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 Saturday’s wild card matchup that features the Titans at Patriots, we have a 49-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 49 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)
Patriots at Texans ($49400) (256.39%): Captain Duke Johnson, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, Julian Edelman, James White, Kenny Stills – (74)
Vikings at Seahawks ($49700) (251.83%): Captain Rashaad Penny, Russell Wilson, Dalvin Cook, Chris Carson, Kirk Cousins, David Moore – (22)
Cowboys at Bears ($49400) (232.33%): Captain Mitchell Trubisky, Ezekiel Elliot, Allen Robinson II, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, J.P. Holtz – (2)
Giants at Eagles ($47000) (200.3%): Captain Darius Slayton, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard, Boston Scott – (1)
Jets at Ravens ($49300) (212.82%): Captain Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, Mark Andrews, Jamison Crowder, Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin – (15)
Bills at Steelers ($47100) (262.26%): Captain Bills DST, Josh Allen, James Conner, John Brown, James Washington, Nick Vannett – (4)
Colts at Saints ($47500) (248.77%): Captain Michael Thomas, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Will Lutz, Taysom Hill, Jordan Wilkins – (1)
Rams at 49ers ($49600) (241.43%): Captain Tyler Higbee, Jared Goff, George Kittle, Robert Woods, Deebo Samuel, Brandin Cooks – (4)
Chiefs at Bears ($49400) (252.12%): Captain Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Allen Robinson, Damien Williams, Harrison Butker, Javon Wims – (7)
Packers at Vikings ($47600) (202.83%): Captain Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Packers DST, Mason Crosby, Ameer Abdullah
49ers at Seahawks ($49900) (198.36%): Captain Deebo Samuel, Russell Wilson, Raheem Mostert, DK Metcalf, Travis Homer, Kyle Juszczyk
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 25-of-49 (51%) winning rosters, DST’s continue to be deserving of roster consideration. Through 49 slates DST’s are averaging 7.8 DraftKings points at a $4200 average salary and 20.8% ownership. If we break this down further by favorites versus underdogs, we see favorites priced up to $5000 and owned at a 28.9% clip as opposed to just $3400 and 12.7% 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 16.3% and maintained a 7.3 median DraftKings score.
Kickers have been just slightly less productive than DST’s from a raw points perspective and have found their way onto 19-of-49 (39%) winning rosters. Kickers remain one of the best points per dollar plays, scoring an impressive 7.5 DraftKings points on average at $3600 and 22.4% 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 Saturday night Wild Card Showdown slate features the Patriots, fresh off a home loss to the Dolphins that dropped them to the AFC’s three seed, as 5-point home favorites over the Titans in a game with a 44.5-point total. On opposite ends of the play calling spectrum, New England (61%) owns the league’s 9th-highest situation neutral pass rate while Tennessee (54%) checks in 27th. It’s worth noting, the Titans pass rate increases just 8% when trailing by at least a touchdown. Even in builds where we project a battle-tested Patriots team to jump out to an early lead at home, we can still expect plenty of carries for The Big Dog.
The league’s most explosive rookie, A.J. Brown ($9800), earned the WR1 price tag after a strong finish to his 2019 campaign. Following the week 11 bye, Brown has seen a 26% target share to go along with a massive 38% share of the team’s air yards. While its difficult to project a highly efficient performance against a tough Patriots secondary, Brown is far and away the most likely Titan pass catcher to produce a ceiling performance Saturday night. Whether HC Bill Belicheck attempts to take Brown away with bracket coverage or by shadowing with Stephon Gillmore, ownership will be reduced given the Patriots perceived ability to take away the opposing team’s biggest threat. If we subscribe to the belief that the Patriots will shut down A.J. Brown, it will lead to plenty of opportunities Corey Davis ($4600) and Tajae Sharpe ($2000). Priced $1600 below his season average, Davis has maintained a 72% snap rate and run a route on 77% of dropbacks since the week 12. Though a distant second with just a 16% target share and a 20% share of the team’s air yards, Davis has shown the ability to dust Gillmore on multiple occasions. If we think coverage rolls to Brown, funneling more targets to Davis he presents a path to a rare ceiling game. With Adam Humphries once again ruled out, Sharpe will operate as the Titans primary slot receiver playing on 49% of snaps, running a route on 60% of dropbacks. Over that same timeframe he’s earned a 12% target share and a 12% share of the team’s air yards. Given the Patriots struggles with slot receivers, Sharpe is an acceptable stand alone value play in a game where we expect the Titans to approach a 60% pass rate and their outside receivers to draw the most difficult matchups. Jonnu Smith ($4400) earned high praise from Belichick who called him the ‘best in the league at his position after the catch’. Belichick wasn’t blowing smoke either, PFF has him ranked first in missed tackles forced per reception. Despite his ability after the catch, Smith has a limited path to a ceiling game, seeing greater than a 15% target share on just three occasions all season. Coming off an otherworldly 32/211/3 week 17 rushing line, Derrick Henry ($12000) catches the slate’s highest price tag. Overpriced given his median projection, Henry’s ability to go for 100-yards + 2 TD’s keeps him firmly in play as a Captain option regardless of game script. We can expect The Big Dog to approach a near 80% share of the team’s rushing attempts and handle any work near the goalline as evidenced by his 11 carries inside the five yard line. As noted in matchups, Belichick has owned Ryan Tannehill ($10800) in their previous 11 meetings, holding him to a 15:11 TD-to-INT ratio, 60.1% completion rate and 7.35 yards per attempt. Banking on Tannehill to continue his efficient 2019 campaign keeps him in play as a Captain option stacked with multiple Titans receivers but more so as a flex option who offers upside if forced into more volume.
Battling through numerous injuries for the better part of three weeks, Julian Edelman ($9400) appears to be nearing full strength just at the right time. Edelman maintained a strong 25% target share, coupled with a 30% share of the team’s air yards and a league-leading 39 red zone targets. The safety blanket of the Patriots offense, Edelman’s efficiency on his 9.6 aDOT and usage near the end zone gives him multiple paths to being the slate’s top overall scorer. Since the week 10 bye, in games he hasn’t been limited due to injury, Mohamed Sanu ($5400) has worked as the Patriots clear No. 2 receiver behind Edelman playing on 76% of snaps and running a route on 74% of dropbacks. During that same time frame, N’Keal Harry ($5800) has played on just 42% of snaps and run a route on 44% of dropbacks. As the Patriots clear No. 2 receiver Sanu stands out as slightly underpriced for his projected role in the offense. As game-script dependent as they come, Sony Michel ($7000) offers appeal at a depressed price tag handling 62% of the team’s rushing attempts over the previous three weeks. Virtually a zero in the pass game, we need Michel to hit 100-yards and score a touchdown to provide any sort of ceiling. Though he’s come dangerously close on multiple occasions, he’s yet to crest the century mark and has scored just one touchdown since week seven. His 14 carries inside the five yard line offer a glimmer of hope that positive touchdown regression may be in order. James White ($8200) figures to handle the pass down work once again, running a route on 57% of dropbacks en route to a strong 17% target share to go along with a handful of rushing attempts. A usage spike is not out of the question for White, who catches a matchup against a Titans defense that has allowed the league’s third-most receptions to running backs. As Silva noted in matchups, Tom Brady ($10400) benefits from a plus matchup, facing a defense that ranks a lowly 27th in QB hit rate and is susceptible to the short passing game allowing a 64.5% completion rate. Though short completions tend to favor pass catchers who can rack up PPR points in a hurry, a Brady 300-yard + 3 TD game is not out of the question.
*Captain Derrick Henry, James White, Julian Edelman – There’s no reason to expect the Titans to go off script and abandon the run against the Patriots. In week 17’s must-win game, Henry handled 32-of-34 RB touches and should be expected to shoulder a similar load this week. It’s important to note that he’s a virtual zero in the pass game, averaging just 1.7 targets per game this season. Realistically we need Henry to hit the 100-yard bonus and score at least once to pay off as a Captain, the rest of our lineup should reflect that expected outcome.
*Captain Tom Brady, 2-3 Patriots pass catchers, Corey Davis – Public perception has officially soured on Tom Brady after a dreadful week 17 showing. Averaging 6.01 yards per attempt over his last ten games and without game-changing receivers, a bet on Brady is admittedly a bit narrative-based. However, his recent performance will be reflected in reduced Captain ownership and Brady + a healthy Edelman, White and/or one of the secondary options is capable of forming the top overall scoring stack.
*Captain A.J. Brown, Ryan Tannehill, Sony Michel – Though the overall targets have been limited due to the run-first nature of the Titans offense, Brown’s target share and share of the team’s air yards metrics are approaching elite WR1 territory. If the Titans are forced into more dropbacks, Brown is the direct beneficiary regardless of matchup.
*Captain Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, Derrick Henry – Edelman’s nagging injuries are an obvious concern but there’s growing optimism that he is nearing full-strength. If healthy, Edelman owns the slate’s best target upside and should be able to consistently win underneath against CB Logan Ryan. One way to differentiate is to Captain Edelman without Brady and assume a low-scoring game where Edelman’s PPR-friendly skillset propels him to a ceiling performance, while Brady fails to crack optimal lineups on yardage alone.
*Captain James White, Tom Brady, A.J. Brown – One of the best ways to attack this Titans defense is with pass catching running backs. White has surpassed a 20% target share in 5-of-15 games played this year and the matchup suggests he could do so a sixth time. If we project an 8-10 target ceiling with 6-8 rushing attempts, White checks in as a viable Captain.
*Captain Sony Michel, Tajae Sharpe, Ryan Tannehill – When playing with at least a touchdown lead the Patriots rush rate jumps a modest 5%. If we expect them to get out to an early lead, Michel projects to see enough opportunities for a shot at the 100-yard bonus and a touchdown.
*Patriots onslaught – The Titans trouncing of the Texans backups coupled with the Patriots loss at home to the Dolphins in a must-win game has made the Titans a trendy underdog. Brady and Belichick have a near two-decade long track record of embarrassing lesser opponents in playoff games. With the Patriots ability to take away Henry and Brown, a 5-to-1 stack with a low owned Titan, is an easy way to build a unique lineup.
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.
Ryan Tannehill – While it’s within the range of outcomes for one Titans receiver to beat this talented Patriots secondary, it’s unlikely that two of them are capable of doing so in the same game, making Tannehill an unnecessary Captain option but a fine flex play given his raw points projection.
N’Keal Harry – Over the past three weeks, Harry has earned a larger role in the offense, playing on 55% of snaps and running a route on 61% of dropbacks. Over that same time, he’s earned a 15% target share and a 25% share of the team’s air yards. Despite increased usage, it’s difficult to prioritize Harry with players who present similar upside priced below him.
Mohamed Sanu – Sanu is $400 cheaper than Harry, yet plays on more snaps (88%), runs more routes (93%) and has a higher target share since week 14 (20%). With equal or better chances to hit a ceiling at similar ownership, Sanu is our preferred option over the more expensive Harry.
Rex Burkhead – Burkhead’s $5200 price tag is the result of back-to-back games scoring a touchdown in weeks 16 and 17. Playing on just 29% of snaps and handling 18% of the team’s rushing attempts, Burkhead can largely be ignored at an inflated salary.
Patriots DST – The league’s top ranked defense gets a chance to tee off against Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Thorn’s eighth-ranked playoff OL.
Corey Davis – Playing on 72% of snaps, running a route on 77% of dropbacks and commanding a 16% target share, Davis is already in play at a cheap price tag. If we assume the Stephon Gilmore shadow coverage on Brown forces more targets to the Titans secondary options, he offers some upside.
Jonnu Smith – Though he’s playing on 84% of snaps, Smith is being utilized often as a blocker running a route on just 59% of dropbacks. Without a clear path to more targets, he sets up as a touchdown-or-bust flex option.
Dion Lewis – In a must-win game, Lewis played on just 18% of snaps and saw just one rushing attempt. More alarming, excluding the week 16 game where Henry sat, Lewis has only run a route on 25% of dropbacks, rendering him an extremely thin large field tournament dart throw.
Tajae Sharpe – In Adam Humphries’ absence, Sharpe has operated as the Titans primary slot receiver. With an already modest 12% target share since taking over in week 14, we can talk ourselves into a few more looks for Sharpe if the Patriots are able to blank Brown and Davis.
Ben Watson – Watson is playing on 59% of snaps and running a route on 54% of dropbacks. He offers little to no upside in his advanced age but will be on the field enough to remain in our player pool.
MyCole Pruitt/Anthony Firkser – At near minimum price tags, both Titans TE’s offer longshot appeal given their recent snap rates (48% to 26%) and routes run per dropback (25% to 34%). Firkser has been more involved in the pass game, making him the preferred option if we find ourselves in this salary range.
Phillip Dorsett/Jakobi Meyers – Both have been clearly leapfrogged by Sanu and Harry, playing on just 14% of snaps since week 15, respectively. Dorsett has run one more route than Meyers over that same period. Though they’re incredibly thin given the obvious playing time risks, they each possess the skill set to turn a single target into a slate breaking touchdown.
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:
* Derrick Henry
* Tom Brady
* Julian Edelman
* Sony Michel
Lower projected ownership, in order of descending salary:
* N’Keal Harry
* Mohamed Sanu
* Corey Davis
* Tajae Sharpe