XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 9 starts off with what projects to be a rather one-sided affair as the Eagles visit the Texans for a 45 total game with Philly favored by a whopping 14 points. That means Houston has just a 15.5 implied team total with Philly up at 29.5, so we can quickly see how the field is likely to be building. As an aside, this is a great week to play Thursday through Monday contests, as Philly’s massive team total is going to attract a lot of ownership, and while the Eagles are an awesome team, they have only put up a handful of GPP-worthy scores this season because they’re pretty quick to take their foot off the gas and pull their starters if they’re way up in the second half.
In the run game, the Eagles will primarily rely on Miles Sanders, backed up by Kenneth Gainwell, and then Boston Scott may get a handful of touches (Scott was also the one to clean up late in games if/when the Eagles pull starters). The matchup here is elite against a Houston defense that is dead last in DVOA against the run. The challenge for playing Eagles running backs is always volume as Miles Sanders has only seen over 20 carries in one game this year. He’s going to generally fall in the 15-17 carry range with 1-3 targets, which still gives him a strong projection in this elite matchup, but at $10.4k (his highest Showdown price of the season), Sanders is priced like a bell cow back, and he isn’t. Sanders is a reasonable play here, just recognize you likely will need him to get there on efficiency and touchdowns rather than volume. Behind him, Gainwell is seeing around 3-6 opportunities per game, but for a supposed passing down back, he only has nine targets on the year (and only one game of over two targets). At $5k, that really isn’t going to cut it for me. You can play him in MME and hope his workload ticks up or he scores a touchdown, but the whole “passing down back” role just doesn’t look very robust right now, possibly because of how the Eagles view Gainwell, or possibly just because the Eagles offense has been SO good that they haven’t found themselves in catch-up mode very often this year. I would prefer Scott to Gainwell, as their couches per game are pretty equivalent but Scott is $1,800 while Gainwell is $5,000. Gainwell has a slightly better passing game role, but you’re almost certainly going to need a touchdown for him to pay off, and Scott has very similar touchdown equity.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the primary receivers are AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, and Quez Watkins, with Zach Pascal mixing in a bit (some dude named Britain Covey got a few snaps last week and I suppose can be considered as an MME option at near-zero ownership). Brown, Smith, and tight end Dallas Goedert vacuum up most of the volume, with poor Watkins only averaging 1.5 targets per game, but he can house one from anywhere and can thus be considered as an MME option. Brown and Smith are both elite. Brown’s better but more expensive but both will be peppered with targets unless (until?) the game gets out of hand (i.e. if the game isn’t competitive, they’ll really have to get theirs on the way up in the first half). Goedert is my overall favorite pass-catching option on the Eagles when price is considered, as he’s only about one target per game behind Smith but comes in $1,600 cheaper. Goedert has just missed a couple of huge games, but it’s coming, and his price is attractive on a slate in which we have an $11.8k quarterback who we probably want to include in most of our builds. TE2 Jack Stoll is on the field a lot but primarily as a blocker with just four targets on the season, and he and rotational TE Grant Calceterra can be included in tourney pools. I also want to note something about Hurts himself: he only ran twice last game. That could just be an aberration because the Eagles absolutely dominated the Steelers from start to finish, but it would not surprise me if the Philly coaching staff is trying to hold Hurts back a little bit to avoid risking injury. They’re the only undefeated team in the NFL and they have clear Super Bowl aspirations, so in a game the Eagles should win handily, why risk your franchise quarterback on extra running plays? I also want to talk a bit about the Eagles defense, because they’re $7,000 (the second most expensive DST I can remember seeing in Showdown ever) and are likely to be very highly owned. The Eagles DST is extremely good. They’re one of the best in the NFL. But mega chalk defenses are really tough to play in Showdown because of the massive variance inherent in DST scoring. They’re a “good play” on paper and I won’t fault someone for playing them, but if you do, I strongly suggest you make sure your roster is clearly differentiated. For me, I’m just going to avoid them and hope they drag down ~40% of the field with a mediocre performance.