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 Monday’s matchup that features the Cowboys at Giants, we have a 27-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 27 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
Chiefs at Broncos: Captain Chief DST, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman
Eagles at Cowboys: Captain Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Cowboys DST, Dallas Goedert, Brett Maher
Patriots at Jets: Captain Patriots DST, Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas
Redskins at Vikings: Captain Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Vikings DST, Adrian Peterson, Dan Bailey, Dustin Hopkins
Packers at Chiefs: Captain Aaron Jones, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Moore, Jamaal Williams, Damien Williams, Mecole Hardman
Dolphins at Steelers: Captain JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Diontae Johnson, Allen Hurns, Chris Boswell
49ers at Cardinals: Captain Kenyan Drake, Jimmy Garappolo, Kyler Murray, George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, Andy Isabella
Patriots at Ravens: Captain Julian Edelman, Lamar Jackson, James White, Mark Ingram II, Mohamed Sanu, Nick Boyle
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 16-of-27 (59%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 27 slates DST’s are averaging 8.6 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 $4900 and owned at a 29% clip as opposed to just $3300 and 11% ownership for underdogs. To this point, the highest owned DST’s (Bears, Patriots and Vikings) 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 7.6 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 13-of-27 (48%) 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 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
Monday night’s one-game Showdown slate has the Cowboys installed as 6.5-point road favorites over the Giants with a 48-point total. Both the Giants (63%) and Cowboys (59%) rank in the top half of the NFL in situation neutral pass rate. If the game goes according to script and New York falls behind, we see their pass rate jump to 70% when trailing while the Cowboys run rate jumps from 41% to 59% when playing with a lead. This sets up for some obviously correlated builds if things go as planned and provides an opportunity for leverage if they don’t. As Pat Thorman noted in his snaps and pace column, we should expect elevated play volume which, as always, brings more secondary options into play.
Amari Cooper ($10000) headlines the Cowboys wide receiver group. After leaving the game early in week six, Cooper returned to his full-time role in week seven prior to the Cowboys bye week. Excluding week six, Cooper is seeing a 24% target share and a 32% share of the team’s air yards. Michael Gallup ($7400) will line up opposite Cooper as a more than competent WR2. Gallup has played on 84% of snaps, run a route on 87% of dropbacks and in games where both Cooper and Gallup have been active, Gallup is seeing a 25% target share and 28% share of the team’s air yards. The usage between Cooper and Gallup is close enough that it makes sense to take the price and ownership discount if only rostering one of them. After hovering around $7000 for much of the year, Randall Cobb ($4800) saw a huge slash in his price after playing on just 48% of snaps and running a route on 68% of dropbacks in week seven. We shouldn’t overreact to the downtick in usage too much as the Cowboys won that game by 27 points and ran more two tight end personnel in an effort to drain the clock. Jason Witten ($5200) has turned back the hands of time and has surprisingly been a consistent fantasy producer through seven games. Wiitten has seen at least four targets in every game this year and popped on Josh Hermsmeyer’s buy-low model, hinting at a bigger game in his future. The engine that makes the Cowboys offense go, Ezekiel Elliot ($11600) continues to handle a bell cow workload. In close games Elliot is seeing upwards of 90% of the teams rushing attempts and has an unmatched goalline role as evidenced by his nine attempts inside the five yard line. As Silva noted in matchups, Dak Prescott ($10400) has shredded Giants DC James Bettcher defenses over his last two meetings on 52-of-76 for 792 yards and four touchdowns. Now with his offensive line and weapons fully healthy, Prescott should be set up to feast Monday night.
With Sterling Shepard once again ruled out, Golden Tate ($6800) sits atop the Giants WR depth chart. Since he returned from his early season suspension Tate has commanded a 25% target share and 23% share of the team’s air yards. Tate runs 88% of his routes from the slot, where as Silva noted, the Cowboys are allowing a 74% completion rate. Since Shepard went down, Darius Slayton ($5000) has slid into a fantasy friendly role at his reduced price tag. In weeks 6-8 he has played on 84% of snaps, run a route on 95% of dropbacks and led the team with a 36% share of the air yards. This type of usage is consistent with $6500+ wide receivers on previous showdown slates. Evan Engram ($7800) benefits from the same plus matchup that Tate can exploit as the Cowboys have been gashed by TE’s on a 37/418/3 line. Saquon Barkley ($11400) returned freakishly quick from his high ankle sprain and reclaimed his workhorse role immediately. Over the past two weeks, Barkley has handled 80% of the team’s rushing attempts, run a route on 62% of dropbacks, seen a 19% target share and gobbled up three end zone looks. Daniel Jones ($8000) is priced at the QB floor once again, a price typically reserved for the likes of Case Keenum, Joe Flacco and Trevor Siemian. While Jones’ rookie year has been a roller coaster ride to this point, he offers upside at the reduced price tag. He has averaged nearly four rushing attempts in his starts, further boosting his ceiling.
*Captain Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup – If we build for a Cowboys blowout, it stands to reason that Elliot, Prescott and at least one Cowboys receiver will produce big games. We can rotate through pieces on the Giants side to round out rosters.
*Captain Saquon Barkley, Dak Prescott, 2 Cowboys pass catchers – Barkley can turn his massive usage into a Captain worthy performance en route to a Giants victory. We would expect more passing attempts from the Cowboys raising the projection for Prescott and his receivers.
*Captain Dak Prescott, Jason Witten, Amari Cooper – If Dallas does their scoring through the air, Prescott could spread the ball to multiple receivers and be the top overall scorer. Witten is due for some positive regression and should catch lower ownership than other pass catchers in this game.
*Captain Amari Cooper, Daniel Jones, Golden Tate – If opportunities flow towards Cooper we can access the upside of the Cowboys passing attack with him as our Captain and go with or without Prescott.
*Captain Michael Gallup, Dak Prescott, Darius Slayton – Gallup has posted strong numbers opposite Cooper as more of a 1B option than a true No. 2. We can take advantage of the price discount and capture a similar ceiling from Gallup.
*Captain Evan Engram, Daniel Jones, Ezekiel Elliot – We haven’t seen it since week three, but Engram possesses just as high of a ceiling as any other option in this game. Of the Giants pass catchers he draws one of the best matchups.
*Captain Golden Tate, Ezekiel Elliot, Michael Gallup – Like Engram, Tate gets a plus matchup against the Cowboys inferior slot coverage. In game scripts where we expect the Giants to be trailing Tate’s PPR friendly skill set should keep him in Captain consideration.
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.
Daniel Jones – Jones is a worthy Captain option, not noted above. Another week with a near full complement of weapons, he presents plenty of upside.
Jason Witten – As a member of the week nine buy-low model, Witten appears poised to outperform his recent game logs and at a manageable price tag.
Darius Slayton – Slayton will be the lowest owned option among the primary Giants skill players and offers plenty of upside on his 17.0 aDOT if he and Jones can connect.
Randall Cobb – If last weeks 48% snap rate was flukey due to the big blowout we’re getting a steep discount on the Cowboys full-time slot receiver.
Tony Pollard – The Cowboys are still hesitant to use Pollard to complement Elliot in any meaningful way. He is best suited for builds projecting a Cowboys blowout where he can rack up carries late.
Tavon Austin – Despite finding the endzone in week seven, Austin only managed one carry and one target. Its difficult to imagine a scenario where he outscores either kickers.
Blake Jarwin – Over the past two weeks Jarwin has played on 45% of snaps, run a route on 35% of dropbacks and seen a 7% target share. All of which are good enough to keep him in play at $2000.
Bennie Fowler III/Cody Latimer – Fowler and Latimer will be competing for the WR3 role behind Tate and Slayton. It appears Latimer has separated over the past two weeks slightly, leading in snaps (39% to 35%) and routes run (48% to 37%). Both are fine touchdown-or-bust dart throws.
Rhett Ellison – Ellison remains just barely playable with Engram fully healthy, running a route on 22% of dropbacks is enough to keep himself in our player pool for MME.
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
* Saquon Barkley
* Dak Prescott
* Amari Cooper
* Evan Engram
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Jason Witten
* Darius Slayton
* Randall Cobb
* Blake Jarwin