On Sunday night, we have a fun little showdown contest on DraftKings between the Steelers and Chargers. The big tournament is only $10 to enter with 100K up top, meaning a significant opportunity for winnings for little investment. The total is at 46.5, with the Chargers currently sitting as six-point favorites. Let’s dig into the slate.
The most important information we are waiting on is the status of Ben Roethlisberger, who is currently out with COVID-19. Fortunately, unlike some of his fellow veteran quarterbacks, Big Ben was vaccinated. So, he is eligible to return as long as he is free of symptoms for at least 48 hours and tests negative twice 24 hours apart. It looks like he has a decent chance to play, and if he doesn’t, the slate will look a good bit different with Mason Rudolph at the helm for the Steelers.
Rudolph is a good bit cheaper and arguably may be just as effective (or ineffective) than Big Ben at this point in the latter’s career. I don’t know that it drastically affects the Steelers’ offensive outlook for the worse. It does give us a less expensive quarterback play that enables us more flexibility in the rest of our lineups. There isn’t a lot of other big injury news to monitor, so we should have a pretty straightforward slate outside of Roethlisberger’s status.
The Steelers’ offense is pretty condensed. Whether Ben or Rudolph are playing, running back Najee Harris will be the centerpiece and get plenty of work on the ground and through the air. He is one of the only proper workhorse backs left in the NFL. The Chargers beg opposing teams to run the football by focusing on stopping big plays through the air. This leads to them being ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run. Harris might be the best play on the slate in raw scoring potential outside of Justin Herbert. Yet, his price tag reflects this as he is the most expensive play on the entire slate by $600. This may lead to him appearing in less optimal lineups than you might expect and lower his ownership. This makes him a great tournament play, even at what should be considerable ownership nonetheless.
Diontae Johnson and tight-end Pat Freiermuth are your most reliable receiving options. At the same time, Chase Claypool would be a tournament flier hoping for a big play or two. Every other Pittsburgh option outside of kicker and defense would only be a fringe tournament consideration. Interestingly, despite Najee Harris probably being the most obvious play for the Steelers on the slate, I like focusing on him as my main starting point even in large field GPPs.
The Steelers’ defense has been middle of the road against both the pass and the rush, so I see no significant edge in favoring one over the other. Not to mention that the Chargers’ running game revolves around Austin Ekeler, who is highly involved in both the ground and passing game. Much like the Steelers, it is pretty easy to break down the viable pieces for Los Angeles.
Justin Herbert will be the top raw ceiling play on the Chargers and arguably on the entire slate. Austin Ekeler is also a high-upside play. Fortunately, there is no negative correlation between the two, even at their high price points considering Ekeler’s passing involvement. For receivers and tight ends, anyone other than Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and tight end Jared Cook are fringe tournament options outside of kicker and defense.
After a hot start to the season where Mike Williams appeared to have supplanted Keenan Allen for the alpha receiver role on the Chargers, he’s cooled considerably. This has led to a depressed price tag while Keenan Allen is significantly more expensive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see ownership higher on Williams and lower on Allen than is efficient due to the pricing discrepancy. People may chase Williams’ upside from earlier in the season and embrace the savings offered by paying down.
Due to the price of Najee Harris being so prohibitive at the captain spot, I really like making him the captain and hoping for a marginal performance from other high ceiling candidates such as Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler. You do have to sacrifice too much in the rest of your lineup, and it is still possible to make lineups using all viable pieces.