y. Hilton – Capitalizing on the big play nature of Robinson’s game, if he catches a few Mahomes deep balls he could limit his fellow WR’s production.
*Captain Sammy Watkins, Jacoby Brissett, Travis Kelce – If the Colts are able to limit the Chiefs perimeter receivers and reduce Mahomes to short completions, we could capture that PPR upside by rostering Watkins and Kelce without their QB.
*Captain Travis Kelce, Both QB’s, Chester Rogers – Given Kelce’s usage + matchup, he should be considered one of the top plays on the slate. If this game turns into a shootout we will need pieces of both passing attacks to be competitive.
*Captain Mecole Hardman, Patrick Mahomes, Sammy Watkins – Hardman is the least likely candidate to be the Chiefs top scoring pass catcher but that is already reflected in his price and should also be reflected in his ownership. We can differentiate at the Captain position in order to allow us to roster higher owned players in our FLEX positions.
*Captain T.Y. Hilton, 4 Chiefs – As the Colts clear cut #1 option, Hilton can produce a Captain worthy performance while the Chiefs spread the ball around to multiple targets.
*Captain Damien Williams, Sammy Watkins, T.Y. Hilton – While the Chiefs passing game will attract plenty of ownership, the murkiness of the RB situation may keep people away from Williams. If the backfield opportunities in week five resemble the week 1-2 timeshare, Williams is underpriced and will likely be underowned.
*Captain Marlon Mack, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce – A simple way to build a unique lineup is to expect a contrarian outcome. If the game stays close or if the Colts get out to a lead Mack will be heavily involved.
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.
Jacoby Brissett – There’s a case to be made for Brissett as a Captain given that he’s underpriced for floor/ceiling combo QB’s inherently offer.
LeSean McCoy – McCoy saw reduced rushing attempts (44%) and routes per dropback (30%) when Williams was healthy. He’s now priced above Williams making him a tough sell if Williams takes over as the lead back once again.
Nyheim Hines – Hines’ price is alarming given his role, even in a game where we expect his skill set to be needed he’s likely to see fewer opportunities than Colts WR’s who are priced well below him.
Eric Ebron – Ebron’s healthy 10.7 aDOT keeps him in play despite reduced opportunities.
Jack Doyle – Doyle is seeing more snaps (70%) and running more routes (53%) but gets less valuable targets than Ebron. Both are playable and at similar price tags interchangeable in roster construction.
Zach Pascal – Pascal figures to start opposite Hilton and offers high volume at a cheap salary.
Chester Rogers – Rogers projects to be a near every down player manning the Colts slot receiver role. Kendall Fuller has given up 13/183/2 in slot coverage through four weeks.
Jordan Wilkins – If Mack is a surprise inactive or we get word that he’ll be limited, Wilkins would become an option at $3,000
Deon Cain – Cain figures to once again be a part of the rotation with Parris Campbell sidelined. At $1,200 he’s underpriced for the usage he expects to see.
Blake Bell – Bell is a dart throw at the stone minimum on DraftKings, if we do need the salary relief. Bell is on the field for 40% of snaps and running a route on 27% of dropbacks.
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
* Travis Kelce
* Sammy Watkins
* Harrison Butker
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Marlon Mack
* Mecole Hardman
* Chester Rogers
* Deon Cain