NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives):
UPDATE 6:54PM ET: Julio Jones has been ruled out. Calvin Ridley receives the biggest target projection bump and becomes the Falcons top Captain option. We can also expect more targets for Russell Gage in the slot. Christian Blake stands to be the biggest beneficiary in terms of playing time as he ran behind Jones in week 12 playing on 44% of snaps.
Luke Stocker was also ruled out, leaving Jaeden Graham as the only healthy Falcons TE. He becomes a full-time player who flashed playmaking ability last week and on occasion in the preseason.
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 Saints at Falcons, we have a 36-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 36 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)
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 21-of-36 (58%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 35 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 15-of-36 (42%) 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
The Thursday night Thanksgiving slate is capped off by a 250k to 1st divisional matchup featuring the Saints as 7-point road favorites over the Falcons in a game with a 49-point total. In the five games that Drew Brees has started and finished the Saints rank 5th in situation neutral pass rate (67%), followed closely by the Falcons who rank 7th on the season (62%). When the Saints are leading their pass rate remains well above league average (57%) while the Falcons become even more pass-heavy when trailing (73%). In what should be a pace-up spot for the Saints offense we’ll be able to consider more fringe options with our core groups.
Virtually an extension of the Saints run game, Michael Thomas ($11600) enters week 13 as fantasy’s top overall wide receiver. Thomas ranks 2nd in the league in target share (30%) and 8th in share of his team’s air yards (36%) while converting an insanely efficient 84% of his targets on a 7.7 aDOT. He is a clear top Captain option in a matchup against the Falcons secondary that has allowed 159 targets to slot receivers where Thomas runs a majority of his routes. Following the week nine bye, Tre’Quan Smith ($3000) and Ted Ginn Jr. ($3400) have seen similar snap shares (72% to 61%), routes run (57% to 54%) while Ginn has dominated in target share (10% to 5%) and share of the team’s air yards (31% to 10%). Both receivers are underpriced relative to their recent roles and present paths to one-game usage spikes, but given how concentrated the Saints offense is around it’s primary playmakers we should create groups to limit our lineups to no more than one of Ginn and Smith. The Robin to Thomas’ Batman, Alvin Kamara ($10200) has handled 55% of the team’s rushing attempts to go along with a 21% target share. Kamara hasn’t quite seen the red zone usage we became accustomed to last year but there’s no reason to think that can’t spike over the final five weeks of the season. Following Kamara’s injury, the Saints have remained committed to a bigger role for Latavius Murray ($7000) in the offense. Since the bye, Murray has played on 34% of snaps and handled 40% of the team’s rushing attempts to go along with a 4% target share for weekly touch totals of 7, 13 & 7. Like Kamara, Jared Cook ($6600) returned from injury following the bye week and picked up where he left off playing on 66% of snaps and running a route on 74% of dropbacks for a 17% target share and a 25% share of the team’s air yards. With numerous favorable matchups across the Saints skill position groups, Drew Brees ($10800) pairings with lesser owned Saints pass catchers is a great large field GPP strategy. Brees owns the upside to support ceiling games from multiple pass catchers making QB + three receiver stacks more viable than on some previous slates.
The #NeverJulio crowd enjoyed a victory lap as Julio Jones ($9200) went for a mediocre 5/68/0 line on nine targets in the best possible spot. Dealing with a shoulder injury, Jones played on just 56% of week 12 snaps. Following the Mohamed Sanu trade, Jones has handled a 22% target share to go along with a 34% share of the team’s air yards, just ahead of teammate Calvin Ridley ($8000) who has been a big beneficiary of Sanu’s departure with a 20% target share and 33% share of the team’s air yards at $1200 cheaper. Ridley also leads the team with seven end zone targets to Jones’ five. Russell Gage’s ($4600) increased role is accompanied by an elevated price tag. In weeks 8-12 Gage has played on 60% of snaps and run a route on 75% of dropbacks. As we monitor Jones’ bum shoulder, Gage would stand to benefit most if he’s forced to miss time. We’re expecting Austin Hooper (knee) and Luke Stocker (back) to miss Thursday’s game, leaving #TeamPreseason member, Jaeden Graham ($2400) as the Falcons only healthy tight end. Graham played on 59% of snaps and ran a route on 75% of dropbacks. He’s a premier pay down option if we find the salary relief necessary after building around the Saints studs. After logging a full practice on Tuesday, Devonta Freeman ($6200) is expected to return to the Falcons backfield. With the duo of Brian Hill ($5600) and Qadree Ollison ($5000) failing to impress in their limited action, we can expect Freeman to reclaim his role as the Falcons feature back handling 65% of the team’s rushing attempts along with a healthy 12% target share. We’re not quite ready to throw in the towel on Matt Ryan ($9600) who has hit the 300-yard bonus in seven-of-nine full games this season but the matchup is terrifying. As Silva noted, Ryan has been pressured at the league’s fourth-highest rate since the bye week and faces a Saints defense that ranks top ten in sacks and QB hit rate.
*Captain Michael Thomas, Drew Brees, Russell Gage – Often times, the most obvious plays are the best plays. Lamar Jackson was 37% owned in the Captain slot on MNF in week 13 but carried the highest probability of being the slate’s top scorer. We’ll want to be mindful of the players surrounding our Thomas + Brees stacks to avoid highly duplicated lineups.
*Captain Drew Brees, 2-3 Saints pass catchers, Calvin Ridley – We mentioned above a plethora of receiving options who are in plus matchups with strong usage trends. In this grouping we expect Brees to evenly distribute targets to at least two Saints receivers.
*Captain Alvin Kamara, Drew Brees, Ted Ginn Jr. – With three straight ‘subpar’ box score performances compared to teammate Michael Thomas, Kamara will catch lower ownership. He’s scored just twice this year after doing so 18 times last season, leaving some optimism for positive regression.
*Captain Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Tre’Quan Smith – Though the field has not generally fallen victim to recency bias this season, Ryan is going to be underowned after the miserable week 12 performance against the Bucs as the slate’s highest owned QB. 300-yards + 3TD’s is still firmly within his range of outcomes.
*Captain Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Alvin Kamara – Jones remains one of the league’s best receivers ranking 8th in yards per route run (2.36) and he gets a matchup against a banged up Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) who he has torched for a 31/436/0 line through five games. As always, the question remains, can he find the endzone.
*Captain Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan, Michael Thomas – With Sanu gone, Hooper injured and Jones banged up, Ridley has a clear path to leading the team in targets.
*Saints Onslaught – The Falcons are clearly outmatched on both sides of the ball, presenting a situation where the Saints could own five of the six top overall scores on the slate. If max entering, it makes sense to set a group to include at least four Saints and dedicate a percentage of your lineups to capturing as much of the Saints touchdown equity as possible.
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.
Latavius Murray – Murray’s recent run game usage, along with the goalline role he’s shared with Kamara keep him in play, particularly in game scripts where we expect the Saints to be leading.
Jared Cook – Cook’s recent usage has been WR2 worthy behind Michael Thomas. With a mid-tier price tag he should come in with drastically lower ownership as our opponents try to jam in the more expensive options in Thomas and Kamara.
Devonta Freeman – Freeman’s return to the lineup is a welcome one for a team dealing with numerous offensive injuries. The Saints have been tough against opposing running backs but Freeman can overcome a difficult matchup with lead back volume.
Brian Hill/Qadree Ollison – With Freeman healthy, Hill and Ollison are relegated to strict backup roles and project to split no more than 40% of the team’s carries. At their respective salaries they would need a flukey touchdown, as neither will pay off on volume alone.
Russell Gage – As Silva noted, Gage catches a friendly matchup against the Saints slot coverage that has consistently been torched by slot receivers. Already seeing favorable usage for a $4600 WR, he would see a significant bump in projected targets if Jones is ruled out or limited.
Ted Ginn Jr./Tre’Quan Smith – Both Ginn and Smith are great secondary options to stack with Brees to catch a lower owned piece of the Saints aerial attack. Ginn’s superior recent air yard totals give him a slight edge over Smith.
Jaeden Graham – Graham’s already valuable role would only stand to increase if Luke Stocker (back) is ruled out. Already playing on 59% of snaps, Graham would become a full-time tight end in a pass-heavy game script.
Taysom Hill – It’s not officially a Saints Showdown slate until we’ve mentioned Taysom Hill. The go-to gadget player is nothing more than a touchdown-or-bust option Thursday night.
Josh Hill – Hill has played on 58% of snaps and run a route on 34% of dropbacks making him a thin dart throw in large field tournaments
Christian Blake – Blake was the direct playing time beneficiary of Julio Jones’ limited week 12 showing. Blake was in on 44% of snaps and appeared to play ahead of Hardy.
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:
* Michael Thomas
* Drew Brees
* Alvin Kamara
* Calvin Ridley
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Devonta Freeman
* Tre’Quan Smith
* Jaeden Graham
* Christian Blake (if Julio is ruled out/on a snap count)