By Sean Weymouth
I fully expect tonight’s game to be ugly and ugly isn’t necessarily good for fantasy. But at the end of the day, in DFS someone’s got to win the money – so why not it be you? Right? So let’s go:
Let me start by saying I think James Connor has a big game tonight. The reason is simple – I think the Browns will try and focus all energy on using their main defensive asset, their secondary, on shutting the Steelers passing game. And what happens when you focus linebackers and safeties in coverage, the “box” isn’t stacked as often as it should. Connor is the most expensive play on the slate and for good reason – however, he is my lead candidate for a Captains picks because if he does break the slate – why not get 1.5x the points on that score. Also as the priciest play, I think paying up for him at captain will be a contrarian play.
Now Jaylen Samuels has a chance to also be a factor – BUT in two games without Connor Samuels was a (to quote myself from previous articles) a Dud DaDaDadaddud! There is a possibility we see Samuels in some wild cat snaps and different situations so he is worth a look except for one thing – he isn’t cheap!!! 8,800 to be exact!! Yikes. I just don’t see the Browns being able to stop Connor and so I am going to look at Samuels as a traditional handcuff and maybe a third down option. I just can’t play him at 8,800 and I’m not sure he will have the volume to equate a play even if it is a contrarian one.
Mason Rudolph and his three main receiving weapons (no Ryan Switzer tonight) I actually think will have a little bit of a difficult time. The Browns are actually ranked in the top 10 against Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers. We are talking Ju-Ju, Diontae Johnson and James Washington. Let’s start with Washington who is in the midst of a little mid season break out coming off two good games. Then we have Diontae Johnson who has two touchdown upside based on past games but with the rise of Washington recently, Johnson’s targets have gone down recently. Then there is the curious case of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Tough to trust after a season of blah … well guess what, I like Ju-Ju Best tonight. With Ju-Ju playing out of the slot as much as he does, I like the idea of Ju-Ju against a Browns Linebacker, assuming that with Washington and Johnson spread out wide. I also think that Ju-Ju may be Mason Rudolph’s Jarvis Landry tonight as the Browns do have a bit of a funnel defense keeping a lot of plays in then middle of the field.
For that reason don’t sleep on Vance McDonald either who has had consecutive 7 target games and is always a red zone threat as well. I doubt any lineup I have tonight that has Mason Rudolph in it will not also have McDonald. Last season the Browns were a great play for Tight Ends and while this season they are a bit better, I think big Vance could have a good game ahead.
The Browns believe it or not are favored tonight by 2.5 points, so some may think that will cause people to be off the Steelers defense. I don’t think so. First the Steelers D has been playing out of its mind recently forcing an average of 3 turnovers over the last 3 games and have scored twice as well. Plus this season Defenses have worked out really well in the Showdown slates. I think the Steelers Defense has the potential to be the highest owned player tonight and if that is indeed the case, I may actually fade them at least mostly. They aren’t that cheap and in fact for a couple hundred less, you could plug in big Vance who I again think is a great play tonight. While I would not be surprised to see the Steelers Defense plays lights out tonight and runs roughshod over the Browns so I won’t hate on you playing them. I just will likely be off.
I also always like to play a kicker in showdown but I also think the kickers will be very popular because of what I said to start this column – this game is going to be ugly. I think that I prefer the Cleveland side of the boot tonight over Boswell.
Odell Beckham Jr
Nick Chubb is a one of a kind talent and I also think that Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL but tonight, I’m worried. First the Steelers have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher. Second Kareem Hunt. Chubb is the second highest play tonight but I do not like him as a Captain. I don’t like Kareem Hunt either as a Captain but I’m on board with playing both in the flex.
Hunt had nine targets tonight and I bet he has another 9 tonight. The issue is again the Steelers who have allowed pass catching backs only 4.9 yards per reception. But after seeing the Browns run like 100 goal line runs with Chubb last week to no avail, is it crazy to think one of those 4.9 yard Hunt receptions could be over the goal line. No I don’t think so!
I love Jarvis Landry tonight. Last week they moved Landry outside, but I think Freddy Kitchens watches tape on the wicked Steelers pass rush and wants to give Baker a chance for survival. To that regard I see the Landry security blanket returns to the slot and receives a big target share. By the way, Jarvis Landry is 3rd best in the NFL for yards after the catch.
I also kinda love Odell tonight. I fact this could be the Odell breakout. The Steelers led by Minkah Fitzpatrick has been good, like real good. However I think Baker and Kitchens cook up scheme to get Odell going. Believe it or not the Browns have a narrow window for playoff football and if they are to get there with a win tonight I think the whole of the Browns offense realizes who is the playmaker to win for them. He is my favorite Brown for Captain.
How could it be that I like the receivers but not the quarterback but tonight, I do not like Baker Mayfield. Two reasons. First more Interceptions than Touchdowns on the season and the aforementioned Steelers Defense averaging 3 turnovers a game. Second Baker tends to get sacked.. a lot. And the aforementioned wicked Steelers Pass rush will be coming. There is still one healthy Watt on a defensive line tonight remember.
I’ve already mentioned kicker Seibert who of the two I prefer as a flex, but tonight I think fading the kickers isn’t a bad play. I think both will be popular.
Last three names I will give are Rashad Higgins, Antonio Callaway and Ricky-Seals Jones. The latter two are both questionable tonight so keep an eye on actives/inactives. If Callaway plays I think he is in play as a cheap option with touchdown upside. Same for Seals-Jones. Higgins is also a cheap option but I just don’t see a path to playing him. Between Landry, Beckham, Hunt and Chubb I just don’t see a target volume there for Higgins enough to warrant even the cheap salary. However all three could be a nice pivot from the kickers that I believe will be highly owned and if one of them catches 30 yards and a score, well you just matched 3 field goals for about $1,500 – $2,000 in salary savings.
Last thing I will say is – I am not saying don’t play Baker Mayfield or Nick Chubb. This is the 2019 NFL, anything can happen. I am just personally going to avoid both where I can.
Good Luck in your contests!