DraftKings has launched a new innovative product called the DraftKings Showcase that allows us to finally play DFS on a one-game slate while also selecting defensive players. The way that this contest is setup is that you select four offensive players which can be any position (QB, RB, WR, TE) and two defensive players which can be any position (DT, DE, LB, CB, S). This can lead to a big edge with this being the first week that these contests are out as there is a general lack of information out there regarding these contests.
This week's contest is the matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.
DraftKings Showcase Scoring
The key thing when looking at the scoring table below is that the offensive scoring is the exact same scoring system that we are used to. From a defensive standpoint, this scoring system rewards big plays such as sacks, and pass defended and downplays the impact of a tackle unless you can get to eight tackles.
|Passing TD||4||Solo Tackle||1|
|25 Passing Yards||1||Assisted Tackle||0.5|
|300+ Yard Passing Game||3||8+ Tackle Bonus||3|
|Rushing TD||6||Forced Fumble||3|
|10 Rushing Yards||1||Fumble Recovery||3|
|100+ Yard Rushing Game||3||Sack||5|
|Receiving TD||6||Pass Defensed||1.5|
|10 Receiving Yards||1||Safety||10|
|100+ Yard Receiving Game||3||Interception Return TD||6|
|Reception||1||Fumble Return TD||6|
|Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD||6||Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD||6|
|Fumble Lost||-1||Blocked Kick Return TD||6|
|2 Pt Conversion (Pass, Catch, or Run)||2||Blocked Kick||10|
|Offensive Fumble Recovery TD||6||2 Pt Conversion Return||2|
We are going to focus a majority of the article on the defensive strategy of the Showcase contests, as overall the scoring and strategy is the exact same as normal DFS.
Breaking down the pricing:
The pricing is different than normal contests as in these contests you are not going to see the same high scoring and same value thresholds that you may be used to in normal contests. The reality is that for these games, somewhere between 75-100 points which is 1.5-2x you are going to be very competitive in a game like this. The reason for this is that there are simply less possible players in a one-game contest, and the pricing is much different than a typical contest as the elite offensive players are priced much higher than what you may be used to seeing.
How to spend your salary in these contests?
With this being the first week of these contests, determining how to spend your salary in this format is going to be critical regarding success in these contests. If you aren’t familiar with playing with individual defensive players, middle linebackers typically have the highest floor due to accumulating the most tackles, but often have the lowest ceilings when compared to other positions due to scoring being weighted heavily towards big plays (sacks, interceptions)
Since this is a one-game slate evaluating players what you need to do is evaluate the potential options on each side of the ball to determine scarcity within positions. The reality is that the average offense will have between 4-6 potential players that can be used in this format where as the defense in theory all 8-10 players likely can be justified on a given defense at any time. What this means is that you likely want to pay up for elite offensive players while you do not need to spend up at the top-end defensive player.
Below is an analysis which shows the scarcity in the tiers in offensive players compared to defensive players.
Offensive players- There are only 10 players who meet the criteria that of 1x value or greater. If you are new to DFS, what this means is that if you divide a players salary by 1,000 to get to 1x means you get to his exact salary. For example, Alvin Kamara is $13,600 for him to reach 1x value on this slate he would need 13.6 points. 1x by no means is the standard that we want to achieve as for this contest we will likely want to hit 1.5-2x per player to have a winning roster. Of the ten players who have met the 1x minimum criteria nine of them are in the top ten in terms of salary, this shows that the further down you go in salary there is less value that is likely to be available. Since offensive players on average are going to score more points than a defensive player paying up for offensive players seems like the way to go, unless there is a player that is either under-priced or has created a new position due to a role increase
Offensive players to be considered-
|RB||Mark Ingram II||11500|
|WR||Ted Ginn Jr Jr.||8700|
Defensive players- On the defensive side of the ball, there are a lot more options to choose from if we use the same 1x threshold as there are 18 players who meet that same 1x price-per-dollar threshold. This ultimately means there are spots that if we spend down we can still find players who are going to hit a value threshold.
Defensive players to be considered-
By now, if you are reading this you likely have a pretty good grasp of what players to take on offense and how to maximize the most amount of points. However, if you are not an IDP season-long player or you are not a defensive guru, the last two roster spots are likely a complete mystery for you. How do you evaluate which positions to take? The reality is if you look at the stats, tackles are going to be the most consistent, but players that get the most tackles often have the least upside as they are not involved with rushing the passer as much.
Which players should you use? That is largely a question that is based on the contest that you are joining. Below is a chart which shows the average price for players above $3,000 in salary and their average points per game. What this shows is that the defensive ends actually score the highest amount of points followed closely by the safeties. For cash games, players that will be getting tackles such as linebackers and safeties are likely the safest, but cornerbacks or defensive tackles can provide upside in a GPP tournament.
Average Points per Game
Defensive Linemen- The True Value of Snap Counts-
Look at snap counts for defensive linemen as defensive linemen often rotate as teams line up in either a base defense or a nickel/dime defense. You want defensive linemen who are on the field for passing downs as possible as this will ultimately give them more opportunities for sacks.
The two players who stand-out here are Kawann Short and Cameron Jordan who are both on the field for almost every passing snap which providesfor opportunities for them to get both tackles and sacks, whereas a defensive lineman who is on the field for just rushing plays or passing plays is relatively limited.
Contest Selection Cash Game-
One huge tip this week is this if you are playing cash games, build your lineups and save your lineups within DraftKings, but wait until after the Sunday afternoon game has started and then join your cash games. The reason for this is that you are likely going to be matched up with people who have not done as much research and will simply join a contest because it is the only thing left for them to join that day.
Overall Assessment Before We Get to Picks-
This contest seems like a very unique way to play football and we are very excited about it. Having the IDP season-long expertise, we can apply that towards these types of contests. It seems DraftKings is evaluating this as a test moving forward, so we highly suggest that everyone give this a chance and provide feedback to DraftKings as this is a very fun contest where you can sit in front of a television and watch one single game while still having some fantasy interest in the game.
Offensive Players to Consider
Drew Brees- $13,200 (Cash or GPP)- Ultimately you are going to want to take at least one of these two quarterbacks in this game. The reality of the situation is that picking on the Panthers weak secondary seems to be the way to go on this slate as the Panthers are allowing the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks at 20.8 DraftKings points per game including 305 yards passing per game. Drew Brees is averaging 285 yards passing at home this season and seems to be in a tremendous spot this week.
Alvin Kamara- $13,600 (Cash or GPP)- Alvin Kamara has really played only one-game against the Panthers as the first time these two teams played, Kamara was not the Alvin Kamara that we have come to know and trust as this was back in week three and Kamara had only five touches in that game. In the two teams most recent outing, Kamara tore this defense apart as he had 29.6 fantasy points led by two rushing touchdowns, five receptions and 126 total yards (66 receiving, 60 rushing). This is a tremendous opportunity for Kamara to have a big game as the Panthers still have a solid front-seven so the Saints will look to beat this defense laterally through the short passing game which sets up well for Kamara.
Jonathan Stewart- $5,500 (Cash or GPP)- Jonathan Stewart is a lock and load for cash games this week as he is really the only value play on the slate and he guarantees your team somewhere between 14-18 carries on the ground and would likely get the goal line carry if the Panthers have that opportunity. The way to beat the Saints is on the ground as they allow the fifth-highest yard-per-carry at 4.4 YPC to opponents on the season and the reality is that you are going to need to save money somewhere on this slate. Stewart is the perfect player to do this.
Cam Newton- $13,200 (GPP)- Cam Newton has really struggled over his last few games and you have to wonder if there is an injury that we do not know about whether it is the shoulder or something else. Over his last two games, Newton has thrown for an average of 170 yards and thrown only one touchdown while throwing four interceptions. He’s still running the ball as he had 55 yards per game rushing in these two contests, but if he is not scoring touchdowns whether through the air or on the ground it is tough to trust him. This is a very difficult matchup going up against a very good secondary for the Saints, so expect Newton if he has success to have it on the ground rushing.
Michael Thomas- $12,400 (Cash or GPP)- We mentioned how much we liked this passing game earlier when we discussed Drew Brees earlier in this article and how bad the Panthers secondary has been recently. With this being the case, Michael Thomas is an ideal target in this game.
Defensive Player Selections
Luke Kuechly- $6,700 (Likely Fade) Kuechly is the safest play on the board this week as he is likely going to have the most tackles in this game. The problem for Kuechly is the price. At $6,700 you are going to have to make sacrifices when it comes to lineup construction and for him to hit a great value, you are going to need a sack, interception or fumble which while he is a tremendous run-stopping linebacker he has only two sacks on the season. If you can find four offensive players that you like, this matchup is intriguing, but one that is a high risk cash game play.
Cameron Jordan- $5,300 (GPP)- Jordan does not have the floor that Kuechly does, but does have a nice upside in this game. Jordan who has 13 sacks on the season is the most likely amongst anyone in this game to get a sack and has nine or more fantasy points in nine games this season. One issue for the superstar pass rusher this week is that he going up against a very good offensive line in Carolina as offensive line guru Matt Bitonti has them ranked as his fourth overall offensive line.
Vonn Bell- $4,400 (Cash or GPP) With Kenny Vaccaro placed on injured reserve, Vonn Bell will likely mix between matching up with Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen. This is a very good spot for Bell who is largely underpriced. Bell has three games over his last eight weeks where he has nine or more tackles which from a player who is $4,400 and will be a huge factor in shutting the run game down in this game.
Marcus Williams- $4,100 (Cash or GPP if playing without Bell)- An interesting strategy in this game would be to take both Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams at the safety position for the Saints in cash games. The reason for this is simple, Manti Te'o and Craig Robertson are not great and could funnel a lot of the tackle opportunities to the safeties. The Panthers are going to try to take advantage of the run game in this one so look for Williams to have a big tackle game in this one.
Kurt Coleman- $4,300- (Cash)- Coleman is primarily a run-stopping safety at this point in his career as while he is typically on the field for 100% in a game he has just three passes defended on the year and as a player who had 11 interceptions over his last two seasons he has failed to have an interception this year. All things considered, at his price, he still boasts upside of a linebacker especially against this New Orleans team in which he has 15 tackles in the two times that these teams have met.
Kawann Short- $3,500 (Cash Punt or GPP)- Kawann Short is the one defensive tackle that is interesting in this game. The reason for this is that as we mentioned earlier in this article, he is a player who ultimately is on the field more than most defensive tackles and is really used as a pass rusher. While it is hard to trust a defensive tackle as they do not typically generate a high enough tackle count to be cash game viable, Short could pose problems for the interior line of the Saints. If you are playing him in cash you are playing him as a pure punt to get up to some of the offensive players that you want to take.
James Bradberry- $4,000 (Cash or GPP)- If you were a casual fan, you might think you want to play the rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore in cash as he’s one of the best cornerbacks in football, but the reality is that you instead would want to play a below average cornerback who is going to see a lot of Michael Thomas this week. Why? You are not penalized for giving up catches in this format, so if Michael Thomas has a big game, Bradberry should be getting a lot of tackles.
Michael Thomas/James Bradberry- As mentioned, there is no penalty for a defensive player giving up a catch, and if you believe that Michael Thomas is going to be targeted a lot in this game, James Bradberry could be a route to go as if essentially every target towards Thomas you will get points one way or the other whether it is a catch and a tackle by Bradberry, a catch and no tackle i.e. a touchdown, or a passes defended you can quickly rack up points if Thomas is the highest targeted player this week.