XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT ::
Monday Night Football should be a fantastic game as the Chiefs visit the Ravens in a fairly likely preview of a playoff meeting. The game total has been bet up to 54.5 with the Ravens favored by 3.5, giving us a juicy game environment. The problem, at least to me, is that the Ravens are my least favorite team in Showdown. They rotate players around so much and limit passing volume (Lamar rarely gets above 30 attempts) that you have to bet on efficiency and not volume, which is always uncomfortable for cash games. For tournaments though, there are a lot of fun routes to explore.
We’ll start with the Chiefs because they’re the easier team to figure out. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has taken over as the clear lead back with 25 carries and two targets in the opening night pasting of the Texans. He followed up Week 1 with 10 carries and eight targets (!!) in last week’s close, low-scoring game against LAC. The targets are obviously encouraging and show that CEH is the bellcow back in this offense. The matchup is a challenge both as a road underdog and against a Baltimore defense that shuts down opposing run games, but the price is just $7,800, which means CEH is the cheapest of the “core” top play guys (the QBs, Kelce, Hill, Andrews, and Brown). Based on price and workload, CEH is a guy I want to be overweight on. Behind him, Darrel Williams practiced on Friday so he probably plays, Darwin Thompson might mix in a bit, but you’re drawing thin in the Chiefs backfield behind CEH.
The Chiefs pass game, as always, centers on Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce. As Hill draws the tougher matchup against a Baltimore defense that is strong against perimeter receivers (and speed receivers), Kelce is my preferred play here based on volume and matchup at a similar price. Tyreke brings just as high of a ceiling and probably comes at lower ownership as well. Generally, in tournaments, I try to have about equal exposure to both, knowing that the field will generally overweight the “stronger” play at a high-variance position. Behind these two, Sammy Watkins is in the concussion protocol and seems more likely than not to miss the game. If he plays, he’s a so-so play as a not-very-good player in a difficult matchup as the clear third target on the team. If he misses, Mecole Hardman should, at long last, see a much higher complement of snaps. The matchup is still tough, but with Kelce and Hill drawing most of the attention, his speed gives him massive upside (but expect him to be extremely popular). Demarcus Robinson is on my shit list after dropping two TDs in Week 1, when catching either one of them would have resulted in a six-figure score for me; but in Showdown we cannot ignore a receiver on a good passing offense who is on the field as much as he is and is priced at just $3,000. I’ll probably play some of him and hope for karma to come my way. Behind these guys, the Chiefs are one of the tighter offenses in the league. If Watkins misses, Byron Pringle should play a decent-enough percent of the snaps to be an MME dart at $600, or you could hope that TE2 Nick Keizer gets a fluky touchdown catch. Of all of the Chiefs punts, RBs included, Pringle is the only one who will find his way onto my rosters, and that’s only if Watkins is out.
The Ravens run game is fantastic for their real-life game-winning purposes, but horrible for DFS. Mark Ingram has led the snap counts in both games (barely) and he’s only seen 10 and 12 touches through the first two games; for $1,000 more, CEH is clearly the superior play. J.K. Dobbins scored two touchdowns in Week 1, and was promptly rewarded by being given just three touches in Week 2. Gus Edwards got some mop-up duty in the Week 2 blowout with 10 carries, but that’s an outlier outcome for the GusBus; I would only want to use him in lineups that build around the Ravens stomping the Chiefs. This backfield is awfully tough to feel confident in. I’ll have modest exposure to both Ingram and Dobbins, as the Ravens score a lot of touchdowns and either of them could get into the end zone multiple times; but as with everything on Baltimore you’re betting on efficiency over volume. My one “try to guess the coaching tendency” take here, is that in a game against the Chiefs, the Ravens might lean a little more heavily on Ingram as their most established back, knowing that even if they have a lead, no lead is safe against Patrick Mahomes. That’s just a guess and is backed by no data, but if Ingram projects to be very low owned, it’s not outrageous to want to overweight him.
In the pass game, the Ravens low-volume aerial attack starts with Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Brown is leading the team in both targets and air yards, with Andrews having more touchdown equity. As someone who likes to bet on volume rather than touchdown scoring, I’m going to prioritize Brown over Andrews (and both are a tier below Hill and Kelce, given that the volume for the Chiefs core two is much more bankable). The most interesting receiver on the Ravens, though, is Miles Boykin, who has led the team in snaps so far and is second on the team with nine targets. At just $3,400, he’s the cheapest full-time skill position player in this game by a wide margin with the exception of Demarcus Robinson; who as explored above, is a bad player and owes me an apology. Boykin should be very popular here as the best value play on a slate in which we desperately need value; exposure to Boykin is one of the most pivotal decisions on the slate. I think he’s a strong play, but it’s tough to want to go all-in on a volatile receiver on a low-volume offense at huge ownership. Willie Snead will be on the field a lot as well at a modest price, but as a slot receiver (who thus needs volume to rack up yardage) in a low-volume offense, he’s a pretty dodgy play unless he gets a touchdown. Past that, Nick Boyle is the next most viable play. Boyle has only seen two targets on the season so far, but he’s playing a lot of snaps, and I will always bias towards guys on the field. Or, take a shot on Devin Duvernay, who has a catch in each game for some decent yardage and could possibly find his way into the end zone.
The pricing on this slate is very challenging; Lamar at $13k and Mahomes at $12k. Expect to see both QBs highly owned with people making some dubious lineups to try to play them both (especially with one in the captain slot). More on this in rules…
The most likely way that this game plays out is the Ravens’ high-efficiency offense is able to put up points, and while the Chiefs struggled against the Chargers last week, the Chargers D is a very different beast than the Ravens. The Chargers have such a good pass rush with just four going after the QB and keeping seven men in coverage, while the Ravens achieve their pass rush success through very aggressive blitzing, which Mahomes has excelled against in his career. I don’t think the Ravens hold the Chiefs down here, and people might shy away a bit after seeing what the Chargers did last week. This game is likely to be a high-scoring back-and-forth affair, with Baltimore leading most (if not all) of the game and the Chiefs keeping it within a score most of the time. Some other ways the game could play out…
OTHER WAYS THIS GAME COULD PLAY OUT:
- I could be wrong about the Chiefs being able to keep pace. Mahomes hasn’t looked as good as usual in his first two games (yes, they put up 34 points against the Texans, but it was mostly on short passes and the run game). This feels like an unlikely outcome, but if the Ravens D can slow down the Chiefs, they could really control time of possession with their run-heavy attack and slow this game way down.
- Especially if the Chiefs can put up early, this can turn into more of a shootout. The thing that holds the Ravens skill position players back is volume, but if we get a real shootout, the volume concerns could go out the window. In this game environment, the Ravens run game loses value but their receivers shoot way up; imagine a Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown who were averaging 8-10 targets per game!
My favorite overall captain here, and I feel gross writing this, is…Miles Boykin. He’s unlikely to put up the highest score on the slate, but with so many expensive guys, he doesn’t need to; he just needs to put up the highest point-per-dollar score, which he is fully capable of doing. What you need for this to work is some combination of the expensive studs to all have strong games without one guy beating out the rest by a wide margin. He’s also one of the few captains that lets you afford both Lamar and Mahomes without completely hating the rest of your lineup (even though you probably still won’t love it). I’ll also want exposure to CEH and the top two receivers from each team.
SOME GROUPS TO CONSIDER:
- At most 1 kicker and at most 1 defense, as always
- Pair captain receivers 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)
- At most 1 of Mahomes and Jackson. This is a risky group; of course it’s possible that both could end up in the optimal, but after playing around building by hand, the lineups get pretty ugly if you try to use them both. I might do a few hand-built Boykin lineups with both but otherwise will probably use this rule.
- If Watkins plays, at most 2 of Watkins, Hardman, and Robinson
- At most 1 or 2 Ravens running backs (which rule is your choice; at most one is the play that gives you the best chance of winning, as it’s unlikely that two make it into the optimal, but it’s not impossible and using two will be very contrarian here if you’re willing to embrace that higher-variance approach)
- At most 1 of Andrews and Brown unless playing at least 1 of Hill/Kelce/CEH. It’s highly unlikely that both Andrews and Brown can really go off until the Chiefs are able to score and drive up the Ravens’ passing volume, which will very likely come through one of those three guys.
Want More Xandamere?
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- BAL’s 12 regular season opponents following the Peters trade have averaged just 13.8 pts/g
- BAL ranked 4th in pass efficiency defense in 2019, and rank 3rd in 2020
- BAL currently ranks 8th in pass rush win rate, while KC ranks 27th in pass block win rate
- Possibly to deal with this struggling pass blocking vs strong pass rushing lines of HOU & LAC, Mahomes has the 3rd lowest average intended air yds among all QBs (ahead of just Darnold & Brees) and the 5th quickest time to throw
- Mahomes ranks 4th worst in CPOE (NextGen), ahead of just Haskins, Wentz, Brees
- Despite all that, Mahomes is still averaging 256.5 yds, 2.5 TDs, 0 INT with games of 20.4 and 30.5 DK pts
- BAL has only allowed two games of 20+ DK pts to WRs since the Peters trade (Sanu & Crowder)
- Tyreek Hill’s only career game vs Marcus Peters was the 51-54 game vs LAR in which he produced 10 rec (14) for 215 yds, 2 TD, and in his only career game vs Marlon Humphrey he produced 8 rec (14) 139 yds
- Receivers vs BAL (2020): Odell (3 rec 22 yds), Landry (5 rec 61 yds), Cooks (5 rec 95 yds), Cobb (5 rec 59 yds)
- Tyreek Hill has finished above 60 rec yds in 24 of his 31 full games since 2018
- Travis Kelce received 8+ targets in 14/19 games last season, and has started 2020 with 6 & 14 targets
- TEs vs BAL (2020): Njoku (3 rec 50 yds, TD), Akins (7 rec 55 yds), Fells (2 rec 23 yds, TD)
- After just 5 TDs for Kelce in 2019, he already has 2 in two weeks of 2020
- In 2 games vs BAL with Mahomes, Kelce is averaging 7 rec (8.5) 83 yds, 0.5 TD
- Touches in the KC backfield: CEH (35 att, 10 tg), Williams (7 att, 3 tg), Thompson (4 att, 1 tg)
- After allowing a league-low reception total to RBs in 2019, BAL has held RBs to 7 rec for 31 yds in 2020
- CLE RBs found rushing room in Week 1 with 132 yds on 23 att, but David Johnson was held to just 34 yds on 11 att in Week 2
- In the 2019 matchup, BAL allowed KC RBs to produce 124 yds on 21 att
- KC currently ranks 17th in pass efficiency defense
- Since the start of 2018, Lamar Jackson has scored between 26-37 DK pts in 13/17 games
- Lamar was held to just 21.3 DK pts vs KC in 2019
- KC has already allowed two rushing TDs to Watson & Herbert
- Rushing vs KC: HOU (22 att 118 yds, 2 TD), LAC (43 att 175 yds, TD)
- KC allowed the most receiving yds to RBs in 2019, and so far in 2020 have allowed: DJ (32 yds), Ekeler (55 yds), Kelley (49 yds)
- BAL continues to throw very infrequently to its RBs, with Ingram’s 3 targets leading the backfield; (32 rec yds for Ingram in 2019 matchup)
- Marquise Brown’s 6 targets in both games has him leading the team in targets (Andrews & Boykin both with 9)
- KC has already allowed Fuller & Allen to produce 8 rec (10) 112 yds & 7 rec (10) 96 yds
- Andrews is participating on 82% of routes in 2020
- KC allowed the 5th most yards to TEs in 2019, and opened 2020 allowing 58 yds, TD to Akins/Fells and 83 yds to Henry