Wild Card Monday Night Football DFS Showdown: Cowboys vs Buccaneers

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 Dallas Cowboys are heading to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers as 2.5-point underdogs. The total is set at 45.5. 

Injury Notes

Neither team has a notable injury.

Dallas Cowboys Offense 


Dak Prescott: $10,400

Prescott is fresh off his worst performance of the season. He completed just 14 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Beyond that, the Cowboys rank 17th in pass rate over the last three games. With all the negativity surrounding him, we’re still just two games removed from him hitting the 300-yard-bonus and throwing three touchdown passes. He’s got the talent and the weapons to succeed in the playoffs. Due to pricing, I will have less exposure to the Cowboys, but Prescott is worth fitting in as a single stack with one of his pass catchers. 

Running back 

Tony Pollard: $8,000

It is a coin flip as to which back gets the better half of the 50/50 split for the Cowboys. Last week Pollard was returning from a one-game injury absence and still handled 43% of the snaps. He handled eight opportunities to Ezekiel Elliot’s 10. With workload considered a wash and forgetting about roster percentage, Pollard is the preferred back. 

Ezekiel Elliott: $7,800

Last week Elliott snapped his nine-game touchdown streak. The entire offense had a down week, which led to both him and Pollard managing underwhelming performances. Pollard has the slate-breaking ceiling we’re looking for but there are multiple avenues in which Elliott outscores him. When considering Elliot will carry a lower roster percentage, it makes sense that we would pivot to him over Pollard in at least some of our lineups. 


CeeDee Lamb: $10,600

Even in the Cowboys’ worst offensive performance of the year, Lamb managed to earn seven targets resulting in five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. He has the safest floor of any receiver on the slate, and he is not that much more expensive than his Tampa Bay counterparts. Unfortunately, he makes up so much of Prescott’s production that we want to pair them together, and that eats up too much salary in our Buccaneers stacks. 

Dalton Shultz: $6,400

Schultz is the preferred Dallas receiver in lineups that exclude Prescott. He’s seen 19 targets over the last two weeks, and he’s only scored in three games this season. We can hope for Schultz to rack up PPR points without adding too much to Prescott’s total.

Michael Gallup: $5,000

Gallup’s target share has been consistent, but it’s been a rough season as he’s only managed more than 50 receiving yards once. He will earn roughly five targets on 90% of the snaps, and I’ve got to believe, given his talent, that he has at least one big game in him. As someone who historically has shown the ability to do maximum damage on minimum opportunity, he fits the bill as a receiver that is worth rostering without Prescott. 

Punt Plays

T.Y. Hilton: $3,000

Hilton’s snap share has increased substantially each week since joining the Cowboys, as has his opportunity. DraftKings has assumed that Hilton will be more involved than Noah Brown in the playoffs. While the assumption may be fair given Hilton was added for this reason, I find it hard to believe the Cowboys go away from Brown entirely as he’s been such a pleasant surprise for them all year. 

Noah Brown: $2,400

Both Brown and Hilton should carry roster percentages around 10% so when entering multiple lineups, it’s worth considering exposure to both, but if just choosing one I prefer Brown. 

Favorite Stack

Tony Pollard / Brett Maher / Tom Brady / Cade Otton

Pollard is going to carry the higher roster percentage between him and Elliott, but he’s also the more enticing play, so we’ll include him at Captain to help us leverage other Pollard lineups. Assuming the passing game sputters again, and Pollard is 100% healthy, I’m happy to include only Brett Maher and fill the remainder of my lineup with Buccaneers. I will have 100% exposure to Brady simply due to the nature of pricing. It’s nice to start lineups paired with Cade Otton because we can do so much with the remaining salary but be careful not to consider Otton a punt play. His salary is cheap but his roster percentage will be north of 30%.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense 


Tom Brady: $10,000

While the Dallas passing offense grinds to a halt, the Tampa Bay offense is thriving. With a meaningless Week 18 game removed, we’re looking at Brady’s 34 completions for 432 yards and three touchdowns in a must-win Week 17 divisional matchup. Over the last three games, the Buccaneers are fifth in pass rate. Brady is a friendly quarterback to three-man stacks as he distributes the ball evenly. 

Running back

Leonard Fournette: $7,200

Fournette missed Week 18, but in his last game action, he handled 14 opportunities during the Buccaneers’ offensive explosion. His salary is far too cheap given his role, especially since it’s all but guaranteed to expand in the playoffs. This is no secret, though, so expect his roster percentage to push 50%. 

Rachaad White: $5,400

In their last full game together, White split snaps evenly with Fournette and handled one more opportunity. Even in games where the snap share has been less evenly divided, White has come close to matching Fournette’s touches. White has two receiving touchdowns on the year and could be a sneaky pairing with Brady at Captain to add an unexpected pass-catcher to the build. 


Mike Evans: $9,600

DraftKings finally did us a favor by making Evans and Chris Godwin essentially the same price, rather than the usual $1,000 gap. Evans has picked up the pace lately, averaging over nine targets per game through the last four weeks. He’s also coming off his best performance in years with over 200 yards and three touchdowns. While I’m usually on the side of Evans, we’ve got the rare opportunity to be overweight on Godwin and remain relatively unique. 

Chris Godwin: $9,200

Evans has been on fire, but Godwin has remained consistent. He’s averaging over eight targets per game for the last four weeks. Both receivers are plenty affordable and can even be paired in lineups with Brady at Captain. I prefer Godwin at Captain and it’s not a bad idea to create a rule that omits the other receiver any time one of them is included at Captain. 

Cade Otton: $1,800

Otton is all the Buccaneers are willing to use at tight end. Cameron Brate has not been targeted in his last two outings, and Kyle Rudolph looks like he will be inactive. Otton’s price is frustrating given how obvious his role has been, but he’s still worth playing to make Tampa Bay stacks work.

Punt plays

Russell Gage: $5,200

Gage and Julio Jones are expensive to be considered punts, but both of their roster percentages are expected to be in the teens. On a slate where we’re heavily stacking Brady, we’re going to want to sprinkle in exposure to his ancillary receiving options. Gage should see around five targets on just over 50% of the snaps.

Julio Jones: $4,400

Jones is a bit harder of a pill to swallow as he has played less than 30% of the snaps in his last two outings and has been targeted just four times. We can assume that his dip in usage was a result of rest for the playoffs, so it’s worth considering a bit of exposure in large field tournaments. 

Favorite Stack

Tom Brady / Rachaad White / Chris Godwin / Tony Pollard

We’re stacking the Buccaneers as home favorites due to their value at all positions. It makes sense to capitalize on that value by playing Brady at Captain and including at least three of his offensive weapons in the flex. Fournette is likely to carry an increased workload based on his playoff experience, but we’ve seen White utilized in the red zone as a receiver multiple times this season. Godwin will still carry a higher roster percentage than Evans, but the gap won’t be as large as it typically is. Expect Godwin to be closer to 40% than his usual 60%.

The Cowboys backfield is going to be difficult to pin down, so if a lineup needs a bit of relief in terms of cumulative roster percentage, Elliot makes some sense. Since we’re going with White and leaving enough salary for a pairing like Gage and Otton, we can afford to play Pollard.

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