NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives):
UPDATE 7:02 PM ET: Keke Coutee is a healthy scratch, meaning it’s all systems go for Fuller. We should feel more comfortable about the status of his hamstring injury with Coutee inactive.
Editors Note: We’re hosting an ETR DFS league this week at DraftKings. $3 to enter, there’s no rake, and you can win an ETR lineup review or t-shirt in addition to cash prizes. Edit: The contest is full, check back next week for a bigger version.
Editor’s Note 1: 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 Colts at Texans, we have a 33-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 33 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)
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-33 (64%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 33 slates DST’s are averaging 8.4 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 12% 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 15% and maintained a 7.9 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 14-of-33 (42%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.6 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
We kick off week 12 with another important divisional battle between AFC South foes with the Texans favored by 3.5-points at home over the Colts in a game featuring a modest 45-point total. In what figures to be a marquee matchup for #TeamEstablishTheRun, both the Texans (44%) and Colts (48%) rank in the top ten in situation neutral run rate this season. Neither offense has shown a strong tendency to abandon the run when they fall behind, allowing for a wide variety of viable roster constructions Thursday night.
We are monitoring injury news on both sides of the ball, starting with Colts WR1 T.Y. Hilton ($9600) who seems likely to go after being a full-participant in Wednesday’s practice. When he’s been active, Hilton has been a usage monster commanding a 40% share of the team’s air yards to go along with a 26% target share. Even in a run first offense we can project elite level opportunities for Hilton. There’s upside at Zach Pascal’s ($8000) current price though he has largely been an afterthought when he and Hilton take the field together seeing a mediocre 12% target share in weeks 5-8. Pascal snuck into the week 12 buy-low model indicating he’s due for some positive regression if he can maintain his recent volume with Hilton back in the lineup. After signing with the team on November 9th, Marcus Johnson ($4200) immediately stepped into a full-time role playing on 86% of snaps and running a route on 96% of dropbacks in weeks 10-11. His playing time figures to scale back with Hilton active but remains in play given his role. Also listed as a full-participant on Wednesday’s practice report, Eric Ebron ($4600) appears likely to play Thursday night. Though he’s on the field for considerably fewer snaps than fellow tight end Jack Doyle ($4400) Ebron has handled a higher target share (15% to 13%) and share of the team’s air yards (19% to 10%) and as the No. 3 tight end in the buy-low model, he’s the preferred option over Doyle. Jordan Wilkins ($6600) was removed from the injury report Wednesday, creating a three-headed RBBC of Wilkins, Nyheim Hines ($6200) and Jonathan Williams ($5600). While this backfield is difficult to project, Williams will get the first crack at early down work, followed by Wilkins and Hines will continue to operate as the Colts primary pass-catching back in a role that is largely unchanged by Marlon Mack’s injury. In one of the run-heaviest offenses in the league, Williams becomes a top option if we can project 50-60% of the team’s carries. As Silva noted in matchups, Jacoby Brissett ($10400) should see plenty of clean pockets against a Texans defense that has been a shell of itself sans J.J. Watt, ranking 26th in sack rate and 22nd in QB hit rate. With Hilton back on the field and a game script that should lead to more pass volume, Brissett lands in one of the most favorable spots he’ll see all year.
Deandre Hopkins ($11000) has been a model of consistency, seeing no fewer than 11 targets in any game since week five. Hopkins is 2nd in the league in target share (31%) and 10th in share of his team’s air yards (36%), offering rare 10 catch, 100-yard and multiple touchdown upside. Will Fuller’s ($7800) status is very much up in the air on the heels of back-to-back limited practices. Coming off a hamstring injury against a Colts defense that is set up to takeaway deep threats, Fuller is a high risk/high reward option if he plays. With Fuller on the field, Kenny Stills ($6400) will be forced back into the slot where he has been dominant this year averaging 2.66 yards per route run from that position. Fuller’s presence in the lineup would only serve to boost Stills’ ceiling as he’ll draw the more favorable matchup to go along with reduced ownership. If Fuller remains out, Keke Coutee ($2400) appears to have once again regained his role as the Texans fill in slot man playing on 72% of snaps and running a route on 84% of dropbacks in week 11. Darren Fells ($3400) has seen his Showdown salary has plummet from a season-high $5800 in week nine, despite playing on 72% of snaps and running a route on 63% of dropbacks. We’ve already seen Fells put his 6-foot-7 frame to use reeling in a team leading six touchdowns. Carlos Hyde ($7000) will continue to dominate early down work and do virtually nothing in the passing game while Duke Johnson ($5000) will handle around 20% of the team’s rushing attempts but will be heavily involved as a receiver if the Texans are forced into more dropbacks. It makes sense to set groups to limit our lineups to no more than one Texans running back and filter Hyde through lineups where we project the Texans to win and Johnson through lineups where we think they may fall behind. As Silva noted in matchups, there are reasons to temper expectations with Deshaun Watson ($11600) Thursday night. The Colts slow pace of play and ability to eat up clock by moving the ball on the ground can lead to less overall play volume for the opposing offense. In spite of that, Watson still maintains one of the highest ceilings on the slate and will be almost necessary as a flex option if we opt to Captain one of the Texans receivers.
*Captain Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills, Colts Pass Catcher – If we’re rostering Watson as our captain we want no less than two of his receivers in the flex spots. Hopkins provides upside on massive usage and Still stands out as an underowned option due for regression, particularly if Fuller lines up opposite Hopkins.
*Captain DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Zach Pascal – If we think targets funnel toward Hopkins he is capable of running away with top overall scorer honors. Bringing it back with Pascal, a lower owned member of the Colts receiving group who is due for positive regression, makes sense.
*Captain Jacoby Brissett, T.Y. Hilton, Kenny Stills – Despite the Colts tendency to grind out the clock by feeding their running backs, Brissett has shown 25-30 DraftKings point upside and has shown at least some willingness to run as evidenced by his 39/122/2 rushing line.
*Captain T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby Brissett, Carlos Hyde – Given the other pass catching options around him, Hilton may return from injury and immediately step into a 30% target share against a defense he has mercilessly destroyed.
*Captain Zach Pascal, Jacoby Brissett, DeAndre Hopkins – With clear top end options (Watson, Hopkins) and a lot of uncertainty in the mid tier price range (Pascal, Fuller, Hyde, Wilkins, Stills), these guys should go underowned relative to their probability of being the slate’s top scorer. As the clear WR2 in Indianapolis, Hilton’s return should have the least impact on this weeks No. 7 buy-low receiver.
*Captain Carlos Hyde, Jacoby Brissett, Two Colts Pass Catchers – As 3.5-point home favorites, if the Texans get out to an early lead they may choose to lean on Hyde. In the event that this game script comes to fruition it could limit opportunities and overall production for the Texans aerial attack.
*Captain Jonathan Williams, Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller – We know that the Colts want to run the ball, we know that Nyheim Hines is unlikely to exceed a 10% share of the team’s rushing attempts and it’s been reported by Ian Rapaport that the Colts will treat Williams as the starter. Even if carries are split evenly, we can project 13-15 rushing attempts to go along with a few targets at a discounted price tag.
*Captain Kenny Stills, Deshaun Watson, Zach Pascal – In a best case scenario, we get Fuller news well ahead of inactives which should theoretically pull some ownership from Stills who would in turn become the primary slot receiver for the Texans where he has excelled and the Colts have struggled. He’s further buoyed by his presence on the buy-low model, indicating some positive regression is coming.
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.
Will Fuller – Prior to his week seven injury, Fuller had seen a 24% target share to go along with a 30% share of the team’s air yards. Fresh off a soft tissue injury that cost him the last four games there is definite cause for concern.
Nyheim Hines – We should expect 3-4 carries to go along with 4-6 targets against a Texans defense that has allowed a league-high 76 catches to running backs.
Jordan Wilkins – Williams is expected to get the first crack at early down work Thursday night with Wilkins working in behind him. It’s reasonable to set a rule to limit rosters to no more than one Colts RB.
Duke Johnson – Johnson fits into game script builds where we expect the Texans to be trailing and needing his pass catching skill set.
Eric Ebron/Jack Doyle – Of the two, Ebron has the more valuable role for fantasy purposes, seeing a higher share of the team’s targets, air yards and end zone targets.
Marcus Johnson – With Hilton back, Johnson figures to see reduced opportunities as he ran 81% of his routes out wide in weeks 9-10. It’s possible he’s surpassed Rogers on the depth chart and will continue to work as the third WR in three wide receiver sets, keeping him in play.
Darren Fells – Tied for the team lead in end zone targets as a near full-time player, Fells is simply priced too cheap.
Chester Rogers – Rogers runs 83% of his routes from the slot, with Hilton outside, Rogers may reclaim a larger role in the Colts offense Thursday night.
Keke Coutee – Though he didn’t exactly stand out in the box score, Coutee played on 72% of snaps and ran a route on 84% of dropbacks. If Fuller is out and our opponents are unaware of the role change, Coutee becomes a top value option.
Jordan Akins – Though Fells has been the one to produce to this point, Akins has seen similar playing time and actually run more routes than Fells. If you’re finding yourself in this salary range, Akins is a fine punt 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:
* Deshaun Watson
* Deandre Hopkins
* Jacoby Brissett
* T.Y. Hilton (will be higher owned the earlier he’s declared active)
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Zach Pascal
* Duke Johnson
* Eric Ebron
* Marcus Johnson/Chester Rogers
* Keke Coutee (playable if Fuller is ruled out)