Thursday Night Showdown – Cardinals Seahawks – Is this the Shootout of the Century?

Week 11 begins with easily one of the most anticipated NFC Matchups of the year as the Red Hot Kyler Murray led Arizona Cardinals clash with DangerRuss and his Seattle Seahawks. In the Seahawks you have a team that is giving up over 350 Passing Yards per game. In fact the Seattle Defense is on pace to smash the previous record holders for most average passing yards given up (2011 Green Bay Packers) by nearly 500 more yards. Yikes. On the other hand you have a Cardinals Defense that is giving up nearly 400 Total yards per game and averaging 22 points allowed … so is this the makings of the Shootout of the Century? Could be …

Captain MVP Picks

Here is the one thing that you can rest assured of – you have some real studs on this slate tonight and studs don’t come cheap. Another thing you can be rest assured of is that the passing games of both teams will be incredibly popular and will be especially incredibly popular as Captain/MVP. So for me, my main targets for top spot in your lineups are the Running Backs and the 3rd/4th receiver options. Chris Carson is trending towards doubtful tonight so I’d first like to mention Carlos Hyde. Hyde himself is coming off of an injury but when he has been available he has looked good in place of Carson when he went down against the Cardinals in Week 7 (Hyde Finished with 68 yards and a score plus a handful of catches). I do feel that the Seahawks will want to lean on the run game as long as they can for nothing else other than to help slow the game down and keep Kyler and crew off the field. It isn’t to say that I think Hyde will be entirely unowned in tournaments tonight but with so much solid QB and WR play available, I think he will be a contrarian choice for Captain/MVP. Additionally since DK and FD have the Cardinals defense ranked 5th against the run, I think ownership on the Seattle backfield will be down. The Cardinals are giving up over 120 yards on the ground on average however and with likely a lot of focus being thrown on Russell Wilson and his pass catchers, the run game led by Hyde could sneak some solid numbers out. In the red zone, the Hawks are almost always run firsts so if Hyde is your guy I think he has potential touchdown equity to consider too. Keep an eye on Chris Carson Injury news however.

On the flipside you have Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmunds. The Seahawks have been tough on running games so far so I am not as enamored by Drake – though I could see a scenario developing there the Cardinals take a two score lead and lean on Drake to control the clock. Drake is seeing extremely low ownership in the Captain/MVP spot so if you are playing an ownership game I don’t mind you taking a look at him there. On the other hand I think the explosiveness of Edmunds out of the backfield excites me for this matchup – specifically his pass catching chops. If this is a true shootout the pass catching back on the Cardinals side definitely has upside. With both Drake and Edmunds you do have to be concerned that in the red zone the touchdown runs may come from their Quarterback, so for that reason I am a little more high on Hyde as even though Russ has run a touchdown in it doesn’t mean he is the first call of the offense in that situation. Compared to the Stud Pass catchers, ownership on any of the 3 backs will give you leverage against the field and some salary savings too which believe me – you will need.

I also think it may be an interesting move to look at 2nd or 3rd or 4th options in the passing games for your Captain/MVP Picks. For the Seahawks, I generally consider DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as WR1s so who I am talking about here would be David Moore, Will Dissly or Greg Olsen. In Moore’s case you have a player that may only be seeing 3 – 5 targets a game but he rarely misuses the targets he gets. He has a high of 95 yards on 4 catches in Week 4 and as low as 17 yards on 3 catches last week so it comes with a lot of risk – but at a cheap price and low ownership if he catches his 5th TD of the season and even goes for 55 yards you are sitting nicely if the rest of your lineup performs. With Olsen and Dissly you are really leaning on a Touchdown to help get you there but in Shootout games, Wilson tends to spread the ball around – so if you are multi-entering I don’t hate having a share of Dissly or Olsen sprinkled in – but not together.

On the Cardinals side the obvious play here is Christian Kirk. Kirk to his credit is seeing 5 or less targets per game but is in the upper echelon this season for air yards and this game does feel like one that Kirk can take advantage of. However of all of the ‘cheaper plays’ Kirk is by far the most popular so while I do love the player, I would suggest having at least another pass catcher in your lineup that may give you a contrarian piece to work with. Consider TEs Dale Arnold or dig a little deeper at Maxx Williams who caught a Touchdown Pass last week. The way salaries are, people will be looking to find value as well and Andy Isabella could go overlooked. Isabella runs many similar routes to Kirk and could have Kyler look his way on a deep bomb early.

So you are asking yourself – how is this guy not talking about Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Deandre Hopkins, DK Metcalf or Tyler Locket as Captain/MVPs. Well a few reasons. First – EVERYONE IS and EVERYONE IS PLAYING THEM THERE! Certainly if you are a Single Entry Player, a Cash Player or if you are Mass Multi-Entering these guys are ones you are going to look at – but do you need me to tell you anything about them for you to play them? No, you likely don’t. Second is the salary cost of these guys. Especially on DK it will be extremely tough if not impossible to roster all of them at once – and picking the right combination of Captain to Flex will also prove difficult. However I will give you a few tips and my strategy on how I am deploying them – both as Captain/MVP and Flex.

Strategy “Seahawks”: I do not like stacking both Metcalf and Lockett with Wilson. While there have been times where both have had good games, it’s extremely rare that both put up slate breaking performances in the same game. So if I am looking to make a 3 man stack with Wilson I will choose one or the other and than the third man would be a David Moore, Dissly or Olsen. I also don’t usually put a Seattle running back in a lineup I have captained by Wilson, Metcalf or Lockett. The theory is if I am investing that level of my salary cap to the Captains spot my lineup should reflect a lot of passing from Seattle. Using a Arizona Running Back in that lineup makes more sense on theory. If I am ranking the order I would use these guys in Captain/MVP tonight it’s Wilson, Lockett and Metcalf – and that is only because in Week 7 Metcalf got the Patrick Peterson treatment and Lockett went off for 200 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Do I expect the same tonight? Not necessarily but could it be lightning strikes twice? (Incidentally, Tyler Lockett is projected as the highest owned player on the board tonight).

Strategy “Cardinals”: If I am playing a Cardinals stud in Captain, it’s Kyler. Simply due to his rushing ability I think he offers more upside than just about anyone in the white and red. However if I am starting Kyler at Captain I am actually stacking him with both Deandre Hopkins and Christian Kirk and if I am choosing a third I’d probably put in Chase Edmonds or one of the tight Ends to be contrarian. There is such an upside to a Quarterback as mobile as Kyler. The Touchdown equity is there. The potential for 100 yards on the ground is there. I don’t know how you can escape not having Kyler in your lineup tonight and cashing. He is close to a must play. On the other hand if I have Deandre Hopkins as Captain, I am limiting the stack to just with Kyler. If I am using the salary there to put Nuk in the Captains spot I am guessing he will have the most targets, most yardage and one or two scores and I don’t want to mess with any other pass catcher. I don’t mind using a Cardinals or Seahawks running back in that stack and Russell Wilson at least too. On that last point, same goes for if Kyler is in the drivers seat.

Flex, Flex, Flex it up

First thing to note is that the Seahawks have called Bo Scarborough up from the practice squad and last week’s call up – Alex Collins – is inactive. So if you have lineups without Carlos Hyde in them, I think using a rotation of Deejay Dallas and Bo Scarborough isn’t a bad idea across lineups. Both are cheap and especially in the case of Scarborough are coming it at low ownership. I believe both will have a role tonight at least as a change of pace and if one catches a hot hand we could see the dominate the snaps. I should also add Freddie Swain who caught 3 of 4 for 37 yards last week and does have a touchdown on the season which speaks to Russell Wilson’s ability to spread the ball around when needed.

I mentioned my rules on Metcalf and Lockett, I rarely stack them together – except for lineups that I am not including Russell Wilson in. So if you are multi-entering and have Kyler or a Cardinals pass catcher at Captain and stacked, I don’t mind a share of the top two Seattle receivers together.

Also too the Stack with Kyler and his pass catchers I think will be extremely, extremely popular tonight but I will have some shares with Kyler as Captain and Nuk and Kirk in the flex. With some value opening up in the Seattle backfield, among other places (Cardinals Tight Ends for example) you can make something like this work.

I gave you some cheap contrarian plays above but I think I should also mention the kickers in this game could end up being very valuable in a stack. On 3 occasions this season Cardinals Kicker Zane Gonzales has had 3 or more Field Goal opportunities and in three of those he put up double digit fantasy points. On the other hand Seattles Jason Meyers is coming off a historic 61 yard kick and he also has had 3 games with double digit fantasy points. With so many studs in this game the Kickers are going to go overlooked and if you are multi-entering they could be a nice way to be different in tournaments.

The ultimate Hedge here would be to start either defense in the Captains spot but the last two times these two teams met there was 71 points put on the scoreboard so I will be limiting my exposure to the defenses to onslaught type stacks that include a running back from the same team.

This should be an exciting Thursday Night Game to watch and I have a sneaking suspicion that the top performing DFS Showdown lineup will have both Kyler and Russ in the lineup with the correct guess of either Lockett or Metcalf and Christian Kirk all in their too. We’ll see if I’m proved right.

Good Luck in your Contests!

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