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Thursday Night Football DFS Preview: How to build your lineup for Carolina at Houston

Credit: @Panthers (Instagram)

Welcome back to Week 3 of the Thursday Night Football Showdown Build here at Aaron Torres Online. The season kicked off with two good games in a row on Thursday Night Football, but this week I’m not sure we will get that. Even in a game last week that we expected to be a defensive battle, we got some solid offensive performances from guys like Daniel Jones who was a target in this article last week. I hope you have been able to use the information in these articles to build out a winning lineup and cash in so far. Let’s do it again!

As you know, I will be coming to you weekly with a column specifically focused on one type of DFS contest, the Showdown style on DraftKings. I will be 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.

Also before we get started, a quick reminder: I’m hosting the “DFS Flash” podcast, a quick whip around DFS show, that gets you ready for the weekend ahead. Make sure to subscribe here or listen below.

With that, let’s build out our week 3 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.

In this week’s contest there are two ways to play this. Christian McCaffrey is going to have to be in your lineup this week and the only question is will he be in your captain spot or not. With the Panthers expected to win this game, the predictive game script tells us that we should expect to see a lot of CMC. If you use McCaffrey in the captain spot, he is going to cost you $20,100, whereas if you use him in a flex he would cost $13,400. This is going to significantly impact how your lineup is built this week.

If you use CMC in the captain spot, your flex positions are going to end up having some dart throws and not having some of the top options on the slate. I would like to use guys like Sam Darnold, DJ Moore, even Brandin Cooks on the other side, but we are going to have to play with this lineup to see what we can get in there. Let’s build out our lineup backwards and put some value in our lineup to see where we can afford to put McCaffrey.

Flex Spots with value

We need to find some value in this contest to use the high-priced CMC along with any of the other higher priced guys we mentioned above. This is a game that could be one sided with the Texans already being a below average team and now playing with a rookie backup quarterback in his first NFL start. On top of that, he will be facing the Panthers defense which is coming off a terrific game where they stifled the New Orleans Saints.

In fact, this defense is certainly a flex option in this matchup. They have three interceptions and 10 sacks through two games and have only allowed a total of 21 points. At a salary of $6,200, it is a bit high price for a defense, but I like the situation they get against Davis Mills and an offensive line that isn’t very good.

Another solid value play on the Panthers side is tight end Dan Arnold. Last week Arnold had four targets and caught three of them for 55 yards. So far, the Texans have allowed the third most yards to the tight end position while also allowing the second most receptions. This was also against mediocre tight ends on the Jaguars and Browns, not guys like Waller and Kelce. At a price of $4,800, Arnold can be a good value play if he catches another five balls. If he can find the end zone, it’s a big win.

On the Houston side, there are a couple of pay down options that we can throw in to save some coin. The Texans are using a 3-headed backfield and the least expensive of the trio is the one I would want to use this week in David Johnson. Johnson is not the guy leading the team in carries but looks to be the preferred option as a pass catching back. In a game that I expect them to be playing from behind, it is that guy who I would put in my lineup if I’m going to use any of them.

The Texans wide receiver room is also thin this week, playing without Nico Collins and Danny Amendola. Brandin Cooks is the target monster, but behind him this week will be Chris Conley at $1,600 and Anthony Miller at $1,000. If you want to throw a dart at one of those guys, and they happen to get into the end zone, that would be a huge return on your investment!

Flex Spots with high salaries

This list is short and obvious. Sam Darnold is $11,200, DJ Moore is $10,600, Brandin Cooks is $10,000 and Robby Anderson is $7,800. I am not going to play Davis Mills at $8,400 in his first NFL start against a good defense with a depleted WR corps. I want to get DJ Moore in my lineup after seeing how he has produced with Darnold early in the season. I also wouldn’t mind a discount Robby Anderson as well after seeing his targets double in Week 2. The Texans have one of the worst secondaries in football and we saw multiple Jaguars receivers put up big numbers against them in the season opener. Cooks has dominated Texans targets the first 2 weeks, but I am going to fade him this week.

With limited options to pass to, I think the Panthers will be keying in on Cooks and he will see a ton of double coverage.

Final Build Thoughts

I played around with a few options at captain and any way I put CMC, Darnold and Moore in the lineup I didn’t like the way the rest of it looked. Where I ended up landing was going with both Moore and Anderson along with CMC and Arnold and effectively “having” Darnold by proxy by having all his weapons. By doing this and using two of the Texans value options in flex spots, I was even able to build it out with CMC in the captain spot. This is a bit of an unorthodox build in what could be a sloppy game, but I believe it will be front loaded enough, with some key value plays, to double our money by cashing in our 50/50 lineups.

The key to winning in DFS is paying up for the right players while finding value plays that will give you a good return on investment and I believe we have done that here with this lineup.

Let’s go out and crush this week and I will see you all in the winner’s circle!

Week 2 Thursday Night Football Showdown Style Lineup

Captain – Christian McCaffrey

Flex – DJ Moore

Flex – Robby Anderson

Flex – Dan Arnold

Flex – David Johnson

Flex – Anthony Miller

For all your DFS advice, make sure to follow JB on Twitter - also subscribe to the DFS Flash Podcast, with new episodes dropping every Friday to preview the weekend ahead.

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