Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
The Texans visit the Saints in the Superdome in a game with a 52.5 total (too bad this wasn’t on the main slate!). The Saints are heavy home favorites; currently just shy of a touchdown. Unfortunately, Draftkings has chosen to make this Showdown a very small one, with just an 80k main tournament (vs. a 400k tournament for the Denver/Oakland game later the same night). But, we can still attack this game, and we can still try to find an edge so that we can do so profitably.
This game sets up in an interesting way. Both of these teams want to run the ball (Houston’s passing play percentage was 25th in the NFL last year, while only four teams ran less often than the Saints). But, both teams also possess elite run defenses, as they were two of the top three in run defense DVOA last season, and PFF projects them similarly this year. The Saints have a strong offensive line and are at home, so perhaps in this strength-on-strength matchup they can get something going, while Houston’s woeful offensive line does not bode well for their chances of establishing a run game in this one.
So both teams want to move the ball on the ground, but both are more likely to be successful moving it through the air. The Saints are likely to attack in a familiar way: primarily running and mixing in low-aDOT passes to Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and then a smattering of supporting-cast characters around them, with occasional deep shots to Ted Ginn or Tre’Quan Smith (Tre’Quan truthers should note that Ginn played about 2x the first team snaps in the preseason and is listed first on the depth chart).
The Texans are a bit more of a wildcard. With Lamar Miller hurt, they went and traded for Duke Johnson, who brings elite receiving skills to the table. They have Will Fuller back and healthy and also acquired Kenny Stills recently, who brings a similar deep-threat skillset to the table. Keke Coutee is listed questionable and looks like he’ll be a game-time decision. It’s impossible to know at this point just how the Texans plan to utilize all of these assets; will Duke be the primary RB and get a lot of pass game work, or will he be a third-down back behind newly-acquired Carlos Hyde? Will Stills play a heavy complement of snaps even though he only joined the team a little over a week ago? If Keke is active, is he really active and playing the full game or will he be on a snap count? There are a lot of questions on Houston’s side of the ball, and so I’m much more inclined to play tournaments in this one and avoid cash games.
The most likely way that this game plays out is that the Saints are able to move the ball effectively, not just via the run, but via their short-passing game that they mix in with their run game so effectively. Houston should struggle to run and resort to the pass, leaving Deshaun Watson scrambling to avoid the Saints’ ferocious pass rush behind his shoddy offensive line…but that’s something Watson has been doing successfully since he got into the league. DeAndre Hopkins should continue to be a massive target hog and is my favorite spend-up skill player. I love Kamara, but as a general rule I’m going to bet on volume over efficiency, and Kamara isn’t a 20+ touch back like you’d generally expect when paying over $10k. Michael Thomas, while one of the NFL’s best receivers, also has a startlingly low aDOT and thus needs a lot of volume in order to really smash (every single 30+ DK point game last year came on 13 or more targets, so MT is best deployed in lineups that build around the idea of a highly competitive game). If we get word that Keke Coutee is active and expected to play a full complement of snaps, he’s a solid bargain (if he’s not, DeAndre Carter becomes an interesting value play at $1,200). Kenny Stills has an uncertain workload but as a deep threat receiver at $3,600, he brings plenty of ceiling. On the Saints’ side, Ted Ginn is cheap for his ceiling and if Latavius Murray does indeed fall into the Mark Ingram role, he has a lot of TD equity at just $4k.
Other ways the game could play out include:
- The Texans get trucked, with Watson being unable to escape the Saints’ pass rush and get anything going offensively. 5-1 onslaughts are interesting to me here.
- We get a full-on Superdome Shootout, with the Texans perhaps scoring first and forcing the Saints to open up the playbook more aggressively than usual. This brings Michael Thomas to the forefront and makes Ginn (and perhaps even Tre’Quan) more interesting.
You should tailor your captain exposures to the game script that you’re building for, but overall DeAndre Hopkins is my favorite of the expensive captains as his volume is more certain than MT or Kamara. Watson himself is a viable captain choice — and though I normally avoid quarterback captains, Watson has sufficient rushing equity to put himself into the conversation. I’m also interested in Fuller, Ginn, and maybe even a bit of Stills as deep threat receivers who could all surpass 100 yards with a TD on just a couple of plays.
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 (Brees) or at least 1 receiver (Watson)
- At most 1 of Ginn and Tre’Quan
- At most 1 of Fuller and Stills
- At most 1 of Kamara and Murray (this one could be controversial as Kamara and Ingram smashed together multiple times, but Murray is not at Ingram’s talent level and the matchup here is so tough)
JM’s Note :: I’d likely lean Kamara to outscore Hopkins 60% of the time in this spot, which I mention simply as a balance against Xandamere, who seems to have that roughly flipped around. (Point being: it’s close! And since you’re likley building more than one lineup, I would advise including roster-build scenarios that bet on each of these guys.) As far as “likeliest scenarios for this game to play out,” I’m absolutely on board with what X laid out. One final note: as you get a couple guys onto your roster, make sure you are saying to yourself, “Okay, by putting this player on this roster, I am voting that I expect them to have a big game. So if this specific player does have a big game, what does that mean for other players in this game?” This is one of the sharpest ways to make sure your Showdown tourney rosters are as fully correlated as they need to be, and to clear out paths to the top of the slate.