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 Eagles at Cowboys, we have a 20-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 20 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: Chief DST, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman
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 13-of-20 (65%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 19 slates DST’s are averaging 8.4 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 7.6 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-20 (45%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.8 DraftKings points on average at $3500 and 24% 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 contest between the Eagles and Cowboys features a healthy 49-point total with the Cowboys installed as 2.5-point home favorites. Dallas (8th) and Philadelphia (13th) rank in the top half of the NFL in situation neutral pace, as long as this game stays close we should be able to project reasonable play volume on each side. Both teams are frustratingly run heavy when the game is within one score as the Cowboys rank 16th in neutral pace rate while the Eagles rank 26th. Neither team has drastic pass rate splits when playing from behind, the Eagles’ pass rate jumps 9% while trailing while the Cowboys’ increases just 4%.
Although the ground game projects to be featured, Alshon Jeffery ($8800) headlines an intriguing Philadelphia wide receiver group. Without DeSean Jackson, Jeffery is running a route on 97% of dropbacks and has commanded a massive 28% target share over the past three weeks. He’s also the preferred option when the Eagles get near the goalline converting five end zone targets into four touchdowns. Nelson Agholor ($4600) will be the WR2 behind Jeffery during Jackson’s prolonged absence. He has been a box score disappointment for three consecutive weeks but he was questionably priced down by DraftKings ahead of Sunday’s matchup. Agholor currently ranks 2nd on the team in target share (17%), tied for the team lead in share of air yards (24%) and is 2nd in end zone targets with five. Simply put the reaction to Agholor’s recent performance wasn’t warranted given his underlying usage. Mack Hollins ($400) will play in 3WR sets for the Eagles and like Agholor was completely mispriced. Since week four, Hollins has run a route on 65% of dropbacks, seen a 9% share of the team’s targets and a solid 13% share of the air yards. This type of opportunity typically warrants a $2500-$3000 price tag. Like Travis Kelce before him, Zach Ertz ($8000) is due for some serious touchdown regression.. Ertz leads the team in target share (24%) and is tied for the lead in air yards (24%) yet has only collected one touchdown. Ertz has touched $9400 in previous Showdown slates so the discount is notable if he’s able to find his way into the endzone. Although he produced in week six, Miles Sanders ($6400) once again confirmed he’s firmly planted behind Jordan Howard ($6200) in the Eagles RBBC. Last week, Howard out snapped Sanders (63% to 30%) handled more rushing attempts (59% to 14%) and ran more routes (44% to 33%). While it might be obvious that Sanders is the more explosive back the Eagles have shown an unwillingness to give him extended work. Coming off a game where Sanders impressed and now that Howard is cheaper it makes sense to roster the lesser owned option in large field tournaments. The Cowboys relative inability to generate a pass rush will certainly help Carson Wentz ($10000). As Silva noted, the Dallas pass rush ranks 22nd in sack rate and 21st in QB hit rate. A clean pocket and a matchup against a banged up secondary should help Wentz access his ceiling.
After missing practice all week, Amari Cooper ($10200) got in a limited session on Friday and is expected to suit up Sunday night. Excluding week six where he left early with an injury, Cooper has handled elite WR1 usage with a 25% target share and 31% share of the team’s air yards. As Silva notes, he’ll run into his friendliest matchup all season facing an Eagles secondary that has given up 202.3 yards to opposing receivers per game. We can only hope the Q tag will help reduce Cooper ownership. Michael Gallup ($9600) checks in right behind Cooper, after undoubtedly benefiting from his early exit in week six, Gallup has posted strong usage numbers in back-to-back weeks maintaining a 25% target share and drawing a whopping 30% of the team’s air yards. It seems likely the Cowboys will have their full complement of weapons available as Randall Cobb ($7400) also logged a limited practice on Friday. As Josh Hermsmeyer’s No.10 ranked player on the week seven buy-low model, Cobb offers appeal as a pivot away from the more popular Cooper/Gallup. Jason Witten ($5200) has seen an increase in playing time over the last three weeks. After playing just 65% of snaps in the first three weeks, Witten has been in on 83% of snaps in weeks 4-6. Along with playing more, he’s seeing more valuable targets as evidenced by the 6.5 yard increase in his aDOT over the last three games. Ezekiel Elliot ($11000) quickly regained his bell cow role following his offseason holdout. As Silva noted in matchups, the Eagles are set up to stop the run, holding opponents to 115/343/3 (2.98 YPC) through six weeks. Even if the Eagles are able to bottle up Elliot on the ground, they’ve surrendered six receptions per game to RB’s. The situation for Dak Prescott ($10800) looks a lot different now than it did Thursday afternoon when it looked like he might be without both starting tackles and two-of-three top wideouts. With everyone healthy, Prescott offers huge upside in what should be one of his best matchups of the year. Teams have thrown against the Eagles at the 5th highest rate in the NFL (67%), Dallas would be wise to follow that trend and put the ball in Prescott’s hands.
*Captain Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott – Projecting for a Dallas blowout in a game with a 2.5-point spread may not be abundantly popular but is firmly within the range of outcomes. We can run this stack back with lesser owned members of the Eagles pass game.
*Captain Dak Prescott, 2+ Dallas Pass Catchers – Assuming OC Kellen Moore hasn’t completely lost his handle on this offense, we can expect Dallas to attack the Eagles weak secondary leading to a big game for the entire Dallas passing attack. We like using this stack and excluding the popular Ezekiel Elliot, assuming the scoring is done through the air.
*Captain Ezekiel Elliot, Mack Hollins, Nelson Agholor – Elliot is going to be the most popular Captain option Sunday night. If it’s a route you want to go in single lineups or 3-entry max be sure to roster contrarian options in the FLEX.
*Captain Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz, Michael Gallup – Despite his team leading target share and share of the air yards, Ertz has only managed one touchdown through six weeks. We can expect regression to hit at some point.
*Captain Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, 2+ pass catchers – The best way to attack both of these defenses is through the air. With a strong total and a close spread we could see a back-and-forth affair that boosts both pass games.
*Captain Jordan Howard, Carson Wentz, Amari Cooper – As the Eagles lead back, Howard has handled 50% of the team’s rushing attempts over the last three weeks. In any game script where the Eagles keep the ball on the ground Howard benefits.
*Captain Nelson Agholor, Carson Wentz, Ezekiel Elliot – Agholor is priced more like a WR3 than a WR2 due to his poor performances in the last three weeks. The underlying usage is strong and will eventually show itself in the box score.
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.
Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery is interchangeable with the Eagles pass catchers listed in the stack ideas section. He’s handled a massive 28% target share over the previous three weeks and leads the team in end zone targets.
Randall Cobb – Cobb is often the forgotten man of the Cowboys receiving group and he may go under owned Sunday night. He popped in Josh Hermsmeyer’s week seven buy-low model.
Miles Sanders – Sanders playing time is concerning but it hasn’t mattered much as he’s turned in back-to-back solid performances. In a game they lost by 18 where we’d expect to see Sanders skillset showcased he still ran fewer routes than Howard.
Jason Witten – Witten has seen at least four targets in every game this season giving him an incredibly safe floor with upside if he can stumble into the endzone.
Tavon Austin/Devin Smith/Cedric Wilson – While it appears the entire Cowboys receiving group is healthy, it’s worth mentioning that Austin is the direct backup to Cobb, Smith is the direct backup to Gallup and Wilson to Cooper. We’re not in the business of projecting in-game injuries but if you believe any of them to be limited be sure you roster the right backup.
Tony Pollard – On usage alone Pollard is not worthy of our consideration. However, there is some speculation he will be used more alongside Elliot. If we believe this to be the case Pollard may be in line for more touches.
Dallas Goedert – Over the last three weeks Goedert is running a route on 51% of dropbacks and seeing a 13% target share, both of which are good enough to pay off his $1400 price tag.
Blake Jarwin – Jarwin is seeing just enough usage to keep him in play as a touchdown-or-bust dart throw in large field tournaments.
Mack Hollins – Hollins is confusingly priced Sunday night at just $400. As long as he continues to run a route on 65% of dropbacks he will be in play. Hollins also has three end zone targets on the season but has yet to score.
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
* Both QB’s
* Michael Gallup
* Alshon Jeffery
* Miles Sanders
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Randall Cobb
* Jordan Howard
* Nelson Agholor
* Mack Hollins