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Broncos vs. Browns Thursday Night Football Showdown Game Breakdown & NFL DFS Picks

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Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Week 7 Thursday 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 7 Broncos vs. Browns Thursday Night Football matchup.

Week 7 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Showdown Picks

The 3-3 Broncos head to Cleveland to take on the 3-3 Browns, who are dealing with myriad injuries on offense. The Browns have already ruled out starting quarterback Baker Mayfield as well as starting running back Nick Chubb, and this all comes on the heels of having to place Kareem Hunt on injured reserve with a calf injury. They will also be dealing with a plethora of questionable lineman and receivers, so it will be important as ever to check the Awesemo YouTube Channel to get up-to-the-minute injury news, particularly in the hour before kickoff. The Broncos have a depleted receiver corps but are hoping Teddy Bridgewater can tough out a start this Thursday, but he is far from 100% after getting his foot stepped on in Week 6. A projected ugly game means there will be more of an advantage than usual on the field by digging deep into the projections and stats on Awesemo.com.

Teddy Bridgewater Has Played Better Than People Think

The Broncos quietly rank 11th in the NFL in expected points added per play this season, and that is thanks to Bridgewater’s surprisingly efficient play. Using a composite efficiency metric that combines EPA per dropback and completion percentage versus expectation, Bridgewater ranks fourth among all quarterbacks this season, just ahead of Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Bridgewater ranks 18th in pass attempts, but he ranks third in deep ball attempts and 10th in red-zone passes, making him a surprisingly high-upside play. Despite having the highest salary of any active player on the slate, he is still a no-brainer MVP option on FanDuel except for in the largest of large-field tournaments.

The Case for Case Keenum

Keenum is a surprise starter, and the salaries for this game were already set on FanDuel once the Browns announced that Mayfield would be inactive for this week’s game. That makes Keenum a better value play than any other player on the slate. He is fundamentally mispriced, with the same salary as John Kelly, a Browns practice squad player until this week. DraftKings anticipatorily increased Keenum’s salary, which is why he does not pop in the same way in Awesemo’s value metric on that site. However, Awesemo’s Top Plays Tool indicates that Keenum appears in the optimal lineup nearly 70% of the time on DraftKings, while his ownership projects to be just over 60%. That means Keenum has one of the highest leverage scores of any player, and he should be at least a Flex option in most lineups.

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When the Broncos Say They Want a 50/50 Split in Their Backfield, They Mean It

The Broncos selected Javonte Williams early in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but that has not deterred them from keeping one of the tightest two-way timeshares in the NFL through the first part of the NFL season. Melvin Gordon has earned at most 6.8 percentage points more of the opportunities than Williams, and in four of those games the differential was less than 2 percentage points. Williams’ underlying metrics have been excellent, as he ranks top 20 at his position in breakaway runs, yards created and evaded tackles per touch. Both have proven that, if given a full workload, they would likely be a top-10 fantasy producer at their position. But in a timeshare and a one-game sample, it is truly a toss-up who will see the higher usage. Williams is still just a few highlight plays from taking the starting job for himself and has a salary $400 lower than Gordon’s on DraftKings.

Fade D’Ernest Johnson in Tournaments

Johnson is likely to get the first start of his career this Thursday against a Broncos defense that ranks top 10 in the NFL in defense EPA per play. Of all the defenses playing this weekend, Denver has given up the second-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing offenses, but at $4,600 on DraftKings, fantasy gamers are flocking to Johnson. Using Awesemo’s value metric, no player grades higher than Johnson for this Thursday’s slate. But unfortunately, that is exactly how the rest of the field seems to feel, which means his leverage score is negative, meaning he is a fade in tournaments. He is not a complete stay-away option, but tournament lineups that utilize Johnson need to differentiate elsewhere.

Lean on This Game’s Big Three Receivers as Captain Plays

Particularly on DraftKings where it is still possible to win without getting the highest raw score in the Captain slot, Odell Beckham Jr., Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant are the best Captain plays in tournaments. Both Sutton and Fant are coming off huge fantasy performance despite a Week 6 loss to the Raiders, with Sutton seeing 25 targets and 376 air yards over his last two games. Fant scored 20-plus fantasy points in Week 6 as well. And while Beckham has admitted he is not 100%, he is the most likely Browns receiver to have 25-plus points and has been targeted seven-plus times in all but one starts this season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is great for large-field tournaments, though his monster performance in Week 6 is pushing up his projected ownership to the point his leverage score is slightly negative. It is still not enough to deter from playing him.

The Bottom Line

Winning this slate likely will come down to who can predict the touchdown scorers since the Vegas total suggests there may only be a handful tonight. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Browns offense, the most likely scenario involves them settling for early field goals or turning the ball over to Denver’s top-10 defense. Denver will likely lean heavily on their running backs to slow down the game while taking the occasional deep shots. The Browns have been stingy defensively as well this season, ranking sixth toughest among all defenses active this week in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed. With injuries galore and two top-flight defenses, scoring looks like it could come at a massive premium.

Check out today's FREE DFS tool of the day

Week 7 Thursday Night Football Prediction: Broncos 21, Browns 18


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

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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