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Week 2 DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15), running back Jerick McKinnon (1), wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) and offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (57) celebrate a touchdown with wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

• The projections assume Keenan Allen will not play and that Josh Palmer will fill into a bigger role.

Austin Ekeler is the best value in the CPT spot, based on the assumption that a more limited Week 1 role will leave him less popular with Showdown players.

• In the FLEX spots, you should mix in Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Josh Palmer. We expect Mahomes to be overused as the CPT, leaving value at FLEX.

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We'll analyze all of the NFL’s “island” games (TNF, SNF and MNF) and playoff matchups this season for DFS purposes, 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 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

  • A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to this game: 2021 Divisional Round: Kansas City ChiefsBuffalo Bills, with Patrick Mahomes as himself and Josh Allen playing the role of Justin Herbert.
  • 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 2018-2022 Showdown contest results to optimal allocations.
  • Recent CPT ownership trends illustrated for both starting lineups.
  • A table showing the most common players on optimal lineups for each player. This allows you to see which other players are commonly found on the same optimal lineups as a player you’re interested in rostering.

THE OPTIMAL ROSTER

To analyze this specific Showdown slate, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups from 2014 to 2022 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
Patrick Mahomes QB KC Patrick Mahomes QB KC
Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB KC Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB KC
Byron Pringle WR KC JuJu Smith-Schuster WR KC
Travis Kelce TE KC Travis Kelce TE KC
Josh Allen QB BUF Justin Herbert QB LAC
Devin Singletary RB BUF Austin Ekeler RB LAC
Stefon Diggs WR BUF Mike Williams WR LAC
Dawson Knox TE BUF Gerald Everett TE LAC

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Chiefs -2.5, 54 O/U versus this matchup at Chiefs -4, 54.5 O/U). These aren’t all 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
Gabriel Davis BUF WR CPT 55.1
Patrick Mahomes KC QB FLEX 43.0
Josh Allen BUF QB FLEX 39.0
Tyreek Hill KC WR FLEX 34.8
Travis Kelce KC TE FLEX 23.6
Cole Beasley BUF WR FLEX 12.0

For this game and 99 other similar matchups, we 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?

We went through the millions of possible lineup combinations for the 100 most similar matchups to find who the CPT selections were on the top five highest-scoring lineups for each matchup. Here are the 500 CPT choices from those matchups by position rank according to salary.


BREAKING DOWN TOTAL OPTIMAL ROSTERS

This graph illustrates the full range of allocations for the different positions to measure how many of the 500 optimal rosters had exactly zero, one or two of the given positions.


HISTORICAL OWNERSHIP

The boxplot above shows the ranges for CPT ownership for each starting player in contests since 2019.


Projected ownership versus optimal

This is where the analysis comes together and becomes actionable. What’s most important when viewing these numbers is to contrast them to the optimal numbers taken from the analysis above for different positions. Then, we see where the leverage may exist.

The two tables below compare the optimal allocations above, with adjustments for the personnel of this particular matchup, to PFF's ownership projections for CPT and FLEX.

DRAFTKINGS SHOWDOWN CAPTAIN

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