Week 12 DraftKings Thanksgiving Football Showdown: Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections | PFF

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Week 12 DraftKings Thanksgiving Football Showdown: Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints

Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II (14) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-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 12 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

1. A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to Buffalo BillsNew Orleans Saints as an illustration of the matching process: 2021 Week 5 Baltimore RavensIndianapolis Colts, featuring Lamar Jackson as Josh Allen and Carson Wentz playing the role of Trevor Siemian.

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
Lamar Jackson QB BLT Josh Allen QB BUF
Latavius Murray RB BLT Devin Singletary RB BUF
Marquise Brown WR BLT Stefon Diggs WR BUF
Mark Andrews TE BLT Dawson Knox TE BUF
Carson Wentz QB IND Trevor Siemian QB NO
Jonathan Taylor RB IND Mark Ingram II RB NO
Zach Pascal WR IND Tre'Quan Smith WR NO
Mo Alie-Cox TE IND Juwan Johnson TE NO

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Ravens -7.5 46.5 O/U versus this matchup at Bills -6.5, 45.5 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
Lamar Jackson BLT QB CPT 41.9
Mark Andrews BLT TE FLEX 40.7
Marquise Brown BLT WR FLEX 36.5
Jonathan Taylor IND RB FLEX 34.9
Carson Wentz IND QB FLEX 26.6
Michael Pittman Jr. IND WR FLEX 20.9

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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