Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Set your alarms early if you’re playing this Showdown, especially if you’re a West Coaster like me. Vegas has this as a fairly close game, with the “road” Panthers installed as 2.5 point favorites in a 47.5 point total. These teams match up kind of strangely — the Bucs have an elite run D but vulnerable secondary, while the Panthers are vulnerable on the ground and but very hard to pass on. That means we have strength on strength matchups here as the Bucs’ vertical passing attack is ill-equipped to take advantage of the Panthers’ vulnerability on the ground, while Carolina’s best weapon is going to have a hard time getting much going against Tampa Bay’s defensive line.
When these teams met in Week 2, the Bucs absolutely stifled Christian McCaffrey, limiting him to 37 yards on the ground (2.7 yards per carry) and two catches on six targets. Now, that was with a Cam Newton who was visibly having significant challenges with his arm accuracy, missing Curtis Samuel on deep target after deep target in that game. I actually think Kyle Allen is more effective than a hurt Cam, which should help CMC, but there’s no getting around that the Bucs’ run defense is legitimately elite (1st in DVOA against the run by a pretty significant margin) and this is a brutal matchup. He’ll play just about every snap so if you play him you’re betting on volume and talent to triumph over matchup, but it’s hard to pay $13k for CMC when that is the most expensive running back we’ve seen in Showdown….ever (at least I’m pretty sure that’s correct, just off the top of my head).
The Panthers’ pass game has a much more attractive matchup. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel generally feel interchangeable to me — they aren’t used in exactly the same ways, with Moore averaging about two extra yards per reception, but their volume on the season is almost identical so I’m generally going to lean in the direction of whoever’s cheaper. At a $1,600 discount, Samuel wins for me in this one, though of course both have fantastic ceilings in this matchup. Greg Olsen also popped off for a nice 20 point game the last time these teams met in Week 2 (again, though, with Cam at QB). Olsen’s usage has trickled off the last couple of weeks (just 4 and 2 targets), which gives him a scary floor, and realistically he’s probably the number four option with Kyle Allen under center, but the matchup is fantastic and he’s on the field plenty. Everyone else is ancillary: Jarius Wright plays a ton of snaps but sees sporadic volume (and very short-distance targets at that).
The Bucs have a more challenging path to success, as while the Panthers have a capable passing game to take advantage of Tampa’s defensive weakness, the Bucs’ run game is both fairly mediocre and very fantasy-unfriendly, with Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber stuck in a timeshare (every time it seems Jones might be breaking out, it swings back Barber’s way, even though Jones is averaging over a full yard per carry more…). With Dare Ogunbowale sucking away a few targets each week it’s hard to bank on any of these guys succeeding, though if you’re entering tournaments you’ll certainly want some exposure to this group.
In the pass game, the monster breakout year continues for Chris Godwin, and once again he draws an attractive matchup against a Panthers’ pass defense that is strong on the perimeter but vulnerable in the slot. The God is, by far, the best receiver option on the Bucs. Mike Evans has a much tougher matchup on the perimeter against James Bradberry and doesn’t come at enough of a discount to Godwin to account for that, though of course his ceiling is always significant and he’s worth some exposure if you’re multi-entering. Other than those two, the team seems to have forgotten O.J. Howard exists (but so have most DFS players), Cameron Brate is basically a red zone-only weapon who has turned into one of the most touchdown-or-bust plays around, while Bobo Wilson and Scotty Miller split Brashad Perriman’s WR3 role last week and got a whopping four targets between them. You’re drawing fairly thin here. Howard is still playing a massive percentage of the snaps and I keep thinking it’s just a matter of time until he starts to smash like he did last year (seriously, what the hell happened to this guy?), but I can’t in good conscience strongly recommend him given how his target volume has just dropped off the face of the earth.
Vegas thinks this game stays relatively close. I’m generally not in the business of trying to outthink Vegas, but I just have a hard time seeing it. The Panthers’ offense matches up against the Bucs D much, much better than the other way around, and I think the Panthers should be more significant favorites. Of course, the Bucs’ vertical passing attack can put up points on anyone, but the way I see the game playing out in a most likely scenario is the Panthers being able to consistently move the ball through the air while the Bucs are forced to rely on a mediocre ground game and Chris Godwin.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- The Bucs could realize that their run game is their best chance to win and decide to commit to Ronald Jones as their better back (wouldn’t that be nice for us DFS players…)
- While the matchup is difficult, vertical passing attacks are inherently always dangerous. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs are able to put up some points quickly, forcing the Panthers to open up, and giving us a full-fledged shootout.
The captain choices here are difficult. Christian McCaffery has the highest raw points projection in the game, despite the difficult matchup, but he’s just so painfully expensive. My favorite captains in this one are Godwin and Samuel, with a smattering of Jones in case of the run-based scenario I described above.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- Pair captain receivers with their QB (you MAY want to consider avoiding this rule this time just because of CMC; if you pair Godwin with Jameis, for example, it’s awfully hard to then fit CMC in without putting you down in “complete punt” territory for the rest of your lineup)
- At most 1 of Jones and Barber
- At most 1 of Wilson and Miller
— 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(!).
(Note from JM :: Xandamere is currently in FIRST place through five slates in the King of the Showdown tournament. One slate remains!)
JM’s Original Notes for those playing Thursday-to-Monday Slates ::
- This is a matchup of strengths on strengths, as the Panthers are most effective when they can punish teams on the ground, while the Buccaneers rank first in DVOA against the run and second in yards allowed per carry; while the Buccaneers are most effective when they can attack through the air, but the Panthers rank fourth in DVOA against the pass and fourth in yards allowed per pass attempt.
- On the Panthers’ side, Christian McCaffrey is always in play, and he’s good enough that we really shouldn’t be scared off him just because he had an awful game when these teams met a few weeks back; but on the 14-game, full-weekend slate, he’s a guy to chase for the upside (while being willing to embrace a lower-than-normal floor), rather than being the absolute lock-and-load option he typically is. Working in his favor is his monstrous role, which should allow him to at least outperform his last game against the Bucs even if things break the wrong way again. This is also an excellent spot for Greg Olsen, Curtis Samuel, and D.J. Moore. Olsen — with Kyle Allen under center — is not quite in the Tier 1 mix, but he’s still one of the more solid tight end bets on the weekend, and the upside is there to make him worth chasing. Moore and Samuel come with lower floors given their inconsistent production with Allen under center, but each is very much in the tourney discussion for the ceiling this matchup provides.
- On the Bucs, Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber went back to splitting touches (again!) last week, but if you’re feeling frisky, the matchup is solid against a Panthers run defense that ranks 29th in DVOA and 24th in yards allowed per carry. Jones is the guy I would target if going here in tourneys. Of course, neither guy is safe for cash.
- Naturally, the best matchup through the air for the Bucs goes to Chris Godwin against a Panthers defense that can be attacked in the slot and doesn’t give up a whole lot elsewhere. Godwin is a solid floor/ceiling bet, with only “bad Jameis” potential introducing any serious risk.
- Mike Evans is always in the tourney conversation, even in difficult matchups; but this is a difficult matchup.