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NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight: Monday Night Football DraftKings & FanDuel | Steelers vs. Browns

Eric MacPherson

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For each of the featured games, typically Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football slates, this column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 17 Monday Night Football slate featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Cleveland Browns.

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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 17 Monday Night Football

Cleveland is missing quite a few defenders, with defensive backs Ronnie Harrison Jr. (ankle), Troy Hill (knee) and John Johnson III (hamstring) and linebackers Mack Wilson and Elijah Lee (COVID) ruled out. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson (knee) is questionable, and Greg Newsome II (concussion) is trending towards playing. Running back Kareem Hunt (ankle) is questionable.

Pittsburgh will be without linebackers Buddy Johnson (foot), Devin Bush (COVID) and Joe Schobert (COVID), cornerback Arthur Maulet (COVID) and defensive end Chris Wormley (COVID).

Cleveland Browns: 20.0 Points

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield is back in gamers’ lives, and he will be facing a bottom-10 pass DVOA in Pittsburgh, which is also without several key defenders. The Steelers have been a disaster against the run, so do not be fooled by their recent stretch of “limiting” opposing quarterbacks. Mayfield has been playing through a collection of nagging injuries, but that does not excuse him for having only two games with more than 250 yards passing, and those were back in Weeks 1 and 5. The Awesemo median projection for Mayfield is 20.6 completions on 33 attempts for 234.4 yards, 1.42 touchdowns and 0.82 interceptions.

Running Back

Nick Chubb should have a field day against the shorthanded Steelers defense. Currently he ranks third in yards rushing per game with 95.3, and he is averaging two targets per appearance and has nine total touchdowns. Kareem Hunt (ankle) last played in Week 14, and he also landed in the health and safety protocol while rehabbing his injury. He was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday, though there has been no other official update. D’Ernest Johnson is only a viable option if Hunt is out. In his stead he has been seeing the field on about one-third of the snaps.

Wide Receiver

Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins are all healthy, which curbs their collective upside since Cleveland is a run-heavy offense. Landry has the edge, though he also has the highest salary and the lowest average depth of target. Higgins is the risky option, though in Week 16 he did have half a dozen targets, which was tied with Peoples-Jones and one behind Landry. Peoples-Jones has the lowest salary of this trio on DraftKings at a palatable $5,000, and that makes him the easy choice there.

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Tight End

Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are all healthy, which makes things a bit of a guessing game at this position. Hooper and Njoku are each likely to get a handful of targets at most, with Bryant lurking for a troll touchdown. That is actually not hyperbolic, as he has three targets in the last two games, bringing in all three for 12 yards and two scores.

Defense/Special Teams

Since their Week 3 dismantling of rookie Justin Fields with nine sacks, Cleveland has averaged two per game. In those 11 games they have 17 combined takeaways and two return touchdowns. Over their last five games, Pittsburgh has allowed 14 sacks with five interceptions.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 22.0 Points

Quarterback

There is a strong possibility that this is the last game that Ben Roethlisberger will play in Heinz Field. Even if Pittsburgh sneaks into the playoffs, they will be on the road as a wild card, as Cincinnati has already clinched the AFC North crown. Roethlisberger has been under 160 yards in each of the last two games, and he has only 20 touchdowns passing on the season. The Awesemo projection have Roethlisberger for an eerily similar stat line when compared to Mayfield, with 21.9 completions on 34 attempts for 234.6 yards, 1.34 touchdowns and 0.59 interceptions.

Running Back

Prior to the Week 16 drubbing at the hands of Kansas City, rookie Najee Harris had played 97%, 96% and 100% of the snaps. Excluding the mop-up duty from that game, Benny Snell and Derek Watt are combing for around eight snaps per game. On the season Harris has 268 carries for 984 yards and 87 targets for 67 catches, 422 yards and nine total touchdowns. The rest of the running backs have combined for 37 carries, 113 yards and 15 targets for eight receptions, 47 yards and zero touchdowns.

Wide Receiver

Diontae Johnson is the clear top option in the Pittsburgh passing game, and he is in the top 10 for targets, receptions and yards. Chase Claypool has had mercurial results, with his opportunities drying up when the Steelers have a lead. Ray-Ray McCloud has resurfaced over the last month with 23 targets, which are just ahead of the 20 for Claypool. James Washington gets a target or two downfield each game, but Roethlisberger’s 39-year-old arm is not what it used to be.

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Tight End

Rookie Pat Freiermuth missed last week with a concussion but is expected to play tonight, with Zach Gentry serving as the second tight end. Freiermuth has 17 red-zone looks, and he is live for a touchdown when Pittsburgh gets close to the goal line.

Defense/Special Teams

Cleveland cedes just over two sacks per game and 1.3 turnovers. Pittsburgh is averaging nearly three sacks per game, though they are missing several contributors tonight. They are also near the bottom of the league, with just one takeaway per game.


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Monday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.

Week 17 Monday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Nick Chubb: Gets the slight nod with the better matchup, even on the road.
  2. Najee Harris: Both teams will be happy to run the ball all night.
  3. Diontae Johnson: Should approach double-digit targets with metronomic consistency.
  4. Pat Freiermuth: Best touchdown equity outside of the running backs.
  5. Baker Mayfield: Nearly identical salary and projected stats as Roethlisberger.
  6. Ben Roethlisberger: The sentimental choice is landing him on 20-30% more rosters than Mayfield.
  7. Donovan Peoples-Jones: Similar opportunities to Landry for a cheaper salary. Also returns punts.
  8. Chris Boswell: Seven seasons playing in Heinz Field have him well versed with the tricky conditions.
  9. Jarvis Landry: Needs double-digit targets or a touchdown; he has scored once in 10 games this year and just four times in his last 25 regular season games.
  10. Ray-Ray McCloud: Take the salary savings over Claypool. Also returns punts and kickoffs.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Chase Claypool: Meh.
  2. Kareem Hunt: This is about right if he plays tonight and is fully healthy.
  3. D’Ernest Johnson: Only if Hunt is inactive.
  4. Chase McLaughlin: Nailed all four from beyond 50 yards this year; only 4-for-10 between 40-49 yards. This is his sixth team in the last three seasons.
  5. Pittsburgh D/ST: Still have their core playmakers, but depth is an issue tonight.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Cleveland D/ST: Not many fantasy opportunities are available when facing Pittsburgh. They too are running thin with their defense.
  2. Rashard Higgins: Salary is prohibitive for shaky workload.
  3. Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant: Close your eyes and pick one.
  4. Demetric Felton: Just $200 on DraftKings; even if Hunt is in, he could get a touch or two while opening up the rest of a lineup. Also returns kickoffs.
  5. Zach Gentry and James Washington: Likely are better than two of the three Cleveland tight ends, but which two?
  6. Benny Snell: Last option worth his own line; needs something to befall Harris to see more than a couple carries.
  7. Anthony Schwartz, Kevin Rader, Derek Watt, Andy Janovich, Cody White: If they beat us, so be it.

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

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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