Week 5 kicks off with an interesting NFC matchup featuring the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders. Some may scoff at both teams and assume this could be an ugly game. And they could be right. These Thursday games usually get off to an ugly start but pick up later on. The Bears currently sit at 0-4 after they blew a 28-7 lead last week with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos. Denver would go on to score four unanswered touchdowns to come back and claim their first win of the season. There are also some reports that Matt Eberflus could potentially be fired if the Bears lose this game. The Bears are currently riding a 14-game losing streak. Of all the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams that we know and love in this day and age, the Bears are the only team to not have won a game since Elon Musk bought Twitter. On the other side we have the Washington Commanders who are coming off two consecutive losses but could potentially win their next three games to get to 5-2. I’m pretty excited for this game from a DFS Showdown perspective. Week 4 wasn’t a great DFS week for me so I’m looking to kick off Week 5 with some profit and right the ship! Let’s check out the top plays and strategies for Thursday Night Football’s matchup!
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Thursday Night Football Preview
Spread: Washington Commanders (-5.5)
Over/Under: 44.5 points
Weather: Temperatures will likely be in the high-60’s around kickoff and cooling off throughout the evening. No rain in the forecast with very low winds.
- Chase Claypool, Wide Receiver – OUT (Personal)
- Eddie Jackson, Defensive Back – OUT (Foot)
- Teven Jenkins, Guard – Probable (Calf)
- Jaylon Johnson, Defensive Back – OUT (Hamstring)
- Jaquan Brisker, Safety – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Christian Holmes, Defensive Back – Probable (Back)
- Curtis Samuel, Wide Receiver – Probable (Quad)
- Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver – Probable (Ankle)
- Chris Rodriguez, Running Back – Questionable (Illness)
- Jartavius Martin, Defensive Back – Probable (Thumb)
- Benjamin St-Juste, Defensive Back – Probable (Neck)
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
Fields finally had the monstrous game we knew he was capable of. Last week against Denver he threw for over 300 yards with four touchdowns. He put up nearly 33 fantasy points on DraftKings despite a pair of turnovers. Now that was against a softer defense. The Broncos are hilarious to watch on defense and both these offenses have already taken advantage of the Denver matchup. Fields will have a tougher test in this game. The Bears offensive line has regressed, and they’ll have their struggles against Washington’s pass rush. But if Matt Eberflus really is coaching for his job tonight, then he needs to let Fields put the offense on his back. Call some designed run plays for this kid. Don’t limit him to less than 30 pass attempts. Let him be the high-upside player that he’s capable of being. Fields fits the profile of the kind of player I want at Captain. He has rushing upside and can break any slate with a big performance.
DJ Moore, WR, Chicago Bears
He’s coming off a huge game against Denver last week and he’s now scored in back-to-back weeks as well. On top of that he has 22 targets over his last three games, and he’s gone for 100+ yards in two of those three. Hello receiving yardage bonus! He had an abysmal Week 1 against Green Bay, but he’s been the player we thought he would become when the Bears traded for him. Sure, it’s a small sample size. And he’ll still have frustrating weeks. But he is Justin Fields’ first look on offense. Moore has a 34% first-read target share and he has over 40% of the team’s air yards. The Commanders are in rough shape against opposing wide receivers. Over their last three games they given up 44 receptions, 722 receiving yards, and SIX touchdowns to opposing wideouts. Now granted, they’ve gone up against the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles in their last two games, but even the Broncos receivers had three touchdowns against the Washington secondary.
It’s a tough price tag for B-Rob but he certainly has immense upside in this matchup. He has double-digit touches in every game this season with four touchdowns. His involvement in the red zone is a key factor in me putting him at Captain. Robinson accounts for nearly 40% of the team’s red zone touches and targets and the Bears are soft against opposing running backs. To be fair, they suck against all offensive positions, but they’re giving up (on average) 33.2 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in full PPR formats. Given Antonio Gibson’s recent issues with ball security this is a great spot for Robinson in a matchup where I imagine he sees 15+ touches.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
I hold McLaurin in high regard because he helped me win a Mini-Max Showdown contest on DraftKings a few years ago. He’s coming off a game against Philadelphia where he caught 8-of-10 targets for 86 yards. He technically scored a touchdown last week because he recovered a fumble in the end zone and that pushed his score to 22.6 fantasy points on DraftKings. Without that fumble recovery it’s just another ho-hum week of McLaurin getting about 10-16 fantasy points. That’s good but we need a big performance for him to pop off. Now I’ll still have some Captaincy shares with McLaurin because I’ll have 150 lineups in the Mini-Max. I just didn’t feature him in that section because he’s not among my favorite options at Captain. Another concern of mine is that prior to last week, McLaurin had not seen more than seven targets in a game and most offenses haven’t thrown on Chicago simply because it’s so easy to run on them.
Howell is a player I’ll have maybe at Captain in 5-7% of my Mini-Max lineups. There’s a good floor in this matchup and he’s averaging 35 pass attempts per game so far this season. He’s flirted with the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings a couple times but hasn’t logged it yet. And he has just four touchdowns on the year with six turnovers. But the Bears give up the second-most fantasy points per game (21.6) to opposing quarterbacks. Three opposing quarterbacks have thrown at least three touchdowns on Chicago this year (Jordan Love, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson). The matchup is so soft that he certainly could pop off so that’s why he’s worth mixing in exposure at Captain, but if he’s going off there’s a good chance one of his more elite pass catchers is as well.
Herbert smashed last week against the Denver Broncos to the tune of 22 total touches for 122 total yards and a touchdown. It was refreshing to see Chicago stick with him after he lost a fumble last week. Jacob Gibbs of CBS Sports provides some great analysis and numbers on a daily basis. He was pretty high going into the Week 4 matchup for Herbert as we can see below…
Now to go along with that, Herbert had a 63% route participation rate last week, he averages 3.27 yards after contact post-Week 4, and boasts the highest avoided tackle rate among running backs. The Bears are still underdogs in this matchup against Washington, but this is a game script that I think he maintains involvement especially coming off a huge game last week. He’s certainly live for some exposure at Captain so long as Justin Fields doesn’t hog all the touchdowns.
I won’t lie, Dotson was the last player I wrote up for the Showdown Playbook. I prefer every player priced above him on DraftKings. But since it’s so easy for wide receivers to produce against the Chicago Bears, I have to give him some love. And I’m not fading him at all, I want exposure. But he only has 14 receptions for 110 yards and he finally found the end zone last week. I don’t mind playing a couple lineups with him at Captain because it’s a leverage spot for sure. But the overall production is hard to get behind. Dotson usually does a great job of getting open, but a lot of his targets have been uncatchable. Hopefully Howell can get him the ball with ease against a very weak secondary.
Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears
This is a tough spot for Cole Kmet especially after his big multi-touchdown game this past Sunday. But the Commanders are tough against tight ends. Washington has allowed just 81 receiving yards to the tight end position all year and 44 of those yards came in Week 1. Over the last three games, tight ends have just five receptions on this defense. Part of the reason is that Washington’s pass rush calls for most tight ends to stay on the line of scrimmage and help with pass protection. It’s not a spot I love and truthfully if he didn’t score twice last week, I wouldn’t have committed any time to writing him up in this spot.
Thomas returned from the concussion protocol last week and played 79% of the team’s offensive snaps. He only had three targets, but he caught them all. Remember, he had eight targets in Week 1 and caught a touchdown against Denver but was injured on the play and had to come out of the game. This is an offense that likes to get the tight end involved and he’s reasonably priced in this primetime matchup. I also think it’s viable to get exposure to Curtis Samuel. Samuel saves you $1,400 by pivoting off Dotson and you know the Commanders will try one or two designed runs with Samuel in addition to feeding him a few targets.
Mooney is in a beneficial spot as he gets bumped up to the WR2 option on the Chicago Bears with Chase Claypool being out. Last week he caught all four of his targets for 51 yards. Mooney is a highly volatile play for this slate. The ceiling is high, but the floor is low. But you have to imagine he can maybe draw five or so targets. He’s not as cheap as I thought he’d be, but you can manage the play in this spot.
I’m not particularly high on the rookie simply because he’s dependent on finding the end zone. He’s seen double-digit touches in two games so far this season, but the output has been minimal and if this game stays competitive it probably leans in Khalil Herbert’s favor. If he was in the $3,000 range on DraftKings I could stomach the exposure. But he will cost you $4,800 for a Flex spot. I’d rather pivot to a kicker because he needs a negative game script to be involved.
I won’t sugarcoat it, I feel like I’ve done you all a disservice at times with D/ST’s. I never play them at Captain. Probably never will unless the winds are incredibly high or both teams are playing in rain, mud, or a meteor shower. I’ve covered 10 Showdown slates through the first four weeks and off the top of my head there have already been at least two optimal D/ST’s at Captain. I had such terrible exposure to the Monday Night Game that I didn’t have a single share of the Seahawks D/ST even in the Flex. I was expecting a 34-31 type game Monday night and I was way off. Week 4 was rough and perhaps I’ll reconsider my D/ST belief for Showdown contests. But I don’t think it’ll be in this matchup. Let’s take a look at this tweet from Cody Main of Establish The Run from a couple weeks ago…
I’ve shared this in another recent Showdown articles and in Discord. Now in reference to that San Francisco performance, they put up something like eight fantasy points against the Giants in that Showdown matchup two weeks ago. For Thursday night we have the Washington Commanders sitting at $5,400 so while they fall $100 short of Cody’s requirements, this is still a significant price for a D/ST that doesn’t have a great secondary. But they have, what is believed to be, an outstanding pass rush. They’ve allowed their last three opponents to put up 30+ points on them and in that same three-game span they’ve allowed an even 1,200 yards of total offense. All while having 10 sacks, which is good, but just three takeaways. It’s a safe fade for me with this D/ST at Captain but I’ll have exposure at Flex because these Thursday games are kind of ugly and can be low scoring. On the other side, the Chicago Bears might have one of the worst defenses in the league. They have just two sacks and a pair of takeaways through four weeks. Washington can either run the ball down their throat or Sam Howell can distribute it to anyone in the passing game. I’m not a fan of playing Chicago’s D/ST in this matchup.
I don’t typically do a significant deep dive into kickers. You’ve all read these Showdown Playbooks. The idea is that you correlate your kicker and offensive pieces in your lineup hoping to get some extra points for cheap. Both kickers have favorable matchups tonight. Cairo Santos faces a Commanders D/ST that so far has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing kickers at 13.5 fantasy points per game. The Chicago Bears have yielded about 9.8 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers. Now I still think it’s worth mentioning that these numbers won’t always hold up on their own. We still need these offenses to move the ball (which they should) and to stall in the red zone to even give these kickers a shot at volume. The kicker position is very dependent on factors outside of its own control for fantasy football success. But I’m fine getting Flex exposure to either Cairo Santos or Joey Slye in this matchup.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
This isn’t a great game script for Antonio Gibson. His involvement in the offense is dependent on the Chicago Bears getting a huge lead. Last week should have been a good narrative for Gibson. They played the Eagles and if Washington had been blown out, that would’ve helped Gibson. He had a 72% route participation in Week 3 against Buffalo. Then, in a more competitive game, that dropped to 35% against Philadelphia. If this game stays competitive it probably benefits Brian Robinson However, he’s incredibly cheap in this spot. $3,200 for a Flex play on DraftKings for a player that can certainly catch passes is tough to pass up. But I imagine the price tag draws a lot of DFS players to him and that does concern me. On top of that he’s already fumbled three times through the first four games and he’s lost two of those. Name recognition likely makes him popular so tread with caution with this play.
St. Brown was active last week for the first time this season and caught his only target. The appeal with St. Brown is that he probably steps up into that WR3 role with Chase Claypool being listed as a healthy scratch as the team looks to trade him. EQSB likely comes off the field in three-wide receiver sets but he’s very affordable and there is a game script where the Bears fall behind and have to get more involved with the passing game.
Cole Turner and John Bates, TE, Washington Commanders
We noted in the Logan Thomas section how bad the Bears are against the tight end position. When Thomas returned last week, these two took a backseat to him. But they’re both under $1,000 and can justify their price tags with a couple catches. Granted, those aren’t a guarantee. But if either of these players score a touchdown, they’re likely optimal.
Tyler Scott, WR, Chicago Bears
Given the situation surrounding Chase Claypool, we may see more rub from Tyler Scott. However, he’s still likely the fourth wide receiver in the pecking order. But he had two designed runs called for him last week, yet only has three targets on the season. He is my preferred $200 play but if D’Onta Foreman isn’t a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game, I’m fine getting some shares there.
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