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 Kansas City Chiefs are heading to Arizona to take on the Eagles as 1.5-point underdogs in Superbowl 57! The total is set at 51.

Injury Notes 

Mecole Hardman – Pelvis – Out

Kansas City Chiefs Offense

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes: $11,000

In Mahomes’s first game since his high-ankle sprain in the Divisional Round, he completed 29 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. With two weeks of rest since then, the injury is a non-factor. Unfortunately, I won’t be taking advantage of the roster percentage discount this week, as stacking Jalen Hurts leaves far more options open while maintaining similar median projections.

Running back

Isiah Pacheco: $7,200

Pacheco dominated the backfield in the conference championship with 16 opportunities on 57% of the snaps. His six targets resulted in, by far, the highest target share of his rookie campaign. This backfield is the most difficult unit to project on either team. His roster percentage is low enough to warrant heavy exposure if you believe last week’s opportunity is going to be repeated.

Jerick McKinnon: $6,800

McKinnon was relegated to backup duties after leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns during the back half of the season. He suffered an apparent ankle injury in the AFC Championship, but that doesn’t explain his Divisional Round usage. I’m choosing to ignore the Divisional Round, give him the benefit of the doubt for the AFC Championship, and lean on McKinnon’s late-season success. He’s cheaper and carries a lower roster percentage than Pacheco but has the opportunity to regain his starting workload.  

Receiver

Travis Kelce: $10,600

Kelce is the most expensive skill position of the slate. He will be featured in just about every lineup that includes Mahomes. This pairing of NFL greats is ideal, but it is going to lead to a very tight grouping of players for the last four roster spots. If stacking the Chiefs in large field tournaments, try including lineups that roster Kelce or Mahomes without the other. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: $6,200

Valdes-Scantling had one of the most dominant performances of his career last week. It came on the back of injuries to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman. DraftKings doubled his price, and two of the three primary receivers for the Chiefs are returning from injury. Valdes-Scantling will carry a low roster percentage, which once again makes him a strong contrarian option.  

JuJu Smith-Schuster: $5,600

Smith-Schuster was one of the more popular options of the slate last game due to his low price tag. After getting injured, he’s maintained the same price, but his roster percentage is projected to be lower. Valdes-Scantling is the preferred option at a lower roster percentage, but they’re both worth using in Mahomes lineups; especially when they don’t include Kelce.

Kadarius Toney: $4,400

Toney is expected to be at full health after tweaking his ankle in the AFC Championship. He’s developed an impressive rapport with Mahomes, which is likely the cause for his high opportunity rate on his low snap count. He and Smith-Schuster will both be pushing a 30% roster percentage, but Toney comes at a hefty discount. 

Punt Plays

Justin Watson: $2,000

Watson was out due to illness in the AFC Championship. He has been targeted multiple times in 10 of 18 games and has a high average depth of target. At a roster percentage somewhere south of 5%, a long touchdown reception for Watson would win tournaments.

Noah Gray: $1,200

Gray is the anti-Watson. He is also likely to receive two targets, but he may only gain four yards. He’s been a staple of my Chiefs lineups all season, but with his roster percentage expected to catch up to us in this game, I prefer paying up for Watson.

Favorite Stack

Miles Sanders / Patrick Mahomes / Justin Watson / Jalen Hurts

Sanders propelled DFS players to glory last week with his two touchdowns on limited opportunities. His roster percentage is once again being discounted due to his workload, but the Eagles haven’t been in a competitive game for most of the season. Sanders might not be the strongest Captain, but he’s better than his 2% roster percentage would indicate. He also allows us to play both quarterbacks comfortably.

This could be a Chiefs 4-2 or an Eagles 4-2 depending on who we add. Watson can be replaced by Quez Watkins and a more expensive receiver can be added to Mahomes. Staring Sanders, Hurts, and Mahomes lets us take our lineups in multiple viable directions and is great for large field 3-max. 

Philadelphia Eagles Offense

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts: $11,200

Hurts is going to be the most popular player on the slate and for good reason. He has a ton of outs to succeed. He can rush for two touchdowns, or he can throw for three. He could hit the rushing bonus, the passing bonus, or both. We don’t need to be afraid to play Hurts because we have so many unique pairings depending on how we expect him to succeed. In multi-entry tournaments, I will focus on building around Hurts both as a passer and a rusher. 

Running back

Miles Sanders: $7,800

Sanders is expected to carry a roster percentage lower than 20%, even after his two-touchdown performance last week. He hasn’t played more than 40% of the snaps since Week 16, but only one of those games was competitive, Hurts wasn’t active, and it was the only game the Eagles were playing from behind for any significant duration. I expect Sanders to double Kenneth Gainwell’s touch total and snap share.  

Kenneth Gainwell: $5,000

Gainwell handled 17 opportunities in the NFC Championship, but the game was out of hand from the first quarter on. It’s difficult to project what Gainwell’s role will be in a competitive shootout, and that’s why he carries a low roster percentage. I will have exposure to Gainwell, especially in lineups that expect the Chiefs to be ahead, but I won’t be including him with Sanders unless it’s an Eagles 5-1 with their defense. 

Receiver

A.J. Brown: $9,200

Brown has not caught more than four passes since Week 16. He still bolsters a healthy target share, and his price is reasonably lower than his in-season Showdown average. He and DeVonta Smith are the only two receivers to earn opportunities from Hurts, so in lineups with Hurts at Captain, it’s reasonable to play both primary receivers in the Flex. When playing either Brown or Smith at Captain, I’m comfortable omitting the other. 

DeVonta Smith: $8,600

Smith has been the more productive receiver of late and has the same roster percentage at a lower cost. If choosing just one Eagles receiver, Smith is the preferred option. 

Dallas Goedert: $6,400

Goedert is the glue that holds the Eagles passing stacks together. He’s averaged six targets per game over the last four games and is playing nearly every snap. His mid-range price tag is low enough to allow us to fit more viable options while still carrying the upside to lead the slate in fantasy points. 

Punt plays

Quez Watkins: $1,400

Watkins has taken a back seat to Zach Pascal in terms of snap percentage, but as Rich Hribar pointed out on Showdown Coverage this week, that has more to do with their ability to run block. In a game where Hurts is expected to drop back more than he has at any point this year, Watkins is likely to get some looks. 

Boston Scott: $3,000

Scott should only be included in lineups where we expect the Eagles to win handily and should be paired with the Eagles’ defense in those lineups. 

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