DFS Thursday Night Football: DraftKings Showdown for Week 14

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Before we get into the specifics of this matchup and how to approach it for the DraftKings showdown slate, I want to point people back to a few pieces of evergreen content that I think are extremely valuable if you’re serious about winning showdown all season. I’d recommend reading/listening to this content before proceeding, especially if you’re new to showdown.

1. How to Win Showdown Contests: A detailed article looking at the data and strategy behind winning showdown lineups.

2. DFS Showdown Strategy PodcastA thorough discussion on how to beat showdown, looking at the game theory and how to leverage the field.

DraftKings Sportsbook Lines

Spread: MIN -3
Total: 43.5
Team Totals: Vikings (23.25), Steelers (20.25)

Game Outlook

Fresh off an emotional win over their division rival, the Steelers travel to Minnesota for a date with a Vikings team that just gave the Lions their first win of the 2021 season. Injuries are the storyline here, especially for DFS purposes as both teams are down some of their top playmakers. For Pittsburgh, Big Ben will be without slot man JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is on IR with a shoulder issue while Eric Ebron remains on IR because of a knee injury. On Minnesota’s side, the injury impact is more significant as they’re likley down star RB Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, who just picked up a high ankle sprain four days ago against the Lions. That should open up some decent value on this slate…more on that soon.

It’s worth noting that this game line opened up at 46.5 points and has already been bet down by sharp bettors to 43.5 as of this writing, signaling we could get a potentially lower scoring affair at U.S. Bank Stadium. Remarkably, all but one Viking game has been decided by one score this year, indicating it’s unlikely we see a blowout in this spot, especially with Vegas projecting this game to be decided by a field goal.

Running identical offenses, both the Vikings and Steelers are throwing at a 59% clip while running at a 41% rate when games are within one score. As this game projects to play close, it’s likely we see a relatively 60/40 split for both offenses in terms of pass-to-run ratio. That certainly keeps ancillary pass catchers in play on both sides of the ball. However, when building roster constructions where this game is more of a blowout, it is worth noting that Pittsburgh completely abandons the run, throwing at a 77% rate (3rd highest in the NFL) when trailing by at least seven points. In lineup constructions where we project the Steelers to get behind early, it certainly elevates Ben and his pass catchers. As for the Vikings, they do increase their pass rate when playing from behind, elevating to 67%, but they seem content to keep their running game at least somewhat involved, at least compared to Pittsburgh. It makes sense, as the running game has been the identity of Mike Zimmer teams over the years.

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