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 Texans, we have a 37-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 37 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)
Colts at Texans ($49900) (258.29%): Captain DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, Jonathan Williams, Eric Ebron, Ka’imi Fairbairn – (144)
Packers at 49ers ($46200) (217.84%): Captain George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Davante Adams, Jamaal Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase McLaughlin – (1)
Ravens at Rams ($49800) (196.98%): Captain Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, Marquise Brown, Robert Woods, Willie Snead IV, Tyler Higbee – (15)
Saints at Falcons: Captain Matt Ryan, Saints DST, Russell Gage, Alvin Kamara, Will Lutz, Calvin Ridley – (1)
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 22-of-37 (59%) winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 37 slates DST’s are averaging 8.3 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 13% 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 16% and maintained a 7.7 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 16-of-37 (43%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.7 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
Sunday night’s one-game Showdown slate features a potential playoff matchup with the Texans hosting the Patriots as 3-point home underdogs in a middling 46.5-point total. We’ll see contrasting styles as the Patriots and their 6th-ranked situation neutral pass rate (63%) will take to the air while the Texans who rank 21st in the same category (56%) can be expected to Establish The Run for as long as the game remains close. Both the Patriots (25.3) and Texans (27.6) rank near the top of the league in seconds per play when the game is within one score, indicating we can project a fantasy friendly pace. An increase in play volume will bring more fringe options into play as low owned GPP targets.
It’s worth noting that virtually every Patriots receiver is listed as questionable heading into week 13. For the purpose of this article we’re projecting the three primary targets to be active, updates will be posted as inactives are announced prior to lock. Julian Edelman ($10800) has once again been a usage monster seeing a 25% target share to go along with a 30% share of the team’s air yards. His target floor coupled with the game’s best red zone usage and matchup against one of the league’s worst defensive backs in Vernon Hargreaves makes him a clear top Captain option. Mohamed Sanu’s ($7400) roller coaster start to his Patriots career makes projecting his opportunities difficult. In week eight, immediately following the trade he played on 54% of snaps before playing 100% of snaps in week nine and then 55% in week 11 as he nursed a bum ankle. Assuming we don’t receive word he’ll be limited we can reasonably expect Sanu to reclaim a role that more resembles week nine when he saw a 34% target share and a massive 45% share of the team’s air yards. Phillip Dorsett ($6400) is also trending in the right direction after practicing in a limited fashion all week. His return means we’ll see him split playing time with N’Keal Harry ($5000) as both receivers have run a majority of their routes on the outside. Dorsett has only managed to lead the team in targets in 1-of-8 games this season and with additional healthy bodies available to steal targets it makes a path to a ceiling performance increasingly unlikely. Since week seven, Ben Watson ($3000) has played on 79% of snaps and run a route on 69% of dropbacks. With a pair of 12% target share games over that same span, Watson remains in play as a low floor flex option. Sony Michel’s ($8000) up-and-down usage since the return of Rex Burkhead ($3400) in week eight make Michel a game script dependant, low floor/high ceiling play. Over the past four games, he has seen highs in share of the team’s rushing attempts of 74% and 78% to go along with lows of 24% and 46%. If we’re projecting a Captain worthy performance for Michel, consider the game flow necessary and its impact on the surrounding offensive options. If Michel underperforms, James White ($6800) stands to benefit most given his typically consistent involvement in the pass game. Although, that normally safe floor has taken a hit recently as he’s only played on 39% of snaps and run a route on 44% of dropbacks since week eight. His nine red zone carries and 17 red zone targets on the year leave hope for a touchdown, albeit on less than ideal volume. As Silva noted in matchups, Tom Brady ($11200) should leave Sunday’s game unscathed against a Texans defense that ranks 29th in sacks and 22nd in QB hits. A clean pocket and plus matchups throughout the secondary should lift Brady’s 25-30 DraftKings point ceiling.
Even after popping off for 6/94/2 against the Colts, DeAndre Hopkins ($10400) was priced down slightly in advance of his matchup with Stephon Gilmore. Despite the difficult matchup, Hopkins ranks 1st in the NFL in target share (31%) and 12th in share of air yards (35%). Though Gilmore presents Hopkins toughest to-date test, teams have not avoided throwing at the league’s best corner as he’s been targeted 66 times over 11 games. Hopkins is the ultimate bet on volume Captain option. Unfortunately, things don’t get much easier for Will Fuller ($8400) who owns a 23% target share and 32% share of the team’s air yards this season. As noted in matchups, the Patriots have allowed the NFL’s third-fewest 20-plus-yard completions on the year. With Fuller back in the lineup, Kenny Stills ($4800) played on 62% of snaps and ran a route on 63% of dropbacks en route to just two targets. Fortunately for Stills, he ran 50% of his routes from the slot where the Patriots have been more beatable than they have been on the outside. Darren Fells ($4200) has separated himself as the Texans clear No. 1 tight end playing on 74% of snaps and running a route on 56% of dropbacks. Fells has cleared 15% target share in 3-of-11 games and ranks 2nd on the team with six end zone targets, creating a path to a high ceiling flex performance. Frustratingly, Carlos Hyde ($6200) continues to control the Texans ground game with a 56% share of the team’s rushing attempts to just 22% for Duke Johnson ($3200). As the clear pass game back, Johnson has run a route on 55% of dropbacks and owns a modest 10% target share. Given the game script sensitivity of each of the Houston backs, we should set groups to limit no more than one in any lineup. As Silva noted, the matchup for Deshaun Watson ($11000) is worrisome but with Fuller in the lineup, he’s averaged 1.5 yards more per pass attempt, 1.04 more touchdowns per game and 6.6 more fantasy points. While the bottom falls out on Watson’s floor in this matchup, he’s still capable of dropping 30+ DraftKings points on anyone.
*Captain Tom Brady, 2-3 Patriots pass catchers, Darren Fells – With a clean pocket and receivers who can run circles around an overmatched Texans secondary, Brady should have no issue carving up this defense. The Patriots pass on 72% of plays when trailing, making this group even stronger if they fall behind.
*Captain Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills – A matchup against the Patriots defense will naturally drive ownership down but Watson is capable of producing a Captain worthy performance in a shootout.
*Captain Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, DeAndre Hopkins – The PPR-friendly nature of Edelman’s game expands the paths he can take to achieve his ceiling. On top of his safe catch floor he’s been targeted 33 times in the red zone, including five end zone targets.
*Captain DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson, Sony Michel – DeAndre Hopkins week in, week out usage is rivaled by just a handful of NFL receivers. If we think he’s capable of winning against Gilmore we can take advantage of the price and ownership discount.
*Captain Will Fuller, Deshaun Watson, Mohamed Sanu – Fuller’s healthy 14.4 aDOT means we need he and Watson to connect just a few times for him to pay off.
*Captain Sony Michel, Tom Brady, DeAndre Hopkins – With four straight box score duds and uncertainty surrounding his role, Michel is going to be an underowned Captain option. In positive game scripts, Michel has one the slate’s highest ceilings with 100-yard + 2TD upside.
*Captain Mohamed Sanu, Tom Brady, Will Fuller – Question marks in the Patriots receiving group will cause some selection paralysis behind Edelman. Based off of recent usage, Sanu is the Patriots clear WR2 but may not be owned as such.
*Patriots Onslaught – Reasonable on any slate featuring the Patriots as they’ve blown out 7-of-11 opponents and have held 10-of-11 to 14 points or less.
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.
James White – Following Rex Burkhead’s return, White’s snap share (39%) and routes run per dropback (44%) have been concerning. Playing White is to expect him to return to the role we’ve grown accustomed to.
Phillip Dorsett/N’Keal Harry – Week 13 will be the first week with Dorsett and N’Keal Harry both active. We expect Dorsett to get the majority of the opportunities in 3WR sets and run behind Sanu and Edelman in 2WR sets.
Carlos Hyde – Handling 56% of the teams rushing attempts, with multiple spikes above 60% and seven attempts inside the 5-yard line, Hyde is capable of hitting a ceiling in a game we project to stay close.
Jakobi Meyers – With both Sanu and Dorsett back in the mix, Meyers will return to a backup role that should see him play around 30% of the team’s snaps making it incredibly unlikely he pays off a $5400 price tag.
Kenny Stills – Stills reduced role following the return of Fuller was accompanied by a $1600 drop in price. Playing from behind may force the Texans into more 3WR sets where Stills will benefit from the easiest Patriots defensive back matchup.
Darren Fells – Fells is 2nd on the entire slate in end zone targets making him the best bet on the Texans for a cheap touchdown.
Rex Burkhead – Since returning Burkhead has played on 26% of snaps and handled 16% of the teams rushing attempts while running a route on 25% of dropbacks. On minimal volume he’s a touchdown-or-bust dart throw.
Duke Johnson – Johnson’s 22% share of the team’s rushing attempts and 10% target share on 55% routes run per dropback give him a path to outscoring both kickers. He fits into builds where we project negative game script.
Ben Watson – As the Patriots receiving group returns to full health, it stands to reason that Watson could see reduced opportunities. Still at $3000 his underlying usage is strong.
Jordan Akins – Akins has played on 59% of snaps and run a route on 59% of dropbacks. He’s also been over a 10% target share in 6-of-11 games, showing some upside at a $2800 price tag.
Matt LaCosse – LaCosse is a dirt cheap, low owned/low probability touchdown-or-bust deep GPP flyer.
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:
* Tom Brady
* Deshaun Watson
* Julian Edelman
* Patriots DST
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Mohamed Sanu
* Kenny Stills
* Darren Fells
* Duke Johnson
* Ben Watson