You Can Find me on Twitter @DelRayBoston
The Cardinals have been one of the best defensive groups in the NFL all season long. Most recently though I would consider them “really good”. The Rams have been – and I know this will upset some people when they see I write this – one of the most inconsistent offenses in the league, particularly over the last 5 weeks. So what will happen on Monday Night Football?
Let’s start with some ownership for you in Showdowns:
Kyler Murray: 70% Owned
Cooper Kupp: 60% Owned
Matthew Stafford: 45% Owned
Deandre Hopkins: 35% Owned
Sony Michel: 35% Owned
James Connor: 30% Owned
Van Jefferson: 25% Owned
Odell Beckham Jr: 20% Owned
Christian Kirk: 17% Owned
Zach Ertz: 17% Owned
AJ Green: 15% Owned
So those are really your top owned plays and the issue becomes really, those are the players that you want. So when you have a situation that “being different” isn’t about finding some low owned players with upside, it is really your lineup construction that can make the difference – let me start with some strategy that I am considering.
There will be a lot of lineups with Cooper Kupp and Mathew Stafford at Captain tonight. There are several reasons for this I think, first being Cooper Kupp is the man seeing 9 or more targets in every game and making racking up 100 yard games seem more like a knife through butter than a struggle. Then you have Stafford who I think many people believe the Rams will be playing from behind a lot tonight so that will lead to Stafford throwing a lot. (Not always a good thing btw – Stafford throwing a lot I mean). However my biggest issue is the salary. Kupp and Stafford are the #1 and #3 highest priced players on the slate and as I often say using them at Captain and using so much of your salary there … it will just lead to a lot of the same builds in lineups. Let me give you an example, I bet there will be a lot of lineups that look like this:
Cooper Kupp CAPTAIN
Matthew Stafford FLEX
O’Dell Beckham FLEX
Zach Ertz FLEX
Sony Michel FLEX
Eno Benjamin FLEX
Why do I think this? Because when you plug Kupp in your lineup you are left with $6,400 per player salary. So you immediately start scrolling down and you’ll land on Beckham. Then you’ll want Stafford to Stack with the two receivers. This leaves you $5,133 per player. You’ll scroll down and find Ertz. But he is $5,400. SO then you Chase Edmonds is on IR still. And you know that means Eno Benjamin could get in the game. So you grab Benjamin ($2,600) and go back up to Ertz. That leaves you $7,400 and boom – Sony Michel. Leaving you with $200 left over.
It’s a solid lineup but, you will need Benjamin to get more than a few looks and your double stack of Kupp and Beckham to pay off too. So what if you put Stafford at Captain? If you do, you will want to stack him with Cooper Kupp and then you are left with $5,600. I am not going to build another lineup here but you have to assume players will see Ertz for $5,400 and grab him. That basically keeps you at $5,600 and I would guess they will grab a kicker next and build from there. Likely getting back up to Sony Michel. My point is, the builds will likely be very similar.
So what I am likely going to do most if I am going to play him at Captain is to play him naked, without Stafford. Why? I really like the build of Kupp, Deandre Hopkins, James Connor, Kyler. This leaves you $1,900 left for salary and it almost forces you to be different. Here is a few names to consider in getting that done:
Mekhi Sargent: $600 2% Ownership. With Darrell Henderson on COVID IR, Sony Michel will start but now Sargent will be the #2 and if he gets anything close to what Michel gets when Henderson starts, it won’t take much for him to pay off his $600 salary.
Kendall Blanton: $600 17% Ownership. With Tyler Higbee also on COVID IR, Blanton will slide in as the Starting Tight End. The Cardinals have been solid against Tight Ends this season, but with the defense now dealing with Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr and Van Jefferson – it could open up some space for Blanton in the middle of the field.
So let’s plug Sargent into my Kupp, Kyler, DHop, Connor lineup. That now leaves me with $3,200 in salary and I can grab the Cardinals Defense, Eno Benjamin, Rondale Moore … better options. So wouldn’t this lineup look a lot better than the other I built a minute ago:
Cooper Kupp CAPTAIN
Kyler Murray FLEX
Deandre Hopkins FLEX
James Conner FLEX
Mekhi Sargent FLEX
Cardinal Defense FLEX
A lineup like this balances ownership as well as tells a story. With no Jaylen Ramsey on the field, Kyler – DeHop happens early and often and James Connor gets goal line touches. The Cardinals Defense performs strong and Stafford needs to air it out to his #1 guy to catch up. I don’t need a ton from Sargent but maybe he catches a couple balls and gets a few touches too… This lineup leaves no money left which I normally do not like to do in Showdowns but I love the Kupp-Kyler-Hopkins-Connor stack a lot.
If you want to get different with the Rams though, use Van Jefferson or O’Dell Beckham or Sony Michel at Captain and build from there leaving Kupp off. However in these builds I would make sure to stack Stafford in there but you could get some unique builds by saving the salary on Kupp.
I love Kyler Murray tonight and I don’t care that he is UBER Chalky, the Rams will be without some key pieces at Defense, most notably Ramsey, and I think it will give Kyler and even bigger opportunity here. My only worry is that they rely on the run game heavily tonight. Last week, Kyler only threw 15 passes and with the Rams being middle of the road on Defense, this could be a heavy James Connor game … also to help slow the pass rush of Aaron Donald and Von Miller.
So I will be stacking Kyler with Hopkins and Connor. Sounds crazy to put Connor in there but if I am using Kyler at the top I want as much of the Cardinals touchdown likelihood on my side. The issue is, I don’t love the secondary receiving options for the Cardinals tonight. Let’s look at recent usage:
Christian Kirk: Week 13 3 Targets, 1 Catch 4 yards Week 11 5 Targets, 2 Catches, 25 yards
AJ Green: Week 13 1 Target, 1 Catch 14 yards Week 11 7 Targets, 4 catches, 78 Yards
Zach Ertz: Week 13 2 Targets, 1 Catch 10 yards Week 11 9 Targets, 8 catches, 88 Yards, 2 scores
Rondale Moore: Week 13 2 Targets, 1 Catch 8 yards Week 11 11 Targets, 11 Catches, 51 yards
So on the surface you’d say ok so Green, Ertz, Moore should be the priorities until you remember in Week 11, Kyler didn’t start – it was Colt McCoy.
The problem is if you use Kyler or Hopkins at Captain and stack them together, you are going to likely need to use one or two of these 4 to make your lineup work. My best advice here if you want to would be to go with Ertz where possible as I think he has touchdown upside in this matchup and I like Moore too as the cheapest of the bunch.
I’d also mention Eno Benjamin who will be playing the role of Chase Edmonds tonight, at least on paper.
Here is a Cardinals Lineup I’ll be playing:
Deandre Hopkins CAPTAIN
Kyler Murray FLEX
James Connor FLEX
Odell Beckham FLEX
Cardinals D FLEX
AJ Green FLEX
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR CONTESTS