Monday Night Football DFS Showdown: Week 17 Bills vs Bengals

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 Buffalo Bills are heading to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals as 1-point favorites. The total is set at 49.5. 

Injury Notes

Neither team has a notable injury.

Buffalo Bills Offense 


Josh Allen: $11,400

On the season Buffalo ranks 15th in pass rate, but over the last three weeks, they’ve ranked 21st. Allen is averaging just over 31 passing attempts per game over the last three games but he’s also averaging over eight rushing attempts. Even with the recent downswing in pass rate, Allen will be the likeliest Captain. On slates where the total approaches 50, I prefer to get slightly more unique at Captain given how many players can have a ceiling game. Allen is a great Captain option but he’s also going to carry the highest exposure.

Running back

Devin Singletary: $7,000

The Bills’ rush rate has gone up over the last three weeks, but so have the snaps for James Cook. Singletary has averaged just over 12 opportunities in the last two weeks and holds the lead in snap percentage. Both backs will be great value in a game where all the pass catchers will be heavily rostered. I will have exposure to both backs but on a slate that requires penny-pinching, it makes sense to go with Cook more often.

James Cook: $5,600

Last week Cook had his highest rushing output of the season. He matched Singletary in opportunities. The split will likely be even for the first time this season, and Cook offers $1,400 in savings.


Stefon Diggs: $10,400

Diggs has been largely disappointing over the last three weeks. Fortunately, his recent woes have been accompanied by a discount. He has been a $12,000 player through most of his time with the Bills, and we’re getting him at just $10,400 here in a shootout. His price cut will result in high rostership, but he’s cheap enough to pair with Allen both in the Captain and the Flex.

Gabriel Davis: $6,400 

Davis has been targeted six times in each of the last two games. He’s the only receiver playing nearly every snap. He hasn’t had a ceiling game since Week 5, but we’ve seen it enough to know it’s there. As I alluded to earlier: I prefer going with lesser-rostered Captains in high-scoring games. Davis is the perfect candidate.

Dawson Knox: $4,800

Knox’s snap target share has picked up over the last three weeks. He’s averaging just over six targets per game. He’s also on a three-game touchdown streak. Even with his recent hot streak, his middling price should keep his roster percentage in check.

Isaiah McKenzie: $2,800

For the first time this season, McKenzie was out-snapped by Khalil Shakir. Cole Beasley lost snaps in his second outing. He was also targeted the fewest times since Week 11. At cost, he is still worth consideration even with the recent shift in workload. 

Cole Beasley: $2,400

Beasley is not receiving enough snaps to be viable over either McKenzie or Shakir.

Punt Plays

Khalil Shakir: $800

Shakir earned his third-highest snap share of the season but was targeted just once. McKenzie is the safest of the ancillary receiving options, but with the discount, Shakir helps us roster higher-priced options. 

Favorite Stack

Gabriel Davis / Josh Allen / James Cook / Joe Mixon

Davis should be less than 5% rostered at Captain while carrying one of the highest ceilings of the slate. He’s been disappointing much of the year, but his workload has been healthy of late. Allen belongs in most lineups, but especially so if one of his receivers is at Captain. James Cook is a great balance of value and opportunity. Since stacking Buffalo means we can’t stack Cincinnati, it makes the most sense to include Mixon who would have to take opportunities away from Joe Burrow for this lineup to work.  

Cincinnati Bengals Offense


Joe Burrow: $10,800

The Bengals are on a seven-game win streak and are still giving up 1-point at home. They’re passing at the seventh-highest rate in the league. Burrow has been without at least one starting receiver most of the year, but he has his full arsenal available for this game. He’s fresh off a 52-attempt game against New England, and he’s likely to need a similar effort this week. I tend to lean toward Buffalo in terms of passing games because their starters are cheaper with less exposure, but we should be able to find a way to fit Burrow in the Flex with one of his weapons.  

Running back

Joe Mixon: $9,000

Mixon is going to be the glue that holds our Bills stacks together. He will need to have a big enough game to keep a lid on the ceilings of Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins. Over the past two weeks, he’s averaging over 20 opportunities. He will get enough work, but we will need him to run hot on the goal line. 


Ja’Marr Chase: $10,600

Chase is averaging 11 targets per game this season. He’s playing nearly every snap. The most important factor will be whether he hits the 100-yard bonus. He’s done it four times this year, with his last coming in a low-scoring affair with the Browns. His price seems cheap but Higgins and Mixon have similar upsides with additional savings. 

Tee Higgins: $9,800

Higgins has been targeted eight and nine times over the last two games since returning from injury. More importantly, he’s playing over 80% of the snaps. Typically an $800 savings isn’t worth consideration, but we will need it this week. Higgins is an excellent savings option if a lineup can’t afford Chase.

Tyler Boyd: $5,000

Boyd has been losing snaps to Trenton Irwin, who has made the most of his opportunities. He’s still been targeted nine times over the last two games and has a recent touchdown, but both he and Irwin are priced too high for their workloads. 

Hayden Hurst: $3,000

Hurst has a similar upside to Boyd but at a significant discount. He played only 13% of the snaps last week but was targeted 9 times a week prior. Hurst is far too cheap for his role.

Punt plays 

Trenton Irwin: $4,400

Irwin doubled his previous season-high snap share and scored two touchdowns. I would not be surprised to see him out-snap Boyd this week. He likely siphons just enough work to make both him and Boyd poor plays. Hurst is a better option than both Irwin and Boyd at over $1,000 less.

Mitchell Wilcox: $1,800

Wilcox has benefited from multiple different absences from Hurst. Last week he caught six passes. With Hurst back, he will settle into a secondary role, but Wilcox is still worth punt consideration.

Favorite Stack

Joe Mixon / Hayden Hurst / Josh Allen / Dawson Knox

This build goes against the consensus of a back-and-forth shootout so it should end up rather unique. When we aren’t stacking Burrow we will want to make sure we include Mixon. If he can punch in multiple touchdowns, it will limit the ceiling of the entire passing offense. Hurst would also benefit from a game where the Bengals are limited down the field. Adding Knox as another mid-range option leaves enough salary to do many different things with the last two flex positions. 

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