NFL Fantasy – Week 1 – Showdown Game Breakdown – Thursday 091020
HOU @ KC
Over/Under 56.5 KC -9
Oh boy! The NFL is finally back and we have the perfect marquee matchup to start the season off with a bang. Myself along with the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs would like to welcome you to a season filled with more uncertainty than at any other time in league history. One game at a time…deep breath.
As a reminder for this season: each week I write out a Thursday night Showdown game breakdown as well as the big Sunday slate breakdown. When time permits I’ll toss in a variety of other game breakdowns and a milly maker review or few.
So without further ado, lets see what this game looks like in Kansas City. The Chiefs are coming off of a season where they performed fairly well to say the least. They have one of the most powerful offenses in NFL history and with newly resigned Mahomes at the helm, there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. The defending Superbowl champions also come into this game with a little additional confidence in this matchup, as the last time these 2 teams met the Chiefs had one of the greatest comebacks in NFL Playoff history, going down over 3 Touchdowns in the first quarter and then proceeded to blow the literal doors off of the Texans from then on out to end up victorious 51 – 31.
Generally, the KC roster hasn’t changed much since this game. The only noteworthy difference is that RB1 Damian Williams decided to opt out of the season. The back certainly had his moments in 2019, showing flashes of brilliance, but Chiefs fans aren’t too concerned about the loss of the starter as the team appears to have found his immediate replacement in 2020 first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Depending on how much hype the rookie back can live up to, Damian Williams very well might be looking for another team in the very near future. A lot of people will toss out mention of the other D. Williams in the KC backfield, but if the team was that excited about giving him touches they probably wouldn’t have drafted a runningback in the first round and/or made it a point to declare Darrel Williams the starter with his experience in the offense legitimized.
The KC RB position is particularly noteworthy in this game because the spread is so high in KC’s favor that it stands to reason that the backfield might get a few extra touches once their offense gets ahead and they start sitting on the clock. Any game can completely defy the gamescript, but the current script feels pretty solid in expecting KC to come out sharp against a Texans team with a new RB1 and fresh off of trading their All-World WR1.
On Draftkings, I’m looking first at Edwards-Helaire $8,800 to be on full display. He’s going to score his first NFL TD in the game, in my estimation by a pass from Mahomes and then fall into a 2nd TD later in the contest. Truth be told, I’m not his biggest fan from a skill standpoint, but there’s something to be said for being drafted into the perfect situation, with little if/any pressure. Right out of the gates he should do well. As the season progresses we can reevaluate what his future holds as we gather a usage sample set.
Mahomes is always in play at $12,600 and for good reason. His selection is pretty self-explanatory. I think where you really have to take a stand in this matchup is at the KC receiver position. Is Mecole Hardman $5,200 going to see an uptick in targets, after his 30 receptions in the prior season? I like him in one off situations like this game. To be successful in DFS you have to be early before you’re late and you have to generally do so in a way that makes you look like an idiot at times by picking a dude whose numbers don’t really justify your pick. This is that type of dude and that type of situation. I’m going to do everything I can to highlight more of these situations down the road. Obviously Travis Kelce at $9,200 is a stud, the knee injury that popped up in the news appears to be rather minor but I still think it downgrades him. Also, I’m not sure if they really need him to ball out in this matchup to be successful. Watkins is incredibly priced at $5,800 and could be very popular. He’s certainly worth a look. I’m not playing Tyreke Hill; potentially a full fade. At $10,800 this dude has to hit it out of the park, and he could, he’s a very talented dude, but there are far too many avenues that KC can wander through on their path to victory. I’ll probably have in 1 single lineup. Other than a sprinkle of $3,800 Kicker Harrison Butker as a salary saver, I think you can stick with a KC pool filled with Edwards-Helaire, Mahomes, Hardman and Watkins in that order.
On the other side of the ball, Texans fans have to be a little nervous. KC is a juggernaut on offense and defensively much better than given credit for. The Chiefs defense is just on the field so often because the KC offense scores so quickly, that their numbers aren’t as representative of how good of a defensive unit they have. (I started the Texans team breakdown and it immediately let me into giving more praise to the Chiefs, and I’m sure that happens often to others. This Chiefs team is THAT scary.)
Based on the expected gamescript, Deshaun Watson at $11,800 is going to be throwing from behind. He no longer has a safety net in Deandre Hopkins and now in this game has to rely on an injured Brandin Cooks and a currently healthy Will Fuller who has spent his entire career coming back from one injury or another, as his WR1.5s. There is no definitive answer as to whether Cooks plays, currently questionable. I don’t think he does, and if he does, I don’t imagine why an underdog would give a ton of usage to their new number one receiver who comes into the game injured.
There will be other games to play Cooks and this one is not one of them. Fuller is going to be popular, at $8,000, and most likely the new #1 target in this game, he should be very popular. Primarily due to popularity and the fact that this dude is more likely to get injured than he is to catch a TD pass, I’m going to be very underweight. He’ll be in my player pool but I doubt I’ll play him much and if those KC corners find a way to keep him in check, we’ll have huge leverage on the field.
Newly signed Randall Cobb at $4200 is definitely worth a look, maybe/probably even a longer one than Fuller. He’s got experience, he’s still in good form and the usage is going to be there for sure. The floor is safe but I’m not sure the ceiling is as high as the Texans receiver I really like here: I really like Kenny Stills. Stills at $4600 should be your top recruit at WR. His ownership will be much lower than Fuller and as crazy as it sounds probably has a safer floor. Without Hopkins, Stills should move up in targets and in this matchup is going to have a lesser corner than whoever the Chiefs put on Fuller.
The rest of the receivers for Watson to throw to are dart throws at best. Coutee at $1,400 is going to be the sneaky play for a lot of experienced DFS players, but I guarantee they won’t feel good about it, and neither should you, but he does have one statistical anomaly pointing in his direction. The only thing going in Coutee’s favor, which is fairly substantial in an offense that just lost their Go-To WR1, is the fact that his adot (average depth of target, 2019) is the lowest of all of the Texans receivers at 7.6 yards , followed by Cobb at 10.4, Stills at 10.7, Carter at 10.8 and Fuller at 14.2; for context Brandin Cooks’ adot on LAR was 13.9, but this number likely adjusts closer to the 10.5 Hopkins held onto as he
takes tries to take on a similar role.
We know that Watson’s O-line in 2019 wasn’t great, ranking 27th out of 32 teams in pass protection by FootballOutsiders, and unfortunately for the Texans it doesn’t appear to be much better this season. Watson has less time to throw than most QBs in the league so he’ll want to get the ball out quick before he gets drilled into the turf. Generally speaking, any QB in this situation will try to get the ball out fast, either to a great pass catching back, like David Johnson (or Duke Johnson), to his WRs with the lowest Adot, ie Coutee, Cobb and Stills or to the easiest dude in their progressions: the TE.
The Texans TE duo of Jordan Akins at $3200 and Darren Fells at $4400 are certainly worth a look as salary savers and also as great fits for the gamescript. In terms of adot, they’re fairly similar: Fells 5.4, Akins 6.8; also their volume is more similar than you’d expect — Fells 34 receptions to Akins 36. The TD numbers are what really separate the two as Fells was much more of an RZ target last year with 7 TDs on 11 RZ targets to Akins’ 2 TDs on 6 RZ targets (2 completions — 33% complete rate). Ultimately I like the upside of Darren Fells between the two but where the salary meets your build, you could do an awful lot worse than taking Akins over Fells. If the dude falls into the end zone instead of Fells, you should have decent ownership leverage there too.
As I mentioned earlier, I actually like pass catching backs on the Texans. It’s counter intuitive and mostly a bad idea to draft the runningback(s) from a sizable underdog that you expect to be throwing from behind, but these backs are pass catcher-extraordinaires. I’m a very big fan of $7,600 David Johnson. When healthy, this dude can catch out of the backfield about as well as anyone in the league and appears as healthy as he’s been in a long time. Plus, the head coach traded Hopkins for him and was criticized for that trade more than he could have possibly imagined and I’m sure he would love to get a win against KC through a solid performance from David. I think regardless of scoreline, the coach feeds the ball to the beast through a variety of dump off and short passes to get those stats flowing this season. $4800 Duke Johnson is a nice pivot but seems expensive for his role in the offense. He’s worth a sprinkle in any place you don’t have David Johnson though, I’ll just have much more exposure to David due to the coach-motivation factor.
David Johnson — 7600
Kenny Stills — 4600
Mecole Hardman — 5200
MEDIAN PLAYER POOL
Randall Cobb — 4200
Edwards-Helaire — 8800
Patrick Mahomes — 12600
Darren Fells — 4400
Deshaun Watson — 11800
Sammy Watkins — 5800
Jordan Akins — 3200
Keke Coutee — 1400
Duke Johnson — 4800
Harrison Butker — 3800
Ka’imi Fairbairn — 3600
***All players above are ordered by who I like the best in each tier.
****Please don’t play more than one punt in each lineup, lightning only strikes once.
Good luck in this week’s Thursday Night Showdown!
NFL Fantasy – Week 6 – Showdown Game Breakdown – Monday 101419
DET @ GB
Over/Under 46 GB -3.5
Alright, it’s Monday Night Showdown time! The Packers come into this game shimmering with confidence after their dominant performance against Dallas last week and the Lions are coming off of a bye. On the betting front, the popular action is on the over. The total between these teams has gone Over in 6 out of the last 7 occasions according to Forbes. GB is probably the better team overall with both Aarons playing well but they are without their WR1 in Adams and DET has spent the last 2 weeks watching film and gameplanning to prepare for this game. My money is on the lions. The DET defense is more informed than any other defense going into a game against the Packers so far this season and GB just isn’t healthy enough to make it a shootout. As a result, I think DET covers the spread and actually wins this one.
*League Rankings through Week 5. Rankings are measured in yards
DET Rush O 13 GB Rush D 26
DET Pass O 7 GB Pass D 14
DET Rush D 20 GB Rush O 14
DET Pass D 29 GB Pass O 23
Overall this is a fairly even matchup. Last week the Packers shutout RB1 Elliott but they allowed 14 targets to the WR1 and 14 Targets to the WR2 of the Cowboys. In the two weeks prior they’ve let RB1 Howard run for 2 TDs and Phillip Lindsay run for 2 TDs as well. I think that’ll be the story in this one. The Packers are going to do a good job of defending the top offensive weapon on the other side but the second option is going to do well. On DET, the primary offensive option is RB1 Kerryon Johnson who ran the ball 26 times in their last contest and their 2nd option is Kenny Golladay. Kenny is going to get himself some looks as will RZ threat blossoming superstar TE TJ Hockenson. Marvin Jones could see some decent looks but TJ and Kenny should see the bulkload. TJ is playing against a GB squad that generally does well against the TE position, but he’s probably the most or second most athletic TE they’ve faced thus far.
On the GB side of the ball, the Packers look good. Their defensive line looks good. Their secondary looks improved at least and their scheme on defense overall is better. The only problem is they’re playing against a well-rested DET offense playing well also. The Lions D has been giving it up to the slot receiver so Allison should get plenty of targets. Aaron Jones DOMINATED the Dallas D last week and although he’ll be popular this week as a result, he should be able to get enough targets in the passing game to help his team against the Lions D. Aaron Rodgers is a fine play, not my favorite, but he’s fine. I think the Lions scheme well for MVS and he has a down game. Graham is a solid punt play; he’s tied for 2nd in RZ targets with 5.
Matthew Stafford – 9600
Kenny Golladay – 9400
Median Player Pool
Aaron Jones – 11400
Kerryon Johnson – 8600
Aaron Rodgers – 11600
TJ Hockenson – 5400
K Matt Prater
Good luck in this week’s Monday Night Showdown!
NFL Fantasy – Week 6 – Showdown Game Breakdown – Sunday 101319
PIT @ LAC
Over/Under 42 LAC -6
Tonight we have a low point total and a home favorite desperate to get into the win column. The Steelers are trotting out 4th string QB Devlin Hodges to face an above average pass defense. I got in on LAC -6.5 early on in the week and I’m not against jumping back in for double helpings. The LAC rush defense is admittedly poor/porous, but it’s just hard to present a scenario where the Chargers don’t run away with this one: At Home, against a 4th string QB, 2 starting-calibur Runningbacks that will stay fresh the entire game, and a monster WR1 that eats up targets or opens up room for everyone else. It’s a match made in football heaven to help LAC right the ship.
Showdown Slate Analysis
League Rankings through Week 5
*Rankings are measured in yards per game
PIT Rush Offense – 29 LAC Rush Defense – 18
PIT Pass Offense – 25 LAC Pass Defense – 8
PIT Rush Defense – 21 LAC Rush Offense – 24
PIT Pass Defense – 12 LAC Pass Offense – 6
On the Steelers side of the ball, Hodges should see a heavy pass rush so I don’t foresee WR1 Juju getting a lot of catches. Young QBs generally end up checking down to their back or their TE. It’s the easier play and the confidence and timing usually takes time to develop for the QB to hit his WR1 and WR2 with any type of consistency. As a result, I like TE Vance McDonald at 5400 and a sprinkle of James Conner. Mr. Conner could break a tackle and get himself a nice little stack of points, the volume will be there with his RB2 injured and unavailable for the day. RB3 Snell will pop in by my estimation about 20 percent of the RB snaps and could be a great salary saver at 4400. PIT has a bye next week, so they’re probably not too interested in resting anyone regardless of score, nevertheless Snell could get a garbage time look that carries him to where you need him.
The Chargers offense has so much going on right now. The timeshare for the RB position is a little stressful and then we see that TE1 Hunter Henry may very well play in this one. When healthy he’s a top tier Red Zone threat at the TE position. I agree with the game total and the spread so I’d expect the Chargers to take the lead early on and run the heck out of the ball with their super back tandem of Gordon and Ekeler. Both are very motivated right now. I have a hot take on this though. Most fantasy experts think that the RB timeshare is going to have a major shift in snap counts from Ekeler to Gordon. But why? Ekeler is playing exceptionally, and the RB snap count differential is not one of the team’s glaring issues. They need to figure out the other side of the football. I don’t see why the Chargers adjust any further than a DEN like 50% split. PIT is third in the league in total sacks and 3rd in picks as well; this leads LAC towards a ton of targets in the backfield for quick dump-offs (Ekeler?!). The Steelers D inconsistently gives up fantasy points to a variety of receiver types so that’s probably our toughest challenge in this matchup: figuring out if Keenan Allen or Mike Williams gets the higher usage. You get that right and you’re in good shape.
Austin Ekeler – 9200
Keenan Allen – 10400
Phillip Rivers – 10200
Mike Williams – 7000
Melvin Gordon – 9000
Vance McDonald – 5400
Chargers D – 5200
James Conner – 9400
Chase McLaughlin (K) – 3800
Benny Snell Jr. – 4400
Good luck in this week’s Sunday Night Showdown!
NFL DFS – Week 6 – Showdown Game Breakdown – Thursday 101019
Matchup O/U Spread
NYG @ NE 44 NE -17
Weather: 80% chance of precipitation all game long. 19 mph winds.
First and foremost, I generally don’t like putting money on favorites in games with such a high spread. Are the Patriots 17 points better than a rookie QB led Giants team that’s most likely playing without its all pro RB1 and all pro TE1 and definitely without it’s WR1? Yes. Definitely. Anytime we see a good favorite with such a high spread we have to first assess motivation. It’s easy to pick a winner of a game like this, it’s hard to determine if/why a Patriots team would care if it wins by 16 points or if it wins by 18 points. At some point during the game, the Patriots are going to look towards next week and get the backups in.
All that being said, NE to cover the -17 point spread is my first placed bet of the week. High spreads aren’t always stay-aways, they’re good reminders to analyze situations outside of first glance before doubling down on the favorite. Next week, the Patriots play a terrible NYJ squad so they don’t have to look ahead too much in this game. And the Giants play a much more beatable opponents in the 1 win ARI Cardinals next week. If any team starts looking ahead and possibly resting key players early, it should be the Giants.
Another angle to use when considering the spread (and useful with DK picks) is determining the implied point totals. In this game the game total projection is 44 and NE is thus projected to win by approximately 17 points. If this is true, then the final score is implied to be NYG 13.5 and NE 30.5 points. Considering the injury plagued NYG offense and the fact that the Patriots have still not allowed an offensive TD so far this season, it makes sense that the Patriots win margin lies somewhere between 17 and the implied 30.5 point total. This line might move a little bit between now (Tuesday) and game time, but it should be reasonably similar to the current line. With this other perspective in mind, I still feel good about backing them to breeze past the 17 point spread.
Showdown Slate Analysis
League Rankings through Week 5
*Rankings are measured in yards per game
NYG Pass Offense – 14 NE Pass Defense – 1
NYG Rush Offense – 15 NE Rush Defense – 3
NYG Pass Defense – 28 NE Pass Offense – 6
NYG Rush Defense – 23 NE Rush Offense – 21
We’re expecting the Patriots to be in the lead the whole game and as a result we definitely want to get NE running backs in the mix. Rex Burkhead Is likely out again this week, so we’re left with James White, Sony Michel, and Brandon Bolden. We should see similar usage from the NE RB position with a very similar gamescript as what we saw last week.. With high winds and rain, short passes to the backs should be the easiest way to move the ball consistently. James White, he’s our man. He’s probably going to captain about half of my lineups. He’s a great pass catcher, consistent in Tom’s passing attack and hasn’t scored a TD since week 2. He and Michel should see a lot of the ball this week. Tom is obviously a great option in every game he plays, especially against a poor offense. I don’t expect the passing yardage to get him to the 300 yard bonus with the poor weather in the mix, but he should have no problem getting the ball to James White for at least a TD, and I’d expect 2 from that combo. Edelman has a Questionable tag but he’s had that multiple weeks in a row now and he should play. Josh Gordon is also questionable but at the time this is written, he’s expected to play as well. WR3 Dorsett sat out last week and I don’t expect him to play this week either. Last but not least is TE Ryan Lacosse. I think he could be a wise sleeper pick, for an offense looking for quick passes in rainy conditions. He played in 73 of 78 possible snaps in Week 5, that certainly bodes well going forward. Lacosse and Boldin are the cheap GPP plays on the Pats side of this game.
The hardest part of the roster building this week is finding the best of the worst on the NYG side to draft. The Giants are going up against the top pass defense in the league and expected to play from behind the whole day. Jon Hilliman and Elijah Penny are the lone healthy options in the NYG backfield, and if we pick either to roster, we’ll want the best pass-catching back on our team: that’s Elijah Penny. The Patriots historically take away their opponents primary option which in this game is…2nd game of the year Golden Tate? WR Darius Slayton might draw interest from drafters based on his 10.2 ppg average but his depth of target is too deep to expect much from him in this rainy game. Against NE, especially on a rainy day, we want someone catching short passes out of the backfield and we want a TE or reliable pass catcher for Jones to dump off to when he gives up on his progressions. It’s hard to measure the reliability of any TE/WR on this team so any play at the position will just be stabs in the dark and we’ll have to rely on hopes and prayers for the play to workout. TE Rhett Ellison isn’t great but he’s got a pulse and Golden Tate may rack up some surprise points with a jet sweep or two as we know they want to get him involved in the offense while they finally have him on the field.
On the NYG side of the ball on this Showdown slate, I like Penny for the short passes out of the backfield, TE Rhett Ellison and a sprinkle of Tate. You can throw QB Daniel Jones into your GPP player pool because he’s gonna have his hands on the ball every play, which is more than any of the other NYG can say.
In summary: I’m picking all patriots with a one-off Giant in the mix because we have to. Get the NE RBs or DEF in your Captain spot.
QB – Tom Brady – 11800
*RB1 – Sony Michel – 7600
*RB2 – James White – 6800
WR1 – Julian Edelman – 10400
WR2 – Josh Gordon – 9000
TE – Ryan Lacosse – 1800 (played on 73 of 78 snaps)
*DEF – NE – 6200
QB – Daniel Jones – 8000
RB2 – Elijah Penny – 3200
TE – Rhett Ellison – 200
*Favorites for the Captain Spot