We’re all in need of some entertainment during these times of the unknown. DraftKings is doing its part by offering Madden simulations with a variety of teams going at it. For this piece, we’ll focus on the Browns and Titans game that’ll take place at 2 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.
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What is even left to say about the Browns at this point? I mean, if you thought Cleveland’s real-life football team was annoying and inconsistent, it almost pales in comparison to their virtual counterparts. All of the frustration begins and ends with Baker Mayfield ($10,600). He’s basically the perfect video game template of what a “GPP play” is. To wit, in the Browns’ 25 streams coming into Friday’s tilt with the Titans, Mayfield’s managed to exceed 18.0 DKFP 12 times. Heck, he’s actually been able to bring back at least 23.0 DKFP on seven occasions. That’s an enticing profile. However, where the ceiling is clearly high, the floor is cavernous, as Mayfield’s also been held to single-digit DKFP in seven different contests. This includes a matchup with Dallas earlier this week where the former first-round pick was limited to 0.48 DKFP in a loss. He’s probably still the QB I’d rather roll with on this particular slate, but trust me, I’m not thrilled about it.
Tied up in Mayfield’s erratic quarterback play is an extremely talented receiving corps; a group of skill-position assets that are headlined by none other than Odell Beckham Jr. ($10,400). The tough pill to swallow with the wideout is price. Can Beckham be a fantasy force of nature? You bet he can. As evidenced by a 49.4 DKFP outburst against the Raiders, Beckham has the potential to break an entire slate in half. Yet, he’s struggled lately, failing to produce even 55 yards or 15.0 DKFP in any of his most recent seven starts. Obviously that doesn’t make him an avoid, it’s just tough that the ceilings of Beckham and Mayfield tend to be intertwined, as they’re two of the most expensive pieces on this slate. Still, a hypothetical Cleveland stack is helped by the affordable price points of David Njoku ($7,000) and Jarvis Landry ($6,400), specifically with the latter sporting his lowest salary since these simulations began. In fact, Landry might be one of the safest fantasy options on the board, considering he’s exceeded 10.0 DKFP in five of his last seven games.
Finally, we get to the Browns’ backfield tandem of Nick Chubb ($9,600) and Kareem Hunt ($3,000). Here’s the good news with Chubb: He’s coming off a 127-yard performance versus Buffalo. Here’s the bad news with Chubb: He’d been averaging 4.1 DKFP across the 11 starts prior to that breakout. The simple truth of the matter is the Georgia product isn’t involved in the passing attack and that crushes his viability. Sure, there’s a scenario where you steer into the curve and Captain the running back knowing his ownership is going to be microscopic; but that’s easier said than done in a single-entry format. If you don’t feel like living dangerously, Hunt’s the superior dollar-for-dollar asset, though neither is anything close to a must-play on this slate.
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Ryan Tannehill ($10,800) is sort of the anti-Baker. He’s cheese pizza. He’s a lukewarm beer. He’s the football equivalent of listening to Coldplay. The former first-round pick of Miami has rarely been bad in these streams, yet you can count the amount of times he’s swung a contest on one hand. In fact, Tannehill’s thrown for 300 yards in just one of his 25 simulated starts, which was the same game he exceeded 22.0 DKFP for the first and only time. Now, for as bleak as all this might sound, there is a scenario where Tannehill might be of use. If you’re someone who feels that Tennessee wins a low-scoring matchup on Friday afternoon, you might as well fade the expensive Browns assets and put Tannehill into a FLEX slot. He’ll get you 13.0 DKFP in a 17-7 victory. However, outside of that narrow window, I’m not comfortable with the QB carrying this slate’s largest salary.
So, with my feelings for Tannehill clear, I think it’s important that you try to save a little money when it comes to the Titans’ skill-position players. At least the pass-catchers. For instance, A.J. Brown ($8,400) is a tough sell. Yes, the rookie has easily the highest ceiling of any Tennessee asset on this slate; however, he’s also scored less than 8.0 DKFP in half of his last 10 starts. Again, that’s more a result of the Titans’ offensive attack struggling as a whole, but it’s not like Brown gets to be on a new team on Friday afternoon. Heck, you could even make the case that Delanie Walker ($7,600) is a little too pricey; especially when his overall numbers are almost identical to Corey Davis’ ($5,400). In fact, Davis has more receiving yards (1,137) and receiving touchdowns (8) than the veteran tight end since DraftKings began running these simulations three months ago. Walker’s still likely a better option than someone like Adam Humphries ($5,000), yet Davis is clearly the standout value in this group.
That leaves Derrick Henry ($9,200). I’ll be honest, deciphering the running back’s viability is probably one of the hardest individual decisions when it comes to these streams. Is Henry touchdown-dependent? You’d better believe it. However, the Alabama product has managed to find the end zone eight times in Tennessee’s last eight games; a stretch of contests that’s seen Henry average a more-than-respectable 14.2 DKFP. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to Captain the 26-year-old, but, if you’re fading the Titans’ passing attack anyway, Henry has the potential to be a valuable piece in what could be an ugly matchup.
On a relatively underwhelming slate like this, I think you have two types of Captain’s picks to explore. On one hand, you could just use Baker Mayfield ($15,900 CP) and just hope that this is one of the games that he happens to get close to his ceiling. On the other, with no obvious studs available, saving some salary in the mid-tier with a Jarvis Landry ($9,600 CP) or a Corey Davis ($8,100 CP) allows you to roll with a pretty balanced build. In either case, I wouldn’t be expecting a shootout on Friday.
Final Score: Cleveland 20, Tennessee 13
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