By Sean Weymouth
To win a showdown slate tournament it takes a lot of luck and some thought as with a Salary Cap and only 6 spots to fill, you need to pick the most likely high level performers and have Lady Luck on your side that those performers come through.
Then there is tonight. The Saints have some pretty clear cut high level performers with at least two having a better than likely shot at performing well. The Colts on the other hand…tougher to call and here in lies the issue with a Showdown Slate like this. While your Saints studs will be in play, they will also be in play everywhere and with everyone. I believe the winning lineup tonight will come down to having the right Colts plays to match up with the Saints Studs who a) produce and b) are not also highly owned by your competition. Easier said than done.
The last X Factor (in my opinion) to building a winning showdown lineup is utilizing the Captain slot (1.5x Points) as best as you can. That is putting in the player that you believe will have the highest likelihood of production and having a) that Stud out perform your projections while b) not being as highly owned as by your own competition.
Last week in the Seahawks Rams Showdown I was lucky enough to put Todd Gurley in as Captain in a single entry tournament, where the most popular captain on the night ended up being Russell Wilson. While I didn’t take the tourney down, I did place 5th and earned 20x my entry fee. Placing Cooper Kupp in as a flex, vs Robert Woods, was the only thing that kept me from 1st. This goes back to what I was saying earlier. The tournaments will be won by the a) the right Captain selection exceeding projections and b) the right, lower owned, flex choice that also exceeds their projection. This is extremely tough to do and it takes thought and luck to do it – but it can be done. So let’s take a look at tonight shall we?
We will try and find Colts targets for you, in this article, and give you a menu of options to choose from to find them. Saints are an easier roadmap to navigate but we will talk Saints too.
Keep in mind – as much as I hope you choose correctly, I hope I do to! After all, I’m a DFSer just like you! Let’s see if we can find that diamond in the rough, and I’ll see you in Cabo lighting our stogies with Benjamin$!
The biggest storyline for the Colts tonight is whether or not star receiver TY Hilton ($8,200) is able to suit up and play. Coach Frank Reich has stated that if Hilton can play, it will be without restrictions. If there ever was a game that Hilton could return in and succeed, it may be this one. The Saints have placed star DE Sheldon Rankins and star CB Marcus Davenport on IR and these two key injuries certainly helped Jimmy G and the 49ers put up 48 points against the Saints in a barn burner last week. As of this writing on Monday Morning Hilton’s availability is considered a Game Time decision – which believe it or not has me very interested in rostering Hilton as a Captain, but having a quick pivot plan ready to go if he is announced inactive. There is some strategy here. I believe most DFSers tonight will have a Saints stud in at Captain or a Colts secondary receiver who is guaranteed to play. They will likely not want to take the wait and see approach with Hilton and having him in your Captain’s chair may catch your competition asleep at the wheel, if he is announced as playing – you’re golden and potentially ahead of the field. However you need to be mindful that he may not play and again be ready with your contingency plan.
One thing we do know about the Colts Wide Receivers is that rookie Parris Campbell will not play. In both Hilton and Campbell’s absence, it has not been any secret that Zach Pascal ($8,000) has been the Colt to own for pass catchers, right? Well would you be surprised if I told you that since Week 7 Pascal has only topped 20 PPR Points 3 times? In fact he has only had 2 100 yard games in that time and only 4 touchdowns total. Lastly he has only seen 5 or more targets, 4 times. If Pascal was or is the #1 receiver during Hilton’s absence the box score seems to beg to differ. Now the positives for Pascal tonight. Two of those 20 plus PPR points games have come over the last 2 weeks and 1 of the four touchdowns came last week (5 for 74 and 1). So in the event Hilton sits, Pascal will again slide into the #1 WR role and he has a favorable matchup to perform well in too. However if Hilton is out, I would also expect Pascal’s ownership to be through the roof. A little chalk sometimes is necessary to take down a tourney but let’s consider some other Colts pass catchers who could be in line to exceed expectations too.
Marcus Johnson ($5,200) who signed with the Colts in early November has suddenly become a thing with Indy. Acting as the #2 receiver over the last 2 weeks with Chester Rogers being placed on IR, Johnson has been productive. Week 13 he turned 4 catches to 55 yards and Week 14 he broke out with 3 Catches for 105 and a score! If Hilton sits Johnson could be a sneaky pivot from the likely more popular Pascal and again in a good matchup. Of course if Hilton plays I would rank Johnson as the #3 receiver – but he could still hold value as a tournament flier and likely an even more lower owned choice if Hilton is out there.
The Colts also have re-signed former Andrew Luck target Dontrelle Inman ($1,800) back to the active roster. The last we saw Inman was week 4 against the Chargers where he turned 5 catches for 76 yards (Revenge Narrative fully in play there!). Inman has been a long time Colts contributor and has a familiarity with the playbook which could lead him to some routes tonight even if Hilton is active. In five wide sets, Inman could operate from the slot and with the remaining Saints defense likely causing pressure on the Colts O line (they are IN New Orleans after all) the shifty Inman could carve out a role. Either way, the thing I like about Inman the most tonight is his price. At $1,800 he could be the most value friendly Colts pivot for a 5 to 1 Saints stack.
Before getting into the Colt’s tight ends and running backs, I do want to bring up two more names that should only be considered fliers, for salary relief, in the event Hilton sits. Undrafted Free Agent Ashton Dulin ($600) did see action and was targeted (albeit once) in Week 13 and recent practice squad call up Chad Williams ($200) may have familiarity enough with the playbook to slide in as 4th or 5th option. I am not suggesting being cute or sneaky with either of these guys – but I am mentioning them again in the event there is no TY, these two have salaries that could really (really) open things up for you as Colts pivots in 5 to 1 Saints stacks.
When Eric Ebron went down with injury and with TY Hilton also out, the call of the wild came from the hills – JACK DOYLE ($6,600) IS A MUST START. In week 13 he surely was going 6 for 73 and a score. Week 14 notsomuch, coming back to earth with a 2 for 27 line. Unfortunately, if Hilton is back I see Doyle’s involvement being closer to Week 14 than Week 13. But, there is some hope. The Saints are middle of the road against Tight Ends (15th) and did just get demolished by George Kittle last time on the field. Now Doyle is certainly no George Kittle, but the weakness to the position was exposed Doyle’s price tag though is interesting too as the Saints’ Jarod Cook is only $200 more and I think will be extremely popular tonight. This could lead Doyle to have lower ownership. The upside is there for the athletic Doyle and again he could come in at lower than normal ownership as well.
There is depth at Tight End in Indy which you should be aware of. The genetic giant Mo Alie-Cox ($400) and Ross Travis ($200) will both be active. However outside of two tight end sets, both are mainly used for blocking. Each has seen a single target over the last two weeks and clearly have not seen increased roles despite the loss of Ebron, but much like the last two Wide Receivers I mentioned – in the event Hilton sits, anything is up in the air as I would expect that the Colts will do whatever they can to keep pace with the Saints tonight.
Finally let’s talk running backs. It will be the Marlon Mack ($7,800) show tonight from a snap share perspective as clearly with Mack back the Colts have put all others on the (running) back burner. Mack found the end zone in Week 14 which was encouraging considering it was his first game back after the multi-week layoff. With the Saints defense having injury woes, I kinda like Mack tonight as the shifty Indy back could find some running room and he could be decent red zone threat when the Colts are in positive positions on the field. His price tag won’t kill you and I think casual fans will be a bit timid on playing him since DK conveniently has the red 9th next to the opponent rank against the run. Mack could be a sneaky Colts choice as Captain, though not one without risk. I’ll prefer to flex him myself.
The only thing troubling about Marlon Mack is the lack of targets he has received in the passing game. That role has been traditionally thought of as Nyheim Hines’ ($3,800) but in reality his 5 targets in week 14 was only the 4th time he had reached that threshold all season. In fact I would say Hines has held more of a change of pace back on the ground than through the air recently with 4 rushes in the last two weeks and 9 in Week 12 during Mack’s absence. Hines also has scored twice on the ground over the last 4 weeks but keep in mind both scores came in games where Mack was out or limited. While he is the clear #2 back and I could see a path tonight – if Hilton sits – where playing catch up ball will cause the Colts to lean on their pass catching back more. Hines did fumble last week however and I wouldn’t play him over Mack but perhaps a stack of the two in a lineup could make for a sneaky play.
That is where the buck stops for me for Colts running backs tonight because with both Mack and Hines healthy, Jonathan Williams ($1,000) and Jordan Wilkins ($800) will see very little more than the occasional change of pace touch. Now anything can happen and sure both guys are capable of breaking a tackle and making a play happen – but that is too tough to trust or predict to consider in a tournament tonight (in my opinion).
At Last we get to my favorite Colts Captain Pick – Jacoby Brissett ($9,000). Whether you like Hilton or Pascal or Marcus Johnson or Jack Doyle it will be Brissett slinging the rock and he really is due for a GOOD game. So he is my favorite Colts Captains seat and he also makes a fantastic place holder in the seat if at Game Time the $800 less expensive Hilton becomes available and you want to pivot. Brissett does not come with risk though. Despite having plus matchups over the last 4 weeks Brissett has only reached 20 PPR points ONCE! He also has only 4 touchdown passes during that span. Fortunately his lone 20+ performance came last week against the Bucs. He also scored 2 of the 4 touchdowns in that game. So there is reason to be hopeful and scared and isn’t that what you love about DFS?! With a strong compliment of targets and a banged up Saints secondary on tap – I like Brissett as Captain or Flex tonight.
The Colts Defense ($2,600) has been sneaky good since their bye in week 6 recording a sack or more in all 8 games with multiple sacks in 5 of 8. They also have recorded 8 interceptions during that span. They also have 5 fumble recoveries and even scored a TD last week against Tampa Bay. Despite this though, I expect their ownership to be low with the game in the Superdome. I can’t say that the Colts Defense is a great play but anything can happen and they have been playing much better lately. Keep in mind despite having Jameis and the Bucs drop 38 points on them last week they still scored 11 PPR Points. So I don’t hate the Colts defense tonight at all.
Lastly kicker Chase McLaughlin ($3,600) is fine too, however I do feel at some point tonight the team will need to look at any series getting over the 50 yard line as 4 down territory for the offense and that could limit his opportunity. I like Lutz the New Orleans’ kicker better on the other side of the ball if you are looking at rostering a kicker.
Start Michael Thomas ($12,600). He who has seen less than 8 targets only once this season and more than 8 in well all 13 other games the Saints have played, is a must start. He who has topped 100 yards receiving 8 times this season and has 7 Touchdown catches as well, is a must start. He who has caught over 120 passes this season, is a must start. Despite my glowing praise of the Colts defense earlier it is really their stinginess against the run that is their strength. The Colts rank 29th against Wide Receivers. Don’t over think it – start Michael Thomas. Who Dat gonna break the slate tonight? Mike Thomas!
Tre’quon Smith ($3,000) had his best game since week 2 against the 49ers including a Touchdown catch. He certainly could have opened up Bree’s eyes with that score. I might take a flier in Smith. There also is Ted Ginn Jr ($4,200) who has the speed and talent to break out a big play down the field BUT he hasn’t come close to 100 yards since week 1 and has only hit 50 yards one other time this year and that was last week against the Bucs. It is too tough to trust Ginn here but I will have some shares if I roll out multiple lineups. He always has a chance at a long catch and run for a score.
Start Drew Brees ($12,000). Drew Brees is in the Superdome tonight. I think the only thing that has me concerned with Brees is he may have thrown his arm out last week after 40 pass attempts. Kidding. Brees is in a great position tonight against the Colts 29th ranked passing defense at home where he is practically unbeatable. Play him. Who dat gonna fade Drew Brees? Nobody.
I do want to point out that in the Showdown Slate you are actually able to play both Brees and constant source of fantasy frustration – Taysom Hill ($2,000) in the same lineup. See despite Hill having more carries and catches than pass attempts DK refuses to change his designation from QB to anything else – and you’d only have to be loony tunes to start him as your QB in normal DK settings. Taysom Hill (not to be confused with TE Josh Hill, who is listed just above Taysom on the price structure at only $200 more) is one of Sean Peyton’s favorite players. I know this because I can hear Cris Collinsworth saying it in my head after hearing it over and over for the last two years. Here’s something else about Taysom Hill – he scored 18.5 PPR points against the Falcons two weeks ago. Yeah. That’s 18.5 fantasy points that went to no one! Now I’m not saying 18.5 is a lock but what I am saying is this is one of the few times where you can play both Brees and Hill as QB in Draft Kings and with Sean Peyton’s creative play calling – hey ya never know!
Play Jarod Cook ($6,800). He’s healthy and check out his stat line since the Saints’ bye: 6 for 74; 2 for 33 and 1; 6 for 99 and 1; 3 for 85; and last week 2 for 64 and 2. The Colts also rank 18th in the league against Tight Ends. Who dat gonna catch a touchdown? Jarod Cook!
Speaking of Alvin Kamara ($9,800) I’m concerned. The Colts Defense have been stingy lately against running backs and while they are giving up an average of 99 on the ground – Kamara has been averaging only 85. Also while Kamara has averaged 6 targets per game, his overall lack of volume and contribution to the shoot out that occurred last week against the 49ers is certainly troubling.
Additionally I don’t see Brees and Company having many issues moving the ball through the air tonight and if the Saints go run heavy late I think it will be with Latavius Murray ($5,600) grinding the game out while the Saints rest Kamara for their eventual playoff run. Alvin Kamara is no doubt one of the most explosive players in the NFL and while the season hasn’t been great, he isn’t one to be easily overlooked. While he isn’t my favorite play tonight, he is tough to fade and always a red zone threat too. I will have some shares of Kamara if making multiple lineups. Latavius Murray too as he may see more goal line work with the Colts’ tough run defense, putting him in Flex consideration.
I need Will Lutz ($4,000) to kick 2 or more field goals and at least 1 extra point to put my season long team in the Championship round – so let’s all play him and think positive thoughts tonight? Ok? No seriously of the two kickers Lutz is my preferred choice tonight. Despite the shootout he was very active last week and I don’t see the Saints leaving any red zone opportunity without points – which means Lutz in the stronger offense has my bid for Showdown Kicker.
Lastly the Saints Defense ($4,400) which has been a strong one for DFS this season is drawing a Colts team tonight that has the weapons that can beat them. I will like the Saints D a lot more if Hilton sits though. In fact if he sits, the Saints D are a borderline must start at home in the Superdome. So monitor Hilton’s injury for many reasons tonight, one of which is whether or not to flex the Saints D. Due to a recent string of so so performances I don’t expect them to be as popular as they had been earlier in the season.
Who Dat gonna win some money? YOU!
Good Luck in your contests!