Monday Night Football DFS Showdown: Week 8 Bengals vs Browns

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 Cincinnati Bengals are heading to Cleveland to take on the Browns as 3-point favorites. The total is set at 45. 

Injury Notes

Ja’Marr Chase – Hip – Out
David Njoku – Ankle – Out

Cincinnati Bengals Offense


Joe Burrow: $11,400 

Joe Burrow is red hot over the past two weeks, hitting the 300-yard bonus in both contests. One of the primary producers in each effort was Ja’Marr Chase, who will be sidelined for an undisclosed amount of time. Fortunately for Burrow, he has another one of the league’s top receivers in Tee Higgins ready to take a step up. The Bengals lack receiver depth, but their starters are more than capable of supporting another 300-yard performance from Burrow. Burrow will be one of the highest-owned players on the slate, paired with Higgins, so we will need to put added emphasis on uniqueness in the rest of the build. 

Running back

Joe Mixon: $9,400

Joe Mixon is slightly underpriced for his role and could go overlooked with so much focus on Burrow, Higgins, and Nick Chubb. He’s played over 70% of the snaps in all but one game this season. Perhaps the most exciting part of Mixon’s profile is his new-found passing game usage after years of fantasy managers begging for that role. He’s still only averaging five targets per game, but that’s enough to pair Mixon with Burrow in hopes of a touchdown connection. 

Samaje Perine: $4,800 

The field’s desire to make Samje Perine “a thing” each Showdown slate with never make sense to me, but here we are. Perine has handled over 30% of the snaps just once this season. Excluding the Bengals’ blowout victory over the Jets, Perine has not handled more than three carries on the season. He’s too expensive for his role and would need a touchdown to stand a chance at his salary. 


Tee Higgins: $8,000

In terms of play style, Tee Higgins and Chase are quite different, but in terms of production they’re a one-for-one swap. Higgins is priced $3,000 less than Chase but carries the second-highest projection on the slate. In healthy games this season Higgins is averaging eight targets a game. With Chase out, that’s his floor. Higgins will be the most rostered player of the slate, but he deserves it. In builds where we play Higgins we will have to be particularly unique elsewhere.

Tyler Boyd: $6,400

Tyler Boyd’s role will not change, but his target share should increase. He’s been producing well on a target share under 15% for most of the year. With Chase out we should see Boyd’s target share increase to around 23% which makes him almost as much of a value as Higgins. Boyd is a strong salary relief option for Burrow stacks. 

Hayden Hurst: $5,200

Hayden Hurst steps into the third or fourth receiving role depending on game script and sits at a fair salary. He’s playing a significant portion of the tight end snaps and has already been receiving around five targets per game. Hurst is the best contrarian option to pair with Burrow.

Punt Plays

Mike Thomas: $1,200

Mike Thomas will be taking over on the outside for Chase. He will see a significant snap share, but whether he can earn targets is yet to be seen. He’s been with the Bengals for Burrow’s entire career, so we expect the rapport to be there. At just $1,200 in a full-time role Thomas will be one of the more popular punt plays we’ve seen all year, but there aren’t any reasonable pivots under $2,000. 

Favorite Stack

Joe Mixon / Joe Burrow / Bengals DST / Amari Cooper

Mixon will have lower Exposure than Burrow and Higgins and allows us to lean slightly away from the Bengals pass-happy game script that most will build around. If Mixon and the Bengals are controlling the game, Cooper will be heavily targeted by Brissett in a comeback effort.

Cleveland Browns Offense


Jacoby Brissett: $9,200

Jacoby Brissett has an enticing salary and should be low-rostered. This feels very similar to the Andy Dalton debacle in which a starting quarterback is just 20% rostered in the flex and 2% at Captain. We’ve all learned our lesson since then so Brissett shouldn’t be that low rostered but with Mixon just $400 more and Higgins $1,200 less most people won’t land on him. If the Bengals can control the game on the back of Mixon and their defense, then we should see Brissett come close to matching his season high 45 passing attempts.  

Running back

Nick Chubb: $10,800

Nick Chubb is going to project as one of the best plays of the slate due to his elite volume. One could tell the story of comfortably fading Chubb in favor of Brissett due to game script, but the Browns will continue to run as long as the game is relatively close. Chubb is an excellent play paired with Bengals stacks but will make it difficult to be unique if paired with Higgins and Burrow.  

Kareem Hunt: $5,600

Kareem Hunt is allegedly being granted his trade request and is drawing interest. There are no official reports yet, but the Browns could choose to sit him if they’re already fielding reasonable offers. If Hunt plays, he is one of the best plays of the slate as he is too cheap for his role and could get passing-game usage. 


Amari Cooper: $7,600

Amari Cooper is too cheap for his role and fits perfectly in the game script we are expecting to see. He’s been targeted 10 or more times in four games this season. Most importantly, he’s just $400 cheaper than Higgins. Cooper provides strong leverage when paired with Brissett in lineups excluding both Chubb and Higgins. 

Donovan Peoples-Jones: $5,000

Donovan Peoples-Jones is averaging nearly seven targets per game over the last four games. If Brissett drops back close to 40 times we should see Peoples-Jones reach his ceiling outcome in terms of targets. He’s priced similarly to Hurst but has a much higher ceiling and gets us off the chalky Bengals stack. 

Harrison Bryant: $4,000

Harrison Bryant is stepping up into David Njoku’s role who will miss some time due to injury. Njoku would’ve been priced similarly to Hurst and Bryant is every bit as productive as a receiver, so we get a discount here. Bryant will go overlooked in the same range as the kickers and defenses.  

Punt plays

David Bell: $2,400

David Bell is too expensive for his role, but he’s averaging close to 50% of the snaps. He is the only low-priced option we have for the Browns to rival the hefty exposure we’ll see on Thomas.

Demetric Felton Jr. / D’Ernest Johnson: $200

This is purely speculative, but it is worth noting that if Hunt misses this game due to trade speculation, then we need to pay attention to who is being reported as the next man up for the Browns. Johnson would be my guess, but Felton has more game time thus far this year.  

Favorite Stack

Nick Chubb / Joe Burrow / Hayden Hurst / Cade York 

The Bengals are expected to win this game through the air, but we can get unique by building around the Browns keeping it close. Chubb can be played at Captain while still playing four Bengals. York should be the lesser owned of the two kickers and would pair well with Chubb as the only other Brown. Hurst allows us to still stack Burrow without being too chalky. 

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