Fantasy News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

Week 13 DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys

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.

Click here for more PFF tools:

Rankings & Projections | WR/CB Matchup Chart | NFL & NCAA Betting Dashboards | NFL Player Props tool | NFL & NCAA Power Rankings


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 13 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

1. A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to Dallas CowboysNew Orleans Saints as an illustration of the matching process: 2014 Week 1 New England PatriotsMiami Dolphins, featuring Tom Brady as Dak Prescott and Ryan Tannehill playing the role of Taysom Hill.

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
Tom Brady QB NE Dak Prescott QB DAL
Shane Vereen RB NE Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL
Julian Edelman WR NE CeeDee Lamb WR DAL
Rob Gronkowski TE NE Dalton Schultz TE DAL
Ryan Tannehill QB MIA Taysom Hill QB NO
Knowshon Moreno RB MIA Mark Ingram II RB NO
Mike Wallace WR MIA Marquez Callaway WR NO
Charles Clay TE MIA Nick Vannett TE NO

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Patriots -3.5 47.5 O/U versus this matchup at Cowboys -4.5, 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
Knowshon Moreno MIA RB CPT 22.4
Mike Wallace MIA WR FLEX 21.1
Shane Vereen NE RB FLEX 18.1
Lamar Miller MIA RB FLEX 17.8
Julian Edelman NE WR FLEX 17.6
Caleb Sturgis MIA K FLEX 15.0

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?

Subscribe to PFF Edge to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

Tackle Lifes financial Challenges. Western Southern Financial Group.
Sponsor

Fantasy Featured Tools

  • Sort projected player stats and fantasy points by position, week, and category.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Available with

    Edge
  • PFF's Fantasy Football Expected Points tool is primarily used for identifying potential over and undervalued players.

    Available with

    Elite
  • Research past fantasy performance with sortable player stats including PFF-exclusives like aDOT and fantasy points per opportunity.

    Available with

    Edge
  • PFF’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.

    Available with

    Edge
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr