Well the Bills certainly breathed a sigh of relief this afternoon as the Dolphins fell in a fairly close game to the Chiefs. This leaves Buffalo firmly in the #1 Spot of the AFC East and the controllers of their own destiny. Meanwhile the Steelers had their undefeated season snapped in an upset win by the Washington Football Team last week, which in hindsight (as a Pats fan who lived through an undefeated regular season once) could be a good thing for the Black and Yellow. I expect the Steelers will come out sizzling hot tonight. I bring all of this up at the start because I think this game has the potential to being the highest scoring contest of the weekend. You have the fly by the seat of Josh Allen’s Pants Bills facing off with TJ Watt’s Defense and you have Big Ben facing a Bill’s defense that has certainly given up some yardage this season. A lot to unpack and digest and spit out a solid DFS Showdown Lineup with, so let’s begin.
My Captain/MVP Picks
Choosing a Captain or MVP tonight may be trickier than you think. Certainly you could plug in either Quarterback or any of the receivers but the one thing to keep in mind is that both teams have their receivers fairly well defined, so I don’t know how unique of a lineup can be built by beginning with either point. So in thinking differently, I think my first pick for the top spot is James Connor. Connor has been off the field for a few weeks due to Covid-19 but now back and healthy, I think the Steelers will be looking to get Connor going early and control the clock, keeping the Bill’s offense on the sidelines. Connor certainly isn’t a sexy pick but a couple things to consider in his favor. First the Bills are allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground to opposing offenses. Second, with multiple weeks of rest Connor could push closer to his season high of 20 touches and in fact each time this season when he has had 15 or more touches he has scored double digit fantasy points. I also think with some very big Wide Receiver names on both sides of the ball Connor will fly under the radar a bit, especially at Captain.
I think both Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Allen will be popular choices for Captain/MVP tonight and I of course would not fault you for going in that direction. However with the receivers for both being mostly very pricey, from a salary perspective I think you will run into issues playing everyone you want. Additionally, I think it will be difficult to build a unique lineup as you will be in need of finding value plays on both sides of the ball and the choices for those values are somewhat limited – which will lead many to the same paths that you are. But if I had to pick one, I think it would be Big Ben. I believe he will be slightly less owned than Allen but the reasons why I prefer him are simply performance. In 3 of Ben’s last 5 games he has gone over 300 yards passing which is a plus on DK. Additionally during that stretch he has only one game where he did not throw for multiple touchdowns. The downside on Ben is that with the volume of throws he is making (over 40 in each of the last 5 games) he has had an issue with Interceptions as he has had 1 pick in his last 3 games. Allen on the other hand I have less interest in simply because of the Pittsburgh Defense. I believe the Steelers will put all of their Defense front’s efforts towards containing Allen in the pocket and not allowing him to beat them with his feet. Any other team I would say good luck, but with the Steelers I think they may find some success. So while I will have a lot of Allen in my flex spot, if I am playing a QB at Captain/MVP it is Ben.
I will say however that I am also very interested in using a Wide Receiver at Captain on DK. For Buffalo, I think the obvious Wide Receiver 1 is Stefon Diggs who has had over 90 yards receiving in 3 of his last 4 games with 10+ targets in 3 of those games. The only thing missing from Diggs’ stats is Touchdowns. Since Week 7 he has only 1. With the Steelers being top 10 against Wide Receivers, I am concerned that Touchdown trend will continue. Additionally the matchup with Joe Haden has me slightly concerned too. Not that Diggs won’t get his, but I am concerned if his ceiling is limited in the matchup. Which leads me more towards Cole Beasley. Four times this season Beasley has broken the 100 yard mark including last week with 130. He has become a security blanket for Allen and while I do think he will be popular, at a savings of over $2,500 from Diggs, I think he is definitely worth considering.
The Steelers Receivers are in play as well – the only difficulty is determining who is the true Wide Receiver 1 is. Diontae Johnson has certainly seen the volume lately – no less than 10 targets per game since Week 9 and 70 or more yards 4 times in the last 5 including 2 100 yard games and 2 touchdowns. Then you have JuJu Smith-Schuster who has 7 or more targets in 6 of the last 7 with 3 Touchdowns in that span. The issue with JuJu for me is his lack of 100 yard performances, which makes him a little Touchdown dependent. Likely to be the Most Popular of the Steelers Receivers is Chase Claypool. Despite his ability to be the guy in the red zone, he certainly is 3rd in line for targets and yardage. However having 4 games of 2 touchdowns or more is very appealing. For me, I like Johnson the best of the 3 at Captain. I feel his targets and volume are fairly secure and of the 3 he has the most likely path to 100 yards. However I also don’t mind looking at JuJu, simply for salary savings as he is cheapest amongst the 5 receivers I have talked about. I think if you are multi-entering having a few lineups with Receivers at Captain on DK may be your strongest leverage play off of the Quarterbacks who again I believe will be popular.
I also think, Eric Ebron deserves a look at Captain/MVP. Ebron has seen 11 targets in each of the last two games going over 50 yards in each. While he hasn’t scored lately, Ebron has long been known as a Red Zone threat and while he only has 4 TDs on the season, the Bills have been torched all season long by pass catching tight ends. No one likes to play Ebron – but I will and he does give you some salary savings too, which is a nice plus.
Flex, Flex, Flex it up
I am going to employ a few overall strategies tonight in my lineups. I know that may be confusing but let me lay out for you how I am thinking about the slate. One thing that I will stress however is that it is OK to leave money on the table in Showdown Slates. Meaning if you find a lineup you like and there is $1,000 left in your salary – stick with your gut, don’t reach. You have to consider that many may have come to that same place and they reach to spend every dollar – so be different. Optimal Winning Lineups do not need to have all $50,000 of the salary cap spent. I am perfectly ok leaving up to $2,000 on the table tonight with likely so much ownership going to a few studs and not a ton of value available.
Strategy 1 – Captain and 1 flex from one team, 4 flexes from the other team. Why I am looking at this path is that I do think this game will either be a shoot out or a lot slower than people think. Additionally, most of the players I am going to want to roster are pretty pricey. So in this model I will want to go cheaper at Captain and stack with a Quarterback and then use my remaining salary to hopefully get as much of the opposing offense as I can. So for Instance Cole Beasley (Captain) stacked with Allen (Flex) then I will start by using some value on the Steelers. James Washington is a strong value target, who Ben specifically target in key situations and has said publicly, he trusts. Washington is $2,600 on DK. In this build once I plug in Washington that leaves me nearly $8,000 to spend on each of my next three flex plays. I could spend up on Ben and one other Pass Catcher, finishing with either the Steelers Defense or Kicker Chris Boswell. Or with $8,000 per player you could also leave Ben off this stack and fill it with pass catchers and James Connor. This type of build can give you a lot of flexibility.
This build also works fine for Stefon Diggs at Captain or if you believe the Steelers jump out ahead fast, Claypool or another top target of Ben’s. Just know that your remaining salary to build with will be less, with the higher salary at Captain.
Strategy 2 – 3 vs 3 Build. Meaning an even number of players from both teams. If you think this game shoots out, this style build may most interest you. Here I would look to use a pass catcher like Gabriel Davis to save some salary at Captain or Ebron for the Steelers. I would pair with Allen or Ben spending on which I choose and one more pass catcher from the Bills. Let’s say Beasley. So if I build with Gabriel Davis at Captain and roster Allen and Beasley, that leaves me over $7,500 per flex spot for Steelers. So I would start with Ben and then go JuJu which would give me plenty of money left where I could grab Washington or Kicker Chris Boswell or maybe take a shot at Benny Snell who even with Connor back should see some change of pace work.
The point of the 3-3 should be for you to include both quarterbacks on the lineup which could end up being the optimal play if this game does shoot out.
Strategy 3 – Connor at Captain. In this model I think using the Steelers Defense along with Ben and at least one pass catcher be it Johnson, Claypool or JuJu. I would then use Bill’s Kicker Tyler Bass along with Allen and a receiver not named Diggs or Beasley. So Davis, or Isiah Mckenzie or Dawson Knox the tight end, both of whom are cheap. I think it is also fine to use this favoring Buffalo, but in place of Connor I would actually use Allen paired with the Bills defense and Diggs, using Pittsburgh’s Kicker and secondary receiver.
I think you are probably asking why I haven’t mentioned the Buffalo running game – Devin Singletary and Zach Moss. I will have at least two lineups where I am using each man in place of a Bill’s pass catcher but my issues with the Buffalo running game has always been Josh Allen rifling goal line carries which really limit their upside. Not to mention that the Steelers have really been tough on running backs this season, allowing barely 100 yards per game on the ground. So while certainly – anything can happen in 2020, I just think you will find more value and more of a chance for a winning lineup with the Buffalo pass catchers. On FanDuel I prefer the running backs more than on Draft Kings and in fact on FanDuel I prefer rostering the Quarterbacks more than any other player at MVP. But back to Singletary and Moss, I will be underweight on them tonight and if it burns me it burns me. That’s DFS Folks.
Good Luck in your Contests!