This Thursday, we have a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings. The game features a 43.5 total, with the home team in Minnesota favored by 3.5. As usual, we’ve got big prize pools on DraftKings with 500K up top in the marquee $15 entry GPP. Let’s take a look at this slate and how we can build some lineups with a chance to take it down.
Ben Roethlisberger and WR2 Chase Claypool are banged up but neither come into the game with a questionable tag. We’ll have to see if their hampered health affects their play in this one. Regardless of the state of his health, Roethlisberger has not been one for aggressively throwing the ball downfield this year. The Steelers have relied on a conservative run-focused attack. However, we have the benefit of this one taking place in a dome, which does bode well for the passing game on both sides.
All year, the focus of the Steelers’ offense has been their workhorse back, Najee Harris. Every time he takes the field, he is in play, and this game is no exception. There is really no drawback considering that he is active for close to 100% of Pittsburgh’s snaps and gets plenty of work in the passing game.
The Vikings have been one of the worst teams in football against the wide receiver position. This bodes very well for Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Tight end Pat Freiermuth has also been a touchdown machine which puts him firmly in the mix on this showdown slate. Since it is a single-game slate, you could always consider ancillary receivers like James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud. They are, however, far from optimal and qualify as leverage/value punts at best.
We should see a lot of ownership come in on the key Steelers pieces in Johnson and Harris. Claypool and Big Ben should also get a decent chunk, although Ben may be pretty low-owned for a quarterback on a single-game slate. We may see him come in sub-50%, and there could be some leverage to be had here, especially in a good matchup for the passing game in a dome.
Freiermuth and kicker Chris Boswell should probably get close to 20% ownership which is not too bad, and the DST may come in around 10-15%. McCloud and Washington are good ways to get different with the Steelers on low-owned pieces.
Most of the Steelers’ captain ownership should go to Harris and Johnson. Claypool or Roethlisberger captain lineups are a great way to differentiate. A good tournament strategy would be to play Roethlisberger at Captain with 2-3 pass-catchers. One can even include Najee Harris. Compared to lineups focusing more on the favored Vikings, this should be a reasonably low-owned build. Include Freiermuth, McCloud, or Washington, and you get even further off the beaten path.
The Vikings come into the week having lost Adam Thielen to an ankle injury in week 13, and they will also be without star RB Dalvin Cook. In Cook’s stead, we should see crazy ownership on an underpriced Alexander Mattison, who will take on a lead role here. Pittsburgh has been bad against the run all year, and this is a great matchup. Mattison has also shown that he can fill in for Cook without missing a beat when given the opportunity. The Vikings have no problem giving him the same workhorse role.
Justin Jefferson should be the second most popular player on this slate playing in a dome. His role as WR1 is even more cemented in Thielen’s absence. Also, Thielen will no longer be there to vulture his touchdowns as he has all year.
WR3 K.J. Osborne should have an elevated role with Thielen out. He has shown flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity this year. I plan to be over the field on him. We have to assume the Steelers will be focused on stopping Jefferson and Osborne stands to benefit. We should also see tight-end Tyler Conklin pick up some slack in the passing game. This all provides us with some fantastic value on the Vikings.
A lot of the Vikings captain ownership will go to Mattison and Jefferson. An excellent way to get different and save salary is to go with a lower-owned and cheaper captain who will benefit from Thielen being out, such as Osborne or Conklin. We should also see Cousins captain lineups lower-owned than they likely should be. I like an Osborne captain lineup to get away from the chalk and save money to load up your lineup elsewhere.
Dede Westbrook should step into a WR3 role and be relevant as a punt play. Still, his ownership (likely 20% range) may be a little high for his upside, considering he is an obvious savings choice. The Vikings defense should come in around 15% ownership, while kicker Greg Joseph may get into the mid-20% range.
So much of the Captain ownership will go to four guys, none of which the quarterbacks. Those four are also the most expensive players on the slate outside Cousins. There is much leverage opportunity in captaining Roethlisberger, Cousins, Osborne, Claypool, or Freiermuth. They are all legitimately viable on this slate. I will focus on running these guys at CPT and avoiding the four chalkiest options in my lineups. Except for Cousins, you not only get lower ownership and a more unique build, but you also save money to create a better lineup overall. However, I would caution to err on the side of leaving some salary on the table when using a lower-owned, cheaper captain. Your lineup will likely not be very unique if you use too much of the cap with such a build.