Kickoff Thursday, Sep 12th 8:20pm Eastern

Bucs (
20.75) at

Panthers (

Over/Under 48.0


Key Matchups
Buccaneers Run D
17th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O
28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D
14th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O
30th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Panthers Run D
32nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O
27th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D
22nd DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O
18th DVOA/16th Yards per pass

Here’s a little Q&A regarding Xandamere’s cash game formula (note :: as this is an extension of Xandamere’s course, it is only available to Annual subs; apologies to the Weeklys out there!). This will help you if you feel like you haven’t quite figured out the ins and outs of this yourself.


Showdown Slant ::

Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!

— access Xandamere’s “Mastering Showdowns” course here!

Thursday’s island game has the Bucs traveling to Carolina. This game opened at 51.0 but has since dropped to 49.5, with Carolina installed as 6.5 point favorites. The point drop has all been on the Bucs’ side of the ball, no doubt reacting to their week 1 offensive ineptitude. That’s a big story coming out of Week 1, as the SF/TB game was a popular one for DFS players, but we need to remember two things:

Firstly, Jameis Winston has always been inconsistent and interception-prone

Secondly, the 49ers defense may actually be legitimately good this year

As we approach this Showdown we need to think about whether or not we believe #2, because that will impact how we attack this game. If we think the Bucs are just bad, we’ll want to focus on the Panthers. But if we think the Bucs just had a bad game against a good defense, there’s room to utilize Tampa Bay players at what will likely be at least slightly lower-than-normal ownership. 

[ JM’s Note :: On FanDuel — where pricing is so much more flexible, and where you don’t have to multiply salary in the Captain slot — the game is easier, which provides less of an edge. Pricing-related notes and strategies are therefore concentrated on DraftKings, where we recommend that you focus your Showdown play; though the game flow and general strategy elements apply directly to both sites. ]

The Bucs are a fairly simple team to dissect. They want to pass the ball (and don’t really have the talent to run effectively even if they wanted to). Carolina’s defense is a pass funnel, so this is a matchup of the Bucs’ strength with the Panthers’ weakness. We can expect a pass-heavy game plan from Tampa Bay, as usual, and we can expect it to be centered on the trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard. But behind the Big 3, it’s worth noting that Breshad Perriman saw 5 targets in Week 1, third down back Dare Ogunbowale saw five targets, Peyton Barber got four(?!?!), and Cameron Brate saw two official targets and also had two additional touchdowns called back due to penalties. Perriman was on the field for 64% of the snaps and can be a deep threat, so he gives a lot of upside at a cheap price, while Cameron Brate is likely to go almost unowned as most people will just see the “official” targets and not realize he played 44% of the snaps and had two other red zone looks (Draftkings noticed as he’s priced up to $4k, but that’s still reasonable if you want to build some rosters that bet on him getting red zone usage). 

The Bucs’ run game is worth mentioning here, as while Peyton Barber got the start and played more snaps, Ronald Jones actually took over in the second half and outcarried Barber 13 to eight. Coachspeak says Barber is still the starting running back, but Jones handily outperformed him, and it’s possible he’s moved ahead in the pecking order. Is this meaningful as a road underdog against a strong run defense? Probably not especially meaningful, but it’s worth having at least a bit of exposure to as a low-percentage GPP play in a multi-entry strategy. Finally, Ogunbowale was used entirely as a receiving back and looked good doing it. If we expect the game script to go as Vegas predicts, the Bucs should be trailing and we can pencil him in for similar usage, making him a nice bargain at $2,400. 

The Panthers are even simpler to write up. Christian McCaffrey played 100% of the snaps (though backup Alex Arman did vulture a touchdown on his single carry). Carolina’s core receiving trio of D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Greg Olsen all played at least 92.5% of the snaps (which is absolutely insane and extremely fantasy-friendly — those are literally the only four relevant skill players on the Panthers). And Jarius Wright played 60% of the snaps but only drew one target and has not been heavily utilized throughout his career, making him just a dart throw and not a cheap one at $4,400. Of note is that Greg Olsen has not practiced this week with some kind of back injury and, based on his own comments, his status does seem legitimately up in the air. If he misses, backup Ian Thomas becomes a strong value. I can’t believe how short this section is, but that’s how concentrated Carolina’s offense is. The Panthers’ defense is also worth mentioning here as Winston is prone to absolute meltdown games and you can build around that scenario with them.

Thinking about the way this game is most likely to play out is an interesting exercise. The Bucs defense on the road should not present a significant obstacle to Carolina, and it’s worth noting that the Bucs play an aggressive style of defense (poorly), which could help Moore and Samuel break free for big plays. The Bucs defense did pretty well against the 49ers in Week 1, but let’s remember that Jimmy Garoppolo struggled with accuracy throughout the preseason, and the Bucs D allowed 22.2 points per game at home in 2018 versus a whopping 35.8 on the road. It’s football and anything can happen, but Carolina’s Vegas-implied total (currently 28.0) feels fairly safe to me as it’s just hard to imagine the Bucs stopping them. Tampa’s Vegas-implied total (currently 21.5), to me, feels low, but I think their distribution is more of barbell shape than a normal distribution. That is to say, if we get “pick-prone meltdown Jameis,” the Bucs could struggle to do much at all, while if we get let-it-fly, competent Jameis at the helm, we could have a true shootout on our hands. What I mean by all of this is that, if you’re multi-entering, I would view there not being one “most likely to happen” scenario, but two (the Panthers and Bucs both putting up points, or the Panthers putting up points and the Bucs having another poor game), and build for each of them. 

I think those two scenarios are, by far, the most likely outcomes, but let’s consider some other options:

  • Everyone knows the Bucs are pass-heavy, but touchdowns are the least predictable element of football. What if all the TDs come on the ground? Given how cheap they are, Barber and Jones become slate-relevant players with one TD, and if one of them manages to get in there twice, they’ll be necessary.
  • CMC is going to be the highest owned play on the slate. This is for good reason: he’s also, absolutely, the strongest play on the slate. But if you’re feeling contrarian, betting on him flopping is the single biggest stand you can take on this game. 
  • Panthers onslaught lineups seem highly viable in case we get Bad Jameis. Keep in mind that 5/1 onslaught lineups go under-owned in tourneys.

My favorite captain choice, predictably, is CMC. But in my tournament lineups, I’ll make sure that my CMC lineups are paired with some less chalky plays, since he’s almost certain to be the highest owned captain by a large margin. Given how concentrated each of these offenses is, though, you could make a case for any of the main receivers from either team as a captain. I’ll give the edge to Godwin, Howard, and Moore based on their matchups, but all of them are viable. Finally, if you want to get wild, Ogunbowale would likely see a lot of usage if the Panthers jump out to an early lead, and putting him in your captain spot lets you “play all the dudes.” 

Some rules to consider:

  • At most 1 defense
  • At most 1 kicker
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB
  • Pair captain Jameis with at least 2 receivers and captain Cam Newton with at least 1 receiver (CMC included here)
  • At most 1 of Jones and Barber

JM’s Notes :: As Xandamere noted: CMC is the best play in this game, and is the best captain choice. (Barring injury, he is also likely to put up a high enough score to warrant placement on every roster you build.) But probably 15% to 20% of the time in this game, one of Godwin/Evans goes for a score that could rival CMC, while maybe 5 to 8% of the time one of Moore/Samuel could do the same. In MME play, those thoughts should be kept in mind while building. There is also an “unlikely, but not nearly as unlikely as ownership will surely point to” scenario in which Cam runs in multiple scores, leaving CMC with a strong, but non-monster game, and leading to Cam having the highest individual score on the slate.