We wrap up the weekend with a Sunday Night Football matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not quite sure how this game made it to primetime, but I won’t complain. It’s another NFL DFS slate for us to make some money. Both the Raiders and Steelers enter this matchup 1-1 with the Raiders maybe having a slight edge since the Steelers played last Monday night. Pittsburgh will still be without Diontae Johnson, but his absence just funneled several targets to George Pickens who had himself a big game last Monday. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have struggled to get the run game going with Josh Jacobs. But with the Steelers being absolutely torched on the ground the last two weeks this could potentially be a big game for the veteran running back. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS Showdown picks for Sunday night’s action!
Spread: Raiders (-2.5) but some books are showing (-3)
Over/Under: 43.0 points
Weather: Shouldn’t play a role. Allegiant Stadium has a roof, but if it’s open, it’ll be in the 80’s all night with light wind.
- Gunner Olszewski, Wide Receiver – OUT (Concussion)
- Bilal Nichols, Defensive Tackle – Questionable (Hamstring/Hand)
- Tyree Wilson, Defensive End – Questionable (Illness)
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
Adams is the most expensive option on DraftKings and for largely obvious reasons. He’s recorded six receptions in each of the team’s first two games and he found the end zone last week. He’s yet to go for 100 yards but we’re just two games into the season. Big games will come and that could be the case Sunday night. There are seven players who have played 90% of their team’s pass plays and obviously Adams is one of them, and he’s one of four players who have commanded at least 30% of their team’s target share in each of the first two games (35% share in both games so far). The Steelers didn’t have much of an answer to Amari Cooper last Monday and it should surprise no one if they can’t contain Adams.
It hasn’t been a great start for Jacobs, but he’s salvaged his performances with volume and involvement in the team’s passing game. Last week he ran for -2 yards, but he caught five passes for 51 yards. Big performances will come and that could start this week. The Steelers have allowed 386 rushing yards through two games and Jacobs started the season with a pair of difficult matchups. For what it’s worth, the schedule is about to get much easier for the Raiders running back and it all starts tonight. And remember, Jacobs didn’t have a full training camp due to his holdout. I didn’t think it would impact him too much, but I may have been wrong. But easier matchups are coming and Jacobs still has involvement. I’d expect him to find the end zone Sunday night. He’s still been on the field for over 70% of the team’s offensive snaps and is one of seven running backs in the league with a 30% opportunity rate. The guy is still a workhorse. Results will come in time.
Everyone was falling over themselves over Pickens’ 71-yard catch-and-run last Monday against Cleveland. And truly it was an impressive play given that Pickens had just 110 yards after catch last year and he already has 71 this season. Here’s a great visual of that play from last week. The target separation stands out most to me…
But perhaps the most surprising statistic is that Pickens had 10 targets and only four catches last Monday. If he catches just two or three more passes then he’s really breaking the Showdown and two-game slate from last Monday. The Raiders defense hasn’t been overly impressive so far this year. They gave up 267 passing yards last week in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. Pickens looks to be WR1 with Diontae Johnson out due to injury and we could be in line for many highlight reel catches.
Meyers was out last week and given that fantasy football players have an attention span that is measured in nanoseconds, we may not see much exposure at Captain allocated to Meyers. So it’s an opportunity for us to potentially gain leverage. Meyers had nine catches on 10 targets in Week 1 for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He left the game towards the end with a concussion and didn’t play last week. But he was a full participant in practice late in the week for this matchup so wheels up on Meyers. Now he’s only played one game, but he is averaging 3.68 yards per route run. That’s third in the league just behind Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans. I imagine the Steelers will have trouble trying to contain both Adams and Meyers and with Adams potentially garnering more attention at Captain, Meyers is a good pivot.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
If there is one quarterback I absolutely hate playing at the Captain it’s Garoppolo. The guy has a low floor and a non-existent ceiling. He doesn’t run, which is fine. The Raiders aren’t asking him to be Jalen Hurts or Lamar Jackson. But he also only has 50 pass attempts through two games for just 385 yards. He’s thrown the same amount of touchdowns and interceptions (three). I don’t have a ton of faith in him getting the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings. There’s a path where he throws three touchdowns, but without the passing bonus I don’t think he’s worth playing at Captain but he certainly correlates with any Vegas pass catcher in the Captain spot.
Obviously, there’s more interest in Pickett at quarterback in my opinion. Compared to Jimmy G, we can take comfort in the fact that Pittsburgh will at least throw 30+ times, but even Pickett hasn’t displayed a massive ceiling to warrant exposure at Captain. He has just one touchdown in each of the team’s first two games with three interceptions as well. I don’t love the fact he completed just 50% of his passes last week. However, the Browns have a deadly pass rush and Pickett has been sacked seven times so far this year. Fortunately, the Raiders haven’t shown an elite pass rush so far this year and they haven’t forced a turnover yet.
I’m going to skip over Najee Harris. And while I won’t write him up, I’ll at least acknowledge he’s fine to play. I’m undecided on how much exposure I want to Harris in this game. He’s just not very good if we’re being honest. He’s far from efficient. Najee had ten carries for 43 yards last week against Cleveland. That’s okay, I guess? But he also only has three catches through two games with 5.3 fantasy points in each of the first two weeks. Now if you want to hang your hat on something positive for Harris, he’s caught 11 passes in two previous games against the Raiders. But that was really before Warren’s emergence. I’d rather save $2,400 on DraftKings and just play Warren who is far more efficient. Warren and Harris have seen a more balanced workload so far to start the season. But Warren has nine catches on a dozen targets. He’s been less efficient than Harris in the run game through two contests, but overall on a full-point PPR platform like DraftKings I prefer Warren over Harris for the receiving upside. On FanDuel, it’s a little more balanced because it’s 0.5-PPR but still I’ll lean Warren since Harris hasn’t been good so far.
If Matt Canada had any common sense or logic he would probably try to expose the Raiders across the middle. Robert Spillane can be exposed if the Steelers were to force the Raiders to drop into pass coverage. Several targets across the middle to Muth would create a nice mismatch and it would be a huge advantage for the Steelers. But Canada is incapable of taking advantages of those opportunities which explains why their young tight end has just two catches on five targets for five yards. Now it’s within reason that they needed Muth to pass block last week against Cleveland’s pass rush. I can give him a pass if that’s the case. I’m hesitant to play him at Captain because of this overall usage, but in Week 1 he did have three targets in the end zone so we’ll need a score from him in this matchup. If you truly think the Muth breakout game happens Sunday night, then play him at Captain. He gives you so much flexibility that he allows you to fit in some studs.
Robinson just flat out disappeared last week. It was a tougher matchup than what he had in Week 1, but he also lost snaps to the next player we’ll talk about. Robinson might be washed, but the Steelers do tend to concentrate they’re offensive involvement to a condensed group of players. For that reason, I’m fine getting some exposure to Robinson if he can get a little more exposure out of the slot. But if he’s washed (and the Steelers know it), then I don’t expect much from him and I’d rather save salary and allocate exposure to this guy…
Austin did have a good amount of snaps last week and saw four targets, but Pickett was under immense pressure and couldn’t accurately get Austin the ball…
Such is life with Pickett as your quarterback. But with Diontae Johnson sidelined, I still like Austin’s potential especially if the Raiders give more attention to Pickens. He’s a bit discounted this week because of last week’s poor performance but remember he did catch all six targets in Week 1. However, his snaps increased from 56% in Week 1 to 76% in Week 2. He’s not a guy I’m dying to cram into my lineups at Captain but there could be enough volume for him to justify being a Flex play.
You are essentially hoping for a pick six or a kick return for a touchdown with one of these groups. The Steelers are the preferred target over the Raiders. They absolutely dominated the Cleveland Browns last week. Despite giving up over 400 yards of offense to Deshaun Watson and Co. the Steelers forced six sacks and four turnovers, thus leading to a pair of defensive touchdowns. I don’t love the $5,600 price tag on DraftKings. That’s a tough pill to swallow especially if the Raiders lean more on the run game this evening. But on the other side of the ball, I’m not wild about the Raiders D/ST. They have forced zero turnovers and four sacks through two games.
Correlate your kickers. If you’re a bolder DFS player than yours truly, then you’ll likely be playing Jimmy G and Kenny P at Captain. Kickers correlate very well with a QB captain. But you can also correlate Dan Carlson with any Raider at Captain. And the same is true with Chris Boswell and a Steeler at Captain. Kickers can be a nice, cheap source to double-digit points. But Carlson has returned just five points in each of his first two games. Boswell has put up one point and then a dozen points in his two matchups. Their opportunities are dependent on their offenses moving the ball between the 20’s but then stalling in the red zone. You’ll need some field goals from these plays because they won’t be optimal with just extra points. Vegas essentially projects this game to be a 23-20 win for the Raiders. So that could mean three field goals and two extra points for Carlson with two field goals and two extra points for Boswell. Those are relatively standard box scores for a Kicker so while I won’t be playing either at Captain, they’re certainly eligible at Flex.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
This slate has some of the worst dart throws. It’s abysmal down here so if you can manage to fit five players in your lineup that have a lot of involvement in their offense then just settle on one of these dart throw plays.
Everyone will fall in love with the price tag. And given the name recognition, it’s a little surprising Renfrow is this cheap. But even in a week where they didn’t have Jakobi Meyers, Renfrow still only brought in one catch for 23 yards. It is mind-blowing Josh McDaniels doesn’t utilize him in a similar role to Wes Welker or Julian Edelman. He’ll need more than just a few catches to justify this price tag.
Hooper was brought in to be the team’s starting tight end after they traded Darren Waller. He only has three targets on the season, but he’s caught them all for 40 yards. He’ll need more involvement or to find the end zone Sunday night to be optimal.
He’s not getting a ton of snaps. However, he is explosive and flashed speed on this Jet sweep last week against the Buffalo Bills…
Offensive coordinator, Mick Lombardi, did hint earlier this week that they would like to get him more involved. I think the price tag is a little high for a player with just one touch on the season, but he has big play potential with his speed.
We thought there might be upside for Mayer in DFS to start the season. Sadly, we just haven’t seen it yet. He has just one target through two games. He’s only $300 on DraftKings so you’re just hoping for a few catches with this play but even that expectation seems bleak.