Week 8 DraftKings Sunday Night Football Showdown: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections | PFF

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Week 8 DraftKings Sunday Night Football Showdown: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes the catch and runs the ball for the game winning touchdown in overtime at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-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.

This season, I’m going to 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.


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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 Minnesota VikingsDallas Cowboys as an illustration of the matching process: 2020 Week 15 Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears featuring Kirk Cousins as himself, and Mitchell Trubisky playing the role of Cooper Rush.
  • Optimal lineup allocations (CPT and total roster) for both teams are based on the results of similar historical matchups.
  • Comparison of player ownership projections for FLEX and CPT produced by a model trained on 2018-2021 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.

Related content for you: NFL Week 8 Odds and Best Bets via Eric Eager and George Chahrouri

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
Kirk Cousins QB MIN Kirk Cousins QB MIN
Dalvin Cook RB MIN Dalvin Cook RB MIN
Justin Jefferson WR MIN Justin Jefferson WR MIN
Irv Smith Jr. TE MIN Tyler Conklin TE MIN
Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI Cooper Rush QB DAL
David Montgomery RB CHI Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL
Allen Robinson II WR CHI CeeDee Lamb WR DAL
Jimmy Graham TE CHI Dalton Schultz TE DAL

The spread and over/under are similar in these matchups (Vikings -3 47 O/U versus this matchup at Vikings -4, 49.5 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
David Montgomery CHI RB CPT 32.2
Dalvin Cook MIN RB FLEX 29.9
Justin Jefferson MIN WR FLEX 21.4
Kirk Cousins MIN QB FLEX 20.3
Cairo Santos CHI K FLEX 18.0
Darnell Mooney CHI WR FLEX 16.5

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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