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Browns vs. Steelers Week 17 Monday Night Football Showdown Game Breakdown and NFL DFS Picks

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NFL DFS Picks DraftKings FanDuel daily fantasy football advice 2021 lineup projections optimizer today tonight Week 17 Monday Night Football Browns vs. Steelers Najee Harris free expert advice tips strategy player props bets betting picks

Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Week 17 Monday Night Football. Here we will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Week 17 Browns vs. Steelers Monday Night Football matchup.

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The Browns travel to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field to take on the Steelers in what is likely to be the final home game for Ben Roethlisberger. After the events of yesterday’s games, the Browns have now been eliminated from playoff contention, but the Steelers, at 7-7-1, still have a slim chance of making the playoffs if they win out and Jacksonville upsets Indianapolis next weekend. While the Browns may have less to play for, expect Cleveland to do their absolute best to play spoiler. Regardless of either team’s motivation, however, the 41-point total in this matchup suggests scoring could come at a premium, which means that raw fantasy production may matter a bit more compared to maximizing value.

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The Browns will undoubtedly make Nick Chubb ($11,600 DraftKings/$16,000 FanDuel) the focal point of their offense night, as they typically do whenever Chubb is healthy enough to carry his normal workload. Chubb has averaged 22 opportunities per game over his last three starts, and after seeing no more than two targets in any game prior to Week 11, Chubb has seen four targets in three of his last four starts. He is also earned 100 yards or more from scrimmage in 50% of his games since Week 12. Elusive as ever, Chubb ranks top 10 in evaded tackles per touch and breakaway run rate, and despite having the eighth-most carries, Chubb is fifth among all backs in true yards per carry while earning the second-highest rate of carries against stacked boxes (plays with eight or more defenders in the box).

Kareem Hunt ($5,400 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) is listed as questionable but is expected to play. That could take away some receiving upside from Chubb, but do not the Browns to lean heavily on Hunt in his first game since Week 14. Chubb’s goal-line role is likely safe this week. Hunt makes for an interesting tournament option and is top-10 in Awesemo’s optimal lineup percentage but has a wide range of outcomes. Hunt has been as extremely effective when on the field this season, as he is 13th in yards per touch and ninth in yards created per touch.

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The Browns are around league average in game-script adjusted pass rate, but they are 28th in pass plays per game, averaging under 31 attempts per game, and quarterback Baker Mayfield ($9,200 DraftKings/$14,500 FanDuel) has been largely unimpressive on that middling volume for much of the session. While he has done a decent job at protecting the football, ranking outside the top-25 quarterbacks in passes graded as interceptable, Mayfield is just 21st in adjusted yards per attempt, and 20th in total expected points added. He is outside the top-20 in passing touchdowns, and offers little to no upside with his legs, as he averages just 2.7 carries per game, 26th among all quarterbacks this season. Sure, Mayfield is a quarterback on a one-game slate, which means he will show up in the optimal lineup, especially as a . He is certainly stackable with players like Jarvis Landry ($8,400 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel), who should see seven to 10 targets in this game, but the ceiling is quite low for Mayfield; he has only topped 20 fantasy points in one game this season.

The Steelers quietly are top 10 in game-script adjusted pass rate and game-adjusted pace of play, but unlike previous seasons, the uptempo play has not resulted in consistent production for any Steelers player. Ben Roethlisberger ($9,400 DraftKings/$14,000 FanDuel) is 10th in pass attempts but outside the top 12 in air yards, yards passing, touchdowns passing and fantasy points per game. He is worst in plays graded dangerous with 49 and fourth worst in passes graded interceptable with 36. He is outside the top 20 quarterbacks in total QBR, adjusted yards per attempt, true passer rating and total expected points added. No longer efficient from the pocket, Roethlisberger only gets to a ceiling score if forced into a massive comeback effort, like in Week 14 where he salvaged an abysmal first half and ultimately finished with his best statistical game of the season.

Roethlisberger will lean heavily on Diontae Johnson ($10,400 DraftKings/$13,000 FanDuel), who has earned over 28% of the team’s targets and 35% of the team’s air yards. Johnson has 55 more targets than any other Steelers player this season but has been out-targeted in the end zone by Chase Claypool ($7,200 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel). Though Claypool has only seen eight total targets since his bone-headed play at the end of regulation against the Vikings arguably cost the Steelers a victory. Claypool’s 81% snap share in Week 16 was highest since Week 12.

The Steelers backfield will be helmed entirely by Najee Harris ($10,800 DraftKings/$15,000 FanDuel), who ranks first among running backs in opportunity share, routes run and total targets. Harris has seen at least 17 opportunities in four straight games, topping 100 total yards in three of them, and he has had five or more targets in five of his last six. While Cleveland is top 10 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, they are bottom 10 against opposing running backs despite allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry. Despite the low implied team total, Harris has a solid touchdown upside night.

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While it is hard to predict which, if any, Cleveland auxiliary receiver will earn even three or more targets, fantasy gamers have a ton of viable options if trying to fill out rosters with Cleveland pass catchers. Donovan Peoples-Jones ($5,000 DraftKings/$10,500 FanDuel), Rashard Higgins ($5,600 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel), David Njoku ($4,200 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) and Austin Hooper ($5,200 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) have all earned between a 10% and 15% target share this season, with Peoples-Jones and Hooper seeing the biggest bump in usage since Odell Beckham was traded midseason. Peoples-Jones is the deep threat in Mayfield’s low-volume passing attack, and he has seen just eight fewer targets than Jarvis Landry since Week 11 and has earned nearly 75 more air yards than Landry in the process. Hooper’s red-zone usage has spiked during that same span, but he still loses plenty of valuable snaps and targets to Njoku and Harrison Bryant ($3,000 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel). Bryant has an 18% red-zone target share despite earning less than 5% of the team’s total targets over the last four games.

While Johnson, Claypool and Harris will likely combine for 60% to 65% of the Steelers targets, expect the remainder of Roethlisberger’s passes to be split fairly evenly by the trio of Ray-Ray McCloud III ($3,400 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel), James Washington ($2,200 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) and Pat Freiermuth ($6,600 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel). All have seen between 9% and 14% of team targets over the last six weeks. Freiermuth ranks second on the team in red-zone targets and end-zone targets, while Washington’s 12.1 average depth of target is second highest on the team behind Claypool. McCloud, with a salary under $3,500, looks like a quality value option in this contest and has an uncharacteristically high 28% chance of being in the optimal DraftKings lineup.

The Bottom Line

While there is always a chance Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense will turn back the clock, they are facing the fifth-best defense in PFF’s team defensive grades. The Steelers will likely need to be balanced offensively in order to keep this game close, which, combined with Cleveland’s run-focused offensive scheme, indicates this game may not have as many plays as the typical NFL game. Both teams are capable of playing in and winning shootouts, but neither would prefer to play that way. That means it is likely savvy to focus on both team’s rushing attacks when building lineups. In a game where touches could be at a premium for all players, spending up in salary for the guaranteed volume and balancing with flier receivers seems like the optimal roster construction. While this could wind up being a defense-oriented slog, that is the game style Cleveland prefers.

Week 17 Monday Night Football Prediction: Browns 23, Steelers 17

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Take a look at our NFL depth chart list, NFL starting line-ups and inactive player list. If you’re interested in other NFL DFS advice for multiple game slates, head over to DFS NFL projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and DFS NFL stacking. View our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings and our FanDuel NFL ownership rankings. We also have single-game projections and DraftKings showdown ownership projections.

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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