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 a lot 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.
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.
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.
.Justin Jefferson will most likely be the top captain on this slate and for good reason. He currently owns a 43% air yards share and a 27% target share. Adam Thielen won’t suit up which theoretically should give Jefferson an opportunity to be targeted at an even higher clip. He has two 40-point fantasy games in his last three outings, that’s the type of ceiling that we need in the captain. Jefferson makes the rest of the lineup somewhat thin, therefore you’ll need to find a capable punt or two.
KJ Osborn is a nice leverage captain off of Jefferson. He’ll be the WR2 with Thielen out and that will raise his floor/ceiling. At his current salary he can land as the optimal captain if there isn’t a blow up game from one of the studs on the slate. If it’s a more balanced slate with multiple players hitting a median score and not a ceiling, Osborn may sneak into the captain spot.
Alexander Mattison will also be a heavily targeted player for me if Dalvin Cook is out. He has practiced in a limited fashion, but I think there’s a distinct possibility that they let him rest for one more week. If they are both active I think it’s a tough call on the split that each back will see, but you should probably have a bit of exposure to both as I think they’ll work Mattison in more than normal.
Najee Harris seems to have hit the rookie wall. After 19 or more DraftKings points in 6-of-7 games to start the season, he has only hit that mark one in his last five. His targets have leveled off to around only four or five per game. That said I think he may be underutilized in the captain position tonight against a Vikings defense that has allowed 131 yards per game to opposing backs. Harris can be rostered with a Steelers passing game stack, but obviously him hitting the captain spot does take away from multiple receivers hitting the optimal lineup
Diontae Johnson has been an absolute dog all season with 30% of the Steelers’ targets and 40% of air yards. He has a very low probability of failure given his target volume in this offense. Johnson has had double digit targets in every game he has started and finished this season except one. The Vikings won’t be able to stop him in this game if he is fed 12-14 targets, it’s just a matter of touchdown variance in my opinion. I think he is a strong flex play when not in the captain
Chase Claypool and his near 13 yard average depth of target makes for a super unique captain play. We haven’t seen Claypool have a splash performance since his 130 yards and a touchdown against Denver in Week 5. However, his air yards share (37%) and aDOT (16.2) has risen over the last three weeks. If you roster him as the captain it means he lucked into some touchdown variance and guys like Pat Freiermuth, Najee, and James Washington didn’t get there.
Kirk Cousins and Ben Roethlisberger are two classic pocket statues that will most likely not make captain slots in optimal lineups. I’ll probably take the gamble and have absolutely none of them. Given that both have a dominant receiver (Diontae/Jefferson), the likelihood they spread the ball around to multiple receivers and land in the captain is much less likely than their projected percent rostered. They make fine captain plays. I would lean a bit more on Cousins in lineups. Though Ben has a pretty serious price reduction and allows for a tad more balanced lineups.
Pat Freiermuth and Tyler Conklin should be a major part of your player pool as they’ve become integral parts of their respective offenses. Freiermuth is right up near Claypool in terms of target share over the last month at around 16%. If you’re slotting Freiermuth in you’re hoping for passing touchdowns so it makes sense to get Big Ben in most of your Pat Freiermuth lineups. Conklin is in the same boat, though he may see an uptick in touchdown expectancy with Theilen out of the lineup.
James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud,and Zach Gentry are the cheap options that can be added to lineups that are Steelers heavy and project them exceeding their implied total. McCloud is my favorite of the bunch as he’s been seeing the most targets. Washington’s snaps are trending in the wrong direction and McCloud has been getting more targets and snaps, I think he’s a really nice flier. Rostering Gentry is basically hoping for a touchdown.
Depending on who is active, Kalen Ballage, Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland could all see the field in a limited capacity. If you’re making 100-150 lineups, a sprinkle of these guys is fine, but Najee will get the vast majority of snaps and touches in this game.
C.J. Ham is interesting as a complete punt play under $1,000 on DraftKings. He will usually get a target or two in the Spider 2Y Banana type FB flat route. If the studs smash and you need just two or three DK points from a 6th roster slot like we saw a few weeks ago with the Chargers showdown slate, Ham may be the go to. Kene Ngwanu makes sense if Cook is inactive as he may see a few targets, but he is overpriced for his projected role so I wouldn’t have much of him in my player pool.
Dede Westbrook got on the field a lot in three wide sets with Thielen off the field so he is a solid punt option, as well. He played pretty much every snap once Thielen left the field. I like playing Westbrook and Osborn in separate lineups as I can’t see two Vikings’ secondary targets getting there.
Kickers and DST are in play as always, but I think a bit more so this week as the value under $4,000 on DraftKings is a bit sparse.
Captain: Justin Jefferson
Flex: Kirk Cousins, Chase Claypool, Dede Westbrook
Captain: KJ Osborn
Flex: Kirk Cousins, Tyler Conklin, Diontae Johnson
Captain: Najee Harris
Flex: Ray-Ray McCloud, Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins
Captain: Diontae Johnson
Flex: Ben Roethlisberger, Pat Freiermuth, Tyler Conklin
Captain: Chase Claypool
Flex: Ben Roethlisberger, Najee Harris, KJ Osborn