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NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight: Week 4 Thursday Night Football DraftKings & FanDuel Bengals vs. Jaguars

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 4 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Cincinnati Bengals.

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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 4 Thursday Night Football

Tonight Jacksonville is mostly healthy aside from losing rookie running back Travis Etienne in the preseason. Cincinnati has already ruled out wide receiver Tee Higgins, safety Jessie Bates and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is doubtful.

Jacksonville Jaguars: 19.25

Quarterback

This has been a rough start to the season for rookie Trevor Lawrence, who has been taking his lumps but is not getting much schematic help from Urban Meyer. Lawrence has been under constant pressure, and there have not been many moral victories within the three-game losing streak to start the seasons. Each of the losses has been by double digits, and even though Lawrence has thrown at least 33 times in each game, he has topped 220 yards passing only once and has five touchdowns against seven interceptions. Even on the ground he has not had many opportunities to pad his fantasy stats, seeing just nine carries for 46 yards.

Running Back

James Robinson was a productive fantasy option last year as the lead back in Jacksonville after injuries thrust him into the lead role. This season fantasy pundits were expecting more of the same, though Meyer had other plans. While Robinson is still the lead option, he is barely out-snapping Carlos Hyde on a 2-to-1 margin. The workload is still landing with Robinson seeing 31 carries to Hyde’s 19 and it is the same story in the passing game where Robinson has a 15-4 target edge.

For single-game action, Robinson is still the play at $12,000 on FanDuel and $9,400 on DraftKings. Hyde, on the other hand, is going to need to find the end zone, and considering the Jaguars have only one touchdown rushing, he is skippable on FanDuel ($8,000) and a lottery ticket on DraftKings ($1,800) on Thursday. In the red zone Robinson has three opportunities, with Hyde and Lawrence each getting one.

Update: Carlos Hyde is OUT.

Wide Receiver

The receivers are in play tonight, with Marvin Jones leading with 28 targets and at least eight in each game. Laviska Shenault has seen a decrease each week in his targets (four last week), though if Jacksonville decides to focus on the short passing game, he would be back in the fray. D.J. Chark is a little harder to read; even so, Chark is second on the team in snaps, first in air yards and first in depth of target. All other wideouts have been afterthoughts, with Tyron Johnson, Devin Smith, Phillip Dorsett and Laquon Treadwell combining for 18, 16 and nine snaps over the last three weeks. This quartet has five total targets between them.

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Tight End

James O’Shaughnessy is on the injured reserve with a sprained ankle. Jacob Hollister had six targets in his Week 3 debut, though he caught only two for 15 yards. He seems like the best option at this position. Chris Manhertz is on the field the most, and he has the lone touchdown for this position, though he has only two targets. Luke Farrell is also getting some snaps, but he has only three targets through his two games. Dan Arnold was acquired earlier this week from the Panthers. If he starts, he is in play.

Defense/Special Teams

Cincinnati has allowed 10 sacks (third most) and five turnovers. Jacksonville, however, has forced just one turnover and is second to last with three sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals: 26.75

Quarterback

Through the first three weeks of last season Joe Burrow attempted 36. 61 and 44 passes. This season has been a reversal, with 27, 30 and just 18 last week. While he does have a efficient seven touchdowns, he has topped 210 yards only once. It looks like the preference this season is to lean on the run and a solid defense that has the second-best rushing DVOA and a top-10 passing DVOA.

Running Back

Clearly this is Joe Mixon’s backfield, and through the first three games he has 135 snaps, compared to Samaje Perine’s 28 and Chris Evans’ seven. Though 90% of the rushing opportunities and production has gone to Mixon, he is about equal to the other two backs combined in the passing game. This is mostly a factor of the limited passing attempts. Perine is in play on DraftKings ($800), but on FanDuel ($6,500) he would need to luck into a touchdown or have something befall Mixon to see more than a handful of touches.

Wide Receiver

Because of the game flow, even without Tee Higgins, both Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd saw a decrease in snap share and had just five and six targets, respectively. Both scored, with Chase reaching the end zone twice, which kept their fantasy production in the green, but it is hard to trust that type of efficiency to become the new baseline. The other receivers and tight ends have a combined 10 targets through three weeks, but if Cincinnati controls the game, there may only be enough production to support one receiver.

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Tight End

C.J. Uzomah is the only tight end to see targets this season, and he has four receptions, 39 yards and no red-zone looks. Drew Sample will be on the field around half the time, but he is more of a blocker than a target for Burrow. Through attrition at the position last year, Sample had 53 targets for 349 yards and a touchdown, but unless this game is a score fest, he is a lottery ticket at best.

Defense/Special Teams

Cincinnati is fourth with 10 sacks, though Jacksonville has allowed only five through the first three weeks. On the flip side, Jacksonville has ceded nine turnovers, which is the most in the league, while the Bengals have been in the middle of the pack, with four takeaways.

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 4 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Joe Mixon: The secure workload easily has him as the best option tonight.
  2. Joe Burrow: Consolidates the Cincinnati passing game and has the better pass catchers.
  3. James Robinson: Hoping the workload bumps up a little, at least in the passing game.
  4. Tyler Boyd: Significant discounts to Chase on DraftKings ($2,800) and FanDuel ($2,500) make this an easy call.
  5. Marvin Jones: Until the volume falters, he is the top Jacksonville pass catcher.
  6. Ja’Marr Chase: Too talented to fall any further.
  7. Trevor Lawrence: If he is not going to get consistent designed runs, he loses most of his fantasy appeal.
  8. Evan McPherson: Has not missed a kick yet, and that includes two from 50-plus yards.
  9. Cincinnati D/ST: They will need a touchdown to be a difference maker at today’s salary, but they are a top-10 option.
  10. Laviska Shenault and D.J. Chark: In theory Shenault should see more targets with a rookie quarterback; Chark has more downfield upside but is also competing with Jones for those opportunities. One of them will score tonight.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Dan Arnold: Just acquired by the Jaguars; he is in the player pool and is a viable option if he starts.
  2. Jacob Hollister: If Arnold is inactive, he has value; otherwise he should not be used until lineup Nos. 50-75.
  3. Matthew Wright: Josh Lambo is away from the team; Wright is being activated from the practice squad, though as of Thursday morning he has not yet been added to the Jacksonville player pool.
  4. C.J. Uzomah: No volume at all this season; that could change but not likely in this matchup.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Jacksonville D/ST: This is a far cry from the days of the Jacksonville defense; there are not many fantasy opportunities against a run-heavy team.
  2. Samaje Perine: Could see mop-up duty, which puts double-digit touches in play.
  3. Drew Sample: On the field for close to half the snaps; could get his first target of the season at any time.
  4. Auden Tate and Mike Thomas: First coin flip is between them; second is if they even get a single look.
  5. Chris Evans, Luke Farrell, Tyron Johnson, Jamal Agnew and Chris Manhertz: Should at least be on the field.
  6. Laquon Treadwell, Devin Smith, Michell Wilcox and Dare Ogunbowale: Blowout run only.

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If you’re interested in other NFL DFS tips for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL rankings, and NFL DFS stacking. Take a look at our starting lineups, inactive players and depth charts for NFL games.

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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