DFS Thursday Night Football: DraftKings Showdown for Week 7
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 Podcast: A thorough discussion on how to beat showdown, looking at the game theory and how to leverage the field.
DraftKings Sportsbook Lines
Spread: Browns -2.0
Team Totals: Browns (21.5), Broncos (19.5)
Bruised, battered and broken, the 3-3 Cleveland Browns host the 3-3 Broncos, who are reeling after three straight losses following a 3-0 start against one of the NFL’s easiest schedules to open the year. This game has a true Thursday Night Football feel to it thanks to a lowly 41-point total and two offenses struggling to put up points so far this season. Averaging just 22 points per game so far this season, the Broncos seem to be content playing ball control and good defense while leaning heavily on their running game. To make matters worse, Vic Fangio’s crew is playing at the slowest rate in the league in neutral game scripts, operating at a 58% neutral situation pass rate.
As for Cleveland, we know they want to #EstablishIt whenever possible, as they rank third in the league in neutral situation rush rate while also operating at a slow pace. They aren’t far ahead of the 32nd ranked Broncos in pace with Cleveland ranking 28th in seconds per play when games are within one score. If this game stays close as the 3.5-point spread implies we could see two teams playing at a snail’s pace on Thursday night, hence the 41-point total, which has been bet down three full points from its opening line of 44 points.
The biggest factor in this game is the injuries that are piling up for Cleveland (outlined in detail below). With Baker Mayfield now dislocating his left shoulder twice, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both out with calf injuries, Jarvis Landry still out with a sprained MCL and Cleveland dealing with multiple injuries along their offensive line, there’s plenty of value on Cleveland’s side, but the question becomes whether or not their second stringers can move the ball against Denver’s 24th ranked defense in total DVOA.
If you believe Cleveland can still have success, then we should build some lineups around the Denver passing game as they’ve shown some sensitivity to game script. When trailing, Denver is throwing at a 66% clip so far this year, tied for seventh highest in the league. However, both of these offenses seem happy to pound the rock when playing with a lead, as Denver ranks seventh in rush rate when playing with a lead while Cleveland ranks third in rush rate when winning. The take home here is that we should build some lineups around both scenarios – Broncos playing with a lead and Cleveland playing with a lead. Based on these teams’ tendencies, the running backs on both side of the ball are likely to soak up solid usage when their teams are winning, and with the spread sitting at a close 2 points, I’ll be building lineups around both scenarios.
Plays per game: Browns (15th), Broncos (13th)
Neutral Situation Pace: Browns (27th), Broncos (32nd)
- QB Baker Mayfield (Out): Shoulder
- RB Nick Chubb (Out): Calf strain
- RB Kareem Hunt (Out): Calf strain
- WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Questionable): Shoulder
- WR Jarvis Landry (IR): MCL sprain – designated to return from IR, yet to be added to active roster
- T Jedrick Wills (Questionable): Ankle
- T Conklin (Questionable): Knee
- C J.C. Tretter (Questionable): Knee
- LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Out): Ankle
- LB Mack Wilson (Questionable): Calf
- LB Malcolm Smith (Questionable): Abdomen
- DT Malik Jackson (Questionable): Knee
- DE Jadaveon Clowney (Questionable): Ankle/Knee
- QB Teddy Bridgewater (Questionable): Foot
- LB Andre Mintze (IR): Hamstring
- LB Bradley Chubb (IR): Ankle
- LB Alexander Johnson (IR): Pectoral
- LB Baron Browning (Out): Concussion
- T Garett Bolles (Questionable): Knee
- WR Jerry Jeudy (IR): Ankle
- WR KJ Hamler (IR): ACL
- TE Albert Okwuegbunam (IR): Hamstring
For the #browns WR Jarvis Landry should probably be activated off IR today per sources. If that officially happens expect him to play. For OBJ, he has a significant shoulder injury. I’m told it’s an uphill battle to go tonight, but don’t rule him out completely just yet.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 21, 2021
D’Ernest Johnson $6,900
Priced too cheaply for his role as the starter, Johnson is going to be the most popular captain play on the slate by a wide margin. As a result, if planning to roster Johnson in the captain spot, I’d consider a contrarian build and/or leaving salary on the table in order to differentiate your lineup. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both out, Johnson’s only competition for touches are Demetric Felton and John Kelly, who was just elevated from the practice squad on Tuesday. Felton is essentially a wide receiver for this team, as he’s totaled exactly zero (not a typo) RB carries so far this year. Cleveland ranks 1st in EPA per rush and 8th in rush success rate, but these statistics may need to be thrown out the window on Thursday night, especially if Cleveland is down their starting tackles as they were in Week 6.
Stack Idea: Cpt D’Ernest Johnson + 5 Broncos