NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives): Adam Thielen, Chris Thompson and Vernon Davis have been ruled out.
UPDATE 5:57 ET: Tom Pelissero reported that Adrian Peterson may be on a snap count. An obvious downgrade for Peterson’s projection and a big uptick for Wendell Smallwood
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 Thursday’s matchup that features the Redskins at Vikings, we have a 22-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 22 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
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 15-of-22 (68%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 22 slates DST’s are averaging 8.5 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 28% clip as opposed to just $3300 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 10-of-22 (45%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.7 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
Vegas is projecting another sluggish prime time game as the Vikings are 16-point home favorites over the Redskins in a game with a lowly 42-point total. This is truly a marquee game for everyone here at ETR with the Vikings (52%) and the Redskins (50%) ranking 26th and 28th in situation neutral pass rate respectively. On top of a heavy dose of rushing attempts both teams rank in the bottom half of the NFL in situation neutral pace, meaning we should expect fairly low play volume and fewer opportunities to produce fantasy points for both the offensive players and for a defense who we think will be pretty popular. On the season, the Redskins have shown a willingness to abandon the run when games go south, passing on 72% of plays when trailing. The sample size is substantially smaller under HC Bill Callahan so it’s possible these tendencies change.
Terry McLaurin ($9200) has been the lone bright spot in this run-first attack. He’s getting WR1 type usage with a team high 21.4% target share and 35.4% share of the team’s air yards. Against a secondary that can be beaten, as noted by Silva in matchups, McLaurin sets up well even on less-than-ideal overall offensive volume. Paul Richardson ($5000) has failed to score a single fantasy point in consecutive weeks, despite playing on 67% of snaps and running a route on 80% of dropbacks. For someone that involved in the offense, there is a path to an ‘outlier’ performance at significantly reduced ownership. Slot man Trey Quinn ($3600) rounds out the Redskins receiving group, playing a healthy 75% of snaps and running a route on 85% of dropbacks on the season. Given his cheap salary and the perceived PPR friendly nature of Quinn’s game, he’ll be sure to carry some ownership Thursday night. With Vernon Davis still recovering from a concussion, Jeremy Sprinkle ($3400) will once again be in line for a lion’s share of the work at TE. In weeks 6-7 with Davis injured, Sprinkle played on 85% of the snaps and ran a route on 81% of dropbacks. It appears Adrian Peterson ($5600) is going to play through an ankle sprain. Since Callahan took over in week six, Peterson has played on 64% of snaps and handled 73% of the rushing attempts. As the lead back in one of the run heaviest offenses in the league, Peterson actually offers upside in a format where we’re forced to roster at least one Redskin. Wendell Smallwood ($1800) is playable even if we expect a standard workload from Peterson. In week seven with Chris Thompson ruled out, Smallwood played on 35% of snaps and operated as the primary receiving back running a route on 10-of-15 dropbacks. If Peterson is a surprise inactive or if we believe he’s limited, Smallwood becomes the slate’s best value. Although, the best way to beat the Vikings is through the air, Case Keenum ($8000) is a tough sell as the Redskins have averaged a mere 34 dropbacks per game limiting his upside and we’ve seen ownership consistently high on QB’s even in difficult game environments, including Sam Darnold on Monday night who cleared 35% in tournaments.
The Vikings mercifully ruled out Adam Thielen well in advance of Thursday’s game and those of us worried about another David Johnson-esque situation can breathe a sigh of relief. Stefon Diggs ($11000) received a slight price bump on the heels of Thielen’s injury and back-to-back strong performances. Diggs is already leading the team with a 44% share of the air yards and is 2nd behind Thielen with a 22% target share. Thielen will leave behind a 36% share of the air yards which Diggs can capitalize on with a massive performance. He’s one of the clear top Captain options Thursday night. Olabisi Johnson ($6200) is slated to step in for Thielen and assume the WR2 role opposite Diggs. Credit to DraftKings for preemptively hiking the price on Johnson to avoid what would have otherwise been massive ownership. Thielen exited week seven’s game against the Lions early, playing just 12% of the team’s snaps. Johnson played on 71% of snaps, ran a route on 25-of-34 dropbacks and filled in admirably for Thielen with a 4/40/1 line on eight targets. Laquon Treadwell ($3800) is the only other WR to record a snap since Chad Beebe landed on IR. Treadwell only played 14% of snaps in week seven and expecting anything more than that Thursday would be mere speculation. A less discussed aspect of Thielen’s injury is how it may affect personnel groupings. In weeks 1-6 the Vikings ran 2TE sets on 38% of their plays, in week seven that number climbed to 45%. We should expect an increase in opportunities for Kyle Rudolph ($5400) and Irv Smith Jr. ($4800). The bump in playing time and available targets bodes well for both Vikings TE’s. Dalvin Cook ($13000) grapples away the title from Christian McCaffrey for Showdown’s highest priced player to date. As the bell cow in a run first offense, Cook (40.6%) ranks 5th in the NFL in share of total team touches and will be heavily involved in the Vikings offensive success. Cook is a no-brainer option at either Captain or flex. Alexander Mattison ($4400) will benefit from the Vikings being 16-point home favorites as the game script sets up for him to handle plenty of rushing opportunities. As Silva noted, he’s seen seven-plus touches in 5-of-7 weeks, and has highs of 12 and 14 touches in games the Vikings won by 20 and 18 respectively. Kirk Cousins ($12,000) gets another plus matchup against an inadequate NFC East secondary. Silva broke it down perfectly in matchups, the Redskins have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most touchdown passes (14) and second-highest completion rate (71%) while ranking 20th in sack rate (6.3%) and 23rd in QB Hit Rate (13.8%). Cousins big price tag may work to our benefit in keeping ownership levels suppressed as it’s going to be difficult to play all three of Cook, Cousins and Diggs.
*Captain Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, Alexander Mattison – So often we build around a contrarian game script rather than building a unique lineup around the expected game script. If the Vikings blowout the Redskins, we can lock up 100% of the rushing volume and a huge share of the touchdown equity.
*Captain Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, Irv Smith Jr. – If the Vikings do their damage through the air, we can take advantage with Cousins as our Captain. This group makes it difficult to include Cook which will serve to create a different lineup construction.
*Captain Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Paul Richardson – We can capture Cousins’ upside by rostering Diggs assuming he’s the one to soak up a majority of the opportunities in Thielen’s absence. Including the cheaper Richardson over Terry McLaurin from the Redskins side gives our roster more flexibility and reduces the chances its duplicated.
*Captain Olabisi Johnson, Kirk Cousins, Terry McLaurin – The Redskins defense ranks No. 1 in DVOA vs. WR1’s and No. 32 in DVOA vs. WR2’s. It’s possible that’s mostly noise but if we believe their personnel or scheme lends itself to allowing big games from secondary receivers we can take the price + ownership discount on Johnson.
*Captain Irv Smith Jr., Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook – Due to the lack of upside presented on the opposite side of the ball we can take advantage by Captaining secondary options in the more appealing offense and hope to end up on the right side of touchdown variance.
*Captain Terry McLaurin, Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs – McLaurin is one of the few Redskins options who has a path to outscore the big-three from Minnesota. Minnesota’s secondary can be beaten and McLaurin should have enough opportunities to prove he can do it.
*Captain Adrian Peterson, Dalvin Cook, Olabisi Johnson – Assuming he’s active and we don’t get word that he’ll be on a pitch count, Peterson is going to get massive volume regardless of game script. While our opponents tend to overrate defensive matchups on one-game Showdown slates we can take advantage and play the low owned guy who can see upwards of 25 touches and hope for a more efficient game.
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 that leads to the Vikings DST ($6800) being priced at a point where they need to have a Patriots level performance to pay off as a Captain. They’ll likely go over owned relative to their probability of being the slate’s top scorer but make for a great flex option. While constructing rosters, consider the game environment/outcome necessary for these cheap players to beat the kickers and/or DST’s.
Case Keenum – As mentioned above, Keenum is a tough sell given the Redskins incredibly low volume pass attack. If we could count on an ownership discount there may be some merit but we expect him to still carry 35%+ ownership.
Kyle Rudolph – We mentioned Irv Smith Jr. above as a Captain option but Rudolph makes sense in that role as well. Priced just $600 more than Smith he played more snaps (75% to 56%) and ran more routes (65% to 59%) in week seven.
Paul Richardson – We’ve identified players in past articles who have a similar usage profile to Richardson with good results. So long as he continues to run a route on 80% of dropbacks he possesses the ability to produce in the box score if he sees a target spike.
Alexander Mattison – A number of factors could result in a touch increase for Mattison; more 2RB sets, game script or the Vikings opting to preserve Cook on a short week. He has a safe touch floor with upside for more.
Laquon Treadwell – DraftKings was aggressive across the board in pricing up Vikings skill position players, Treadwell is barely worth consideration if he continues to handle just 10-15% of snaps
Trey Quinn – Quinn’s snaps (75%) and routes run per dropback (85%) numbers are underlying signs of strong offensive involvement. He stands out as a strong value at his $3600 price tag.
Jeremy Sprinkle – Sprinkle gives us another cheap option on the Redskins side of the ball if we want to load up on the Vikings options.
Wendell Smallwood – Smallwood will be the Redskins primary pass catching back with Thompson once again out. We can expect Smallwood to see a handful of rushing attempts + targets and at an $1800 tag he’ll provide much needed salary relief. He gets a massive boost if Peterson is ruled out.
Craig Reynolds – Reynolds becomes playable if Peterson is out or on a pitch count. He’s priced at the stone minimum and would become the Redskins RB2 with Peterson out.
Kelvin Harmon – Harmon would become a touchdown-or-bust option if Steven Sims Jr. is ruled out.
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:
* Dalvin Cook
* Kirk Cousins
* Stefon Diggs
* Terry McLaurin
* Vikings DST
* Olabisi Johnson
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Adrian Peterson
* Paul Richardson
* Irv Smith Jr.
* Alexander Mattison
* Jeremy Sprinkle