Sunday Night Football delivers a phenomenal matchup to bring a little closure to Week 9. The Buffalo Bills head to Southwest Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a rematch of last year’s game that wasn’t able to be completed. This game has everything we want for a Showdown matchup. We have plenty of Captain/MVP candidates. We have an implied total of at least 50 points. And we can slap the old “potential AFC playoff matchup preview” label on this game. The Bills come in at 5-3 but have lost two of their last four and have been without some key players on defense. After starting 1-3, the Cincinnati Bengals have won three straight games and all seems right with Joe Burrow and his calf that got the Bengals off to a sluggish start. This game is set to provide plenty of goods for betting and DFS so let’s take a look at how we should build our NFL DFS Showdown lineups to end the weekend on a high note!
Spread: Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
Total: 50.5 Points
Weather: Partly cloudy skies with temps in the high 40’s but cooling off as the game progresses. Winds aren’t expected to have much of an impact on this game.
- Josh Tupou, Defensive Tackle – OUT (Shoulder)
- Akeem Davis-Gaither, Linebacker – Questionable (Knee)
- Joe Mixon, Running Back – Questionable (Chest)
- Max Scharping, Guard – Questionable (Knee)
NFL DFS MVP/Captain
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Allen possesses the upside we’re certainly looking for on this slate. He’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in five straight games while running for a touchdown in five of his last six. He’s even capable of getting the 300-yard passing bonus on DraftKings. We can elevate the value of quarterbacks with rushing upside into the Captain/MVP position because we know they have the upside to be the most productive player on the slate. The downside to Allen is that he is prone to turnovers, but on a site like DraftKings those aren’t too costly and he can negate them with the touchdowns we’ve already discussed. He’s the most expensive player on the board and he’s gone for 25+ fantasy points in four of his last five games.
What’s not to like about Diggs in this spot? He leads the league in targets over the past month and while we’re on the topic of targets he has at least a dozen targets in five-of-eight games this year and the fewest he’s seen in a game is seven. Great floor and great ceiling with this play. Over the last month he has a first-read target share of 42% which is third in the league and he has 10 red zone targets on the season. He hasn’t gone for 100+ yards in back-to-back games but he’s already done that on five occasions this year. In this matchup with an implied total over 50 points, he’s hard to avoid. It’ll be expensive but if you can fit it, you should try and correlate him at Captain with Josh Allen in the flex. If Diggs is having a monster game then there’s a great chance Allen is having a great performance as well.
Chase is cheaper than Diggs even though his involvement the last month has been more impressive than Buffalo’s stud receiver if we’re being honest. First read target share and red zone targets? Chase has Diggs beat at 45% and 11. Chase has no fewer than eight targets in any game this season with 68 total targets in his last five games. That’s an average of 13.6 targets per game in that span. The Bills secondary hasn’t given up a lot of production through the air over their last handful of games. But they’ve played the New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over their last three games so they haven’t been tested as much. But with the injuries on defense for Buffalo, we have to like the Bengals offense in this spot.
Well I can’t list everyone at Captain and if you’ve read this article the last few weeks I’m trying to include a more contrarian option at Captain. With the injury to Dawson Knox, we finally saw Kincaid pop off for a big game to the tune of five catches on seven targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. In Week 7, against the Patriots, he caught all eight of his targets. So 15 targets over his last two games? For a rookie tight end? Yeah, sign us up baby. The Bengals have given up four touchdowns to opposing tight ends on the year and George Kittle had a huge game against them last week with nine catches for 149 yards. Our own tight end guru, Andrew Cooper, has hyped Kincaid up since he was drafted to Buffalo and we should expect big things from him in this matchup. Here’s a tweet from Coop following the Thursday night game against Tampa Bay:
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Like I said, I can’t include everyone as a Captain suggestion, but we know this slate realistically has at least eight players you could make an argument for. Burrow’s calf looks to be healed. In the first four games of the season he had just two touchdown passes with three turnovers. Over his last three games he has eight touchdown passes with two turnovers. Additionally, he’s completed 77.8% of his pass attempts over that span. On paper, the Bills look like a tough matchup. They’re the second-toughest matchup for opposing quarterbacks. But remember what we discussed in the Ja'Marr Chase section; they haven’t been tested by an elite quarterback lately. And they’ve had some brutal injuries on that side of the ball to key personnel. This is a home game for JoeBags and he’s easily playable at Captain or in the flex.
If there’s one play I’m perfectly fine leaving out of consideration for the Captain spot, it’s Mixon. He’s questionable to play, but he’ll be fine and likely suit up. He hasn’t popped for 100 rushing yards in a game yet this season, but he has 10 receptions in his last three games so there’s involvement in the passing game at least. Honestly, it’s a struggle to watch this guy sometimes. He plays in an elite offense and gets volume but he’s averaging just 64.7 rushing yards per game and has just two touchdowns this season. Opposing running backs have caught 23 passes in the last four games against Buffalo so perhaps the passing game work will be there for Mixon to be of value. But he’s the fifth-most expensive option on the board and there are higher ceilings on this slate at a cheaper price tag.
Gabe Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
I was off playing Davis at Captain in Week 8 for Thursday Night Football and that decision started to rear its ugly head early on. Davis popped off catching nine passes on 12 targets for 87 yards and a touchdown. This, of course, came after a two-game stretch where he had just four receptions on nine total targets. This is the nature of Gabe Davis. He’s a boom-or-bust type play that eight makes you look like a genus or an idiot…
Again, there’s a solid argument to play him at Captain even if the Cincinnati secondary has been playing well of late. We know Josh Allen has plenty of weapons to spread the ball around and Davis has some upside.
Tee Higgins is a player I mentally jostled with including at Captain as the “contrarian” option. Ultimately, I chose Kincaid over Higgins. It’s clear he’s not going to re-sign with the team as they likely try to make a Super Bowl run with him, but he’s only had one great game this year and he has just 14 targets in his last three games after getting twice as many through the team’s first three games. Higgins has been playing through an injury, as has his quarterback. With both getting healthy, they should both improve and Higgins could see a 20% target share going forward. Given what we’ve seen from him in the past, a $6,600 flex price tag on DraftKings just seems incredibly light.
James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
I have not given Cook much consideration as a potential Captain. He can certainly get 12-15 touches in this game. However, I’m not a fan simply because he’s not a prototypical goal line back and touchdowns may be hard to come by. If I know he’d have heavy involvement in the passing game then maybe I’d be more optimistic. He has eight catches in his last five games and he needs a touchdown to make the optimal lineup. If you have the available salary I’d much rather pay up to Higgins and chase his ceiling.
Boyd is such a tough read for me. He has touchdowns in back-to-back games and prior to last week’s game against San Francisco, he had at least seven targets in five straight games. But in that five-game stretch he only had one performance with over 40 receiving yards. The $5,400 flex price tag is reasonable but as Higgins gets a little more healthy, Boyd probably gets phased out a bit.
Kickers and D/ST’s
I’m lumping these positions together just for this game. I would much rather spend up for each team’s kicker as a flex play than play their D/ST’s. There’s a $1,000 difference Tyler Bass ($5,200) and the Bills D/ST ($4,200). And we get the same discrepancy between Evan McPherson ($4,800) and the Bengals D/ST ($3,800). The Bills defense has taken on too many injuries. They have just seven sacks in their last three games with just one takeaway. They’ve allowed 56 points to the likes of the Bucs, Patriots, and Giants while almost playing to the level of their competition. I’m more inclined to play the Bengals if you think there’s a game script where the Bills just don’t show up. The Bengals defense has been playing very well of late. They’ve allowed 50 total points over their last three games to the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals from the NFC West. Moreover, they have nine sacks and eight takeaways in that span. So while I don’t love either defense in this spot, you have to consider getting some exposure to Cincinnati. They’re slight favorites at home and this is a position of variance against a quarterback who, while talented, is prone to turnovers. A pick six or a kick return for either D/ST easily flips the script, but in a game with an implied total over 50 points, we have to be cautious.
And because of that implied total, I want exposure to the kickers. With a ton of offense on the docket, we have a cheap path to double-digit fantasy points chasing some kickers here. Neither kicker has a ton of volume at his disposal heading into this matchup. They’ve each kicked plenty of extra points of late, which speaks to the potency of their respective offenses. But the kicker position does correlate better when a quarterback is at Captain so if playing either Josh Allen or Joe Burrow at the top of your lineup, playing their kicker at the flex is sound lineup construction for a Showdown slate.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
Shakir has come on strong of late catching all 10 of his passes for 127 yards over his last two games. I’m a big fan of Reception Perception, especially the podcast between Matt Harmon and James Koh. They did a bit of a deep dive on Shakir’s involvement which you can find here, but I’ll summarize their talking points. The Bills wanted to operate more out of 12 personnel (two-tight end sets) this season, hence why they drafted Dalton Kincaid. But with Dawson Knox’s injury they’ve been forced to more 11-personnel. And in this personnel Shakir has run more vertical routes and he can beat different coverages. One thing about Reception Perception that basically makes itself unique to most other fantasy websites is the emphasis on success rate versus certain coverages. So Shakir obviously stands out to Harman and Koh because of his success rate versus man coverage (78.3%), zone coverage (82.2%), and press coverage (85.7%). Shakir is really rounding into form. And yes, even I will have a couple lineups with him at Captain because I just think he’s trending in the right direction with Knox out and he opens up so much salary to spend money elsewhere. On DraftKings, you can play Shakir at Captain, correlate him with Josh Allen, while still fitting in the next three most expensive players and then you just settle for a cheap Bengals pass catcher. Alright going to take a break to catch my breath, because this is the longest paragraph I’ve ever typed for a player in the Bargains section.
I don’t love Murray as much knowing that Shakir is available for just $800 more. But we touched on this in the NFL DFS Showdown Playbook for the Week 8 game between the Bills and Bucs. Murray is a bigger body than James Cook so he’s more likely to get the short yardage, goal line work. His workload can vary anywhere from maybe just six touches to a dozen. However, you’re just hoping he can get a touchdown. If he falls in for two short yardage touchdowns then he probably hits the optimal lineup. But he isn’t very efficient with just 66 rushing yards on 23 carries over his last four games.
Iosivas is kind of an exciting play because he’s scored in back-to-back games. But you likely aren’t getting a ton of volume from either play here. Iosivas is the more expensive option, but he’s a savvy player who knows how to get open when a play breaks down. I prefer him over Irwin who has been kept in check the last few weeks and I feel like there’s potential for Cincy to try and work in Iosivas more.
Live look at me and the girlies when we saw that Deonte Harty, on a SHOWDOWN slate… Was priced back down to just $200 in a potential shootout…
Has he been featured much lately? No, he has just two catches in his last three games. But he still gets work as a punt returner. And again, he’s $200. We just need a few catches out of him. He started the season with multiple receptions in each of Buffalo’s first five games. That obviously hasn’t been the case the last three games. But if you need a $200 flex play, he’s the probably the best option on the board.