Week 11 starts off with what is currently the highest total game of the week as the Cardinals visit the Seahawks for a 57.5 total game as of Tuesday afternoon. The Seahawks are favored by a field goal, which is how Vegas generally assigns the home-field advantage, so basically, these teams are being viewed as a tossup. When these teams met in Week 7, we got one of the best shootouts of the season, with the Cardinals winning on a late field goal 37-34. Even if we assume “two teams meeting for the second time generally have a lower scoring game,” in all likelihood we are going to have some offensive fireworks.
I also want to note that I play a lot of Thursday-Monday contests every week; my general strategy here is “fade the Thursday game because those players are over-owned.” That strategy is tougher when the Thursday game has the highest total of the week, but we’re also like to see VERY high ownership on this game, so my advice here is if you play Thursday-Monday and you want to use players from this game, recognize the ownership is going to be enormous and try to figure out ways to be different (such as involving a tight end).
We’ll start with the visiting Cardinals. Kenyan Drake returned last week and saw more of a timeshare with Chase Edmonds than he had earlier in the year. Prior to injury, Drake was playing around 68% of the snaps each week with Edmonds playing 35-40%, while in Week 10 it was almost an even split. Drake saw 16 carries and one target, while Edmonds had eight carries (the most he’s seen in a game when Drake also played) and three targets. Drake’s usage has not seen a lot of game script sensitivity, with 16 or more carries in all healthy games but one, but he is frustratingly not being used in the passing game this year; a high of just two targets. He’s a modestly priced yardage and touchdown back in a moderately difficult matchup against a Seattle defense that is ranked ninth in run defense DVOA but just 26th against the pass. With Kyler always a threat to vulture rushing touchdowns (and, honestly, at this point, it can really be viewed as “will Drake vulture Kyler?” than the other way around), Drake’s floor is low, but he’ll be used plenty and is priced modestly compared to his potential ceiling. Remember, 100+ yards and a pair of touchdowns are within his range of outcomes. Edmonds is also a completely reasonable play, who even in the timeshare role, has seen sufficient volume to score at least 10 Draftkings points in six of nine games. If the Seahawks play from ahead, that would bode well for Edmonds’ passing game role, and he saw seven targets the last time these teams met.
The Arizona passing game continues to be frustrating (at least to me), as DeAndre Hopkins has the high volume, short-area role that tends to lead to disappointing scores when he doesn’t get a ton of target volume. However, in this game, we can comfortably project high volume; it would be a huge shock to me if Hopkins failed to see 10+ targets in this matchup. He’s a strong play when the volume is projected to be there, and he comes with a safer floor than DK Metcalf, who is the most direct comparison in this Showdown from a pricing perspective. Christian Kirk brings lots of upside but is a bit too expensive for a guy who has seen seven or fewer targets in all but two games (and he saw eight in the other two) and has only passed 100 receiving yards once. His scoring has been buoyed by touchdowns, and while he can certainly have another five-catch game with two touchdowns like he did against Seattle in Week 7, his floor is lower than most will realize. Larry Fitzgerald is old and slow at this point in his career, averaging 7.8 yards per catch. The problem with Fitzgerald is that while you need a touchdown in order for him to pay off, he’s not being utilized near the end zone (only two targets all season within the 10-yard line), and he’s not really capable of scoring from farther than 10 yards out. He’s a viable but thin play who I would rank below the kickers. Poor Andy Isabella is playing volatile snaps, anywhere from 15% to 50% at most, with a high of four targets on the season; he’s an MME punt. At tight end, Maxx Williams has led in snaps the past two weeks but has only one target to show for it, while Dan Arnold has five targets in that game and Darrell Daniels has two (with a touchdown). All of these guys are thin punts whose outlook might be slightly boosted if either Daniels or Williams (both listed questionable at the moment) miss the game. If they all play, I think Arnold has the best projection but will also have the highest ownership, while Williams is probably the best overall receiving tight end on the roster who will also come with lower ownership than Arnold. To be clear, none of these guys are safe or strong plays, they’re all MME-only plays if everyone’s playing (a case could be made for Arnold as a cheap option in cash if one of the other two sits).
On the Seattle side, we have some injury situations to monitor. On Sunday, Adam Schefter reported that Chris Carson is expected to return for this game. But on Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Carlos Hyde should play and is “a little bit ahead” of Carson, which implies that Carson is not a lock to play. Travis Homer was injured in Week 10 and seems likelier than not to miss, while Alex Collins and DeeJay Dallas are healthy. This is a messy situation that we may not get much clarity on; if we get news on Wednesday, I’ll come back and update this. What we know is the rushing matchup is not fantastic against a Cardinals team ranked 11th in run defense DVOA, and it’s likely to be a timeshare (even if Carson returns, he’s handled 16 carries at most, albeit with solid passing game work). I also want to note that my general assumption I always go with is “if a guy’s active, he’s healthy enough to play.” On occasion this is wrong, but I’m not a doctor or a coach, so I find it best to just assume health in every case rather than trying to guess when a guy might be playing but not 100% or running as a decoy or whatever. So, some thoughts on the potential ways this could play out:
If Carson plays, as a home favorite running back with good passing game involvement, he’s a solid play at $8,400. Whoever his backup is could be viewed as an MME-only play (if it’s Hyde, he’s awfully expensive for the role at $5,200).
If Carson doesn’t play but Hyde does play, Hyde is kind of a similarly strong play to Carson; he’s much cheaper at $5,200, but he hasn’t been as involved in the passing game, so his floor is a fair bit lower.
If Carson and Hyde both miss, the backfield is Collins and Dallas. Last week, Dallas played more snaps than Collins, but Collins was clearly running ahead of Dallas in the rushing role, handling 11 carries to Dallas’ two. This situation would probably be a timeshare with Collins serving as the primary two-down back while Dallas has more of a passing down role. At $3,800 and $600, respectively, they would both be viable plays in both cash and tournaments.
Whew. That was fun.
The Seattle passing game is also potentially up in the air, as Tyler Lockett was reported with a knee sprain on Monday. On a short week, it’s not clear if he will play. Remember that when these teams met in Week 7, the Seahawks left DK Metcalf alone facing Patrick Peterson while just peppering Lockett with a ridiculous 20 targets on his way to a 200 yard, three-touchdown game. We can expect the Cardinals to be ready for this, so it’s not a foregone conclusion that Lockett will absolutely smash if he plays, but I certainly like him here at a discount from Metcalf. Metcalf himself is, of course, always a strong play but as mentioned above I view him as a higher volatility play than the similarly-priced Hopkins (unless Lockett were to miss, which would put them more on par). If Lockett plays, the rest of the Seattle passing attack plays out as it always does: David Moore is reasonably involved, Freddie Swain, and all three tight ends (Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, and Jacob Hollister) are less involved and basically, all need a touchdown to pay off. Were Lockett to miss the game, I would expect more volume for Metcalf and Moore with Swain stepping into a larger role and Penny Hart or a practice squad guy filling the reserve role.
The way this game is likeliest to play out is, as in most Seahawks games this year, a shootout. Unless something goes weird here, we can expect both offenses to be able to score frequently, and while I’m not going to predict another 70+ point game, I would be very, very shocked if this game came in under 50 points. But there are other ways the game could play out…
Last week’s Buffalo/Arizona shootout was not really a shootout until the final few minutes, with the score at 25-23 Cardinals going into the final couple minutes of the game before a last Buffalo touchdown drive followed by a Cardinals game-winning Hail Mary. Not all likely shootouts materialize as it only takes a few small breaks going the wrong way to kill long drives and eat minutes off the clock without a score. What’s especially important to consider is that most lineups in this one are going to be based around the majority of the scoring coming through the air; what if it comes on the ground instead?
This year we’ve seen the “Let Russ Cook” movement in full effect as the Seahawks have been passing at one of the highest rates in the NFL. In the last three games, though, that has led to Russ throwing three picks and losing two fumbles while only going one and two. Is it possible that we could see Seattle return to their slow, run-heavy game script of years past? It seems kind of far into the season for such a dramatic change, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
My cash game pool in this one is, quite frankly, really tough to figure out with how expensive the QBs are and with how shaky the cheap value plays are. Russ and Kyler are obviously in strong consideration but it’s hard to make a strong top-to-bottom cash lineup with one of them at Captain. The kickers are in consideration, as is the Seattle running game depending on how injuries shake out. Hopkins is likely a luxury you can’t afford in cash if you use both Russ and Kyler unless you go with a total punt captain (which could be viable if, say, both Carson and Hyde are out or if Lockett is out). Of the mid-priced plays, I think Edmonds has the highest floor, and Olsen’s floor is also non-awful if you need a third player around that price range besides the kickers.
In tournaments, my favorite captains are Lockett, Metcalf, and Kirk (obviously the QBs can put up the highest scores here, but with their prices that doesn’t mean they would be the optimal captains).
SOME GROUPS TO CONSIDER:
At most 1 kicker and at most 1 defense as (almost) always
Pair captain pass catchers with their QBs (or consider boosting the QB if using a captain receiver if you don’t want 100% exposure to this pairing - discussed in further detail in the 2020 update to my Advanced Showdowns course)
This is a “normal” rule but given the pricing here, you could consider pairing the expensive receivers with “at least 1” of the two QBs - as in, it’s possible that Lockett puts up the highest score in the game but that Kyler outscores Russ.
If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker (you can see how to do so in my FantasyLabs tutorial video)
At most 1 (or 2 if you want to play it looser) Seattle running back
At most 1 of Drake and Edmonds
At most 1 of Olsen, Dissly, Swain, and Hollister (could consider at most 2 if Lockett misses)
At most 1 of Arnold, Williams, and Daniels
WANT MORE XANDAMERE?
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