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NFL Showdown can be a fickle beast. These contests do not rely on median projections so much as leverage and uniqueness. Fading the highest-rostered plays can be a risky proposition. Typically, your edge is going to come by identifying the best low-rostered plays and finding clever ways to pair them with the juggernauts of the slate.
This article will have a heavy DraftKings lean simply because the decision-making process is more interesting, given the salary premium attached to the Captain spot. FanDuel's pricing is the same for both MVP and Flex spots. You will usually need the slate's top scorer at MVP, so FanDuel strategy revolves around unique Flex builds.
Advice in this article will pertain predominantly to tournament lineups and strategy. For cash lineups, build around median projections. For head-to-head contests, continue to lean into the median projections, but if two options project closely, give the nod to the lowest rostered player.
Vegas surely doesn't think much of this duel between Tyson Bagent and Bryce Young. The undrafted Bagent has devolved into a turnover machine, while Young, the first pick of this year's draft, can hardly move the moribund Carolina offense. The Young-led Panthers have only cleared 20 points twice; they lost those games by 18 and 21.
In other words, this Showdown isn't likely to be won by a dazzling, three-touchdown performance. If there's to be scoring, Vegas figures, it'll come mostly by accident, with two down-bad teams stumbling unpredictably into the end zone.
There isn't much dependable skill talent in play, either. Most of it can be found on the Bears side – which means, in a tight, hard-to-project game like this one, that the Panthers will offer the best value. By and large, the public will retch at the thought of depositing money to ride the Chuba Hubbard/Jonathan Mingo train.
Snap Prediction: Bears 23, Panthers 19
The Bears will be without starting quarterback Justin Fields (thumb) for the third straight game. They'll again trot out Bagent in his place. Running back Khalil Herbert (ankle) is expected to suit up after missing four games of his own, but his status should be watched.
Carolina's only notable offensive injury is to wideout D.J. Chark (elbow). He'll miss tonight's game, though his role has been too spotty to make a significant dent here.
Bryce Young (FLEX)
Young only carries value as a differentiation play here. He throws with mediocre volume (36 attempts per game) and hasn't even hinted at usable efficiency (just 5.5 yards per throw), and he doesn't boast the weapons for a shootout.
Sanders has been the kind of free-agent disappointment you see coming: a guy with shaky peripherals moving from a great team to a bottom-dwelling one. Sanders lost the starting gig to Hubbard in Week 8 and even fell behind Raheem Blackshear for a spell. He's by far the most explosive name here, but his fundamental struggles make him tough to project. He hasn't cleared 65 scrimmage yards since Opening Day.
Hubbard will likely lead the group in touches, as he's taken on 17 and 20 over the past 2 weeks. But he's a plodder, with just 4.5 career yards per touch, and he isn't fed much touchdown opportunity in this offense.
Thielen has excelled as the de facto Offensive MVP in Carolina. He opened with a quiet Week 1, then went on to average 8.6 catches and 85.4 yards over the ensuing 7 games. Always a bridesmaid in Minnesota, Thielen is Young's security blanket and basking in a 24% overall target share. He's caught 7+ balls 6 times already, and 3 of those were 11-catch outings. He'll be my single-entry Captain as a zag from the DJ Moore chalk.
Mingo and Marshall are little more than dart throws, but both have reason to expect a boost tonight. With Chark sidelined, Mingo will again serve as the clear No. 2, and he boasts the profile of a major downfield playmaker. It's worth noting he actually equaled Thielen in routes last week – and also that his salary has slipped back into the abyss.
Hurst and Tremble have grown to split snaps fairly evenly. And in Week 9, they watched reserve Stephen Sullivan pop up and catch four balls. Sullivan likely won't play tonight, but that doesn't condense enough work to make these two interesting. Hurst's 54 yards from last week marked the first time a Carolina TE has topped 45 all year – and 48 of them came on one play.
Under the Radar
Raheem Blackshear (FLEX)
Blackshear won't draw much (if any) attention with Sanders back in the fold. But there's a disparity there: over the past 2 weeks, he's seen 17 snaps to Sanders' 30, yet costs just a $1,000 dice roll.
Tyson Bagent (FLEX)
Bagent is not the Bears' quarterback of the future. He's thrown 3 touchdowns to 6 interceptions (also losing a fumble), and he somehow sits behind Zach Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo in adjusted net yardage, which factors in sacks, touchdowns, and turnovers as well. If there's a feather in his cap tonight, it's that he's the home favorite quarterback. And perhaps last week's running frenzy (8 rushes, 70 yards) will carry over.
Assuming Herbert suits up tonight, he'll make for a strong FLEX play against one of football's worst defenses. The risk of limited snaps looms, which dings his upside projection, but it should also serve to depress his roster rate. Herbert is a wildly efficient back whose 5.3 yards per rush is right in line with his career 5.0 mark. Still, even when healthy, he only drew 12+ touches once over five games. The team clearly likes him in a platoon.
If Herbert can't go, then Foreman will again lead the backfield. Ideally a two-down specialist, he took on 49% of snaps during Herbert's absence and 57% of the touches. If game flow goes as expected, he'll have ample opportunity to ice the game on the ground.
As the best pass-game weapon of the bunch, Johnson always looms as a wild card. But he's much more a threat to Herbert's and Foreman's touches than he is a standalone play, outside of deeper GPPs.
Moore has been everything the Bears had hoped for: a dynamic No. 1 wideout who can make any quarterback (at least a little bit) better. He leads the team with a % target share, including % specifically from Bagent. He's force-fed the ball on some weeks, as in his 230-yard, 3-touchdown eruption back in Week 5. He simply towers over the rest of the skill talent in this matchup. The only concern here is roster rate: he'll be in just about every lineup, so it's on us to find ways to use him uniquely.
Mooney has all but fallen off the fantasy map. Last week marked his first game of the year above 55 yards, and his 50.0% success rate sits below those of Tyler Boyd and Demario Douglas. He's pricey for a No. 3 option in a Tyson Bagent offense.
Cole Kmet (CPT or FLEX)
Kmet is a fantasy TE1 but a wildly streaky one; welcome to the tight end position in 2023. In his first game with Bagent under center, Kmet failed to draw a target. Over the past two, he's drawn 18, catching 10 for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns. At this point, Kmet is as baked into this offense as virtually any tight end in football. Fields likes him, but Bagent leans heavily on him. Kmet won't touch Moore's roster rate and deserves a serious Captain look in GPPs.
Under the Radar
Darrynton Evans (if Herbert sits – FLEX)
Evans will likely only see the field if Herbert can't go. He'd likely draw the same number of touches as Johnson but at literally half the price.
Kickers & Defenses
Sign me up for either of these defenses. I'd prefer the Panthers, for roster percentage's sake, but either could swing a GPP. Carolina will be without top edge rusher Brian Burns, but Tyson Bagent has coughed up seven turnovers over the past two weeks.
Most, though, will jump on the Bears in what should be a relatively ugly win. Bryce Young hasn't thrown picks at nearly that rate, but he's also been sacked 29 times through 8 games.
Bears kicker Cairo Santos is one of the game's best, but he's only attempted 13 field goals thus far. This deeply flawed offense is surprisingly effective at turning their few red zone trips into touchdowns.
|Position||Name||Salary||Projection||H-Value||Point/$||Captain or Flex|
|WR||Adam Thielen||11800||18.91||27.6||1.6||Captain Only|
|WR||DJ Moore||10600||14.71||19.9||1.4||Flex Only|
|WR||D.J. Chark Jr||5600||1.54||0.8||0.3|
|WR||Terrace Marshall Jr/td>||400||2.7||27.9||6.8|
|WR||Laviska Shenault Jr||200||0.42||2.2||2.1|
|WR||Equanimeous St. Brown||200||0.6||4.1||3.0|
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