Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
The woeful Redskins take on the Vikings in another exciting island game matchup (seriously, what is with the island games this year?), with the Vikings 16 point home favorites in a 42 point total game. Yes, that means the Vikings have a 29 point team total and the Redskins are projected to score….13 points (and that might be a stretch). This game also has multiple important injury situations to pick through.
Let’s start with the Vikings’ run game and the obvious smash play: Dalvin Cook. As a 16 point home favorite, Cook is going to be the most popular play on the slate, and for good reason. But, it’s worth noting that the Vikings don’t really want to give Cook a massive workload; they usually keep him in the 21-23 touch range with an upside this season of 27. He’s clearly a smash play as a massive home favorite in a good matchup (Washington is 18th in run defense DVOA) with pass game involvement. He’s also $13,000, which is an absolutely massive price in a Showdown, so there is at least some merit in considering a fade and hoping the touchdowns go a different way. In blowout scenarios, rather than just continuing to feed Cook, the Vikings have handed reasonable workloads to backup Alexander Mattison. This has resulted in as many as 14 carries, though he only has 1 target on the season and would basically need a touchdown to pay off. In a real blowout scenario, though, a touchdown is not terribly unlikely, and it’s possible for Cook to smash early and then Mattison to grab another touchdown late, so they can both succeed together.
In the pass game, at the start of the week it looks more likely than not that Adam Thielen misses. If Thielen plays, the Vikings’ pass offense is what it always is: incredibly concentrated on Thielen and Stefon Diggs, with just scraps available for Kyle Rudolph at tight end and Bisi Johnson as the slot receiver, and with overall volume concerns in a run-first offense. Even in the last three games in which the Vikings have tried to pacify their star receivers by feeding them some volume, Kirk Cousins has only attempted 27, 29, and 34 passes. It’s hard to see the lowly Redskins forcing Minnesota to throw more than this. If Thielen is active, both he and Diggs are overpriced for the volume they are likely to see, though of course they both have very high ceilings. I would consider only having one, though, based on how hard it is to see them both getting the kind of volume that they need in order to truly smash.
If Thielen misses, things get more interesting. Remember that Thielen was injured very early, so we can look to last week for a decent idea of how the Vikings will use their pieces in his absence. They would clearly lean heavily on Diggs, and even at $11,000, a case could be made for him as the alpha receiver in an offense that seems fine ignoring its ancillary options and forcing the ball to its stars. Laquon Treadwell would be likely to take Thielen’s place on the outside and is just $3,800, though I believe it was Adam Levitan who likened Treadwell to an exceptionally unathletic 6th grader. Treadwell also barely played last week after Thielen was injured as the Vikings used more 12 personnel. I would be more interested in seeing some additional volume for Johnson. Slot receivers have blown up the Redskins defense thus far and Johnson saw eight targets last week after Thielen left the game. Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith saw six targets each last week as Minnesota used a lot of heavy sets, with Rudolph scoring his first touchdown on the season. We can’t know for sure how much of this was opponent-specific planning and how much was just how the Vikings would deploy their players without Thielen against any old opponent, but it’s fair to guess that Treadwell doesn’t have much of a role here — he’s been around the league for a while as a depth piece and he’s never really done much, and he’s not some exciting youngster waiting for a chance to shine. Johnson and the tight ends are much more exciting plays, though they’re also all priced up some to account for this.
On the Washington side, I generally don’t write up quarterbacks in a ton of detail because my opinion of them flows through their receivers, but I want to note that I think Case Keenum has a legitimate chance of being benched mid-game here. We’re at the midpoint of the season, the team is terrible, Keenum hasn’t had anything approaching a decent game since Week 3, and we know that at some point the team wants to get more of a look at Dwayne Haskins. Keenum is fine as a tournament play but I’m hesitant to ascribe the same level of floor to him as I normally do to a QB in showdown.
The Washington run game is going to be dictated by injuries. Adrian Peterson has both a high ankle sprain, a low ankle sprain, and a chronic condition of being old. He says he plans to suit up, but that double sprain sounds nasty. Chris Thompson missed last week and didn’t practice Tuesday, which likely means he’s on track to miss again. If both starting RBs miss, Wendel Smallwood is an absolute smash play as the only healthy RB left on the roster (though they’ll surely promote or sign some other scrub) at just $1,800. If just one of the other RBs misses, Smallwood is still a very strong play due to his price; normally Draftkings does a good job pricing up backups in injury situations, but they seem to have forgotten Smallwood. He’s a strong value play and a good candidate to fill in as your lone Redskin if you want to do a Vikings onslaught.
The Redskins’ pass game is kind of a mess. Terry “F1” McLaurin (vroom vroom) is a truly exciting young player who has excelled this season and this matchup is not particularly imposing for a wideout — the Vikings have allowed more catches than any secondary in the NFL, in part just due to the volume of passing they’ve faced, and McLaurin should see plenty of targets in this one. Beyond McLaurin, Paul Richardson has looked ineffective on the perimeter while Trey Quinn has been equally ineffective in the slot. Quinn is cheaper as a floor play but has never exceeded 50 receiving yards in his career, so the upside here is limited to say the least. Richardson has at least shown some ceiling, both in his career and earlier this season with an 8 for 83 day against the Bears. Jeremy Sprinkle should draw the start at tight end again with Vernon Davis likely to miss another game, but the Redskins just haven’t been using him like they did Jordan Reed and Davis in the past. There are a couple of other rotational receivers in Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims who may be on the field enough to get a target or two as a deep MME dart throw.
The most likely way for this game to play out is the Vikings should absolutely smash the Redskins. The hardest part of this showdown is really figuring out how to make the 5-1 onslaught lineups work given how priced up the Vikings are.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- I guess the Redskins could be more competitive? The Vikings are massive 16 point favorites, but from an odds perspective, that “only” gives them around 85-90% chances of winning this game. This is the NFL, weird things can happen (remember the Vikings losing at home to the Bills last year when they were favored by a similar amount?). Stranger things have occurred.
- More realistically, Dalvin Cook is going to be massively owned, and he should be. But, what if the Vikings end up scoring all of their early touchdowns through the air, and then Cook is pulled to rest while Mattison closes the game out? It’s possible to see Cook ending with something like 80 yards rushing and 2 catches for 15 yards, which at his price is nowhere near good enough.
That last point aside, my favorite captain is, obviously, Cook. Past that, though, I think the way to approach this slate from a large-field tournament perspective is from a contrarian angle, so I also like McLaurin, Johnson, and Mattison as captain plays. With the Vikings as massive favorites and also possessing such an incredibly condensed offense, there are going to be a LOT of duplicate lineups in this showdown, so I’m willing to go a bit off the board in search of a less likely game outcome.
Some rules to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- At most 1 of Thielen or Diggs (this is a tough group to think about because of how concentrated the Vikings’ offense is, but given the pricing on these two, it’s just hard to see them both smashing together with very limited pass volume; you could also consider applying this only in lineups in which one of them is in the captain slot)
- At most 1 of Richardson, Quinn, and Sprinkle
— 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(!).