For those of us wanting to get in on some NFL DFS action before this Sunday’s main slate, we have a nice little matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Cincinnati has been looking better than expected this year with a healthy Joe Burrow at the helm, and Jacksonville has high hopes for their offense going forward with Trevor Lawrence under center.
This is an exciting matchup featuring the 2020 and 2021 number one overall draft picks, respectively, with Burrow taking on Lawrence. Those of us playing DFS will be looking to win some money and not just enjoy a good football game between these talented young QBs. I will dig into some of the best plays and approaches we can take on this showdown slate.
We have a 46 total on this game, with the Bengals as substantial -7.5 favorites. The Bengals have been decent on defense, and Trevor Lawrence has been turnover-prone in his rookie season. Joe Burrow is likely the best QB in this game if rostering only one, although Lawrence is likely to be playing in a come-from-behind game script. We have seen relatively low pass volume from Burrow, mainly when the Bengals are playing from ahead. Lawrence is likely to pad the stat sheet in garbage time if this game goes according to Vegas. Which quarterback I favor would depend on the rest of my roster construction and the game script I anticipate.
James Robinson is an acceptable option on the Jaguars’ side. Still, he is expensive for a back who gets his workload cut into by the aging Carlos Hyde. On that note, Hyde is very cheap at $1,800 on DraftKings and makes for a solid punt value option. He is undoubtedly past his prime, but he is getting a 34% snap share out of the Bengals backfield and is even getting some work in the passing game with four targets through week three.
Theoretically, it would make sense to use only one of Robinson/Hyde since they correlate negatively to each other. Yet, it is essential to get unique in large-field showdown GPPs. The pairing may be unpopular due to the counterintuitive negative correlation. On top of it, Hyde is so cheap that I don’t think the negative correlation is too big of a factor since we don’t need much out of him to pay off. Hyde could easily be in the winning lineup with 10 DraftKings points, while Robinson could still hit his ceiling.
Joe Mixon is the preferred back in this game, considering his sure hold on the workload in the Bengals running game and the likely game script (Bengals playing from ahead). He’s getting close to 80% of the snaps and is pretty close to a proper work-horse back. The only thing that might often cap his upside is the Bengals often playing from behind, but that should not be the case this week. Jacksonville is allowing 115.7 rushing yards per game this year. This is a solid matchup for Mixon, and he should be a priority on this slate.
The Jaguars’ wide receivers are hard to pin down since there are three viable Juniors in Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., and DJ Chark Jr.
The veteran Marvin Jones Jr. has been their most consistent receiver in offensive involvement and is likely the safest option. Chark has a good bit of real upside in a ceiling game, and one should be coming eventually. Shenault has taken on a WR3 role working mostly underneath and has a lower ceiling than the other two. However, he should continue to get a decent amount of short targets and rack up some PPR points.
Their respective prices on DK bear out their viability with Jones at $12,900, Chark at $10,800, and Shenault at $9,900. In tournaments, I would be more likely to fade Shenault due to his lack of upside. Chark is a good value at a $2K savings compared to Jones, considering that he has the potential to be the highest-scoring player on the slate in a ceiling game. Since the Jags should have to air it out, playing two of their receivers is viable here.
Tee Higgins is questionable, and whether or not he plays will significantly impact the Bengals receiver outlook. All of Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and Higgins himself will be in play if he does play. Without Higgins, Boyd and Chase become better options. Higgins is unlikely to play as of this writing. While many will flock to Chase as the top option, he has benefited from touchdown variance compared to Boyd, and this has driven his price up to $10,200 vs. $7,400 for Boyd on DraftKings. This is too great of a pricing discrepancy, and Boyd is the better play. However, his much greater point-per-dollar value could result in a substantial ownership gap.
If Higgins is indeed out, Auden Tate becomes an intriguing punt option at only $400 on DK. He actually played on 60% of the snaps last week, although he was only targeted once. Mike Thomas played on 27% of snaps and received one target, and he is $600. Tate appears to be the better option considering his larger snap share. Still, if they both are going to get such few targets, either could outscore the other. The snap share could also flip since we have such a small sample size to go by.
Jacob Hollister and recent signing Dan Arnold should split snaps, rendering both to fringe fantasy option status on the Jaguars’ side of the ball. Hollister is, however, priced at $1,000 on DraftKings. In contrast, Arnold is priced at $4,400. There’s no reason to believe that Arnold will take on a considerably more significant offensive role. Especially since this will be his first game with the team, and he may not be up to speed on the offense.
Hollister could be a great value on this slate at a near-minimum salary on DK. That is if he continues to get as many looks as he did in week three (six targets, albeit with only two receptions). We should see if the team has any clarification on what we should expect in terms of playing time between the two tight ends. There’s also some chance that Arnold could be inactive as they may want to give him a week to learn the offense. In this case, Hollister should be locked into a solid role and be one of the better values on the slate at his price.
C.J. Uzomah does appear to be getting the vast majority of the looks at the position for the Bengals but is not a big part of the offense. He’s received five targets through three games and is essentially a non-factor and a punt option at best. He would be the only option at the position worth any consideration for Cincinnati.
Kickers And Defenses
Kickers are always under-owned in showdown contests compared to their fantasy floor. Other fringy options in the same price range tend to be higher owned despite higher bust potential. On the other hand, kickers tend to lack ceiling potential outside of outlier performances. It is hard to trust Josh Lambo on the Jaguars’ side, considering their overall lack of offensive efficacy. Lambo has had little opportunity to score points. On the other hand, Evan McPherson has averaged 8.3 DraftKings points this year and would be a more viable option.
The Bengals defense is quite viable considering Trevor Lawrence’s turnover-prone ways thus far this season. They are, however, expensive for a DST at $5,600. You are really going to need a ceiling game to pay off that price tag. The Jags’ defense is only $3,000 and is not a good option in theory, but anything can happen. They just put up 8 DKP against a potent Cardinals offense, and even that could be enough at 3K on a low-scoring slate.