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These contests are intended to be fun as you’re watching the game. It’s incredibly difficult to get a real edge as there are so few options and in MME contests there are often many duplicate lineups. One play or one penalty can change the entire outcome of the game.
This article is going to have a heavy DraftKings lean simply because the decision making process is more interesting with the Captain having a salary premium to correspond with the scoring premium. On FanDuel, the pricing is the same for both MVP and flex, so just play either a quarterback or running back in that spot. There are scenarios where a wide receiver can pay off, but it’s difficult with it being the 0.5 per reception.
This is an interesting slate as there are some key injury decisions that are going to make this slate somewhat uncertain, but could end up being quite the fun slate if you’re able to nail the right side. The biggest news is the Dalvin Cook injury, as it appears he is going to play this week, but what we don’t know is how much he is going to play. This likely is going to open up an opportunity for Dalvin Cook to be under-owned than what he otherwise should be on this slate. It is risky, but the matchup is a favorable one, the Vikings need a win, and history is on his side. The last time Cook came back from a dislocated shoulder was in just two weeks and he had 31 total touches in that game. The other injury of note here is Adam Thielen who will miss this game, which should open up opportunities for K.J. Osborn who saw 92% of snaps last week with Thielen being out.
Kirk Cousins- Strong Flex
Kirk Cousins is in a unique spot where in a vacuum, he has a strong floor and ceiling, and should be in a spot where you can consider him for both a captain or a flex spot this week. However, the problem is that even in his best performances, he typically has a player that overshadows him from a production standpoint much like Justin Jefferson did last week where Kirk Cousins threw for 340 yards and 2 touchdowns for 24.7 DraftKings points, Jefferson had 11 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown totaling 35 DraftKings points. The issue is that the number of targets is incredibly narrow in Minnesota, so Cousins is an outstanding play this week, but likely is better to build your lineup around K.J. Osborn or Justin Jefferson who will be receiving the passes from Kirk.
Dalvin Cook- Captain Only
We talked a little bit about Dalvin earlier in this article, but it is a bit of a tricky situation as he is either going to get 20 carries or he’s likely going to get just a handful. If he gets 20+ touches, he would immediately be the number one player on this slate without question as the Steelers have been unable to stop anyone on the ground the last several weeks. The Steelers have allowed 110+ total yards to opposing running backs in each of their last 4 games with Joe Mixon and D’Andre Swift having huge games both topping 130 yards by themselves. Cook is priced as if he is playing, so taking him as a Flex does not do you any good this week as you’ll either fall behind the captain plays, or if he only sees a few carries, you’ll fall behind the people who didn’t play him at all.
Justin Jefferson- Great Captain/Flex
Justin Jefferson after some midseason struggles has bounced back in a big way as he has topped 140 yards receiving in three of his last four games as the Vikings look to just lock in on him. This week, Jefferson is even more enticing as Dalvin Cook is banged up, Adam Thielen is out, and the Vikings can not afford a loss if they want to make the playoffs. Jefferson has 9 or more targets in each of his last four games, and has the upside no player on this slate has, so be sure to build him into your lineup in some capacity this week. The matchup is one that can be exploitable as Tee Higgins, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen all topped 90 yards over the last three weeks.
K.J. Osborn- Great Captain/Flex
The key to showdowns is identifying players who are simply underpriced. K.J. Osborn falls firmly into that category as this is a slate where there are not a lot of great value plays, but to get a wide receiver who saw 92% of the snaps last week at just $5,600 opens up significant opportunities to build a solid lineup this week. Osborn does bring a little risk as he is a downfield big play receiver, but he did have 7 targets last week which is more than enough if he can duplicate it to put up a big game.
Tyler Conklin- Flex
Conklin saw 9 targets last week as the Vikings went with a pass heavy approach based on the game script. Conklin provides a nice value at the position this week.
Westbrook is the only player sub-3k that will see the field a significant amount this week, so if you’re looking for a stars/scrubs type lineup, or just looking for savings in general Westbrook is the guy. He was on the field 42% of plays last week as he will be the number three wide receiver for the Vikings this week.
Ben Roethlisberger- Flex
Ben Roethlisberger is clearly not 100% healthy and is also battling father time in what looks to be his final season in Pittsburgh. This one all comes down to price, as Roethlisberger is still priced up at $9,000, but the matchup should be a decent one for Ben as the Vikings have allowed 292 yards to Jared Goff and 385 yards with 4 touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers in two of the last three weeks. The one concern here is that by taking Roethlisberger, you may lose out on some of the top-end Vikings players, so you likely want to stack Steelers and have a Diontae Johnson as your captain. Roethlisberger does lack upside as he has not thrown for 300+ yards since Week 3.
Najee Harris- Low-End Captain/Good Flex
In the two games prior to last week, Najee Harris had just 20 total carries, but that was all corrected last week as Harris got back to his typical workload carrying the ball 21 times in the Steelers win against the Ravens. The matchup is an exploitable one as the Vikings allowed 97 yards to the Lions last week, and Eli Mitchell tore them apart two weeks ago rushing for 133 yards. The Vikings should get some reinforcements back as Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson and Anthony Barr all look to be returning, but they were also all active when Mitchell ran for 133. Harris should see 20+ carries along with a few receptions, the only question will be whether he has the upside to be a captain as he is averaging just 3.6 yards-per-carry on the season.
If you’re taking a Steelers player as your Captain, you should look hard at Diontae Johnson this week. Johnson has become a volume machine as he has 13 or more targets in 5 of his last 7 games for Pittsburgh, and has scored a touchdown in 2 of his last three games. Johnson is not going to light up the stat sheet with yards as he is a traditional slot receiver averaging just 12 yards-per-reception, but to get a player who has 10 reception upside on this slate as a captain where every reception counts as 1.5, is incredibly intriguing. The Vikings have had a difficult time stopping number one receivers as they are averaging 7 receptions 109 yards and 0.6 touchdowns this season.
Chase Claypool- Flex
Claypool fits a Steelers stack and the price is decent at $7,400, but he has just one touchdown this season as the Steelers have not been able to use his big frame in the red zone this season.
Pat Freiermuth- Low End Captain/Flex
Freiermuth has scored a touchdown in three of his last five games including a two-touchdown performance against Chicago. If he can score two touchdowns once again he will pay off at the captain position. Freiermuth is viable as a flex in a Steelers stack as if he can even find the end zone once he may payoff his price this week.