Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
The good island games had to come to an end sometime and they came to a screeching halt this week with Thursday night and now this game. A game total of 40, Mitch Trubisky, and two strong defenses is not a recipe for excitement, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still go after a profitable slate. The Rams are 6 point home favorites as Vegas clearly isn’t buying Trubisky’s improved performance last week (three touchdown passes, albeit with short fields gifted by the defense and just 23 total pass attempts).
The Chicago offense is kind of a disaster. They want to run the ball a lot with David Montgomery, but their rushing offense is 27th by DVOA and their O-line ranks in the bottom quarter of the NFL in adjusted line yards. The Rams, of course, boast an elite run defense. Backs with goal-line roles always have value in showdown because they can always grab short-field scores, especially on what is likely to be a low-scoring game when even 10 or 12 points could land a guy in the optimal lineup, but that’s basically what you’re hoping for here with David Montgomery. It’s going to be awfully hard for him to be relevant purely based on volume. Montgomery is questionable, as well, though what I’ve seen is that he’s more likely to play than not. If Montgomery misses, Ryan Nall probably steps into most of his role, and at just $200 it would be hard for him to “fail.” He’ll probably still need a touchdown to smash, but at $200, if five other expensive guys have good games, even 6 or 8 points could be enough to make Nall work. Finally, Tarik Cohen brings interesting mismatch and big play potential and might go overlooked a bit since he hasn’t really “boomed” this season. He’s being used more around the line of scrimmage, as he’s only exceeded 10 yards per catch in two games, but the upside is still there. I like him as one of the Bears’ best ways to move the ball in this game, though I should also note here that his role likely doesn’t really change if Montgomery misses (the guy weighs like 190, they aren’t going to suddenly start banging him between the tackles for 20 carries).
The Bears’ pass game is equally dubious. The full-time receivers here are Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. Robinson is, of course, an elite receiver stuck on a terrible offense, and in most games he’s the guy you want from the Bears, but he’s likely to be locked up with Jalen Ramsey for most of this game. Robinson can beat that matchup, but it isn’t the most likely outcome, and in a showdown slate it’s not like he’s going to come low owned to give you an ownership discount for the risk you’re taking by rostering him. He’s not a terrible play but I’ll be shooting to be underweight the field on him in tournaments. Taylor Gabriel is my favorite play on the Bears (well, unless we get Nall as a play), because he’s the only other guy who is on the field for every play, he won’t be on Ramsey, and he’s just $6,600. He’s a strong option and the Chicago player who I would argue is least likely to fail. Behind Gabriel we have rotational and part-time players. Anthony Miller isn’t a bad option at just $2,000. He’s kind of disappeared in the last two games, but prior to that he had three games of 50+ yards as he appears to have put his early-season health issues behind him. Cordarelle Patterson has big play ability that we haven’t seen actually pan out this season but it could show up in any game, and can of course be paired with the Bears D if you’re hoping for some Goff turnovers and then a kick return for a touchdown. The tight end situation in Chicago is a mess, as Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen are both out, leaving J.P. Holtz and Ben Braunecker as the active TEs. These two guys, who are primarily blockers, have seen a whopping seven targets between them all season long. Braunecker caught a touchdown last week, so maybe that bought him some trust if you really feel like you need to go here.
The Rams, fresh off of a humiliating defeat in which they couldn’t find the end zone a single time against Pittsburgh, have to be glad to be coming home where Jared Goff has been materially better. The Bears’ defense has been more good than great this year, and the run game has been kind of a disaster with Todd Gurley, for whatever reason, not carrying the same kind of workload he had in years past. Gurley has only averaged 13 carries and 3.5 targets per game this season, and while he has upside here as a home favorite, at $8,800 he’s priced like a back who gets more work than he’s been seeing. He isn’t a bad play, but he’s just a bit too expensive for the workload. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson have both been mixing in to back up Gurley but neither is seeing enough work to be anything but a dart throw.
The Los Angeles passing attack has centered on Cooper Kupp all season until a rather surprising failure last week with Kupp not catching a single ball on just four targets. I’m still going back to the well here as one of the safest plays in the game, though, as despite last week Kupp is averaging just over 10 targets per game and 88 receiving yards. I think he’s the highest overall floor play on the slate and a rare example of a receiver who I feel confident enough to use in cash games. Robert Woods has been a massive disappointment this season but saw 11 targets last week, though it’s hard to know if that will continue due to Brandin Cooks being out or if that was more due to Kupp being unable to get open. He’s a bit on the pricey side given the low floor he’s shown this year, but there is a path to double-digit targets here. Gerald Everett is an $8,000 tight end, a showdown price point normally only seen by guys like Kelce, Ertz, Kittle, and (this year) Hooper. He’s become a bigger part of the Rams’ offense this season, but he’s still had two games of 15 receiving yards or fewer in his last four. We’ve seen some ceiling from Everett but I would not view him as a safe play in any way. Josh Reynolds feels like he should step in and have a big role with Cooks out, but while he’ll be on the field for every snap, that resulted in just five targets last week. At $4,800 he’s a solid value who is unlikely to post a dud, but I think it’s a mistake to view Reynolds in the same way that we viewed him last year when Kupp got hurt; this is a different Rams offense that is both A) less competent overall and B) involves tight ends more and so doesn’t have the same concentration of targets that it used to. Behind these primary receivers, Tyler Higbee will get a couple of targets (and will need a touchdown to pay off), and that’s about it.
The way this game is likely to play out is….slow. And boring. It’s hard to get excited about watching this one unless you’re a fan of one of the teams involved. The Rams should find their way into the end zone a couple of times, more likely through the air than the ground, while the Bears are likely to struggle to get there (but it’s awfully hard to predict that an NFL team just doesn’t score; they’ll probably get there at least once). Kickers are exceptionally relevant in this one as we’re likely to see both stalled out drives but also some short fields as a result of early stalls and/or turnovers.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- I guess we could have an actual shootout? I mean, weirder things have happened, and not many rosters will be built around that possibility.
- I do want to reiterate that running backs with goal line roles have value in showdowns — even in bad matchups, even on the road, even in low total games. All it takes is a defensive pass interference in the end zone to set up a short score. If Montgomery misses, Nall is going to be very chalky due to his price, but if Montgomery plays, he’s actually an interesting tourney piece at what will likely be very low ownership.
My favorite captain in this one is Cooper Kupp. I also like Gurley, and then Gabriel and Cohen on the Bears.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their quarterback (you could consider not doing this for Kupp, who could conceivably get there on volume alone while not necessarily dragging Goff along with him into an optimal lineup)
- Pair captain quarterbacks with at least 2 receivers
- At most 1 Bears tight end
- At most 1 of Henderson and Brown
— Xandamere’s Advanced Showdown Course is now available through OWS :: Marketplace! This is his tournament course for Showdowns; and given the tangible edge in this contest type, it should pay itself off pretty quickly(!).
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- One thing I worry too much about (given that it’s probably pretty obvious I put a good chunk of time, effort, and “care” into my research and work for the site) is that it will look like I’m slacking off if I take the clearest path to breaking down a game in which there is little to like (which is even more silly when you consider that time is a finite resource; and if I put in less time on an ugly game, that frees up more time to focus on a more attractive game). But given how poorly the Bears offense has been playing and how solid the Rams defense is, this side of the ball is easy to knock off our list pretty quickly on the large, 14-game slate that stretches from Thursday to Monday. David Montgomery is literally guaranteed to have at least a couple more strong games this year (he’s seeing a ridiculous share of the Bears’ available offensive touches), but a matchup against the number three run defense (DVOA) behind this bad offensive line is nothing more than a “hope and pray” spot. Allen Robinson will see coverage from Jalen Ramsey and is just a dart. Taylor Gabriel is the best bet for production, but is still just a deep tourney play.
- The Rams aren’t in much better shape against the number five overall DVOA defense (with a 21st-place DVOA ranking on offense). Because this team still has explosive elements and is playing at home, some solid scores are likely to emerge; but price-considered slate-winners are going to be difficult to come by. If this were a 14-game Main Slate that included this game, I wouldn’t have a single piece from it on my tighter builds.
- If wanting to chase in this spot, your best bet would be to build around a specific game flow scenario that has one particular player getting huge production (i.e., there isn’t likely to be a ton of overall production in this game; but if all the action/scoring ends up concentrating on one player, that one player could post a strong score).
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