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
Josh Allen is the obvious top choice at captain. We know that he can get it done through the air and with his legs. He’s also shown the ability not to have to lean on his top wide receiver target. The Patriots are undoubtedly more susceptible to getting beat through the air, as they are one of the top defenses at defending the run. In fact, many teams abandon the run against them. All that bodes well for Allen, who will have the dual-threat ability in this game. Though he has struggled a bit since the elbow injury, seeing him get off the schneid at Detroit makes me comfortable locking him into the 1.5x spot.
Stefon Diggs is averaging a whopping 11 targets on the season and has hit 15+ targets in two of his last three games. I don’t expect this game to have massive fireworks. Bill Belichick will do a decent job of defending the Bills, and the Patriots aren’t going to try to boat race the Bills out of the stadium. Therefore, I think Diggs makes a lot of sense. Even in a 23-16 slugfest, Diggs can still hit the captain spot with a 7/100/1 type stat line, especially if he is the main target all night. That said, the Patriots are known to make the tertiary options beat them. They could shade coverage Diggs’ way and force the other receivers to win their matchups.
Rhamondre Stevenson will benefit from not having to contend with Damien Harris on Thursday night. While he will have to contend with some other backs rotating in, he should get the bulk of the goal-line work and still get targets. If you are rostering him, I think we can branch out in the ways we use Stevenson and build around him. He could have a ceiling game in a Patriots win or lose as he will be the focus of a run-heavy attack and could also soak up cheap targets in a catch-up effort. I like rostering Stevenson heavily tonight and getting different elsewhere.
Gabe Davis will benefit from the “stop Diggs at all costs” game plan that the Patriots could deploy. We never know beforehand the strategy a team will use, but if we are creating lineups for this outcome, Davis as captain makes a lot of sense, especially since he’s known to score fantasy points in bunches. We saw him explode in the playoffs last year and also against the Steelers earlier this year for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Sprinkling him in at captain would probably eliminate Diggs from flex consideration in those lineups.
Isaiah McKenzie could also be considered here. Maybe it isn’t Gabe, and McKenzie rolls his performance over from Thanksgiving as the top weapon in the offense. Using McKenzie allows you to build a more balanced lineup through the flex positions.
Mac Jones would be a strong flex play, but a weak captain play for me. His floor is certainly one of the highest on the slate, but with the other options available to us, his chance of landing at captain relative to price and competition is low.
Devin Singletary is up against one of the best rush defenses in the league and has been getting sniped in the passing game by James Cook. I think he’s going to be way over-rostered in this game relative to his chances of landing in the optimal lineup. I will be underweight on him as I think the Bills get it done through the air, and if they do get it done on the ground, it’s due to Josh Allen scrambling.
Jakobi Meyers hurt his shoulder on Thanksgiving. His status on Thursday night changes a lot of things. If he can’t go, I don’t mind bumping some of the ancillary Patriots receivers exposure up and even throwing a dart or two with them as captains. If Meyers can play, I think we roster him confidently as he could come in under-rostered given his status leading up to the game. He is definitely a strong flex play given his massive target share.
DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor would be the players that I would bump up in percentage if Meyers can’t go. Agholor was the one who showed out in his absence on Thanksgiving for the most part. Parker is more of the prototypical WR1 on the outside, and Agholor will be more the versatile downfield and intermediate-type route player.
Dawson Knox, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith round out the flex plays as the tight end crew. Knox needs a touchdown on this slate to be worthy of rostering him, in my opinion. I just can’t see him racking up 7/70 as he did against Cleveland. Henry will be the popular tight end coming off a touchdown on Thanksgiving, but Jonnu will be the sleeper, as he wasn’t targeted. I would mix them both in and it could be as simple rostering Henry in lineups that are already a bit different and using Jonnu in lineups that are chalky.
The last man in contenders are decent for this game. Kendrick Bourne will run as basically the WR4, but he often gets quick screens designed for him. Tyquan Thornton is a one-play home-run hitter who, even though his snaps are limited, can get there on one target. In a slugfest, both Tyler Bass and Nick Folk, along with each DST, can be shuffled through lineups as well. Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris deserve consideration in lineups that don’t roster Rhamondre. They should get some spell work, and on a single-game slate, it’s not unfathomable to account for a Stevenson injury.
On the Bills side, James Cook will see about 20% of the running back and is definitely viable, especially in slugfest gamescripts as he has been targeted 4+ times in two of his last three games. Khalil Shakir, despite his target share, has been on the field. So usage and opportunity can flip at any second. He was in on nearly half of the snaps in Detroit. Quintin Morris and Reggie Gilliam are dart throws that sometimes end up getting a weird play-action designed play called for them, it has resulted in ending stat lines that would have put them in winning showdown lineups.
Captain: Josh Allen
Flex: Isaiah McKenzie, Dawson Knox, Jakobi Meyers
Captain: Stefon Diggs
Flex: Josh Allen, Rhamondre Stevenson, James Cook
Captain: Rhamondre Stevenson
Flex: Josh Allen, Gabe Davis, Hunter Henry
Captain: Gabe Davis
Flex: Josh Allen, Mac Jones, Jakobi Meyers
Captain: Isaiah McKenzie
Flex: Josh Allen, Rhamondre Stevenson, Mac Jones