As always, the NFL Regular Season seemed to fly and it's hard to believe that the NFL Playoffs are already here. This is also the time of year with the limited games, the Showdown Slates will become more and more popular. I will post articles for the Showdown Slates during the playoff weeks. As of Thursday morning, the only game is Seattle-Dallas. I will add to this if more showdown slates are added.
Friday Note: Showdowns for all four games are now posted. I'm only going to include a big write-up for Philadelphia-Chicago, as that is the Sunday featured game. Notes on other two games are below:
Indianapolis vs Houston
It's going to be hard to get all the chalky passing game options into this game (Watson, Luck, Hilton, and Hopkins). Unless you punt the captain spot (hasn't worked yet this year), you can't fit all four in. Hilton may be the strategic fade here if you think he will be limited by his injury. Hopkins was quiet against the Colts a few weeks ago. I really do like the Colts tight ends, both Ebron for the pricy option, and even Bennett Karroll's favorite: Mo-Alie Cox. The Texans do struggle against the tight end position, so rolling with one or even both is viable. With no Ryan Grant and questions about Hilton's health, I think looking at Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, and Dontrelle Inman are worth considering. For Houston, I can see Keke Coutee and DeAndre Carter being popular. Both are fine, but may be worthwhile fades. Any of the Houston tight ends are also viable punts. I don't mind the Colts defense, due to upside of sacks. Both kickers are ok, but nothing I'm going out of my way to play. Finally, I didn't mention the running backs for a reason. Both teams are good against running backs. Based on 4-game slate ownership, Marlon Mack looks to be very popular, and I'll pass on him at 8,200. If you must have a RB, I prefer either Alfred Blue cheap, or Nyheim Hines with his pass-catching ability.
L.A. Chargers vs Baltimore
I don't like a lot in this game. Both defenses certainly are in play and since DK doesn't really price up kickers, Justin Tucker is a great value. Outside of that, if you have a strong take on either offense, go with it. For me, I think Baltimore sets up pretty easily here: Lamar Jackson, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon. I prefer Dixon of the running backs due to his pass-game ability. Lamar Jackson should be in your lineups, simply due to his high rushing floor. John Brown would be the WR dart throw if you want, and any of the TEs (Andrews and Hurst) would be preferred. For the Chargers, I have some interest in Mike Williams, as the Ravens were getting beat a week ago by receivers like Antonio Callaway and Breshad Perriman. Melvin Gordon should be fine from a floor perspective, and if playing both defenses, fits that lineup build nicely. Keenan Allen should be ok; just seems too expensive for me. I didn't have anyone else until I asked Ravens fan Phil Backert who he liked from this game. He mentioned that he expects the Ravens to blitz a lot and that Austin Ekeler may be in line for a lot of work. Ekeler missed the first game, and when I look back at that game, Justin Jackson did have 10 targets, catching 7. No one is talking about Ekeler (I didn't on the podcast I did with Michael), but Phil's reasoning here makes complete sense as Rivers may not have time to look downfield and will pass to the running backs. If Ekeler does see this same production as Jackson did a couple weeks ago, and wins you money, drop Phil a thank you note. If not, blame me. Hunter Henry is a risk, but the Ravens' weakness against tight ends combined with Henry's talent does make him worth considering at 2200.
In the Regular Season, Chicago was #2 DVOA vs the Rush and #1 vs the Pass. Against individual positions, Chicago was #1 against WR1s, 5th against WR2s, 5th against Other WRs, 3rd against TEs, and 10th against Pass-Catching RBs.
After that intro, who's ready to fire up the Eagles offense? Nick Foles (10,000) has only one game above 20 points: and that was against Houston. His worst game was in his first back against the Rams, where he only scored 10 fantasy points against the 9th ranked DVOA pass team. While his floor of 10-15 points may play in this game, I just think the price is too high. The running back position remains a 3-way split. I have no interest in Josh Adams (2,400) as he does very little in the pass game and the Bears are quite stingy against the run. Darren Sproles (4,800) is my favorite option here, as he has led this backfield in snaps the past two weeks. Like what Phil mentioned about Austin Ekeler, Foles may not have a lot of time to throw, forcing him to throw to the running backs. Wendell Smallwood (2,200) was a mid-week addition to the injury report, so if he misses, that could lead to more targets for Sproles. I don't have interest in Smallwood, even if he plays.
One area that the Bears do give up some production is on the outside. I don't really remember any tight end going off so I'm likely to fade Zach Ertz (10,200) who also shows some extreme home/road splits that do not favor him on the road. Instead, I'll have some interest in the revenge-game narrative for Alshon Jeffery (8,400), who does have four straight double-digit fantasy point games in a row. We saw Foles target Jeffery a lot in the playoffs last year, so I would have some confidence rostering him. Nelson Agholor (5,600) has put up 20+ fantasy points the past two weeks. He seems to be the #2 WR, outsnapping and outproducing Golden Tate (5,400). I wonder if he may be popular due to the past two weeks and this feels like it could be chasing points. However, getting to 2x of 11.2 points is possible. I'm neutral on it. I have minimal interest in the Eagles Defense (3,200), as Trubisky can throw a couple of errant passes at times. I don't see myself going here though, and don't want Jake Elliott (3,000), as Solider Field isn't the best kicking environment to kick in.
Possible Captains: Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles, Nelson Agholor
In the Regular Season, Philadelphia was 9th in DVOA vs the Rush and 15th vs the Pass. Against individual positions, Philadelphia was 15th against WR1s, 22nd against WR2s, 15th against Other WRs, 7th against TEs, and 24th against pass-catching RBs.
Mitch Trubisky (11,000) has not been producing as much recently as he did in the middle of the season. He hasn't gone over 20+ points since Week 10. His big games though this season have tended to come at home. He may be fine from a floor perspective, but unless he starts running more, I think he has limited upside. My favorite play in this game is Jordan Howard (7,000), who is nearing 20 carries a game in recent weeks. While the Eagles have a good rushing DVOA, they do allow 4.67 yards a rush, with most of this coming in December. Howard seems to be getting used more as the weather has gotten colder. The Eagles have struggled against pass-catching backs, putting Tarik Cohen (8,600) into play. He hasn't had the big game as of late, but with a couple of double-digit target games this season, his upside is alway enormous.
It's hard to figure out what receiver will be the most productive for the Bears, as they spread the ball all over the place. Allen Robinson (7,600) has averaged 8 targets a game the past four weeks. The Eagles have done well to limit receivers as of late, so Robinson would be the ok with his floor. Taylor Gabriel (6,400) and Anthony Miller (4,600) aren't seeing some of the targets that they did earlier this season. I am not on either one, and would rather play Agholor at this same price range. Trey Burton (6,000) has been seeing close to 6 targets a game lately, but the Eagles are solid against the TE. If you like revenge game narratives though, he may fit here and would be my prefrred second receiving option for the Bears, over Miller/Gabriel. The most popular play may be the Bears Defense (5,000) with this being a low scoring game, and their pass rush and ability to force turnovers allowing them to score plenty of fantasy points. Cody Parkey (3,600) doesn't have more than 7 points the past four games and Soldier Field isn't a place I want to take kickers in.
Possible Captains: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Bears Defense
In the Regular Season, Dallas was 5th in DVOA vs the Rush and 16th vs Pass. Against individual positions, Dallas was 6th against WR1s, 3rd against WR2s, 22nd against Other WR, 19th against TEs, and 26th against Pass-Catching Running Backs.
This is not the best offensive slate or game we have seen all year. Seattle is the value here, as the highest priced player is Russell Wilson (9,800), who has been two points better on the road than at home this season. In the first matchup, he only had 15.58 points, which isn't the 2x we want. However, in this game, his ceiling and floor combination below 10k is hard to pass on. The 23 yards he averages rushing per game just helps with the floor and the fact that Dallas is a little more generous against the pass has me intrigued. I am a fan of Chris Carson (9,400) in general; just not this week. People will notice he went for 23.4 points in the first matchup; but it took 32 carries to get just over 100 yards, and he saw 74% of the snaps that week. I don't see a repeat of either as I think we will see more Mike Davis (2,600) this time around. The past four weeks, Davis is seeing about 40-45% of the snaps, compared to the 50-55% for Carson. The fact that Davis is the pass-catcher of the two, which is the better matchup against Dallas, and is 6,800 cheaper makes Davis an obvious play for me. Rashaad Penny (1,600) has seen minimal touches recently, and playing him is hoping he gets used more or gets some goal-line work. I can't justify it, especially with Davis being very underpriced for his role and matchup, and it only costing us 1,000 more.
I don't know what to do with the receivers here. Doug Baldwin (8,200) has shown some flashes of upside recently, like what we have seen in past years. Tyler Lockett (7,400) has been efficient with his touches, and consistently averaging around 15 points a game. The problem is Dallas was Top 10 against #1 and #2 WR for a team this season, and have shut down some good offenses. Lockett did score in the first meeting while Baldwin missed the game. Lockett is my preferred receiver here, but I don't think you have to play either one. David Moore (2,400) and Nick Vannett (1,200) are viable punt plays, where you are hoping for a touchdown or random spike in volume. But, I like Mike Davis much more if considering a sub-3k Seahawk. The Seattle Defense (3,600) could be in play, as Dallas has allowed the second most sacks this season. Seattle had 5 sacks in the first matchup and the 15 fantasy points they put up was their second best performance. I would much rather take them than Sebastian Janikowski (3,000), who hasn't gone over 11 fantasy points in a game this season.
Possible Captains: Russell Wilson, Mike Davis, Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin
In the Regular Season, Seattle was 17th in DVOA vs the Rush and 13th vs the Pass. Against individual positions, Seattle was 25th against WR1s, 20th against WR2s, 10th against Other WRs, 10th against TEs, and 13th against Pass-Catching RBs.
While I don't mind Seattle's defense due to ability to create sacks and possibly turnovers, I don't think of them as the elite defense that we have seen in past years, or the top defense that many people still think of them as. Dak Prescott (10,000) has been four points better at home, though his worst home outing was against Seattle, where he only scored 10.82 points. Things have changed since then for Prescott; he's not running as much but his receiving options are better. I do think he has decent upside here, and 10k is a pretty good price for a QB, especially one who could run if he chose to. The big question is what to do with Ezekiel Elliott (12,400). The matchup is neutral, but Zeke can certainly take advantage, as shown in Week 3, where he had 127 rushing yards, and did see 8 targets (only caught 3). From a floor perspective in this game, I don't think you can avoid him. However, making him Captain severely limits your ability to roster many other big time names. In my initial build, he is not my captain; but if you feel confident in 2-3 values, it can be done. He's the must-roster player in this game.
The name that may go a little overlooked is Amari Cooper (10,400). People will want to roster Zeke more than Amari, but we've seen some huge games from Amari at home, and Seattle is poor against #1 WR. Amari's single-digit outputs from the past three games and history of duds will keep people off of him; however, we know he should see the most targets of anyone for Dallas, and is a fine spend, if you can afford him. Instead, I think people will look at Michael Gallup (5,200) or Cole Beasley (5,000). I prefer Beasley of the two, as he's seeing a few more targets than Gallup. Gallup is probably more of the big play guy, and there is definitely merit in rostering both receivers. Blake Jarwin (4,800) will get attention after his big Week 17. This feels like a classic case of chasing points, and Seattle is decent against the TE position. Jarwin is a pass for me. The Dallas Defense (3,800) is probably not in play for me, though Seattle does give up over 3 sacks a game. The problem is that Wilson only had 7 interceptions this year. If wanting to play a defense, I would rather play Seattle. Brett Maher (3,200) is in play, as he's averaging 10.6 points at home this season. He had 9 in the first matchup and anytime I can get around 10 points from a kicker at this price range, I'm considering it.
Possible Captains: Ezekiell Elliott, Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott.