Last night’s Sunday Night Football Game between the Chiefs and the Broncos ended up being a low scoring and slower paced game than I think we imagined going into it. However it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise with two solid defenses squaring off. In many respects, this is how I believe the early Showdown between the Steelers and Football Team will go. You have the Steelers coming in ranked 1st in the league against QBs, 3rd against Running Backs, 1st against Tight Ends and allowing only 324 Total Yards per game. On the other side, the Football team comes in ranked 8th against QBs, 3rd against running backs, 3rd against Wide Receivers and allowing only 332 Total Yards per game. So on paper – where are we going here for offense, right?
Six times this season, the Steelers have held their opponents to 19 points or fewer. Those teams were The Giants, The Browns, The Cowboys, The Bengals, and the Ravens although the Ravens game we all know last week certainly was not the team at full strength. On the other side, the Football Team has held four opponents this season to 17 Points or fewer. Those teams were The Eagles, The Cowboys (Twice) and The Bengals. Pretty good defenses. So again, what can we do here.
The difference between these to teams though comes from the offense. The Steelers are averaging 29 Points per game on offense and have only scored less than 20 Points only once this season. Whereas the Football Team is averaging 22 Points per game on offense and have scored less than 20 Points four times this season. So while I am assuming you already had in your mind that the offensive production here favors the Steelers, I think it is important to note all of this data as I think it will help you to be smarter in your builds.
My Captain/MVP Picks
Believe it or not, my first Steelers target for the top spot is Eric Ebron. If you compare my notes above here, you may be able to see why. With the Washington Defense being in he Top 10 against every other offensive position except Tight End – Ebron makes a lot of sense. In fact the Football Team ranks in the bottom ¼ of the league against the position (26th). Ebron is projected to be the highest owned Tight End on the slate but is not expected to see close the ownership of any of the Steelers receivers. Additionally, he has seen 5 or more targets in 8 of 11 games, with his season high of 11 coming last week and he has scored a touchdown in 3 of his last 5 games. Ebron also comes in at at discount from other pass catchers – $6,800 on DK and $9,000 on FD.
On the Washington Side, the guy I like the most is Terry McLaurin. Why? Well, same theory. Despite the prowess against every other Offensive position, the Steelers rank 13th against Wide Receivers. McLauren is the clear #1 Target for Alex Smith (and the Football Team) seeing 7 or more targets in every game this season including 9 in 2 of the last 3 games (ie; Alex Smith starts) and on top of that he has had 90 or more receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games including 115 yards and a touchdown against the Giants, who just shut down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks yesterday. Right now McLaurin is projecting to be the 4th highest owned receiver, behind the Steelers, but on DK I like his price of $8,800. On FanDuel he is he highest priced Wide Receiver at $14,500 so while he is still a great play, I am not as apt to use him in the MVP only because there are no bonuses for 100 yard games. But on DK, I like McLaurin at Captain.
Ben Roethlisberger is currently projected to being the highest owned player on the slate at near 71% and while I think Ben does come into this matchup with some upside, I am not sold on playing him at Captain on DK. He has only thrown for 300 or more yards 3 times this season and taking away his season high in attempts yet he is averaging nearly 40 passing attempts per game. So without going too much in the weeds, that is telling me he is not nearly attempting the same level of deep passes as in years past and I think it will be more of the same tonight. If I am playing a Quarterback at Captain I am looking at Alex Smith at Half of Big Ben’s ownership. Smith has had two Close Games (The Lions and The Giants) where the game was decided by 7 or less points where he has thrown for over 300 yards. He also has two games that the Football Team dominated (The Bengals and The Cowboys) where he threw for only 166 or fewer yards. So if you play Alex Smith at your top spot you have plant a flag that this is a game that the Football Team will likely be playing from behind in and he could get you 300 or more yards in. Risky, sure, but he is not only cheaper than Big Ben but also is coming in at half the ownership and If people are flocking to Big Ben as the projection shows, I don’t mind pivoting to Smith at all.
I think you can take a look at Benny Snell who is expected to start today in place of James Connor. Snell saw 16 opportunities last week against the Ravens and also saw 4 targets but at $7,600 on DK I still like to pivot down to Ebron for the savings. I think if I am going running back at Captain/MVP, I’m looking at JD McKissic for the Football Team as a contrarian pick. I feel the game script will favor the passing down back on Washington a little more than the last two games. On a whole I am not really excited about running backs in this game. Both teams have very solid defensive lines and in general I think if either wants to move the ball it will be through the air.
Flex, Flex, Flex it Up
If I am stacking the Steelers I am using Ebron as my captain and choosing at most two other pass catchers with Big Ben. Be it Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool or JuJu Smith-Schuster. There isn’t a contrarian pick of the three so you really need to choose who you like. Johnson is seeing the most targets, but Claypool and JuJu are getting the Redzone looks. So what do you value more? The Volume or the Touchdown upside? I also think the Steelers Defense is in play for Flex, but they will be popular. I think using them in a domination stack with Ben and three pass catchers (Ebron included) is acceptable here. If you think the Steelers Dominate than I would stack Snell and the Defense and at least one Receiver or Ebron as a three man. I also think that Kickers could play a big role and quite frankly Kickers on Showdown Slates always come in under owned. So I will also have my share of Matthew Wright who will be kicking for the Steelers tonight and Dustin Hopkins for the Football team. I think you can play Terry McLaurin as a run back, but that will be chalky especially pairing him with Alex Smith on Steelers lineups. So I may use McLaurin and McKissic as my run backs on Steelers stacks to be a little contrarian in 4 – 2 (Steelers – FT) builds.
On the Washington side there is a lot of value available. We have discussed McLaurin, Smith and McKissic already but from a value standpoint I think taking a look at the secondary receivers is a smart approach to a build. If we are assuming Alex Smith will be throwing to keep up than I think Dontrelle Inman, Cam Sims and Stephen Sims are app viable for Flex. I wouldn’t use all 3 in a lineup but I don’t mind pairing 1 or 2 with McLaurin and Smith. Also of course you have stud running back Antonio Gibson and the only reason why I haven’t mentioned him yet is because I think this is a tougher matchup for him against the Stout Pittsburgh run defense. But hey – anything can happen! So I don’t mind using him on lineups that don’t have McKissic on him – but on a whole, I do favor the Washington pass catchers here over the run. Of course this is 2020 and anything can happen, so I will have some lineups with the Washington DST in the mix too. Interceptions, Sacks even kick returns – anything is possible. I don’t mind using the Washington DST in lineups that Big Ben is on either. It is a contrarian approach and the defense could grab an interception and a fumble and a few sacks and score you points, even if Ben is having a good game on the whole.
Good Luck in your 5PM Contests and stay tuned for Game 2 Showdown Strategy – San Fran and the Bills!