General Rules for Creating Showdown/MVP Lineups
Correlate with your Captain/MVP — Make sure you are creating a roster that makes sense with your 1.5x player.
On DraftKings, lean RB/WR in the captain. Though QB can finish as the optimal captain, it’s often overused by the field relative to its success rate. When you are using a QB in the captain, I like to use many of his pass-catchers. Because the likely scenario, if a QB ends up as the captain on DK, is he spreads his touchdowns around to multiple receivers and not one skill player had a ceiling game. The one exception to this rule is if the quarterback is mobile (think Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray) and can accrue points with their legs without bringing pass-catchers along for the ride.
On FanDuel the MVP spot doesn’t cost you 1.5x salary which means you’re just trying to get the highest-scoring player in that spot. Contrary to DK, it’s often the QB because of the scoring system. I would lean QB/RB on FD, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
Leave salary on the table — I’m not just talking about a few hundred. Don’t be afraid to leave a few thousand on the table. In a slate that has an extremely limited number of viable options, there is a much greater chance for lineup duplication. It may not seem like much of an issue, but it can decimate your expected value to put in lineups that are going to split with 500 other people.
Multi-enter if you can. Single-game slates have so much variance that the first play of the game can take you completely out of contention if you only have one lineup. It’s best to build a bunch of lineups (you don’t have to max enter) that concentrate on different game scripts and a handful of different correlated captains.
DST and Kickers, while not very exciting, usually offer a solid floor for cheap — especially in game scripts that go under expected point totals. I would only use at most two per lineup, but usually one or fewer.
When creating single-game lineups, the most important part is creating correlated lineups according to a projected game script, and not pinpointing the exact five or six players who will score the most fantasy points on the slate.
ALSO VIABLE AS FLEX PLAYS — LISTED IN PREFERENTIAL ORDER
Justin Jefferson will likely be the most rostered captain on this slate and I’m inclined to say that you shouldn’t worry about that and roster the man with confidence. Hopefully the Vikings have figured out a protection scheme that works against a prolific pass-rusher. The Patriots don’t have someone as prolific as Michah Parsons, but they aren’t far off. Jefferson had his lowest targets of the season last week because Cousins was on his back more than upright. We have to remember Jefferson is a guy who dominates the targets and air yards for the Vikes. There aren’t a ton of options on this slate that are going to challenge Jefferson as the captain. There are enough options in the cheap range that fitting Jefferson isn’t an issue.
Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris are both viable captains out of the Patriots’ backfield. They obviously eat into each other’s workload, but the Patriots use them each enough that either could land as the optimal captain given the game script. When using Rhamondre at the captain spot I would create a lineup that depicts a shootout or the Vikings having success. Rhamondre’s appeal comes from catching passes and he’ll do that in a catch-up scenario or a high-scoring affair. Harris will benefit from a scenario in which the Patriots dominate the Vikings like the Cowboys did last week. In that case, we’d see potentially Harris getting some more grind-it-out carries and all we’d need is some touchdown luck. I like pairing Harris with the Patriots defense because of this.
Dalvin Cook still maintains that breakaway ability and it’s resulted in a few high-end fantasy games this season. The Patriots are tops against running backs this season, so I don’t think I’d count on it. However, there is always the chance that he hits a breakaway run. He’s alternated games of more than 26 fantasy points with a dud over the last few weeks. He makes for a good contrarian captain off of Jefferson. There’s always a chance touchdown variance rears its head and he has multiple short opportunities.
TJ Hockenson has been a massive part of the passing game since arriving in Minnesota. Thielen has been a decent number two, but Cousins needed a more reliable second option and it was evident. Since joining the Vikings, nine targets and seven catches a game. He’s due for some touchdown regression to fall in his favor. I think he can be rostered with Jefferson, but there is definitely some merit to having Hockenson in the captain and fading Jefferson altogether.
Jakobi Meyers is the top dog in the Patriots’ passing offense. It’s hard to imagine he outproduces all the players listed above, but if you’re creating a large player pool, it’s smart to have some flier captains. Meyers has two 13-target games and also has two games in which he eclipsed 20 fantasy points. The Vikings are allowing the most passing yards per game in the league and we know the Patriots will exploit their weaknesses. Meyers' best game of 7/111/1 came against the Lions who had been the worst passing defense at the time they played back in October.
Kirk Cousins and Mac Jones are both low-ceiling players. They aren’t going to light up the fantasy scoreboard like Josh Allen or Justin Fields. They also have a narrow distribution of targets. It’s very difficult for them to land in the captain when they are firing half their air yards at one or two receivers. Cousins and Jones should be staples in the flex based on your captain spots.
Alexander Mattison will see some carries in relief of Cook and makes for a decent leverage play in Cook-less lineups. Cook has been relatively healthy and it’s resulted in Mattison not seeing as much action as we’d expect. He hasn’t eclipsed more than six touches in the last month, so I wouldn’t go crazy with the Mattison exposure.
Adam Thielen and KJ Osborn will be the secondary options after Jefferson and Hockenson for Cousins. Thielen has some touchdown upside as they tend to scheme him open at the goal line. He’s often the player that leaks out after faking a block or that is on the receiving end of a pick play. Osborn is more of the pray-for-4/40/1 type of player. I think they make sense with a Patriot in the captain more so than Jefferson or Hockenson at captain.
DeVante Parker is the traditional outside receiver. He returned from injury and played 40% of snaps, seeing two targets. Mac Jones will mostly be focused on Meyers, Stevenson, and the tight ends, but Parker could be on the receiving end of a corner fade in the end zone given the circumstances.
Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton, and Kendrick Bourne are the tertiary pieces for the Patriots. Agholor has approached 60% of snaps in the previous weeks and will be the most likely to have a 4/40 type day. Thornton has played closer to 25% of snaps, but I like him because of his speed. He can get behind the defense and be in the optimal showdown lineup in on one pass. Bourne is someone I’m not too interested in, but could always fall into the end zone as he’s on the field nearly 40% of the time. If you’re making 20+ lineups that’s when I’d start expanding to include Bourne in my player pool.
Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith should be staples of your rosters as their cheap, play a lot of snaps, and seem to be involved in the offense (at least one of them) every week. I wouldn’t make a rule in an optimizer that one has to be in each lineup, but I don’t think it’s a terrible idea. They do eat into each others’ workload, but on this one-game slate a 4/40 stat line or one of them finding the endzone could be all you need, especially at their price.
The last man in includes CJ Ham who from his fullback position can always have a spider 2y banana play-action pass into the flat that goes for six. Jalen Reagor saw his first target in weeks against the Cowboys in Week 11 thanks to the blowout. I doubt he’s involved much outside of another blowout. Johnny Mundt is playable as the backup tight end for the Vikings that’s on the field in two tight end sets and sees the occasional target or two. On the Patriots' side of the ball, there really isn’t a projectable player I didn’t mention above, but the Patriots DST should be squarely in your player pool as they can rush the passer and we could see a repeat of last week. The Vikings DST should also be able to force a turnover or two. Despite giving up gobs of yards they’ve been able to get to the quarterback and have opportunistic defenders like Harrison Smith who can create turnovers.
Captain: Justin Jefferson
Flex: Kirk Cousins, Rhamondre Stevens, Tyquan Thornton
Captain: Rhamondre Stevenson
Flex: Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, KJ Osborn
Captain: Damien Harris
Flex: Patriots DST, Nelson Agholor, Justin Jefferson
Captain: Dalvin Cook
Flex: Vikings DST, TJ Hockenson, Jonnu Smith
Captain: TJ Hockenson
Flex: Kirk Cousins, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry
Captain: Jakobi Meyers
Flex: Mac Jones, Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson