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Week 8 DraftKings Monday Night Football Showdown: Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

• Best CPT Value: The Cincinnati BengalsJoe Burrow and Joe Mixon have slightly positive leverage for the CPT spot, with the Cleveland BrownsDonovan Peoples-Jones as the highest leverage option.

• FLEX Values: The Bengals' Tee Higgins projects as the best value in the FLEX position among the highest salaried players.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This season, we'll 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 Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

  • A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to this game: 2014 Week 6: Indianapolis ColtsHouston Texans, with Andrew Luck as Joe Burrow and Arian Foster playing Nick Chubb‘s role.
  • 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 are 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.

Methodology

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
Andrew Luck QB IND Joe Burrow QB CIN
Ahmad Bradshaw RB IND Joe Mixon RB CIN
Reggie Wayne WR IND Tee Higgins WR CIN
Dwayne Allen TE IND Hayden Hurst TE CIN
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB HOU Jacoby Brissett QB CLE
Arian Foster RB HOU Nick Chubb RB CLE
DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU Amari Cooper WR CLE
Garrett Graham TE HOU Harrison Bryant TE CLE

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Colts -2.5, 46 O/U versus this matchup at Bengals -3, 45 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
T.Y. Hilton IND WR CPT 40.3
Arian Foster HOU RB FLEX 32.1
Andrew Luck IND QB FLEX 30.6
Andre Johnson HOU WR FLEX 22.9
Ahmad Bradshaw IND RB FLEX 14.9
Texans HOU DST FLEX 12.0

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?

I went through the millions of possible lineup combinations for the 100 most similar matchups and found who the CPT selections were on the top-five 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 our ownership projections for CPT and FLEX.

DraftKings showdown captain

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