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Week 3 DraftKings Monday Night Football Showdown: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Inglewood, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in the first quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-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 3 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

1. A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to Dallas CowboysPhiladelphia Eagles as an illustration of the matching process: 2019 Week 3 Kansas CityBaltimore Ravens, featuring Patrick Mahomes as Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson playing the role of Jalen Hurts.

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.


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
Patrick Mahomes QB KC Dak Prescott QB DAL
LeSean McCoy RB KC Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL
Sammy Watkins WR KC CeeDee Lamb WR DAL
Travis Kelce TE KC Dalton Schultz TE DAL
Lamar Jackson QB BLT Jalen Hurts QB PHI
Mark Ingram II RB BLT Miles Sanders RB PHI
Willie Snead IV WR BLT DeVonta Smith WR PHI
Mark Andrews TE BLT Dallas Goedert TE PHI

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Chiefs -4.5, 52 O/U versus this matchup at Cowboys -3.5, 51.5 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
Mark Ingram II BLT RB CPT 38.5
Patrick Mahomes KC QB FLEX 29.9
LeSean McCoy KC RB FLEX 23.0
Lamar Jackson BLT QB FLEX 21.3
Mecole Hardman KC WR FLEX 18.4
Darrel Williams KC RB FLEX 15.9

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.


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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