NFL Showdown is not about who you play as much as how you play them. Median projections are a tool in the toolbox, but they are to be trusted far less than they would be on the main slate. This is because of the ramifications associated with a single player underproducing or overproducing relative to their projection. 

If a wide receiver who was projected for nine points instead earns 22 points, then there is a strong likelihood that his performance came at the detriment of a teammate, or even a member of the opposing team. His running back likely received less opportunity, while the opposing team’s running back may have seen a boost. In this scenario, his quarterback may have also produced well.

The game theory is much more intricate than this one example, but it gets you down the path of thinking of showdown as an if/then rather than a raw projection. 

There may be times when Cooper Kupp finishes as the best play of the slate without Matthew Stafford, and other times Jonathan Taylor may rush for 200 yards while Matt Ryan and Michael Pittman still make the optimal lineup. Showdown is non-binary, but over time sound lineup construction will reign supreme.

Most important of all:

The likeliest outcome is only one of infinite outcomes. When rostership dictates that the field has the game figured out, lean into builds around a different scenario. The term “any given Sunday” should be the mantra for successfully building Showdown lineups.

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Slate Breakdown

The Las Vegas Raiders are heading to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs as 7-point underdogs. The total is set at 51.5. The Chiefs have been efficient on the ground, but they are second in the league in pass rate over expectation. Kansas City can be expected to continue to pass regardless of how many points they lead by.

The Raiders will pass more often in this game, though the lineups will look similar as Josh Jacobs has been effective on the ground and through the air. Even though the Chiefs are heavy favorites, I anticipate the field leaning into Raiders-heavy builds due to the value they present. Las Vegas stacks are going to look great in optimizers, but it is unlikely we find less than two Chiefs in the optimal lineup. 

Injury Notes

JuJu Smith-Schuster – Quad – Questionable
Foster Moreau – Knee – Questionable

Las Vegas Raiders Offense

Quarterback

Derek Carr: $10,200

Derek Carr is just inside the top 10 in pass attempts. As a 7-point underdog to the Chiefs, we can expect him to exceed his season-high of 44 attempts. There couldn’t have been a better time for the Raiders to get Hunter Renfrow healthy as they will need all the weapons they can muster. Carr offers a $1,800 discount to Mahomes which will start the ripple effect that results in heavy ownership for the Raiders’ side of the ball. Las Vegas stacks are viable but require multiple players with low roster percentages to keep the lineup unique. 

Running back

Josh Jacobs: $8,800

Josh Jacobs has all speculation from his Hall of Fame game usage in the rear-view mirror. He is averaging 20 touches a game capped by an astonishing 34 touches in week four. His passing-game usage has picked up over the past two weeks. His price is fair given his usage, but he is $1,400 more than Clyde Edwards-Helaire who has produced similarly on fewer touches. Jacobs is a strong pivot off the Raiders’ passing game in Chiefs-heavy stacks. 

Brandon Bolden: $2,000

Brandon Bolden’s snap share dropped to 7% last week during Jacob’s career-best performance. Bolden still managed to earn a target. Week 4 was likely an outlier for the Raiders backfield. Bolden is a reasonable punt with a chance to play 20% of the snaps and receive close to five opportunities.

Receiver

Davante Adams: $11,400

Davante Adams has picked up right where he left off in terms of production after joining Las Vegas. He is second only to Cooper Kupp in targets. In the only game he has not scored a touchdown, he’s hit the 100-yard bonus. With Travis Kelce priced similarly, the field will likely split them in half with Adams pairing with Carr stacks and Kelce pairing with Patrick Mahomes stacks. One way to get unique is to fit Adams in as a run-back to a Chiefs stack with or without Kelce.

Hunter Renfrow: $5,800

Hunter Renfrow has missed the past two weeks after a promising start to the season. Renfrow started the season with six targets before following it up with ten in week two. Given the success Mack Hollins has generated as the third receiver over the past two weeks, we can expect Renfrow to pick up where he left off with heavy involvement. 

Mack Hollins: $5,000

Mack Hollins has been the filling-in for Renfrow over the past two weeks to the tune of 11 receptions on 16 targets with 191 yards and a touchdown. In fairness, 158 of those yards came in week three before he came back down to earth in week four. Hollins muddied the water by producing so well with Renfrow out, but Renfrow should pick up close to his snap share. If Foster Moreau misses another week, we could see more four wide receiver sets.

Darren Waller: $7,200

Darren Waller has seemed to take the biggest hit with the addition of Adams. He is averaging four catches a game and he hit pay dirt just once. Even while playing almost every tight end snap in week four, he still was not able to boost his market share. With so much value at receiver for both of these teams, Waller is not a priority. 

Favorite Stack

Davante Adams / Derek Carr / Travis Kelce / Hunter Renfrow

Adams is the most likely candidate to be the optimal captain on this slate. He will be heavily rostered but pairing him with Kelce will force some unique punt plays into the lineup. Renfrow may get a week of low rostership as the field waits to see how he is used after Hollins emerged. Hollins fits into this stack as well but should see higher ownership with his lower price tag and explosive week three.

Kansas City Chiefs Offense

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes: $12,000

Patrick Mahomes has been priced toward the ceiling for non-rushing quarterbacks. Unfortunately, his price is not likely to deter the field. The only real deterrent is Carr’s price paired with his cheaper options. Mahomes still has some ambiguity at receiver that we can capitalize on. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are both strong options at low roster percentages as they fall in the same price range as Renfrow and Hollins. Lock Kelce and Edwards-Helaire with Mahomes, then mix in Smith-Schuster and Valdez-Scantling. 

Running back

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: $7,400

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a head-scratcher for most of the season. He has been incredibly efficient on limited touches. Just as we expected regression to hit on his low volume, he received 21 opportunities. Although it was only a one-game sample size, Edwards-Helaire is more likely to continue seeing nearly 20 opportunities than he is to regress down to eight attempts. 

Jerick McKinnon: $3,000

Jerick McKinnon has been playing roughly 50% of the snaps for most of the year. He’s been on the field for most passing downs but has virtually nothing to show for it. His price is finally reasonable given his production. McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire make a unique pairing in the same lineups. 

Receiver

Travis Kelce: $10,800

Travis Kelce is not far behind Davante Adams in any statistical category. They are actually tied in receptions. With so much of the Chiefs’ production running through Kelce, he can be played as the lone run-back in Raiders-heavy builds. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster: $6,600

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s snap share continues to teeter between 60% and 70% as the Chiefs try to figure out what their wide receiver corps should look like. Regardless of snap share, Smith-Schuster has seen eight targets in three of the four games thus far. Expect Smith-Schuster to receive another eight targets at a moderate roster percentage.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: $5,200

Marquez Valdes-Scantling has played more snaps than Smith-Schuster but has not been targeted quite as often. The gap is close enough to where both players can be mixed and matched in Chiefs-heavy builds. Valdes-Scantling gets a slight lean when comparing the two as he comes with a $1,400 discount at a similar roster percentage. 

Mecole Hardman: $4,600

Mecole Hardman is following in his 2020 footsteps as his snap share will continue to decrease. The third wide receiver role is a three-man committee between Hardman, Skyy Moore, and Justin Watson. Moore’s snap share should continue to increase to the detriment of Hardman as he gets acclimated to the NFL. Hardman has been targeted only twice in the past two weeks. He’s no more than low-rostered contrarian play for large-field tournaments. 

Punt plays

Jody Fortson: $400

Sites seem to disagree about whether Jody Fortson is a wide receiver or a tight end. Either way, he’s seen a 30% snap share twice in four games and has scored on two of his four targets. He is a touchdown upside play in large field tournaments. 

Noah Gray: $600

Noah Gray has emerged as a legitimate contributor to the Chiefs’ offense, but DraftKings refuses to raise his price. He’s hovered around 50% of the snaps all year and has at least one target in each game. His lone touchdown came on a 1-yard carry which demonstrated Andy Reid’s desire to get him involved. 

Favorite Stack

Patrick Mahomes / Travis Kelce / Devante Adams / Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Kelce and Adams are going to eat up a large portion of the field’s Captain exposure which should keep Mahomes’s Captain exposure in check. Tying up so much salary in Mahomes, Kelce, and Adams will force a unique build that most will avoid. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a strong pivot as he is priced between Renfrow and Hollins. Gray and one of the kickers fit nicely with this construction.