Thursday Night DFS: Who to play and who to sit in this mega showdown between KC and Los Angeles
Welcome back to Week 15 of the Thursday Night Football Showdown Build here at Aaron Torres Online. We’re in the final stretch and most season long leagues are headed to the playoffs this week. The good thing is that even if you didn’t make the playoffs in your leagues, you still have DFS! This week we get what should be a great game between Kansas City and Los Angeles who both have some top tier talent, which is great for fantasy football. This game has some solid options and hopefully we will get a high scoring game. With some injury question marks and a lot of good players at high salaries, this week I am going to build a tournament lineup with some upside instead of our regular cash game lineup.
As you know, I come to you weekly with a column specifically focused on one type of DFS contest, the Showdown style on DraftKings. I am here every Thursday, specifically giving you players and strategy for the Thursday Night Football Showdown contests. Showdown Style is a DFS contests, also referred to as Captain Mode contests, where your roster consists of only six players and must include players from both teams. The positions in this type of contest are a “Captain” and 5 “Flex” players. This means that you can play a QB, RB, WR, TE, K or Defense in any of those roster spots with no minimum or maximum at any position. The player you select as the captain will score 1.5 times the standard fantasy point value for every statistic but drafting a player in the captain spot will also cost you more salary than if you were to draft them in a flex spot.
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With that, let’s build out our week 15 Thursday Night Football Showdown Slate Lineup!
The Captain Spot
As I mentioned, the player you use in this spot is going to cost you more salary by being the captain, but it will also score you 1.5 times the standard point value earned. This week, we have two of the game’s elite quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. It is easy to want to play one of those guys in the captain spot this week, but you have to think about what that does to the rest of your lineup build. If you choose to use one of the quarterbacks, chances are you won’t be able to use Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen or Mike Williams. Austin Ekeler is also a high salary star player in this player pool, but he is questionable to play and I’m not sure he suits up in this one.
If you want to use one of the quarterbacks here, know it will come with the cost of having to use a ton of dart throws in the flex spots. I’m not comfortable doing that so I will look to use them both as flex options and target a lower salary player as my captain.
The guy I am looking at in my captain spot is the player who is the eighth highest salaried in this game, Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Now because we are building a tournament lineup this week, we want to be a little different from the competition and I believe this play does that for us. CEH is coming off a two-touchdown game, but people may be scared away by the fact that he only carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards last week.
Besides that, they will also be more likely to want to use one of the higher profile players that I mentioned in the last paragraph as their captain. Using CEH in the captain spot saves us money, allowing us to build a solid group of flex players while saving some money. It is also a good matchup for Clyde. Los Angeles ranks 31st in the league in run defense and will surely be trying to contain Pat Mahomes and the passing attack. While Darrel Williams still gets involved as a pass catching back, he hasn’t has more than 8 touches since CEH returned to the lineup. CEH will catch a couple of passes himself and will be the lead back for KC. He has 3 straight games with double digit fantasy points and this game will make it 4 in a row. He is my contrarian captain this week at $10,500.
Flex Spots with high salaries
Here’s a factor in why I am using CEH at captain. I want to be able to afford both quarterbacks and a high-profile receiving option in three of my flex spots. I will put Mahomes in at $12,000 and add Herbert as well at $10,800. I am going to fade Austin Ekeler who is dealing with an ankle injury and is a gametime decision. I don’t believe he plays this week so I’m not taking the chance. Mike Williams is also banged up and dealing with a foot injury. He will be out there, but I am going to look at the receiving options here with more upside and consistency. I will be looking at Tyreek Hill at $11,400, Keenan Allen at $9,400 and Travis Kelce at $8,600. I want to get one of those guys in my lineup and in a tournament build, I want a guy who can score multiple touchdowns. Honestly, all 3 of those guys can do that and all have had plenty of games with double digit targets. They are all great options, and I will use one, but will have to see how the rest of the lineup plays out before deciding which one. Let’s look at some value options and come back to this decision.
Flex Spots with value
Here is where we need to find a player or two to make the lineup work. Unfortunately, these 2 teams are front loaded with talent and the mid-range options aren’t very attractive. The Kansas City receivers behind Hill are Mecole Hardman at $5,000 and Byron Pringle at $2,600. They are both out there running routes but don’t get many targets. Even when they do, they don’t always come down with them as we saw last week and most of this season. Add to that the fact that Los Angeles has given up the 5th least points to the wide receiver position and I don’t like using either of those guys in my lineup.
Besides Allen and Williams, the next best pass catching options for LA are Jalen Guyton at $4,800, Josh Palmer at $2,200 and tight end Jared Cook at $5,400. If Cook was a bit cheaper, I would consider him, but only getting 4-5 targets a game, I can’t spend that on a touchdown dependent tight end. Both receivers stepped up last week with Keenan Allen out, but with Allen back, the target tree gets narrower again. Guyton is the one who has had a larger role when Allen and Williams are both out there and he is a deep threat who can connect with Justin Herbert for chunk plays which we have seen the last 2 weeks. If I use Hill or Kelce, I can look to use Guyton on the other side if I can afford it.
Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker is also in play in this game at $4,000. Butker has at least 9 fantasy points in each of his last 5 games and has scored 12 or more in 3 of the 5. At a $4,000 salary, getting to 12 would give us a 3 times return on our investment and that would be perfect from a salary saving flex option.
The dart throw options in this game are the running backs who would get a larger workload if Ekeler misses this game like I think he will. Justin Jackson is $2,000 and Joshua Kelley is $800. They split the touches last week once Ekeler went down and that should be what we see again if Ekeler is not out there for this one. Jackson is the more exciting back and has done more with his touches than Kelley, which is why he is higher priced. Jackson also profiles as a pass catching back so in a PPR format like DraftKings, he gives us more upside. I prefer to use Jackson if I can afford him.
Final Build Thoughts
We have a captain and 2 flex spots locked in already. Filling the final 3 spots will come down to salary and math. I played around with it and came up with these possible options:
Hill, Butker, Kelley
Allen, Butker, Jackson (You could use Guyton instead of Butker but that’s a lot riding on LA)
Kelce, Guyton, Jackson
For me, even the upside of having Tyreek Hill doesn’t allow me to stomach playing Kelley and a kicker with him so that’s out. I want to use Jackson over Kelley and by not using Hill I can accomplish that. My decision comes down to do I use Allen or Kelce and do I use Guyton or Butker. Both Allen and Kelce have reasons why I would want to use them. Allen has at least 8 targets in every game but 1 this season. Kelce also gets targeted frequently and he also gets a good matchup as LA has given up the 6th most points to the tight end position this season. If I was building a cash game lineup, Id lean building with Butker over building with Guyton for the floor, but since we are building a tournament lineup and shooting for upside, I will go with Guyton and hope for a long touchdown.
With the 5 positions locked in, the only decision is Allen or Kelce. Using Allen would give us no piece of the KC passing game and we already have Guyton for a piece of the KC passing game, so I am going to go with Travis Kelce. This is a difficult build and there are many ways to slice it. We’re playing tournaments this week so let’s take a shot and be bold! Remember when playing tournaments, there is a likelihood you wont take home the big prize unless things go your way, so play responsibly.
Week 15 Thursday Night Football Showdown Style Lineup
Captain – Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Flex – Patrick Mahomes
Flex – Justin Herbert
Flex – Jaylen Guyton
Flex – Justin Jackson
Flex – Travis Kelce (or Keenan Allen)
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