Showdown Slant

The Fundamentals

  • At $9k, Joe Mixon is underpriced for his role!
    • Most DFS players are likely to gravitate toward elite receivers, making Mixon an ideal Captain
  • Joe Burrow is comically cheap
  • Don’t play Waddle if Tyreek is your captain
  • Don’t play Tyreek if Waddle is your captain
  • Find the full TNF Showdown Slant below


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Week 4 is here and it starts with the undefeated Dolphins visiting the 1-2 Bengals in a matchup of a team overperforming expectations against one that has been underperforming so far. Remember here that Miami just played a LONG game against the Bills on Sunday, winning despite Buffalo running 90 offensive plays and dominating time of possession, all in the Florida heat and humidity. I don’t generally care much about narratives, but this feels like something of a letdown spot for the Dolphins on the road on a short week after an exhausting game (especially for their defense). Vegas has the Bengals as four-point favorites currently, which despite the disparity in records between the teams, feels accurate, though I’m frankly not sure how much of the current line has to do with uncertainty around the status of Tua Tagovailoa (more on this later).


We’ll start with the Bengals. Joe Mixon is questionable with a minor ankle injury but is expected to play and he checks the boxes of “home favorite running back with a three-down role.” Mixon has disappointed from an efficiency perspective so far with just 2.8 yards per carry but the volume has been there: 58 carries and 20 targets in three games is juicy, juicy volume for a running back. At just $9k, he’s underpriced for his bell-cow role. Samaje Perine stole a touchdown last week and got some extra volume as the Bengals were dominating the game, but is generally a 20-25% of the snaps kind of backup, which only led to two carries and six targets in the first two games of the season. The whole “RB2 in Showdown” role has value, and Perine would be a smash should something happen to Mixon early in the game, but at $7,400, he’s effectively unplayable unless you want to build a lineup that is hypothesizing an early Mixon injury.

In the passing game, Joe Burrow has reached a somewhat comically cheap price of just $9,600, and even in a relatively slow start to the season he’s still put up two good scores and one decent score. We also have a massive price gap between Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins: $11,000 for Chase against just $8,200 for Higgins. These guys are 1A and 1B, with Higgins actually seeing more targets and more receiving yards in games in which they’ve played together over the last year. Higgins has also outscored Chase in the two games they’ve played together, with Chase going off in Week 1 when Higgins departed early. They’re both elite players, but it’s hard not to love the $2,800 discount on Higgins. I expect that will lead to more ownership, leaving Chase as a “pay up to be contrarian” option. Tyler Boyd is a slot receiver who has only reached 100 yards twice since the start of 2021 and is priced too closely to Higgins to be viewed as a “good” play. He’s a guy you’ll want to mix in, because the Bengals don’t throw to a lot of different guys, but he’s almost certainly going to need a touchdown to be relevant. He’s also priced in a Showdown dead zone, as from Higgins at $8,200 down to Hayden Hurst at $5,400, it’s only him and Chase Edmonds as viable plays, and since he’s in this gap where he’s one of just two viable guys, we can’t even count on the price being close to Higgins to give us a meaningful ownership discount on him. Speaking of Hurst, he’s one to keep an eye on the injury report for, as he saw 15 targets in his first two games while playing 78% of the snaps, before only playing 38% of the snaps and seeing two targets last week. He went into last week questionable with a groin injury, and still has that injury tag, so while he played he was clearly being managed carefully. If he keeps the questionable tag up till kickoff, it’s hard to know what to expect from him, leaving him as a volatile wildcard play. If he sheds the questionable tag before Thursday, I’d expect him to return to a 70%+ role with solid target volume. Behind Hurst, Mitchell Wilcox and Devin Asiasi will rotate in, but Wilcox is mostly a special teamer and Asiasi sucks, so they’re in the “MME punt pool” play even if Hurst is limited again (note that last week with Hurst playing just 38% of the snaps, Wilcox played 57% and got one target, while Asiasi played 35% and saw zero targets). You can also include Mike Thomas (the good one, not that dude on the Saints who’s always hurt) in your MME punt pools. 


On the Miami side, we have a confusing backfield situation. Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert are almost exactly equal in the number of snaps played so far. Edmonds has 23 carries and eight targets (31 opportunities or just over 10 per game), while Mostert has 24 carries and six targets (10 per game). That doesn’t sound confusing, you say? Well, Edmonds saw 16 of his opportunities in Week 1, and all offseason he was being drafted like the lead back. Then in Week 2, Edmonds largely disappeared while Mostert saw 14 opportunities, and in Week 3 it was seven for Edmonds and 10 for Mostert. The thought, at least in the OWS fam, was that Mostert would be the goal-line back (and he gained some steam last week as a popular “sneaky” play) . . . but Edmonds got two rushing touchdowns. So this is clearly a timeshare, with Edmonds’ role looking slightly more valuable as the better pass-catcher, but it’s close between the two. Neither has a very strong role so I don’t want to use a ton of either of these guys, but if I had to choose, I would take the $1,800 discount and say I prefer Mostert. You can throw fullback Alec Ingold, who used to torture us Showdown players when he was on the Raiders with random touchdowns, into your MME pool as well, because I’m sure he’ll do it for Miami at some point as well.

In the passing game, the big news is of course that Tua Tagovailoa is listed as questionable after a weird injury in Week 2’s first half in which he got up, then very clearly staggered and stumbled, leading people to think he had a concussion. The team says it was a back injury, and he went through a concussion test, so . . . I guess? Didn’t realize back injuries made you wobble around like a drunk toddler, but I’m not a doctor. Tua is listed as questionable and of course, it would be massive news if he sat. Miami has said they expect a decision by Wednesday. I’m going to write this (as of Tuesday evening) as if he’s in, and if he’s out, I’ll come back and update the game write-up. We also have Jaylen Waddle questionable with no real news beyond “a groin injury,” but Waddle played his normal role in Week 3, so I’d guess he’s more likely than not to play. Again, I’ll come back and update this if he’s out.

So, assuming health, we have Tyreek Hill and Waddle operating as the primary wideouts. And when I say primary, I mean it: on 101 Tua dropbacks this season, Waddle has 30 targets and Hill has 29, good for a combined 58% target share. I like condensed offenses and I cannot lie, you other brothers can’t deny, that when a team walks up with a condensed offense in your face . . . ok that was terrible. I’m sorry. Suffice it to say that condensed offenses are great for DFS, and we have two of them in this game. Behind these two guys, Trent Sherfield has been playing more than Cedrick Wilson, as Wilson has been dealing with multiple injuries early in the season. As Wilson is listed as questionable, I would tentatively expect Sherfield’s role to continue to be larger (as with Hurst, I might reevaluate if Wilson ditches his questionable tag before Thursday). Sherfield’s role, however, has only been good for five targets through three games and a whopping 22 total receiving yards – he’s a short-distance possession receiver in this offense, which severely caps his upside. Sherfield, Wilson, and River Cracraft can all be tossed in your MME player pools. At tight end, Durham Smythe is leading the position in snaps as the best blocking tight end on the roster, but his pass game role is negligible with 6 targets on the season. Nothing points to him beyond “he’s a tight end and they always seem to score touchdowns in island games.” Mike Gesicki, who as Hilow so eloquently noted is an atrocious blocker, is not being used as much this season, with six targets as well. Gesicki at least has upside when he gets targets, so he makes for a $5k touchdown-or-bust dart throw. 


There we have it. Two condensed offenses, some injury drama, and it should be a fun Showdown. If we assume Tua plays, I think this game is closer to a pick’em on paper, but the whole “Miami could be exhausted and play like crap after a huge Sunday game in the heat” narrative could still hold some water (get it? heat, water? I’m on FIRE in this writeup). On the whole, Miami is a good team but they’ve been playing out of their minds so far, while the Bengals are a better team than they’ve shown so far, so I’d agree with the line giving Cincinnati the edge. But, especially on short weeks and with a lot of banged up guys, there are just so many ways this game could go . . . 

  • Miami could completely fall flat. This is what I think is the most likely tributary of this game, and it could happen whether or not Tua is in. 
  • Or . . . maybe the Bengals just aren’t as good as they looked in their postseason run last year? Burrow’s got upside but he takes way too many drive-killing sacks, their run game has looked atrocious to start the season, and Miami’s defense has plenty of talent on it. We’re looking at the Bengals team that lost at home to the awful Steelers, then lost on the road to a Cowboys team without its starting quarterback. 
  • Or, maybe the touchdowns just play out differently? The field is going to expect the scoring to occur in the air on these two offenses that each pack two elite receivers. What if none of the four elite WRs end up in the optimal lineup? Try building a few rosters without any of the top four WRs and see what happens.
Cash Games

In cash games, this is a tough one, because the four top receivers will all carry ownership and any one of them has the ceiling to sink you. But, I think the only one that is really playable with confidence is Higgins based on his significant price discount to the others, and so my cash game pool is the quarterbacks, Higgins, Mixon, the kickers, and maybe Mostert if I need another cheaper play (note we might also get some Bengals TE value if Hurst misses). 


In tournaments, Mixon is my favorite captain, because I think the field is likely to gravitate to the elite receivers. After him, it’s the receivers, and I would rank them as Higgins, Hill, Chase, and Waddle in order of preference. 

Some groups to consider
  • At most 1 kicker
  • At most 1 defense (if you wanted to bet on a super-gross “under” game with 3 total kickers/defenses, I wouldn’t say that’s an impossible outcome here)
  • 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)
  • If captaining an expensive receiver, at most 1 other pass catcher from the same team (applies to all four elite WRs)
  • If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker
  • If captaining a quarterback include at least two of their pass catchers. 
  • At most 1 tight end from each team
  • Given their prices, I don’t want to set a rule of at most 1 of Mostert and Edmonds, but if you captain one of them I would exclude the other. 
  • At most 1 of Cedrick Wilson, Trent Sherfield, and River Cracraft


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