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DraftKings Showdown: Bengals vs. Steelers

By Kevin Cole
Sep 30, 2019

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Dec 30, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) rushes the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The changing DFS and fantasy football landscape is shifting toward single-game contests. At DraftKings, the biggest is their Showdown Captain Mode format. The format blends the ease of focusing on a single game with the ability to differentiate yourself from the competition by choosing a total of six players.

The biggest wrinkle of the format is the ability to choose one captain, who costs and is scored at 1.5x the standard values. The CPT designation opens up another layer of strategy while exponentially increasing the number of possible lineup combinations, which is important for reducing duplicate winners and split prizes.

This season I’m going to analyze some of the NFL’s “island” games (TNF, SNF, and MNF), utilizing PFF’s weekly projections, current betting lines and millions of simulated historical combinations to identify who are the best and worst values for an upcoming matchup.

There are three main components to each Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

  • A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to Steelers-Bengals as an illustration of the matching process: Giants-Lions, 2017 Week 2, featuring Eli Manning as Mason Rudolph, Odell Beckham Jr. as JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Matthew Stafford as Andy Dalton.
  • Optimal lineup allocations (CPT and total roster) for both teams based on the results of similar historical matchups.
  • Comparison of player ownership projections for FLEX and CPT produced by a model trained on 2018 Showdown contest results to optimal allocations.

Methodology

To analyze this specific Showdown slate, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups 2008-2018 and found the closest analogies to this matchup according to the following parameters: Betting spread, over/under, average fantasy points scoring for the top-ranked positional players of both rosters (QB1, RB1, WR1, TE1).

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