Twas the night before Christmas and the only thing stirring are NFL DFS degenerates scrambling to build lineups ahead of roster lock. The New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos on the Eve of Christmas for an AFC match-up. The Patriots have already ruled out the likes of Rhamondre Stevenson, Hunter Henry, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Broncos need this win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They come into this game at 7-7 but sit 11th in the AFC pecking order after losing two of their last three games. This game will be played in colder conditions after some overnight snow. And with quite a few recognizable names on New England’s side missing in action, we’re possibly looking at a low scoring affair. But for those of you indulging in this Showdown slate, we’ll try to pick apart the best NFL DFS Showdown lineup picks so we can all wake up Christmas morning with some presents in our accounts on DraftKings and FanDuel.


New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Spread: Denver Broncos (-7.5)

Over/Under: 35.5 Points

Weather: Mostly cloudy throughout the game with temperatures in the low 30’s. The snow will have stopped long before kickoff and winds will be under 10 mph.

Notable Injuries

New England Patriots

Denver Broncos


Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos

I’m not married to this play simply from a pricing standpoint, but Russ offers one of the better floors in this game and perhaps that’s enough to be optimal at Captain. Passing volume and ball security are obvious concerns. In his last four games he has three fumbles and four interceptions. However, we’ve also seen him run more with three rushing touchdowns in that sample size as well. We should probably throw out the idea of him getting the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings. But if he’s more active running on his own, or if he can get another rushing touchdown then we’ll take it if he can also throw a touchdown or two. The Patriots are a tough match-up but they’re only 21st in Pass DVOA and if there’s a way to beat New England it’s through the air.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

On a slate without a rock solid, high upside Captain candidate, we find solace in Sutton. Even if he isn’t finding the end zone, he can provide a good floor. He has 60+ receiving yards in five straight games with three touchdowns in that span. Per Pro Football Focus, Sutton has a 93.2 receiving grade on contested catches so while we don’t normally see high volume for Sutton (only two games all year with double-digit targets) we still have touchdown equity here and the Patriots have surrendered 13 receiving touchdowns to opposing wideouts so far this year. Our very own WR/CB Match-Up specialist, JB Barry, is of the mindset that Sutton will draw coverage from Alex Austin, which will be incredibly advantageous for the bigger, more physical receiver.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, New England Patriots

Zeke was a bit of a bust last week but the work in the passing game salvaged the inefficiency on the ground. Elliott is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry over his last three games and Denver could just as easily stack the box in this match-up. But the Broncos have been awful at stopping the run. Sure, there’s the infamous game from earlier this year where they allowed 351 rushing yards to the Miami Dolphins. But even last week they got burned for 185 rushing yards against the Detroit Lions so now we have a situaton where the Broncos have allowed 150+ rushing yards in five different games this year. Can the Patriots rack up that kind of yardage? I highly doubt it. But it’s still a good spot for Elliott where he should see 15+ touches and there’s potential for a touchdown. But New England has an implied team total of about 14 points so we may not see much scoring from this offense.

Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays

Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

I personally don’t love Williams in this match-up. New England ranks first in Rush DVOA and they’ve only allowed opposing running backs to run for 174 yards in their last four games. This run defense has been fantastic since the team’s bye week. On top of that, opposing running backs are forcing missed tackles at just a 6.3% rate against New England. That’s the lowest in the league. If the Patriots get their hands on Williams, he’s unlikely to break away. Now if there’s a way for running backs to be productive against New England it would be through the air. Even last week, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon combined for seven receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Williams does have some PPR appeal because he has at least two receptions in all but one game this year so that could be his saving grace in this game.

Bailey Zappe, QB, New England Patriots

This isn’t a great spot for Zappe, but I also thought that in Week 14 when he threw three touchdowns on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Broncos, despite improving defensively as the season has progressed, still rank just 25th in Pass DVOA and Jared Goff torched them for five touchdowns through the air last week. Zappe likely won’t do that but if we can land on a modest stat line of 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns then we’re in business. However, if this is a game where he’s limited to fewer than 30 pass attempts, we will not have a holly jolly Christmas.

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

He had a decent game last week but still only finished with three receptions for 74 yards on seven targets. He has just one touchdown on the season and only 10 total receptions in his last four games. There aren’t too many things that stick out in this match-up for Jeudy, but he’s popped for 50+ receiving yards plenty of times this year. But the volume is evenly distributed in this offense and he doesn’t get many red zone looks.

DeVante Parker, WR, New England Patriots

Parker saves you $1,800 at the flex off the more expensive option of Demario Douglas. Parker caught all five targets for 44 yards last week which now gives him three straight games of 40+ receiving yards. For most receivers that’s not impressive, but we are breaking down the Patriots pass catchers after all. It’s unlikely we see Pat Surtain shadow either Parker or Douglas in this game, but we also don’t have a ton of faith in New England effectively distributing the ball through the air. Parker doesn’t have a touchdown yet this year, but at this price I’m fine even using him as the sole Patriot if you’re stacking Denver on the other side.

Wil Lutz, K, Denver Broncos

I’m not particularly excited about Chad Ryland on the New England side. He has just two performances all year returning more than seven fantasy points. He’s also only made one field goal in his last four games. This is a position that’s hard to predict so I’d rather play it safe and keep Ryland out of the player pool. Lutz isn’t all that more interesting. He has just three field goal attempts in his last three games, but he can add some extra points. The Patriots defense has been better of late and that’s limited opportunities for kickers. But at elevation in Denver, I think the Broncos could have an easier time moving the ball which could put Lutz in play.

Defenses/Special Teams

In a game with a projected low total, both defenses will pique the interest of many. But let’s not forget the home field and elevation advantage for Denver. It’ll be cold and the Patriots will be gassed at times. Denver has had to play their last three games on the road, but they’re used to these elements. I’m not ruling out playing both D/ST’s in the same lineup as well. Opposing D/ST’s against the New England Patriots have had plenty of success. Over their last five games the Patriots offense has allowed 18 sacks with eight turnovers. In that five-game sample size they’ve put up 51 points. They have looked better in their last two games, but I’ll play the Broncos with confidence in this match-up. And on the other side, we know the Patriots D/ST has not been the problem lately. Despite the myriad of injuries on the defensive side, they’ve played well. Even last week against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, they collected three sacks and a pair of interceptions despite giving up 27 points. I think I’m settling on rostering the D/ST’s over the kickers for the savings and allocating funds elsewhere.

NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains

Samaje Perine, RB, Denver Broncos

Perine typically gets a few touches every game. But as we noted in the Javonte Williams section, this could be a tricky spot for any running back on the Broncos. Perine was featured more earlier in the year but he did have five receptions just two weeks ago. His role might be dependent on game script, but we can also consider Jaleel McLaughlin ($1,800) who just needs a few receptions at his price point to give us some value.

Kevin Harris, RB, New England Patriots

Most times we don’t encourage folks to chase last week’s production. But with Rhamondre Stevenson out once again, Harris should be involved and it really shouldn’t be too hard fitting him into lineups. He only had four carries last week, but he did find the end zone. He runs incredibly hard when the ball is in his hands, but it’s just a question of how big of a role he’ll have.

Mike Gesicki, TE, New England Patriots

Hunter Henry has been ruled out and throughout his career, Gesicki has never been a great blocker. If he’s going to see the field, he’s best suited to do so running routes. Henry had a 30% first-read target rate last week and I’m not saying that’ll be the same result for Gesicki but I’m intrigued at this price tag. We just need a few cheap targets thrown his way and he can give us a return. Zappe has thrown three touchdowns to Henry in the last two games so perhaps he likes the safety net of tight ends. I also don’t want to completely ignore Tyquan Thornton who is $400 cheaper than Gesicki. He’ll likely come off the field during two-wide receiver sets, but the Patriots are hurting for pass catchers in this match-up.