Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
The first game of Week 5 looks exciting, as it boasts the second-highest total of the week, and the total has gone up a full point since it came out, from 48 to 49 with the Seahawks set up as 1.5 point home favorites. This game gets complex to pick apart when we start digging in to the Seahawks’ usage as well as their overall behavior on offense, while the Rams have a narrow usage distribution and fairly predictable offense but have experienced massive road struggles.
I’ll start with the Rams, since they’re both more predictable and because they’re going to control how this game plays out. What I mean by that is, the Seahawks run a pretty boring, slow-paced, run-heavy offense as often as they can, and they only really open things up and become more aggressive if their opponent forces them to by putting up points. The Rams’ run game has been more of a split than we’re used to seeing, with Todd Gurley hanging around the 75% snap percentage range in the past two weeks. Gurley has yet to exceed more than 16 carries or 20 total touches this year and his pass game involvement has swung wildly, with target counts of 1, 4, 1, and 11(!). It’s a bit hard to know what you’re going to get with Gurley — as long as the game stays close he should see 14-16 carries and 1-4 targets, and a multi-touchdown game is certainly within his range of outcomes. After scoring two touchdowns in Week 1, Malcolm Brown has mostly vanished, with 14 carries in the last three weeks and three total targets. Finally, just a matchup note: the Rams’ offensive line is less dominant than in years past, and while Seattle’s run D has only graded out as average so far they have the personnel to be highly effective and will almost certainly rank more highly by the end of the season than they do today.
In the pass game, as always, we only have to think about three Rams receivers (last week, in a game in which Goff threw a whopping 68 times, Josh Reynolds only saw two targets). Seattle’s defense filters targets to the middle of the field, so Cooper Kupp has the best matchup as well as the best usage and success this season — he’s my top play of the trio. Kupp also has 46 targets versus 38 for Robert Woods and 31 for Brandin Cooks. Woods is the intermediate guy who shoulds see 7-10 targets and be moved around the field, while Cooks will get his deeper shots. Cooks is, as (almost) always, the lowest floor option but with a nice ceiling and likely the lowest ownership of the three based on performance to date. At tight end the Rams maintain an almost even split between Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, with neither of them seeing enough volume to make a big yardage game likely. Both have healthy red zone roles, though Everett has the slight edge here (five RZ receptions this year compared to three for Higbee), and both will need a TD in order to pay off. It’s worth noting here that the big three WRs only have five total RZ receptions on the year — the same as Everett.
Seattle’s workloads are messier. Chris Carson played 55% and 76% of the snaps in two games without Rashaad Penny, handling 16 and 26 touches. That’s…quite a range, especially seeing as how about 50-55% of the snaps was what he was playing with Penny earlier in the season. Carson has also fumbled in three of four games, and that likely lost him some snaps in Week 3. Penny is scheduled to return this week, and that creates some significant floor risk for Carson — he’s more like a 14-16 carry, 2-4 target back than a 20+ touch guy, and there’s some risk that an early fumble could significantly decrease his workload. The Rams’ defense has also been above average against the run (though hardly elite, and that isn’t going to stop Seattle from being run-heavy; only the Rams putting up a lot of points can do that). Carson is a strong play but possibly a smidge overpriced with Penny returning, while Penny and even C.J. Prosise are viable MME plays who could luck into touchdowns or step into bigger-than-expected roles if Carson fumbles early and is benched.
The Seahawks’ pass game needs some digging into as it operated pretty smoothly in Weeks 1-3, with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Jaron Brown getting almost all of the snaps, though Brown was just out there running routes by himself as he only saw six targets in three weeks. David Moore came back in Week 3, however, and in Week 4 things went wacky: Metcalf and Brown each saw their snaps drop by about 20%, while Moore’s surged. Targets were 4, 3, and 2, respectively. So, behind Lockett, the wide receiver situation is awfully murky. Metcalf is averaging over 22 yards per catch but he’s only caught 10 out of 23 balls, so it makes sense that the Seahawks may want to scale him back a little bit. At the end of the day, all of these guys are going to require either this game to turn into a shootout or a long bomb in order to pay off, but they should each have at least one chance at a long TD in this game. At just $600, with his snaps trending up and coming off of a strong 2018, David Moore is my favorite overall play from this group, followed by Metcalf, and then Brown. Finally…Will Dissly. I missed on Dissly in Week 4 as I wasn’t interested in chasing a chalky tight end with poor measurables who was only playing a little over half the snaps, but after Nick Vannett was traded, Dissly’s snaps spiked to 79%. He also saw eight targets, the most he’s seen all year, and that came in a game in which Russell Wilson only threw 28 passes. Dissly is clearly becoming an important part of the Seahawks offense, but that said, without a ton of YAC ability he’s extremely unlikely to surpass 100 yards and he’ll need a touchdown in order to pay off. At $7,200, that’s a lot to spend for a guy who needs to get into the end zone in order to succeed.
The way that this game is likely to play out is for the home favorite Seahawks to try to run, run, run. The Rams are built to run as well, but are less likely to be successful; for them, the run helps to establish their pass game via play action. As long as this game stays within one or two scores, Seattle is unlikely to be highly aggressive and will happily just run all day (though it’s worth noting that, while Seattle tends to acquire yardage on the ground, they also tend to score through the air, with eight passing TDs vs. four rushing…and one of the rushing TDs being Russ himself). In this scenario you’re looking at the Seattle run game plus Russ, the Rams’ receivers, Goff, and the kickers as your core plays. Naked Russ is highly reasonable as he both has rushing ability and a tendency to hit random receivers for a touchdown but no other catches in the game, which is not enough to push that receiver into the optimal lineup in most cases.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- If the Rams can really get their play action game going strong they could move the ball effectively through the air, which also further opens up the ground game. A real shootout is a possibility here, and if the Rams unexpectedly get up by a couple of scores, we could see a 35-40 pass attempt game for Russ instead of a 25 to 30 attempt game. Keep in mind here that based on how the Rams play, every touchdown coming on the ground is an entirely viable possibility here; don’t discount Gurley in builds that are predicated on a shootout.
- Goff has been legitimately horrible on the road in his career, as well as pretty awful in his past dozen or so total games. Last week it took him 68(!!) pass attempts to notch two passing touchdowns. The Rams’ D should keep them in this game, but it is entirely possible that Goff is just unable to keep any consistent offense going.
My favorite captains in this game are Russ and Kupp. This is odd for me as I’m normally not a QB captain guy, but the way the Seahawks spread the ball around mean it’s more likely than normal for Russ to have a big game without one of his receivers outscoring him (his rushing ability doesn’t hurt here, either). Russ, in fact, has outscored both Lockett and Metcalf every single week so far (Dissly beat Russ in Week 4). I will also want to be overweight on Gurley at captain, which I think won’t take much total allocation — it’s not the most likely outcome, but there are certainly viable paths to Gurley putting up the highest score in this game.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers (perhaps 1 for Russ if you think he runs one in)
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- At most 1 of Lockett and Carson (I might not do this in 100% of builds, but I will in some, as their paths to big games are very different; could also consider no Lockett in Carson captain builds and vice versa)
- At most 2 of Metcalf, Moore, and Brown
- At most 2 of Carson, Penny, and Prosise
Cash game thoughts: well, the standard formula works price-wise in this one! It doesn’t work with Russ at captain, though, and you’ll have to evaluate your level of comfort playing Gurley vs. someone like Kupp or Lockett.
— 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 second place through two slates in the King of the Showdown tournament, so shoutout to him there! I also had my first big tournament night in my third ever Showdown slate on MNF using Xandamere’s tourney approach. Let’s get it!!!!)