NOTABLE INACTIVES (Will be updated after official inactives):
UPDATE 4:12PM ET: Antonio Callaway was waived. This is an obvious boost for Rashard Higgins who will continue to operate as the third WR. The Browns should focus on 2RB sets with Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, solidifying Hunt’s pass game role.
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 Monday’s matchup that features the Steelers at Browns, we have a 31-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 31 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
Patriots at Ravens: Captain Julian Edelman, Lamar Jackson, James White, Mark Ingram III, Mohamed Sanu, Nick Boyle
Cowboys at Giants: Captain Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Daniel Jones, Cowboys DST, Jason Witten, Brett Maher
Chargers at Raiders: Captain Melvin Gordon III, Phillip Rivers, Josh Jacobs, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Raiders DST
Vikings at Cowboys: Captain Randall Cobb, Dalvin Cook, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr.
Seahawks at 49ers: Captain Chris Carson, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers DST, Deebo Samuel, Jacob Hollister
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 19-of-31 (61%) winning rosters , DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 31 slates DST’s are averaging 8.5 DraftKings points at a $4200 average salary and 20% ownership. If we break this down further by favorites versus underdogs, we see favorites priced up to $5200 and owned at a 29% clip as opposed to just $3200 and 11% 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 15% and maintained a 7.8 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective but have found their way onto 14-of-31 (45%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 8.0 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
Thursday night’s one-game Showdown slate features a lowly 40.5-point total with the Browns listed as 3-point home favorites over the visiting Steelers. In a game that presents plenty of plus matchups for the defenses on both sides of the ball, picking and choosing spots to attack will be of the utmost importance. The Steelers are at league average in situation neutral pass rate (59%) while the Browns (64%) rank 7th. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Steelers OC Randy Fichtner has shown a willingness to adjust his approach based off of game script as the Steelers pass rate jumps from 59% to 68% when trailing and drops from 59% to 46% when playing with a lead. Given the drastic changes in play calling based off the flow of the game, we’ll be able to take advantage by building groups around expected outcomes.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8800) maintains a slight edge over his fellow Pittsburgh pass catchers, handling a 20% target share to go along with a 28% share of the team’s air yards. Hardly commanding typical WR1 type usage, what Smith-Schuster lacks in opportunity he makes up for in matchup against T.J. Carrie, who as Silva noted in matchups, has been dusted for a 45/412/3 line against slot receivers. Since taking over as a starter in week three, Diontae Johnson ($6400) has been on Smith-Schuster’s heels, trailing slightly in target share (20% to 17%) and share of air yards (27% to 25%). Johnson has shown a big opportunity ceiling, leading the team in air yards in 3-of-7 games as a starter. James Washington ($5600) rounds out the Steelers receiving group with a 14% target share and a 25% share of the team’s air yards. Johnson’s edge over Washington in recent playing time makes him the preferred option of the secondary Steelers receivers. Following the week seven bye, Vance McDonald ($5400) has played on 85% of snaps and is 2nd on the team in routes run per dropback (91%). Though he’s failed to consistently pop in the box score, McDonald makes for a fine play if we want to grab a lower owned piece of this Steelers pass attack. With James Conner ($10800) returning from his two week absence, he should slide right back into the role that saw him handle 63% of the team’s rushing attempts and a healthy 16% target share. As Silva noted in matchups, the Browns can be attacked via the RB position giving up 4.86 yards per carry and 4.9 receptions per game making Conner one of the top overall Captain options on the slate. Mason Rudolph ($8400) has looked like a shell of his college self where he consistently attacked defenses with deep throws. As a glorified game manager the best way to access any ceiling the Steelers pass game has to offer is likely going to be through the receiving options.
The Browns held true to their plan of force feeding Odell Beckham Jr. ($9200) in week 10 although it resulted in an uninspiring 10.7 DraftKings points. Beckham leads the slate by a wide margin with a 39% share of his team’s air yards and a 27% target share. As the No. 1 overall player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s week 11 buy-low model, Beckham is our favorite opportunity + price + talent Captain option on Thursday’s slate. In an extremely condensed Browns pass attack, Jarvis Landry ($8000) commands a healthy 26% target share and a 31% share of the air yards. Now that the Showdown salaries between Beckham and Landry have finally corrected, it’s more viable to play both in one lineup while not having to sacrifice upside at other positions. Ricky Seals-Jones ($3600) was listed as a full-participant in the team’s Wednesday walk through, if he’s unable to go Demetrius Harris ($4200) who played on 49% of week 10 snaps and ran a route on 65% of dropbacks would become playable. We got our first glimpse of Cleveland’s offense with Kareem Hunt ($5800) added to the mix. In week 10 Hunt played on 55% of snaps, handled a 15% share of the team’s rushing attempts and, more importantly, ran a route on 23-of-41 dropbacks. It stands to reason that the Browns will incorporate even more 2RB sets moving forward which further boosts Hunt’s floor/ceiling combo. It’s worth noting, Hunt’s addition to the Browns offense had little impact on Nick Chubb’s ($10600) lead back role. Chubb toted 77% of the team’s rushing attempts and maintained an 11% target share, both of which are near his season averages. As noted in matchups, Baker Mayfield ($9000) will have his hands full against a Steelers defense that ranks 2nd in sacks and 1st in QB hits. Despite poor performance and a difficult matchup, Mayfield will garner plenty of ownership. We can access an unlikely eruption game through his pass catchers instead.
*Captain James Conner, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr. – Conner will slide right back into one of the highest volume roles on the slate. If the Steelers jump out to a lead, we could see increased pass game work in the slot or out wide for Hunt.
*Captain Nick Chubb, Diontae Johnson, Mason Rudolph – As 3-point home favorites, projected game script favors Chubb. We can grab a piece of the Steelers pass attack assuming more volume in a come from behind effort.
*Captain Odell Beckham Jr., Baker Mayfield, James Conner – As the No. 1 overall player in the week 11 buy-low model and certain touchdown regression coming, Beckham is our top overall captain option.
*Captain JuJu Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry – With a 40.5-point total, building for a shootout will create an inherently unique lineup. We can soak up a vast majority of the targets at better than normal prices.
*Captain Diontae Johnson, Mason Rudolph, Nick Chubb – Johnson’s big play ability makes him an intriguing cheap Captain option. If he and Rudolph connect on a few deep passes it could act to limit the production of the surrounding Steelers pass catchers.
*Captain Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield, James Washington – Landry and Beckham combine to own a massive 70% share of the team’s air yards. They make for a fine double stack with Mayfield as well.
*Captain Kareem Hunt, Mason Rudolph, JuJu Smith-Schuster – It stands to reason that Hunt’s role would expand in his second game back from suspension. An increase in opportunity on high efficiency touches gives him a clear path to a ceiling performance.
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.
Baker Mayfield – While it’s unlikely Mayfield ends as the slate’s top scorer, he pairs well as a flex option if we Captain Beckham or Landry.
Jaylen Samuels – With the uncertainty surrounding Conner’s status heading into the week, DraftKings left Samuels priced as if Conner would be out. He would need an in-game injury to Conner or flukey touchdowns to pay off his $8800 price tag.
Mason Rudolph – Like Mayfield it’s easier to capture the upside of the Steelers passing game by rostering the receivers and only including Rudolph as a flex option in specific groupings.
James Washington – Washington has shown single game highs in both target share and air yards (20% and 36%) that keep him in play as a low floor/high ceiling option.
Vance McDonald – McDonald is capable of turning his strong underlying usage into a solid fantasy performance. Due to his low aDOT (5.4) he’s more of a high floor/low ceiling option.
Steelers DST – In recent slates, DraftKings had started aggressively pricing DST’s up when they were in favorable spots . The Steelers rank 2nd in sack rate and 1st in QB hit rate and get the turnover prone Baker Mayfield but are priced at just $5200. Worth noting, the Browns OL ranked 27th in Brandon Thorn’s midseason update.
Browns DST – The Browns rank 6th in sack rate but Rudolph’s game management style has led to few turnovers. If the Steelers are forced into more dropbacks playing from behind it could lead to more mistakes from the overwhelmed second year QB.
Rashard Higgins/Antonio Callaway – Following the week seven bye, Callaway had played on 63% of snaps and ran a route on 65% of dropbacks prior to being benched for week 10 in what’s being called a ‘one-game thing’. If he returns to his normal role in week 11 he’s a great value option at $2800. It makes sense to create a group to limit your lineups to no more than one of Higgins and Callaway.
Demetrius Harris – Sans Seals-Jones, Harris played on 49% of snaps and ran a route on 34% of dropbacks, just enough usage to keep him in play as a touchdown-or-bust dart throw.
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:
* James Conner
* Nick Chubb
* Odell Beckham Jr.
* Jarvis Landry
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* Diontae Johnson
* James Washington
* Vance McDonald
* Antonio Callaway