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NFL Prime Time Games: Showdown Week 1 Sunday Night Football (FREE)

Eric MacPherson



NFL DFS Matchups column: Patriots and Eagles, looks at Tom Brady and Zach Ertz for Week 11 fantasy football, DraftKings, FanDuel

Greetings Gamers!  Welcome back to the Awesemo NFL DFS  Single Game Prime Time series for FanDuel and DraftKings showdown slates.  For each of the featured games, typically Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights we will be providing a free analysis for the Showdown slate action.  This will include team capsules as well as player rankings and comments.

Week 1 is always tough as we have limited preseason and training camp information to work with.  Some of our analysis will be supposition and some will be based on last year’s data.

The other key to remember is that strategy and lineup construction are crucial to get that ever elusive edge on single game slates.


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Tune into NFL Live Before Lock tonight at 7:30pm ET as EMac and Eric Vojvodich break down tonight’s game for Showdown formats.


Key Inactives: Damien Harris, RB, Demaryius Thomas, WR

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots -5.5 / 49.0

Pittsburgh Steelers 21.75 implied point total


Ben Roethlisberger is heading into his 17th season at age 37 and it is wild to think that he is five years younger than Tom Brady. We all have heard by now that Roethlisberger has had some drastic home/road splits – but last year and also in 2013 they were darn near equal.  The four years in between were in stark contrast.  We also know that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to take away opponents best options, so that would be focusing on Juju Smith-Schuster which could impact Roethlisberger as well.

New England had a middle-of-the-road defense last year and they continue to be more scheme based than relying on raw talent. The last two seasons when Roethisberger faced the Pats he averaged 22 for 32 and 258 yards with four touchdowns, three interceptions and four sacks.

Running Back

James Conner was outstanding last season as he was tabbed to replace Le’Veon Bell during his holdout. Last season the Patriotsallowed 112.7 rushing yards per game which was the twelfth best in the league, though their 4.9 yards per carry was the fourth highest and the 21st DVOA.  This is a solid matchup for Connor and he is a fringe RB10 in all formats this week on the full slate. He is the second most expensive option on DraftKings and the fourth on FanDuel and is deserving of Captain/MVP consideration. Jaylen Samuels is an afterthought in what looks like a potential 80/20 split, though this is reflected in his salary on both sites.  It would make sense that the Steelers are going to want to do their best to control the clock and keep the Tom Brady and company off the field.

Wide Receiver

Juju Smith-Schuster is likely to be the focus of the New Englanddefense, however he does have the ability to play both inside and outside as well as go in motion to try and get more favorable matchups.  It will be interesting to see how he handles double and triple coverage without Antonio Brown to take some of the heat.  Last season Smith-Schuster was top five in targets, receptions and yardage with seven touchdowns.

Donte Moncrief and James Washington are not overly exciting nor particularly dangerous. Moncrief is the likely WR2 as Washington was doing most of his preseason damage with the second and third stringers.  Neither has a particularly appealing price point on either DFS site, but that will help suppress their popularity.

Tight End

Vance McDonald is someone that I was very high on for BestBall and season long leagues as he is in the mix for that next tier after the top six options were off the board. McDonald is just inside the top ten tight ends of the week and he projects better than any receiver not named Juju.  Last season the former ‘Niner was third on the team in targets, receiving yards and touchdowns.

Defense/Special Teams

Tom Brady was sacked only 21 times last season which was the third lowest in the league with just 11 interceptions. Blitzburgh tied the Chiefs with 52 sacks to lead the league though they had the third fewest takeaways with only fifteen.  This is a dart throw at best in the hopes of a lucky return touchdown.

New England Patriots 27.25 implied point total


Tom Terrific has a decent matchup against the Steelers who were actually in the bottom third of the league in DVOA last season.  He has two outstanding running backs he can lean on as well as trusted receiver Julian Edelman and deep threat Josh Gordon.  Of course next week he will likely have Antonio Brown and that very well may spur Rob Gronkowski into action for a late season appearance.  All that said, let’s remember that the future Hall of Famer is now 42 years old and checking in as a QB20-25 in most projection systems for the full-slate.  There are just so many options at the disposal of Bill Belichick it is going to be hard to pinpoint with any certainty where the fantasy production will come from.

Running Back

The first question is are you on Team James White or Team Sony Michel.  Trick question, the real answer is “When have we ever truly known what Bill Belichick is going to do?”  It sounds like Michel is going to get some opportunities in the passing game, however remember that he had just 11 targets for 7/50/0.  Heck, James Develin had 17 for 12/61/0. Rex Burkhead is still lurking and of course there is rookie Damien Harris.

My thought is that I actually am on Team Sony this week, however, I will still take James White for the discount on DraftKings and the full-PPR scoring.  Lastly let’s not lose site that White had five rushing touchdowns compared to the six of Michel.  Enjoy reading the tea leaves, perhaps we will get some insight when inactives are posted tonight.

Wide Receiver

Julian Edelman is the clear play and of course the favorite receiver of Tom Brady. Then it starts to get dicey with Josh Gordon and outstanding threat to score from anywhere on the field. Phillip Dorsett who is in his third year with the Patriots and then veteran Demaryius Thomas is lurking as well. Thomas is dealing with a hamstring injury and there is a chance he may not be active.  If he is out then Jakobi Meyers becomes a long shot.

Tight End

Ryan Izzo, Matt Lacosse and Lance Kendricks are the likely options, though probably just  the first two will be active.  Thirty-eight year old Ben Watson is suspended, so it is a coinflip for me with Lacosse getting the slightest edge over Izzo if I am desperate.

Defense/Special Teams

Surprisingly the Patriots were tied for fifth with 28 takeaways last season, but their 30 sacks were the second fewest. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked just 24 times last season, though he did have 16 interceptions.  Again, we are hoping for a big play or a low scoring game when playing either defensive unit on the single game slates.

Awesemo’s Showdown Rankings provide an additional look at how to value the player pool from Alex himself >>> premium members click here

Strategy – fortunately we have a variety of options on both sides that have the potential to rack up fantasy points.  We saw on Thursday that things do not always go according to plan, but these defenses are not as good as the two that squared off 72 hours ago.  Remember if you are making a few lineups, be sure to “craft a storyline” and build around those scenarios.

Single Game Ranking (taking into account projected production, pricing and popularity)

Key Inactives: Damien Harris, RB, Demaryius Thomas, WR

Top 10

  1. Tom Brady: as much as I loathe, appreciate, respect Brady it still pains me to put him at the top of the list.  He will be wildly popular and is 42-years old, but at least he should be refreshed after the offseason.
  2. James Connor: his ability to be effective in all facets of the game are going to have him vying for top honors on Sunday night.
  3. Juju Smith-Schuster:  he can still have a good game from a fantasy perspective, even if Ben Roethlisberger has a mediocre showing.
  4. Julian Edelman: my favorite target to pair with Brady, right behind…
  5. James White: who should be a key cog once again and I still believe more in that Sony Michel as will Brady in pass protection or as an outlet receiver.
  6. Sony Michel:  he will be a priority of mine on any roster that does not have Brady and even some with him.
  7. Ben Roethlisberger: his best years coincided with Antonio Brown, will Smith-Schuster be up to the challenge?
  8. Vance McDonald: drop him down 3-4 spots on this list for FanDuel where it is half-PPR as he will need to get in the end zone to be relevant there at his $9,500 price point – full steam ahead on DraftKings.
  9. Stephen Gostkowski: much preferred on DraftKings where we can utilize the savings.
  10. Chris Boswell: much preferred on DraftKings where we can utilize the savings.


  1. Rex Burkhead: make sure he is active, on FanDuel I would put him ahead of both kickers as a better bargain.
  2. Donte Moncrief:  could this, his sixth season… be the year he finally puts everything together?
  3. Josh Gordon:  it only takes one big play… but how many times will Brady go deep?
  4. Ryan Switzer: we are not entirely sure if he would get the work over James Washington.  He also has been used in some funky formations in the past out of the backfield in motion.  He also is slated to return both punts and kickoffs.
  5. Demaryius Thomas: if healthy and active, then he is a differentiation play, particularly on DraftKings.
  6. Jaylen Samuels: he should get about a third of the work spelling Conner.
  7. Phillip Dorsett: leapfrogs Samuels if Thomasis inactive.
  8. Damien Harris and Jakobi Meyers: roster fodder if active this week.
  9. James Devlin: four rushing scores last season on just six carries.  Carries the showdown slate curse of Bill Belichick who seemingly lives to troll fantasy gamers.
  10. Xavier Grimble, Benny Snell and Dionte Johnson:  Steelers reserve players, make sure they are active if you are going to use one.
  11. Patriots Tight End: close your eyes and pick one if you must.
  12. Matthew Slater: set to return kickoffs for the Pats, with Edelman likely handling punt returns.

As always, you can reach out to me in Premium Slack or on Twitter @EMacDFS if you have any questions.

Good Luck Gamers! ~ EMac

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

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