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DraftKings Showdown: Steelers vs. Patriots

Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) greets Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) after the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The changing DFS and fantasy football landscape is shifting toward single-game contests. At DraftKings, 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 a total of six players.

The biggest wrinkle of the format is the ability to choose one captain, who costs and is scored at 1.5x 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.

This season I’m going to analyze some of the NFL’s “island” games (TNF, SNF and MNF), utilizing PFF’s weekly projections, current betting lines and millions of simulated historical combinations to identify who are the best and worst values for an upcoming matchup.

My analysis of the TNF kickoff game between the Bear and Packers produced valuable insights, identifying Allen Robinson as the best bet among high-priced CPT options and showing Jimmy Graham as having the highest positive leverage at the FLEX. Both players ended up in the winning Showdown lineup.

There are three main components to each Showdown slate analysis that you’ll find below:

  • A breakdown of methodology and the most similar historical matchup to Patriots-Steelers as an illustration of the matching process: Vikings-Cardinals, 2009 Week 13, featuring Brett Farve and Kurt Warner in the roles of Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
  • 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 Showdown contest results to optimal allocations.

(New DraftKings users get a free PFF EDGE subscription when they deposit and play through a $10 deposit. Offer available only through this link.)

Methodology

To analyze this specific opening night Showdown slate, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups 2008-2018 and found the closest analogies to this matchup according to the following parameters: Betting spread, over/under, average fantasy points scoring for the top-ranked positional players of both rosters (QB1, RB1, WR1, TE1).

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