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NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight: Week 7 Thursday Night Football DraftKings & FanDuel | Broncos 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, we will be providing 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 7 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 7 Thursday Night Football

Tonight’s game features both teams dealing with a fair number of injuries to key players. Denver is still without receivers K.J. Hamler and Jerry Jeudy who are on the injured reserve. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (foot) and left tackle Garett Bolles (knee) are questionable, seeing limited practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cleveland will be without running backs Nick Chubb (calf), Kareem Hunt (calf) and quarterback Baker Mayfield (shoulder). Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) did not practice on the short week, though he is expected to play. Finally, there is a chance that Jarvis Landry (knee) will return as well. Half of the offensive line is dinged up, though everyone got in at least one limited practice.

Denver Broncos: 19.75

Quarterback

If Teddy Bridgewater cannot go, the Broncos will turn to Drew Lock, who made 13 starts last season for Denver and five in his rookie year. While Cleveland has a top-three run DVOA, they are in the bottom third of the league against the pass. The Browns have also allowed three touchdowns rushing to opposing quarterbacks. There are so many injuries on both sides that, if Bridgewater is out, Lock is going to project as a top-three fantasy option.

Running Back

Austin Ekeler (66 yards in Week 5) and James Conner (71 yards in Week 6) are the only running backs to surpass 50 yards rushing against the Browns. Melvin Gordon III has been getting the slight edge in snaps 55%/45% over rookie Javonte Williams. Pretty much everything has been following this nearly identical split, including carries, targets and red-zone opportunities. DraftKings has Gordon with a $700, premium making this a coin flip. FanDuel has Gordon at $10,500 and Williams at $9,000, giving the rookie the nod there in the event the extra salary cap is useful.

Wide Receiver

Cortland Sutton has been looking better each week as he works back from his knee injury that derailed last season. Over the two most recent games he has a hefty 25 targets. Regardless of who is under center tonight for the Broncos, Sutton is a top-end fantasy option. There is a chance that Jerry Jeudy will be activated from the injured reserve, though the coaching staff has been cagey with this information. If he is in, gamers should assume he is good to go since it makes no sense for Denver to rush him back. Even if Jeudy returns, Tim Patrick is a solid option, as Denver may need to use a controlled passing game if they cannot find success on the ground.

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Tight End

Noah Fant is second on the Broncos with 42 targets, and he has 10-plus in two of his last three games. Over the last month, Albert Okwuegbunam and Eric Saubert have combined for seven targets, with the latter getting five last Sunday with Okwuegbunam on the injured reserve. FanDuel has Saubert at the minimum $5,000 salary, while DraftKings is providing a gift at $600.

Defense/Special Teams

The Browns have allowed 18 sacks, which is the fourth most in the league, while Denver has corralled the opposing quarterback 14 times. Each team is averaging a turnover and a takeaway per game.

Cleveland Browns: 21.25

Quarterback

Despite the absence of their starting backfield, the Browns are still slight favorites tonight. Case Keenum is an above-average backup, having made 62 career starts for five different teams across his 10-year career. DraftKings has Keenum with a $9,400 salary, compared to Lock, who checks in at a disrespectful and yet appropriate minimum salary of $6,000. FanDuel has completely missed the boat, with both backup quarterbacks coming in at the $5,000 minimum. The Broncos defense has been somewhat suspect against the pass, though Keenum may not have many healthy options on the receiving end of his throws.

Running Back

Undrafted journeyman D’Ernest Johnson will be the starting running back tonight for the Browns as they host the Broncos. Johnson has played 20 offensive snaps this season, and for his career he has 40 carries for 198 yards while seeing a dozen targets for 10 catches and 92 yards. Rookie sixth-rounder Demetric Felton will be the backup. Felton has been active in the return game this season, though he does not have any offensive touches. During his first three seasons at UCLA he was a wide receiver before converting to running back as his primary position during last year’s shortened college season. The other option will be John Kelly, who has not seen any action for the Browns since Week 3 of the preseason.

Wide Receiver

Beckham is dealing with a shoulder injury, though he is expected to play. Jarvis Landry seems to have a 50/50 chance of being active tonight after missing the last month with a knee injury. Last week Donovan Peoples-Jones had a career game, with two touchdowns and 101 yards on five targets. He has 35 career targets through two seasons, though unlike his teammates, he is healthy. Rashard Higgins rounds things out, though if both Beckham and Landry are active, there may not be more than a couple targets heading his way.

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Tight End

David Njoku and Austin Hooper each have 19 targets, and both are on the field for 60%-plus of the snaps, with Harrison Bryant (10 targets) seeing a 30% snap share. The Browns do run a lot of two-tight-end sets, and any one of this trio is live for a random red zone look. Njoku is finally healthy and arguably the most talented of the group, though Hooper has the better track record.

Defense/Special Teams

Cleveland has just four takeaways, but the Broncos have eight turnovers and may be turning to Lock. Denver’s offensive line has been disappointing, allowing 19 sacks, which is the third most in the league. The Browns have 18 sacks, which is the second most in the league, behind the 21 by Chicago and Minnesota.

Thursday 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 7 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

The salary cap on FanDuel is going to be irrelevant tonight with Case Keenum at the $5,000 minimum. That means this is an opportunity for a pick-’em strategy, which is going to blow the minds of quite a few gamers who are not prepared for the possibility of leaving 20% unspent. Even using the five most expensive and healthy options it is still not possible to spend the entire salary cap.

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Cortland Sutton: A quarterback just cannot be at the top of the list tonight.
  2. Case Keenum: Competent and at home, he is helming an offense that is limping into this game on a short week.
  3. Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock: Whoever is starting lands here.
  4. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams: Toss-up, though the slight edge goes to Gordon.
  5. Noah Fant: Gamers are going to look to the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers first, leaving Fant’s popularity in a free fall tonight.
  6. D’Ernest Johnson: First crack at the running back workload for Cleveland.
  7. Jarvis Landry and Jerry Jeudy: If either plays, they have to be healthy.
  8. Tim Patrick: He is healthy.
  9. Odell Beckham Jr.: Did not practice this week and was out several times on Sunday to have his shoulder worked on.
  10. Cleveland D/ST: Should be able to take advantage of Denver’s offensive line.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Chase McLaughlin: Cleveland is his sixth stop in three seasons, and tonight marks his 22nd game. Nailed all of his kicks this season, including three from 50-plus yards.
  2. Brandon McManus: Tonight feels like one of those sloppy games with a handful of touchdowns and teams going for 2.
  3. Denver D/ST: While Keenum is a good backup, he is a backup for a reason.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. David Njoku: Competing with two other tight ends on his own team.
  2. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins: If Landry or Beckham are out, move this duo ahead of the kickers.
  3. John Kelly: Likely will split the load, with Johnson getting the higher leverage opportunities, if there are any.
  4. Andy Janovich: Fullback plunge is live tonight.
  5. Eric Saubert: Wild card, but did have five targets on Sunday.
  6. Harrison Bryant and Austin Hooper: Both teams are going to want to run, keep the clock moving and get through this abomination of a game as quickly and quietly as possible.
  7. David Moore, Diontae Spencer, Mike Boone, Tyrie Cleveland, Andrew Beck, Anthony Schwartz: Remember, we are bringing this on ourselves.

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