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 Patriots at Ravens, we have a 26-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 26 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
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-26 (62%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 26 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 rosters 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-26 (50%) 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
Sunday’s one-game Showdown slate features two AFC heavy hitters with the Patriots heading into Baltimore as 3-point road favorites over the Ravens in a 44.5-point total. We’ll see contrasting offensive styles as the Patriots (63%) rank 7th in the NFL in situation neutral pass rate while the Ravens (46%) are dead last in the same category. When trailing, Baltimore’s pass rate increases from 46% to 57%, still well below league average (66%). Both teams rank in the top half of the league in pace when the game is within one score. Higher play volume should bring more offensive options into play for GPP’s.
The Patriots wide receiving room is, as always, led by Julian Edelman ($10400). Edelman has handled a massive 30% target share and 44% share of the team’s air yards over the past three weeks. As Silva noted in matchups, despite a strong secondary, slot receivers have scored big against the Ravens over the past six weeks. Now the Patriots undoubted WR2, Phillip Dorsett ($6600) has seen strong usage sans Josh Gordon. In the previous two games Dorsett played on 90% of snaps, ran a route on 100% of dropbacks, saw two end zone targets and handled a 27% share of the team’s air yards. Dorsett feels a bit underpriced despite the difficult matchup with Baltimore’s secondary. New toy Mohamed Sanu ($6800) stepped right in after being traded and ran a route on 67% of dropbacks and saw five targets. It stands to reason that Sanu would see an increase in opportunities with another week in the Patriots system. Jakobi Meyers ($1400) rounds out the playable Patriots receivers. His opportunities figure to decline as Sanu’s increase but in week eight he managed to play on 54% of snaps and run a route on 54% of dropbacks. DraftKings was quick to slash his price so he’s playable as a punt option if the salary relief is necessary. Ben Watson ($3000) has been on the field a lot (73%) with the absence of any other warm bodies in Patriots TE room. Despite running a route on 61% of dropbacks, Watson has failed to pop in the boxscore. Sony Michel ($7600) headlines the Patriots 3-headed RBBC. Because of his lack of involvement in the passing game, we’ll need a 100-yard game and/or multiple rushing touchdowns for Michel to achieve a ceiling. He’s handling 59% of the team’s rushing attempts and 50% of the attempts inside the five, giving him a path to reaching either milestone. As noted in matchups, the Patriots best game plan may be to heavily involve James White ($7000) and his superior pass catching ability. The Ravens have been torched by receiving backs for 28-of-33 and 363 yards. Rex Burkhead ($3200) may be a bigger part of the week nine game plan but he played on just 19% of snaps in week eight making him a low-priority option at a somewhat elevated price. Tom Brady ($11200) offers one of the slate’s best floor/ceiling combinations but has struggled when pressured this year, Baltimore should be able to create some havoc making the usually safe Brady riskier Sunday night.
Marquise Brown ($7200) is expected to return from a four week absence and reclaim his role as the Ravens undisputed WR1. In weeks 1-5, on limited snaps, Brown dominated the team in usage commanding a 33% share of the team’s air yards on a 23% target share. We know the New England defense is strong throughout so taking uncomfortable shots on guys with boom-or-bust games, like Brown will be almost necessary. Selecting WR’s behind Brown is complete guesswork. Technically Baltimore’s WR2, Willie Snead IV ($4200) has been anything but that. Handling an uninspiring 10% target share on the leagues run heaviest offense is less than ideal for a player at his price tag. Making uneasy decisions is often what it takes to ship a one-game Showdown slate. After Snead, the Ravens WR group is full of question marks against the league’s best secondary. We can start by eliminating Chris Moore ($200) who will likely end up playing just 10-15% of snaps with Brown active. That leaves Myles Boykin ($2000) and Seth Roberts ($400) to soak up any remaining targets. If we expect them to come in at incredibly low ownership it makes sense to be overweight and hope for a long completion or touchdown. Mark Andrews ($7400) is the main beneficiary of the lack of depth and talent at the wide receiver position as he’s soaked up a massive 25% target share and 25% share of the team’s air yards. Further boosting Andrews’ appeal, he comes in as the 2nd ranked player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s buy-low model. Mark Ingram ($8200) leads the run-heaviest backfield in the NFL, handling 41% of the team’s rushing attempts. Against a defense that offers very few plus matchups, the Ravens may find success on the ground as the Patriots have given up a rushing line of 87/442 over the past five weeks. Gus Edwards ($2400) consistent role behind Ingram has seen him average 8 touches per game over the first seven weeks. Edwards has also handled 6 rushing attempts inside the five yard line but has yet to score a touchdown. Lamar Jackson ($11400) will undoubtedly be the toughest test the Patriots defense has faced all year. As Silva noted, the Patriots play man coverage at the league’s highest rate, further boosting Jackson’s rushing upside. Because of the variety of ways he can access his ceiling he’s an obvious Captain option.
*Captain Lamar Jackson, Sony Michel, Phillip Dorsett – When building groups around Jackson as our Captain there are very few rules we need to set to limit player exposures as he’s able to produce with or without his receiving options and regardless of game script.
*Captain Tom Brady, 2+ Patriots pass catchers, Mark Ingram – It’s certainly within the range of outcomes for the Ravens to control this game. If they do so it could mean increased volume for Brady and the Patriots pass attack in a come from behind effort.
*Captain Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, Mark Andrews – If the Patriots pass game is successful it’s likely Edelman was a big part of it. Including one of Andrews or Brown in this group makes sense, counting on increased pass volume from the Ravens side.
*Captain Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson, Julian Edelman – We like the idea of locking up 75-80% of the rushing attempts in this Ravens offense that should run a ton, especially if they find themselves with a lead.
*Captain Mark Andrews/Marquise Brown, Lamar Jackson, James White – Andrews and Brown are close enough in salary and expected opportunity that they are interchangeable as Captains because they command so much of the Ravens pass catching production. If the Patriots can game plan to keep Jackson in the pocket and force him into more passes both guys set up well to outperform expectations.
*Captain James White, Tom Brady, Mohamed Sanu – While there are difficult secondary matchups on both sides, the Ravens linebackers have been feasted upon in recent weeks. If the Patriots feature White he could put up a big game with his PPR friendly skill set.
*Captain Phillip Dorsett, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson – It’s almost disrespectful to have Dorsett priced cheaper than Mohamed Sanu as he’s been the team’s clear No. 2 behind Edelman. He should catch reduced Captain ownership and is just as likely as any other Patriots receiver to be on the receiving end of one or more Brady touchdowns.
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.
Sony Michel – Getting Rex Burkhead back doesn’t help Michel’s touch projection and his lack of pass game utilization is concerning. If we think Michel puts up a ceiling performance we should consider how that affects the surrounding parts.
Mohamed Sanu – Even if his snaps and routes run increase in week nine, Sanu should settle in as the Patriots WR3. We prefer the cheaper Dorsett but Sanu is playable especially if we expect reduced ownership.
Willie Snead IV – Snead gives us hope with his underlying usage, playing on 67% of snaps and running a route on 68% of dropbacks. Whether the Ravens are forced into more dropbacks or the Patriots scheme to take away Brown and Andrews, there’s a chance targets could flow Snead’s way Sunday night.
Rex Burkhead – Based off of week eight’s usage, Burkhead is a tough sell but may get just enough opportunities to limit the ceilings on his fellow RB’s.
Ben Watson – In the absence of Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse, Watson has been forced to play a lot. He offers a path to outscoring the similarly priced DST’s and Kickers.
Gus Edwards – Edwards should see enough touches to keep him in play (6-8), he becomes a great value if we think he can capitalize on some touchdown regression after seeing six rushing attempts inside the five yard line through the first seven weeks.
Miles Boykin – Playing on 38% of snaps and running a route on 37% of dropbacks we’re hoping Boykin can haul in a few passes with his massive 16.4 aDOT.
Jakobi Meyers – Meyers’ snaps dropped from 51% to 36% in week eight with Sanu in town. Meyers can still produce on limited opportunities but its a lower probability play as he is relegated to a rotational role.
Hayden Hurst/Nick Boyle – Secondary Ravens TE’s offer appeal at their extremely cheap price tags ($1000 to $600). Both Hurst and Boyle are playing reasonable snaps (45% and 67%) and running plenty of routes (46% to 50%). Hurst has also seen three end zone targets on the season.
Seth Roberts – Roberts is a touchdown-or-bust option at just $200 off the stone minimum.
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:
* Lamar Jackson
* Tom Brady
* Julian Edelman
* Mark Andrews
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Mohamed Sanu/Phillip Dorsett
* Ben Watson
* Gus Edwards
* Miles Boykin