Week 11 DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections | PFF

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Week 11 DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to throw against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The changing DFS and fantasy football landscape is shifting toward single-game contests. At DraftKings Sportsbook, 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 six players.

The biggest wrinkle of the format is the ability to choose one captain (CPT), who costs and is scored at 1.5 times 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. I wrote a primer on playing this format, with details on historical positional trends and salary usage.

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

There are five main components to this Week 11 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

1. A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to New England PatriotsAtlanta Falcons as an illustration of the matching process: 2014 Week 11 San Diego ChargersOakland Raiders, featuring Philip Rivers as Matt Ryan and Derek Carr playing the role of Mac Jones.

2. Optimal lineup allocations (CPT and total roster) for both teams based on the results of similar historical matchups.

3. Comparison of player ownership projections for FLEX and CPT produced by a model trained on 2018-2020 Showdown contest results to optimal allocations.

4. Recent CPT ownership trends illustrated for both starting lineups.

5. A table showing the most common players on optimal lineups for each player. This lets you see which other players are commonly found on the same optimal lineups as a player you’re interested in rostering.

METHODOLOGY

To analyze this specific Showdown slate, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups from 2014 to 2021 and found the closest analogies to this contest according to the following parameters: Betting spread, over/under and average fantasy points scoring for the top-ranked positional players of both rosters (QB1, RB1, WR1, TE1).

I won’t detail every matchup that falls into the top 100 for this game, but for illustration purposes, let’s look at the most similar matchup:

Historical Current
Player Pos Team Player Pos Team
Philip Rivers QB SD Mac Jones QB NE
Ryan Mathews RB SD Damien Harris RB NE
Malcom Floyd WR SD Jakobi Meyers WR NE
Antonio Gates TE SD Hunter Henry TE NE
Derek Carr QB OAK Matt Ryan QB ATL
Darren McFadden RB OAK Cordarrelle Patterson RB ATL
Andre Holmes WR OAK Russell Gage WR ATL
Mychal Rivera TE OAK Kyle Pitts TE ATL

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Chargers -10 45.5 O/U versus this matchup at Patriots -7, 47.5 O/U). All the players aren’t perfect matches, but that’s why we use 100 similar matchups and not just the single most similar.

The optimal roster for that historical matchup, assuming positional salaries equaled what they are for this showdown slate, would have been:

Player Team Position Roster Position Fantasy Pts
Malcom Floyd SD WR CPT 14.4
Keenan Allen SD WR FLEX 14.3
Philip Rivers SD QB FLEX 11.6
Chargers SD DST FLEX 11.0
Nick Novak SD K FLEX 9.0
Latavius Murray OAK RB FLEX 8.9

For this game and 99 other similar matchups, I calculated every possible combination that fits with Showdown rules (one CPT, at least one offensive player from each team) and would fall under the $50K salary threshold, assuming the salaries for the historical similar matchups are the same as those for this contest.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAPTAIN

The most unique part of the format, and therefore the biggest opportunity for a competitive advantage, is choosing your CPT. Should you always choose a QB who typically has the highest absolute fantasy scoring? Are defenses and kickers viable options? RB versus WR?

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