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 Los Angeles Chargers are heading to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars as 2-point favorites. The total is set at 47.5. 

Injury Notes 

Mike Williams – Back – Out
Jamal Agnew – Shoulder – Questionable

Los Angeles Chargers Offense

Quarterback

Justin Herbert: $10,800

Herbert is going to be one of the highest-rostered Captains, but with the Jaguars’ entire offense priced too cheap, the field won’t be comfortable triple-stacking him. Even with a Charger at Captain, we’re going to see a ton of lineups with four Jaguars. With the pricing disparity, it’s a fair strategy, but the Chargers are still 2-point favorites on the road and deserve to be heavily featured in our builds. Los Angeles is second in pass rate over the entirety of 2022, but they’re 17th over the last three games. Herbert will be in most of my lineups but I prefer playing him in the flex with one of his receivers at Captain.

Running back

Austin Ekeler: $11,400

Excluding last week’s debacle that starters should not have been playing in, Ekeler averaged 17 touches per game over his last three games. He’s caught four or more passes in 15 games this season. He’s got the highest combination of floor and ceiling of any position player on the slate. He’s the most likely Charger to be included in Jaguars-heavy stacks, so we should be overweight with Ekeler at Captain to combat his high exposure. 

Receiver

Keenan Allen: $9,600

Since returning to action in Week 11, Allen has averaged over 10 targets. In games without Mike Williams, he saw a noticeable uptick in snap share. He’s a near lock for double-digit targets on over 80% of the snaps.  

Joshua Palmer: $6,600

Williams has been absent for two games twice this season. During both two-game injury stints, Palmer saw exactly 18 targets and played over 90% of the snaps. He’s as cheap as it gets for a player whose floor lives somewhere around seven targets while playing nearly every down.

Gerald Everett: $4,800

Everett is far less correlated with Williams’s absence, but he could still see a boost in snaps. He’s scored a touchdown in each of the last two games, and now has less target competition in the Redzone. He will be the least-rostered receiver amongst the Chargers’ starters but has an easy path to the optimal lineup.  

DeAndre Carter: $3,000

Carter has been largely fool’s gold anytime he’s stepped in at the third receiver, however, his biggest game of the season did come with Williams out of the lineup. In Week 12 he was targeted 10 times, resulting in seven receptions and a touchdown. This outcome is highly unlikely, but at just $3,000 he’s worth sprinkling in our Chargers stacks.

Punt Plays

Donald Parham Jr.: $1,000

Parham’s snaps have picked up significantly, but it hasn’t been showing up in the box score. He’s even been utilized between the 20s, while he was previously just brought in for red zone packages. At just $1,000 he’s the most likely punt play to hit value and has a reasonable shot at a receiving touchdown.

Michael Bandy: $800

Bandy has two games with over 80% of the snaps this season, but both Williams and Allen were inactive for those contests. With just Williams out, expect Bandy to split work with Carter. Bandy is likely to play at least 20% of the snaps, but there’s no guarantee he doesn’t eat even further into Carter’s workload. 

Favorite Stack

Austin Ekeler / Justin Herbert / Gerald Everett / Travis Etienne

With a healthy game total, both teams’ passing attacks will be heavily targeted. This puts us in a great position to be overweight on both running backs. We’ve seen both Ekeler and Etienne involved as receivers, so we don’t have a negative correlation to worry about. We still need at least one quarterback, so we’re hoping Herbert connects with Ekeler for a passing touchdown here. Everett rounds out the lineup as someone who could benefit from Williams’s absence just like Palmer but is cheaper and will be less owned. 

Jacksonville Jaguars Offense

Quarterback

Trevor Lawrence: $10,200

The Jaguars are another team widely considered to be pass-heavy that has been below league average in pass rate over the last three games. While it is true that all the Jaguars receivers are too cheap, and that the Jaguars have a real opportunity to win this game, there is still the chance that they pass less than we project.

There’s no doubt that the most comfortable solution to this slate is to stack four Jaguars with some combination of Hebert, Allen, and Ekeler, but that build is going to be extremely popular. If we build around a scenario where the Jaguars continue to pass at a lower rate, and the Chargers are forced to air it out, we will come up with unique lineups. In this instance, we still like Lawrence as a Flex option with one of his value receivers, but we avoid heavily stacking him at Captain.

Running back

Travis Etienne: $9,000

Etienne is one of my favorite players on the slate. If you read the Bills at Bengals breakdown, he functions in a lot of the same ways as we mentioned with Joe Mixon. We’re confident that a Jaguars 4-2 build is going to be quite popular, so we’re going to see a ton of lineups with Lawrence and three of his receivers. If we’re unwilling to play those lineups, that would mean the Jaguars pass at a lower rate and are finding success on the groundthus making Etienne the most valuable Jaguar.   

Receiver 

Christian Kirk: $8,000

Kirk kicks the value off at over $2,000 less than he was last week. He was less popular because of his high salary relative to his running mates, and he ended up as the optimal Captain. Somehow at a major discount, we’re still in the same situation. The field is less likely to play Kirk when they could just play Evan Engram or Zay Jones for similar usage and thousands in savings. He’s too cheap to end up as a contrarian play, but his ownership will remain palatable. 

Evan Engram: $6,200

We’re still riding the Engram rollercoaster after he had a monster stretch at the back end of the season. In Weeks 14-16, he saw a whopping 33 targets. Since then, he’s seen six on similar snap percentages. He’s in an awkward territory where we aren’t far enough removed to consider his volume forgotten about, but we aren’t confident he regains it either. His price between Jones and Kirk should keep his ownership under 30%, which makes him an excellent stacking option with Lawrence. 

Zay Jones: $5,400

If we did a blind comparison of Jones’s and Kirk’s season totals, it would be difficult to separate one from the other, but we constantly find Jones significantly cheaper on Showdown slates. The problem is that the salary has been mostly validated each time it has happened. At $5,400, Jones still deserves to be one of the highest-rostered receivers, considering he’s been targeted at least eight times in eight games and has been Lawrence’s safety blanket all season. 

Marvin Jones: $2,600

Marvin Jones’s salary is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s a shame he’s so cheap as we’ll probably see rostership over 30%. He’s been playing roughly half the snaps and has 13 targets over the last two weeks. Even if we go with his season average of five targets, Marvin Jones is still a smash at cost. He can be used as a tool to get the rest of a lineup to fit, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking he’s one of the players aiding in keeping your cumulative ownership down. 

Punt plays 

Jamal Agnew: $1,600

Agnew was considered a slam-dunk punt option against the Titans, and he served as a reminder that there is no such thing as a slam-dunk punt option. Whenever there’s a punt option that appears to be a lock, it isn’t poor practice to omit them completely. This week he’s coming into the game with an injury designation, and a disappointing performance at 27% rostered against the Titans. His touch-to-snap ratio is great and he’s got the ability to break a long play. With the recent blemishes, we should be able to play him at sub-10% this week so long as he’s active. 

Favorite Stack 

Travis Etienne / Trevor Lawrence / Marvin Jones / Austin Ekeler

This build is the inverse of the Chargers stack we built earlier. We still like being overweight on both dual-threat backs. Putting one at Captain gives us leverage over the entire game script. Lawrence and Herbert are a coin flip, but the Jaguars’ receivers are all huge values. Playing Jones at his low salary and exposure allows us to fit Ekeler without eating too much salary or being too chalky.  

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