Monday Night Football for Week 17 of the NFL season delivers a potential playoff preview for the AFC. The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals represent two of the three best teams in the conference. The Bills are riding a six-game winning streak and are looking to keep their hopes alive for locking in the top seed in the AFC while the Bengals are on a seven-game winning streak and still jockeying for position for the two-seed in the playoffs. Either way, we’re being handed arguably the best game on the schedule for this week and we have plenty of options to consider so let’s dig into Monday night’s NFL DFS Showdown picks.
Now before we begin, I want to reiterate what Howard usually says for NFL DFS Showdown slates. Take a moment to understand what exactly you’re getting into with these contests. It’s always fun to get some action on a primetime game. I used to max enter the $0.50 contest to get 150 lineups in this game for the price of $75.00. I had a lot of success with that method in 2021 but haven’t had the desire in 2022 to go through the nonsense of adjusting 150 individual lineups ahead of roster lock, all while making sure none of them became duplicates. Cash games can be brutal on a Showdown slate and large-field tournaments are nearly impossible to tackle unless you’re max entering. Have fun and be smart with tonight’s contest.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
Spread: Bills (-1)
O/U: 49.5 Points
Weather: Cloudy skies, Temps in the low-to-mid 50’s, and low winds.
Buffalo Bills Notable Injuries
- Josh Allen, QB – Elbow (Expected to play)
- Boogie Basham, DE – Calf (Expected to play)
- Stefon Diggs, WR – Illness (Expected to play)
- Taiwan Jones, RB – Hamstring (Questionable)
- Dawson Knox, TE – Hip (Questionable)
- Cam Lewis, CB – Forearm (Expected to play)
- Matt Milano, LB – Knee (Expected to play)
- Jordan Phillips, DT – Shoulder (Expected to play)
- Mitch Morse, C – Concussion (Expected to play)
- Jordan Poyer, FS – Knee (Questionable)
- Rodger Saffold, G – Rest (Expected to play)
Cincinnati Bengals Notable Injuries
- Sam Hubbard, DE – Calf (Questionable)
- Jalen Davis, CB – Thumb (Expected to play)
- Hayden Hurst, TE – Calf (Expected to play)
- Trent Taylor, WR - Hamstring (Expected to play)
- D.J. Reader, DT – Personal (Questionable)
**Please note that players not listed below are not necessarily a complete fade and any player listed can certainly be used as the MVP/Captain. These are merely suggestions for players to use when setting Showdown lineups.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
If you read my Showdown Playbook for last Monday’s game, you’ll remember that I don’t particularly love targeting quarterbacks at the Captain spot if they don’t offer much rushing upside. Allen offers that while also having 300+ yard upside with the chance to throw three touchdowns. Allen has dropped 24 fantasy points in 11 games this year and while he only hit the 300-yard bonus once in his last six games, the upside is there in this matchup if this game lives up to the offensive potential we all expect it to.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
He doesn’t have the rushing upside Josh Allen does, but the potential is still there for 300+ passing yards and three touchdowns in this matchup. The Bills defense has been pretty stout of late. They’ve allowed 87 points total in their last five games and in that span they’ve held each opposing quarterback to under 250 passing yards. The sportsbooks are expecting a lot of offense in this game and if Burrow is throwing it 40+ times in this matchup then we’re looking at a potentially high score.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
I never thought I’d be saying this, but Stefon Diggs is due, right? In his last three games he has a total of ten catches for 123 yards on 16 targets. So again, he’s due, right? Diggs still has plenty of slate breaking performances on the year with six 100-yard performances and ten touchdowns. This is certainly a matchup where Buffalo looks to get their top receiver going as the Bills look to keep their chances alive at securing the top seed in the AFC.
Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
If we’re going to mention the top wide receiver on the Bills, we might as well go with the top receiver on the Bengals as well. While Diggs is in a bit of a slump, you can’t say the same about Chase. When he’s been active this year, he has double-digit fantasy points in full PPR formats in every game. He has 25 catches on 40 targets in his last three games as well with eight total touchdowns on the season. Chase has been pretty vocal about his excitement for this matchup and with the Bills playing a lot of zone coverage there could be plenty of volume for Chase in this matchup and you just hope he can make some plays after the catch.
Gabe Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
This might surprise some folks, but he parallels Mike Williams from last Monday’s Showdown slate and I’ll even do you one better… You either play him at Captain or you don’t play him at all. We have enough of a sample size to know the boom/bust nature of Davis. He’ll probably get his usual six or seven targets. What he does with them can potentially break the slate. In four games this year, Davis has put up 16 or more fantasy points. However, the floor has been very low in every other game this year and he’s only hit the 100-yard bonus once. The ceiling is still very high and if you utilize him at Captain, you can still build a well-rounded lineup. But with a low floor I don’t think he has much appeal as a Flex option. If Eli Apple is covering Diggs most of the night, that might leave rookie Cam Taylor-Britt assigned to Davis, which could lead to a touchdown or two for Davis.
MID-TIER AND DFS VALUE PICKS
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
You can absolutely play Higgins at Captain if you want. If building 20+ lineups you should consider that option for a couple builds. I just didn’t want to overload the MVP/Captain section with every high upside player. While Chase goes and grabs most of the attention of DFS players (and the Bills for that matter) there will still be a role for Higgins in this game. Higgins has four touchdowns since Week 12 and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t find the end zone in this matchup as well. Again, just because he isn’t in the MVP/Captain section doesn’t mean he isn’t viable in that slot. He has the upside where he could be optimal.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon does have some Captain appeal because of his volume. But in Mixon’s 13 games this season he’s only topped 20+ fantasy points twice and one of those instances was Week 1 where he touched the ball 34 times against the Steelers without scoring. The other game was his massive 58-point performance against Carolina where he scored four touchdowns. He has plenty of double-digit performances on his 2022 resume, but truthfully he screams more of a Flex play. Now this does have a game script where he should be heavily involved in the passing game. He does have 55 catches on the year and based on what I’ve previously said about pass-catching running backs, he makes for a strong captain candidate. But I am worried this is more of a 15-18 point performance despite the heavy volume. The Bills are allowing just 104.4 rushing yards per game, good for fourth fewest in the NFL.
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
Let’s touch on a couple of running backs out of the Buffalo backfield. First up, my least favorite of the two on the slate but you are more than welcome to disagree. It’s well within reason that Singletary gets his 12-15 touches Monday night, but what does he do with them? Does he follow up last week’s production against the Bears where he rushed for over 100 yards (for the first time all year) and a score? He does struggle to reach double-digit fantasy points without scoring and with only six catches in his last four games, it could be difficult for him to reach that floor without a touchdown. It may sound like I’m fading Singletary and that isn’t the case. I’d rather just take the savings with James Cook (mentioned below) to allow myself to pay up for some elite pass catchers in this game. The Bengals are allowing only 106.4 rushing yards per game, which is the fifth fewest in the NFL.
James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
You can kind of get the sense that the Bills might roll with the hot hand in this matchup if both offenses are putting up points. Cook has double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games with 44 total touches in that span. He’s also scored in back-to-back games so it’s nice to see the Bills looking to get their rookie running back involved. The presence of Devin Singletary is a bit of a bummer because he may not go away unless Cook gets off to a very hot start, but Cook is a bit underpriced for a player that has found the end zone in two straight games.
Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills
If Cook is too cheap for a player who has scored in back-to-back games, then Knox is far too cheap for a player who has scored in three straight games. The biggest knock on Knox (pun slightly intended) is the lack of targets and end zone opportunities from earlier in the year. He’s certainly rewarded fantasy football managers the last few weeks with 13 catches on 20 targets for 147 yards and three scores in his last three games. With our luck, he’ll likely cool off to the tune of two catches on three targets for 18 yards or something like that. The Bengals do allow about 11-12 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends so that is a little comforting if you’re looking to Flex the 26-year-old tight end.
Trenton Irwin, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Not one of my favorite plays since I think a lot of DFS players will chase last week’s performance, but he’s found the end zone three times in his last three games. But he’s done it on a total of eight targets so the touchdown rate is very unsustainable. I’m also not a fan of the price tag on DraftKings so I wouldn’t force him in when you can fit cheaper pieces into your build. It’s quite possible he’s outscored by the kickers this week.
DART-THROW DFS BARGAINS
Hayden Hurst, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
As long as the calf injury doesn’t linger, Hurst is likely a popular value play, especially at just $3,000 on DraftKings. Mitchell Wilcox is in play in larger, deeper contests especially after he had six targets last week. But assuming Hurst is a full go then I don’t see how he doesn’t reclaim the TE1 role in this offense. I’ll also note that the Bills are very good against opposing tight ends so this isn’t a slam dunk by any means. But Hurst hasn’t played in four weeks and he hasn’t scored since Week 5. Is he due? Maybe, but there are concerns with the matchup and potential re-aggravation of his injury.
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Buffalo Bills
A bold strategy would be to go with McKenzie at Captain. And truthfully, there’s some merit to it. He’s super cheap and had 25 total targets in the four games leading up to last week’s game in Chicago. Unfortunately, in that matchup he finished with just zero catches on two targets. If just building one lineup for the Showdown slate, I wouldn’t use him at Captain. But if building 20+ you can go that route in at least one build because you can load up elsewhere on studs. Either way, he’s a nice value piece that hopefully returns to seeing five targets against a defense that can be exposed by speedy receivers.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Buffalo Bills
Not the greatest dart throw, but this is the kind of game script where Hines might be useful and if he can catch a few passes out of the backfield then he could pay off the cheap price tag. He has a catch in four straight games, but only seven total touches in that span. He isn’t really a great point per dollar player, but if he finds the end zone with two or three receptions then he’s returning value.
KICKERS AND D/ST’s
This isn’t really the kind of game where I would want to really chase D/ST’s here. Both are very affordable, but you really need a D/ST touchdown from either team to be optimal. If both offenses move the ball effectively and are putting up points, then your D/ST’s aren’t likely helping you without a touchdown. Sure some sacks and a couple turnovers might salvage the performance a bit, but they likely are not optimal without a pick six or a kick return for a score. If I were max entering contests with 150 lineups I would consider taking a hard stance on D/ST’s and possibly fading them entirely to get leverage over anyone rostering either D/ST.
Both kickers are perfectly fine as Flex/Utility options for this matchup. There is some positive correlation with kickers and quarterbacks, so if using either Josh Allen or Joe Burrow at Captain, be sure to accompany that play with a kicker as a cheap pay-down and a good source of cheap points. Evan McPherson only has nine field goal attempts in his last five games while Tyler Bass only has seven. The kicker position is dependent on the offense moving the ball between the 20’s and stalling out. So you want plenty of touchdown upside with the rest of your build while also getting production from these guys without sacrificing too much upside from your position players. I don’t love using D/ST’s or Kickers at the Captain spot, but to each their own. I’d really only focus on Kickers at the Flex for this slate.