DraftKings Showdown Week 1: Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs
The 2020 DFS season kicks off with a barnburner of a matchup between two high-powered offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. There are huge contests on offer from DraftKings for this showdown slates, including the chance to win a million dollars on Thursday night. We will discuss contest selection and this slate specifically a bit later but first, let’s talk some general showdown strategy.
General Showdown Strategy
Showdown strategy on DraftKings varies between cash games (double-ups, H2Hs, 50/50s) and Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP). In GPPs you are looking to embrace the variance and produce unique lineups. In cash games, it’s all about the floor. This is true of all DFS but in showdown contests, there’s a couple of approaches you can take which should be profitable over the long term.
In cash games, you want to expose yourself to team points. Most points involve QBs, RBs, and kickers. Creating a cash line-up with as many of those key pieces as possible has worked in the past. Remember, you don’t need to win to make a profit, you just need to beat half of the field. You can use a WR in a cash line-up but as they are the most volatile fantasy scoring position (see Will Fuller later) they’re not a cornerstone for a cash line-up.
Guaranteed Prize Pool Strategy
In GPPs you want to tell a story with your line-up (and not a story about how you lost your bankroll in the first few weeks of the season!) What does that mean? Well, think about how a game might play out.
For example, if Team A gets out to an early lead, it will probably rely on the run more. Team B will then naturally pass more. This means more targets for the WRs of Team B but also more opportunities for the defense of Team A. So, in this example, you would have the RB1 of Team A in the captain spot. The flex spots would include the defense of Team A as well as the QB and pass-catchers of Team B. There’s your story.
The story of a low-scoring game would involve defenses and kickers in the same lineup. A shootout would involve both QBs and as many pass-catchers as possible (price permitting).
Why are multiple lineups beneficial?
If you are entering multiple lineups, you can cater for many scenarios. I feel showdown slates lend themselves more to mass-multi-entry (MME) than single entries. Or maybe that’s because I’m not good enough to pick the one correct lineup. Either way, I’ve had more success with MME in the past.
Selecting your captain
As well as the story, correlation is very important in Showdown. If a wide receiver has a big game, the chances are their QB will too. If the QB has a monster fantasy performance, likely, at least two of his pass-catchers will as well. This is especially important when picking a Captain.
The Captain spot is the most important in your lineup. You aim to choose the highest scoring player on the slate in this spot. Historically over 70% of GPP winning showdown lineups used a RB or WR as Captain. Knowing that and understanding correlation, if you put a WR in the Captain spot, you should also play their QB in a flex spot.
Week 1 picks - Chiefs @ Texans
So how do we put all of this into practice on Thursday night? (finally, I get to the point of this article!)
It’s Week 1 so there are plenty of uncertainties. There was no preseason to give us any small clue as to how new players will be utilised. We’re reliant on camp reports and beat writers for much of our information.
Having said that, Kansas City is pretty much the same as last year. Ah, last year. I remember those heady days where we had crowds at sporting events and the word “furlough” hadn’t been invented (in the UK at least). Anyway, I digress.
The Chiefs are bringing back the majority of their championship-winning offense. Damien Williams has opted out of the season and it appears that Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH from now on!) has been handed the keys to the running back position. It’s like passing your driving test one day and being given a Ferrari the next. We’ve seen Andy Reid start a rookie to spectacular effect in a season opener before, when Kareem Hunt burst onto the scene against the Patriots in 2017.
CEH is expected to get the majority of the carries with Darrell Williams as his backup. However, there was a report that this might be more of a shared role for Week 1. So for cash games, consider using both of them in your lineup. In GPPs, CEH should be in consideration for the Captain spot.
On the Houston side, David Johnson (of “David Johnson in 2016” fame) moved over from the Cardinals in the offseason. Once again, he’s expected to have the starting role with Duke “always the bridesmaid” Johnson as his backup. There’s no clear understanding yet as to how the workload will be shared but I’m happy to play David Johnson in cash lineups. Both are in the mix for GPPs.
The Chiefs passing game
We all know how the Chiefs passing game goes. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are obvious plays. Stacking the three of them in a lineup doesn’t leave much money, but if you are MME-ing, you must play this group. Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson can also blow up on any given week. If you are playing many lineups, you need to sprinkle them in too (with Mahomes remember!) However, I would try to avoid putting more than one of those final three in any single lineup.
If you want a punt play here, TE Ricky Seals-Jones is where I would go. Don’t put him in the captain spot but at only $1.8k he frees up a lot of money for the other spots.
The Texans passing game
The Texans’ passing game is a bit more fluid. There’s a DeAndre Hopkins sized hole to fill and it now seems Brandin Cooks will be missing this week. However, the ultimate GPP machine Will Fuller is back. He’s a FOMO play every week he’s fit. The problem is that one week he can score 5.3 fpts and the next week 56.7 (this happened last year, Weeks 4 & 5). I wouldn’t touch him in cash games, but he has to be in your GPP pool.
There’s also the question about who sees the field the most out of Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee. We hate uncertainty in cash games, but you should sprinkle them lightly in your GPP lineups.
A cheap play on the Texans side is TE Darren Fells at only $4.4k. He was inconsistent last year but it’s gambling on the right plays like this, and Seals-Jones, which can make the difference between a good and a great lineup.
Showdown slates can be so tilting and frustrating. Don’t judge your process based on one showdown slate. You will need to play a few before you know how successful you are. Cash games have historically been softer in showdowns so if this is your first time playing them, I’d start with double ups. Whatever you’re playing, good luck!
These are my personal opinions on the games and strategies at the time of writing this. I may employ different players and strategies than above if later or further information makes me reevaluate my opinions.