Sunday Night Football gives us an AFC East matchup for the second time in just a handful of games as the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets went to battle last week in the Meadowlands. While Aaron Rodgers was lost for the season, the New York Jets defense forced Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills into numerous mistakes and turnovers. While it’s a bummer that Rodgers will miss the remainder of the season, it was a brilliant showcase for New York’s defense and special teams, who locked up the victory in overtime. But we have an exciting matchup to watch Sunday night. Can the New England Patriots defense contain Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? Or will their pass rush be too much to handle for Tua Tagovailoa? Let’s dive into Sunday night’s NFL DFS Showdown slate.


Before we dive into Sunday’s slate, I want to actually discuss Thursday’s slate. And by all means you can skip down to the game breakdown for this matchup if you want to skip over my TED Talk. Going into Thursday's matchup, after I published the Playbook for the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, it was arguably the most confident I had ever been in a Showdown slate. I felt like I read the game to a near perfect result. Slay had shadowed Jefferson. And sure, Jefferson almost scored in the first half, but he fumbled the ball out of the end zone. We dodged that bullet. And A.J. Brown was kept in check. I was heavy on DeVonta Smith at Captain as well as Jordan Addison. I was heavy on D’Andre Swift in the Flex because I preferred him there because he was so chalky at captain. I want to present a table that shows some ownership percentages for Thursday’s game…

So this is strictly from the $0.50-Mini Max and we can’t see the Captain percentages. But let’s talk about what we can learn from this. Jalen Hurts was rostered in 83.05% of lineups including 26.6% at Captain. Full disclosure, I actually went underweight at Captain with just 15% exposure, but I still had him in all 150 lineups. Any time I have a quarterback with the rushing upside similar to Hurts, I’ll play him in every lineup but likely be underweight at Captain. I actually loved being underweight. Why? Because of the leverage, yet 15% still allowed me enough exposure to hit the optimal lineup if he had a bigger game. Truthfully, he had a rough night and lucked into two short yardage rushing touchdowns simply because D’Andre Swift was tackled just shy of the goal line. Without those two scores, he would’ve been a bust. 

Justin Jefferson was rostered in 55% of lineups and he was the Captain in 13% of lineups. Again, this was a spot I was underweight. And I tried to emphasize that in the Playbook for Thursday’s game. 55% regular exposure is actually light for the caliber player that Jefferson is, but 13% on Captain is a spot I had leverage. For the first half this was looking like a great read on my part, but he came to life late in the game as the Vikings became more desperate. While he wasn’t the optimal captain, I still liked the leverage that I took here.

The point of this is to acknowledge that I don’t care about projections for Showdown slates. Give me projected ownership above all that. This is football. The game isn’t played on paper. Let’s build our lineups and have leverage when necessary. The best way to approach Jalen Hurts at Captain would’ve been either going heavily underweight with him at Captain or put him at Captain in 35-40% of your lineups. You don’t have leverage when he’s in 20-30% of your lineups. Additionally, D’Andre Swift was optimal at Captain at just $4,000 for a Showdown slate ($6,000 for Captain). That likely won’t happen again the rest of the season.

Now I was tripling my investment because I only play the $0.50-mini max. Like you, I am not made of a billion dollars. In my next life, hopefully I’m the heir to an oil tycoon. But I love the process and research for a Showdown slate. During the third quarter and the first half of the fourth quarter I was winning between $250-$300. That tends to happen when you split takedowns with 100+ people. But the Vikings got Justin Jefferson going in the fourth quarter and the Eagles couldn’t stop handing the ball off to D’Andre Swift. Ultimately, I fell out of first place and took a $12 loss on the whole slate. But I loved my process because we had leverage in the necessary spots. Identify the spots to pivot if you’re making 20-150 lineups because you have to be cognizant of the chalk when building lineups. What if an injury pops up? Or a stud player just doesn’t pop off? Give me leverage over projections for Showdown slates. Enough said, let’s talk Pats and Fins…

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Spread: Miami Dolphins (-2.5)

Over/Under: 46.5 points

Weather: Partly cloudy skies with temps in the mid-to-low 60’s and virtually no winds

Notable Injuries

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots



Tyreek Hill and Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

I’m listing them both at MVP/Captain, but read this section carefully. If you play Tyreek Hill at Captain on DraftKings he’s $18,900 out of a $50,000 budget. Correlating him with Tua Tagovaioa would cost you a total of $30,100. That is 60% of your budget. From there, casual players will try to squeeze in the Dolphins D/ST and/or Jason Sanders, who is the kicker for the Dolphins. Remember, kickers positively correlate at the Flex if you have a wide receiver or quarterback from the same team at Captain. From there let’s say you squeeze in Rhamondre Stevenson, maybe DeMario Douglas, and you’re left with $4,500 for your last Flex spot. Look, I would normally include matchups, tweets, and data analysis about Tyreek Hill in this matchup. But I don’t need to. Did you see what he did last week? He went for over 200 yards against the Chargers. He’s over 10% of the way to his goal of a 2,000-yard season. I’m trying to help you win a Showdown DFS tournament. Playing Hill at Captain cuffs you into falling for chalky lineups. Correlating him with Tua Tagovailoa only cuffs you even more. They’re a perfect marriage for fantasy football and could easily pop off in any game. This is a great spot to get weird and contrarian at Captain. What do we know about Bill Belichick? We know two things: 

1. He’s grumpy. 

2. He schemes for the opposing offense’s best player.

I’m only half-kidding when I say this, but there are aliens 1.784 billion lightyears away that are spying on us and even they know Tyreek Hill is an explosive player in the NFL. He’s arguably the best player in the league. For this reason, we have an opportunity to differentiate our exposure. As soon as we come to terms with the fact that we can gain leverage simply by being underweight at Captain on the two most expensive players on the slate, we gain leverage points on an abundance of players in this game. Stats be damned. We don’t need stats here. This is purely leverage. This is when it matters most in NFL DFS. It’s one game we’re looking at and stacking these two just limits everything else you can do with your builds. And we just know that Belichick wants to try and take away Tyreek Hill

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

If you want offensive exposure to the Dolphins, this is where to go to be a little bit different. I’m not incredibly excited about Waddle in this matchup, but I’m fairly confident they want to get him going. If Bill Belichick schemes for Tyreek Hill to be taken away, then maybe they funnel everything to Jaylen Waddle. Jaylen Waddle only had four catches on five targets last week. I’m not a doctor, but that doesn’t add up. He was a consensus top 40 pick in fantasy football season-long leagues. Every time I think of Jaylen Waddle I’m reminded of this fantastic article from Andrew Cooper in April. Waddle is due for big things. He’s not a WR2. He’s WR1B. If the Patriots scheme to take away Tyreek Hill at every cost, then that elevates Waddle’s value.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

I will gladly play Stevenson in this spot. If we’re operating under the assumption the Patriots want to slow this game down then they give Stevenson 15+ touches. He also caught all six of his targets last week. His previous two games against the Miami Dolphins have been quiet but he’s in line for one hell of a workload if the Patriots try to slow this game down and keep the Miami Dolphins offense off the field. The Patriots offensive line is a little beat up at the moment. However, that didn’t keep Stevenson from 18 touches last week. On top of that he did most of his damage through the passing game. Keep in mind this is the same defensive front that allowed Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley to combine for 36 touches and 250+ yards of offense last week. That was in a shootout and I anticipate this being a slower game so be mindful of that. I do think if you need salary relief there will be enough touches to go around and you can mix in Ezekiel Elliott ($5,800) as a Flex play. He only had seven carries last week but he was active in the passing game catching five-of-seven targets. But Zeke does tend to get bit by the fumble bug and they tend to come in bunches. He lost one last week so while I won’t feature him in his own section, I do think he’s fine if you’re max entering 20+ lineups.

New England Patriots D/ST

Brace yourselves… But your eyeballs doth not deceive you. I am suggesting a defense and special teams in a non-weather-related game at MVP/Captain. Let’s dig into what happened last week. The Philadelphia Eagles scored 25 points against New England. That’s not too bad. They totaled 251 yards of offense… That actually is kind of bad. That team was in the Super Bowl last year and they couldn’t put up 300+? What gives? Well remember, they had a pick six with about ten minutes to go in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead. Ezekiel Elliott fumbled a short pass in the first quarter to give the Eagles possession at New England’s 25-yard line. From there they scored another touchdown to go up 16-0 in the first quarter. How many of those points should the defense be held accountable for? In my opinion, just the field goal they surrendered early on. After the first quarter, the Patriots buckled down and limited Philly to just nine points over the final three quarters. Jalen Hurts only threw for 170 yards and he was sacked three times. Yes, the best offensive line in football allowed three sacks. Terron Armstead is one of the best left tackles in the league when he’s at full health but he’s dealing with ankle, back, and knee problems. Just throw him an AARP subscription while we’re at it! And here’s the thing, if you want leverage on the Patriots D/ST at Captain, you only need to go with 8-9% exposure at Captain and that’s plenty of leverage.

Mid-Tier And DFS Value Plays

Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots

Jones is the fifth-most expensive option on the DraftKings slate. Truthfully, I don’t love that. His ceiling is pretty much what he did last week. And he needed FIFTY-FOUR pass attempts. I typed it out rather than just going with ‘54’ to emphasize the volume he needed to barely get the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings. Patrick Mahomes is throwing for 500+ yards with 54 pass attempts. If we subscribe to the theory that Jones will be a part of an offense designed to slow the game down then Mac Jones becomes a “game manager’ that hands the ball off or just goes for the short yardage plays. But if Miami can get out to a big lead, then Jones will have to be more active similar to last week.

Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins

I’m not kidding when I say this, if he could have ever logged a full healthy season in his prime, he could’ve been a 1,300-yard rusher. But health and injuries have always been a concern. This isn’t a great matchup. New England yielded just 97 yards on 25 carries last week to Philadelphia. I don’t get the feeling Miami feels they can win this game on the ground. They may want to test the rookie defensive back in Christian Gonzalez. In two games last year against New England he totaled 14 carries for 45 yards but he did catch all nine of his targets including eight in the second game where he scored a touchdown. Now he is a little beat up from last week’s game and he has a history of injuries so Miami may feel more inclined to get De'Von Achane going.

Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots

Bourne had a great game last week with six catches on 11 targets for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Now obviously it would be surprising if he did that in back-to-back games. And truthfully $7,200 is a bit expensive for Bourne on a Showdown slate. The Dolphins secondary, despite not having Jalen Ramsey yielded only 199 passing yards to Justin Herbert last week while the Bolts ran the ball all over them. Because of that I do have some concern with Bourne paying off the price tag. And the same can go for Juju Smith-Schuster, who hasn’t exactly had glowing reports of late with concerns regarding his knee, but he was active in last week’s game. I do prefer Bourne over Smith-Schuster, but I don’t have a ton of excitement for either.

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots

Henry benefitted from a positive game script last week. The Patriots played from behind, which could certainly be the case Sunday night. But the Dolphins also struggled to defend Gerald Everett and Donald Parham last week as the latter was able to score. But mind you, Henry also was more involved because of injuries to some pass catchers, but if DeVante Parker is inactive again then that could force Henry into a more important role for the second straight week.

De'Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

Last week it was just the Raheem Mostert show in a matchup where the Dolphins didn’t take full advantage of running it up the middle against the Bolts. But Achane is expected to be active and it sounds as if he’s past the shoulder issue that plagued him in training camp. Mike McDaniel might get a little creative with his rookie running back in his debut. It is a difficult matchup especially since the Patriots did so well limiting the Eagles last week. But Achane is very affordable and has plenty of appeal.

Miami Dolphins D/ST

I’m actually stunned the Dolphins are more expensive than the Patriots. If this is simply the Pats being priced down because they have to contain Tua, Tyreek, and Waddle then fine. We can run with the discount on New England. I may be a little bias, but they definitely have better players than Miami on the defensive side of the ball. Normally in a matchup like this, where I expect New England to slow the game down, I’d be off the Dolphins. And that’s because if New England isn’t dropping back to pass there are fewer attempts for sacks, pressure, and turnovers. Those are the keys to success for D/ST’s on Showdown slates. But if you noticed from the injury notes up above, the Patriots have plenty of concerns on the offensive line. They’re pretty damn beat up. For that reason, I’m totally fine getting exposure to the Dolphins but I do question the ceiling for this group if New England slows the game down.


By now you know that I won’t offer a ton of analysis on Kickers. They’re definitely viable this week because I could see plenty of opportunities for field goals if both offenses stall in the red zone. I’m slightly more in favor of Chad Ryland getting the volume and potentially longer kicks. But kickers are more of a “lineup theory” play. I can’t predict the opportunities they’ll have but I’m fine correlating the kicker with their teammate in the Captain/MVP spot on DraftKings and FanDuel. If said kicker can return double-digit fantasy points, you’ll take that in the Flex and find other ways to build an optimal lineup.

NFL DFS Dart-Throw Bargains

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, New England Patriots

He was used scarcely last week but we also know he’s better used as a pass catcher than as a blocker. Are the Patriots hurting on the offensive line? Yes. Is utilizing Gesicki as a blocker the solution? Haha NOPE! He caught all three of his targets last week for 36 yards. I still think he can score maybe five or six touchdowns this year and I anticipate he’ll be a popular “value” play on the Showdown slate. I’d almost rather bet him on a player prop to score a touchdown, but there is a revenge game narrative here.

Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami Dolphins

There is a slight revenge game narrative here as Berrios was on the New England Patriots roster five years ago. But mostly if the Patriots are able to take either Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle away then that benefits the game script for Berrios. He had five targets last week and could see a few tonight as well. I hate the price tag on FanDuel but love how cheap he is on DraftKings. For the same reason River Cracraft ($800) is a similar value play for tonight’s game as he had five targets last week as well.

Demario Douglas, WR, New England Patriots

I’m not going to lie to you, I will have Douglas at maybe 3-5% in my Captain spots on DraftKings. He’s super cheap and he just had seven targets like week. He caught four of them for 40 yards. Kayshon Boutte has a hamstring issue. DeVante Parker has a knee thing going on. And all week long we heard about how JuJu Smith-Schuster may not even be a top five pass catcher for this team as they anticipate his knee exploding. If that’s the case I’ll gamble and allocate some exposure to Douglas who received rave reviews in training camp. He’s definitely a player to be overweight on in the Flex, but also a player to get some shares at Captain as well.

Kayshon Boutte, WR, New England Patriots

Boutte is a very intriguing value play and one that I think is sneaky for our Tournament builds. I think most people will go to Douglas who had the numbers last week. But with DeVante Parker inactive last week, Boutte served as his replacement and actually played 68.75% of the team’s offensive snaps. He just didn’t catch anything. If you need a $200 play on DraftKings it’s probably Jalen Reagor who was elevated to the 53-man roster which signals to me that Parker might sit. But that news is largely beneficial to Boutte. Update: Looks like Kayshon Boutte is inactive.