We finally made it to Week 1! After months of speculation and hot takes we finally get to see the players out on the field to kick off the 2021 NFL season. The NFL has given us a treat with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers squaring off against “America’s Team," the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. All eyes are going to be on this Thursday Night Football game and there certainly are an abundance of high-profile players in this game. Everybody who has been itching to kick off the fantasy football season is going to be in for a treat with this game.
Here at Aaron Torres Online, 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.
In my last article, I laid out what the "Showdown Style" is, but I will give you a reminder this week: Showdown Style is a DFS contest, also referred to as Captain Mode contests, that is different than your main slate DFS contests. In Showdown, your roster consists of only 6 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.
You can pick any player in the player pool to be your captain, but you can not use a player in the captain spot and a flex spot in the same lineup. The player you select as the captain will score 1.5 time 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.
With that, lets build out our Week 1 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. Normally, I don’t like to use the most expensive player on the slate in the captain spot because it hampers your ability to fill out your lineup with quality options. In this week’s contest however, there are so many useful players and some early season values on the board that I believe it is feasible to do it this week.
Tom Brady and Dak Prescott are the most expensive players on the slate, and I am going to lean into Tom Brady this week, even at a Captain cost of $16,800, against a Dallas secondary that still is not good. They made some improvements from last season, but there is no reason that the GOAT can’t pick them apart in the opener to make a statement. Dallas also has a lot of offensive weapons so they should be able to score enough to keep Brady and the Buccaneers throwing the ball and racking up points for us. I predict a multi-touchdown throwing day for Brady and a ton of fantasy points for our lineups this week.
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Flex Spots with high salaries:
Speaking of those Dallas offensive weapons, we are going to look at a couple of them in our flex spots. The first one I am going to look to put in the lineup is going to be CeeDee Lamb. Lamb is the 4th most expensive Cowboys offensive weapon on DraftKings at $8,200, behind Prescott, Elliott and Cooper. I think Lamb has a better matchup than Cooper as I believe Cooper will be matched up with the Buccaneers best corners on the outside in Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean. Lamb runs plenty of routes out of the slot where he will see Sean Murphy-Bunting who is known to sit back and allow receivers to catch passes. I believe a lot of targets will come CeeDee’s way and he will be able to produce nice numbers in our lineups.
After Lamb, there are a few other options you can pay up for this week. Using Tom Brady in the captain spot, you want to have at least one of his receiving options in your lineup as well. You can pay up for Mike Evans at $9,200 or Chris Godwin at $8,600 and if you do that, I will take Godwin at the discount. I also believe that he will have the better cornerback matchups of the two top receivers. Ezekiel Elliot at $9,600 is also an option, but I am not going to pay up for him this week with the Cowboys missing their starting offensive lineman Zack Martin this week and going up against a fierce Buccaneers front 7 who are good against the run.
*Note – Godwin tweaked his quad so if he doesn’t look to be 100% I will pivot to Evans.
Flex Spots with value:
In Week 1, you can always find some discounts on the DFS slate before prices adjust to actual performances. In this contest there are plenty of values and I am going to build out my remaining flex spots with 3 players that have those values in salary. I am going to continue to stack the Tampa Bay passing game and add Antonio Brown to my Brady/Godwin stack at his $5,600 discount salary. He has looked great in the offseason, and we know Brady loves to throw to him. I can see AB catching a touchdown this week and paying off for us at a great value.
Another value play is Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones. Although I don’t usually like playing a bunch of weapons in the passing game AND a running back on the same team because they kind of go against each other, Jones has a salary at $5,000 that is just too cheap to ignore. Jones should be the one who leads this backfield, and he is priced $2,000 less than Leonard Fournette, so I believe this is a huge miss by the people setting the salaries on DraftKings. Jones should see 15-20 touches and if he can get to 80 yards and score a touchdown, he can return us nearly triple his value. My last value play is going to be the Tampa Bay defense, priced at $4,800. This defense is considered one of the best in the league and gets a Dallas team who is missing one of their best offensive linemen and has Dak Prescott in his first game back since his gruesome injury last season. I think there will be some sacks and even enough pressure to force a turnover or two and the Bucs defense will cash in for us at a value.
The world knows that both teams have a great number of offensive weapons and I think having a lineup that is heavily built to one side of the matchup could be a differentiator against some of the other lineup builds you will find in your DFS Showdown style contests. 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 first week and I will see you all in the winner’s circle!
Week 1 Thursday Night Football Showdown Style Lineup:
Captain – Tom Brady
Flex – CeeDee Lamb
Flex – Chris Godwin (*or Mike Evans if Godwin is not 100%)
Flex – Antonio Brown
Flex – Ronald Jones
Flex – Buccaneers Defense
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