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!
Sunday Night Football should be exciting, as the Eagles visit the Falcons for one of the highest total games of the week. The game total is 51.0 with Philly as short road favorites, around -1.5 to -2 depending on where you look. It’s going to make for an interesting Showdown because we have a high total game, but the Eagles are just really tough to figure out as they have so many different weapons both in the run and the pass game. Atlanta is a bit easier to solve for, and thus I think the clearest path to attack this Showdown is by focusing on the narrower volume distribution of the Falcons while mixing in Eagles in a multi-entry strategy.
On Atlanta’s side the wide receiver trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu are supported by Austin Hooper at tight end as, basically, full-time players and the core of the offense. The only other receiver I would consider, even in multi-entry, is Justin Hardy, as he can rack up a bit of actual usage to go along with his backup snap counts (5 targets last week). At home, in a dome (where Matt Ryan has always had significant career splits), against the Eagles’ patchwork secondary, I’m looking to take advantage of the Falcons’ passing game matchup and relatively narrow distribution of targets.
Julio is the clear alpha, with Ridley possessing solid ceiling and Sanu having a somewhat respectable floor. Hooper is on the field a ton and has seemingly random spikes in volume and success that are difficult to predict, though this is certainly a good matchup for him to succeed.
Atlanta’s run game is trickier to dissect. A lot of people, myself included, expected Devonta Freeman to see a spike in workload after Tevin Coleman left in free agency and Ito Smith was so ineffective last year; but in Week 1, Freeman and Smith split snaps exactly down the middle. This was in a game in which Atlanta fell behind early, but Freeman is the superior pass catcher. That said, Atlanta seemed to rest Julio a bit later on, so perhaps it was just acknowledgement of not wanting to use their primary back who had missed almost all of last year with injury in a matchup they were going to lose. I’m not sure which it is, but what I can say is it’s hard to feel safe with Atlanta’s running game. The matchup is terrible on the ground and the usage split makes it hard to trust Freeman’s workload, though the prices ($7k for Freeman and just $2,400 for Ito) make them bargains relative to their ceiling even if you can’t trust their floors.
The Eagles are a bit trickier. Nelson Agholor played 80% of the snaps in Week 1, which I did not expect to find, but he didn’t see very many targets, which I did expect. I would rank the primary receivers in this offense as Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery, with Agholor, Dallas Goedert, and the running backs as secondary targets. The problem is, the usage of any of them is tough to predict on a week to week basis. D-Jax led the team with nine targets in Week 1, but I would bet against that continuing (though he always brings big-play upside to the table, and this is not a criticism of D-Jax’s ability but more noting how unpredictable the Eagles’ volume is). We would like to attack the Falcons with running backs who get pass game usage, which means Darren Sproles and Miles Sanders. In Week 1, with the Eagles chasing from behind, Sanders led the backfield in both snaps and touches, though without a lot of success on the ground while Sproles was the most effective back. Both are viable in tourney play.
[ 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 first thing I noticed about this matchup is it’s hard for me to make a cash lineup that I feel comfortable with due to the unpredictable usage in both backfields. I don’t think it’s necessarily suboptimal to be playing cash in this Showdown, and I’m still going to futz around and see if I can find something I like, but the basic formula that I normally try to employ here doesn’t really fit. I’m not sure just yet but I might just end up skipping cash in this one and playing only tournaments.
The most likely way for the game to play out….is hard to figure out. Both teams should put up points. The Eagles are likely to have things fairly well spread out and should be able to find success both on the ground and in the air, though that doesn’t necessarily help us identify who is likeliest to be successful. If we played this game out 100 times, I think Ertz and then Alshon would be the top two pass catchers the highest percentage of the time due to their large red zone roles, but D-Jax would put up some ceiling games, and the rest of the receivers would get into the mix from time to time. Personally, I think D-Jax’s big Week 1 will result in him being a little overowned here, so if I’m taking a stand somewhere, he’s the one I’m going to be lighter on.
Atlanta is likely to have a hard time moving the ball on the ground but a relatively easy time through the air, with Julio the main focus of the offense. Keep in mind, though, that the Eagles will focus disproportionate coverage on an opponent’s best weapon from time to time (remember last year vs. the Saints when they double teamed both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara all game and TreQuan Smith went absolutely bonkers on them). It’s easy for me to imagine a scenario in which the Eagles bracket Julio all game and try to force the Falcons to beat them with their ancillary weapons.
Overall, this game is likely to be a high-scoring, aerial shootout — and given how cheap many of the skill position players are, kickers and defenses are less likely than usual to matter, as they have to outscore an awful lot of different receivers and running backs who are similarly priced in order to be relevant.
Other ways the game could play out:
- Yardage could come in the air but scoring on the ground. I always say to never discount the value of a two-down back with goal line work in Showdown, and Jordan Howard is likely to be extremely low owned here. If Howard punches in a pair of goal line scores, he’s going to be a necessary play at extremely low ownership.
- When everyone expects a shootout, it always makes sense to think about ways the game could, well…not shoot out. Not every projected shootout ends up materializing, and a slower-paced game could play out in a variety of ways, from the Eagles’ offense stumbling on the road (it took them a while to get going in Week 1, after all) to Philadelphia’s pass rush hammering Matt Ryan all day long.
- Finally, given how cheap many of the plays in this game are, recognize that this is a really good opportunity to get away from ownership by maxing some lineups that don’t spend all of your salary. This is almost always the case in Showdown, but I would argue it’s even more so here, as you can make some strong lineups without spending all your salary.
The “best” captain choice on paper is Julio Jones, who will also be the highest owned. Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz are reasonable choices, though the data says that QB captain tends to be overowned relative to its likelihood of being in the optimal lineup. Ertz is my favorite captain on the Eagles (Alshon doesn’t rack up enough yardage to have much of a shot at a truly monster score), and I will also take some shots at the ceilings of D-Jax and Ridley.
Some groups to consider:
- At most one of the four kickers + defenses (as I mentioned above, the plethora of cheap skill players makes it unlikely that more than one of these positions would outscore all of the skill player options)
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- Pair captain QBs with at least two receivers
- At most one of Freeman and Ito
- At most two of Howard, Sanders, and Sproles (you could consider one here if you really want to narrow it down, but given their prices, I could see two of them scoring TDs and being optimal this week)
JM’s original notes for those building Thursday-to-Monday rosters that include this game ::
- Julio Jones and Matt Ryan can be considered in both cash games and tourneys of all sizes, as both are in the conversation for “top raw score at their position” at home, in a good matchup, in a likely back-and-forth affair.
- Devonta Freeman has a terrible matchup on the ground, and is unlikely to fully take advantage of the Eagles’ funnel tendencies to running backs through the air, making him a lesser bet on the big slate unless you want to just hope luck breaks his way.
- Calvin Ridley and (to a lesser extent) Austin Hooper could be considered in large-field play in this spot, as each does have upside in this game environment. I would leave all other Falcons alone on the 16-game slate.
- Carson Wentz can also be considered in all types of contests — with the one caveat, of course, being that it’s tougher to know who to pair him with. He carries a high individual floor and ceiling this week.
- There is nothing that stands out for any of the individual pass catchers on the Eagles, though it’s likely that one or possibly even two of them has a strong game, making them viable for game stacks in tourneys (especially large-field tourneys).
- The Eagles’ backfield is just a total dart throw at the moment, and there is really no justification for going here on a 16-game slate unless you want to just hope you guess right (better to wait for the Showdown to try to target this backfield) — but it won’t be crazy to see one strong score emerge from this group.