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Madden Stream: Chargers vs. Ravens Showdown Strategies and Captain’s Picks

Zach Thompson preps you for Wednesday’s 12 p.m. ET simulated contest with game-script analysis, picks and depth charts

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams makes a touchdown catch. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With real-life sports in the midst of an extended time out, DraftKings has been helping to fill the void with some very entertaining simulated sports action. Each day, there are six Madden Streams and eight free contests, with a single-game Showdown for each game along with a pair of classic contests. Each of the simulations is played out via an online Madden Stream using Madden 2020 with rosters and ratings from the end of the 2019-20 season. In this format, you can enjoy watching the game stream on the DK Live app or right here in this post. Follow along to watch your fantasy team rack up some big fantasy points.

Wednesday, the first matchup of the day starts at 12 p.m. ET, kicking off another wild weather Wednesday with a game in the rain between the Chargers and the Ravens. The Chargers are leading the virtual AFC West with a 17-12 record after 29 sims, but the Ravens are actually second in the AFC North trailing the Steelers by five games with a 14-16 record. Baltimore has played all 30 teams in the NFL besides the Chargers, so they’ll finish their first trip through the entire league with this sim. Can they edge closer to .500 with a win at home in the rain or will the Bolts strike in the storm and pull out a road win as they try to hold off the Chiefs for the top spot in their division? You can find my pick to win and my favorite fantasy selections for the single-game Showdown below.

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Showdown Strategy

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Even though he is now with the Colts, Philip Rivers ($11,000) remains the QB for the Chargers in these sims. He has been very productive, averaging 18.0 DKFP in his 29 contests with 57 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and an average of 246.9 yards per sim. He hasn’t gone off for a big game in a while and only produced over 30 DKFP one time in his 29 sims. He doesn’t have nearly the ceiling of the Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, but he has been pretty consistently in the 15-24 DKFP range. He has upside with his 84 overall rating along with his exceptional 94 short accuracy rating and 92 mid accuracy rating, but he doesn’t add anything on the ground and is very touchdown-dependent.

Most of Rivers’ touchdowns have gone to WR2 Mike Williams ($6,600), who has been a fantasy beast in these sims with 21 touchdowns in 29 sims. He’s averaging 4.3 catches for 72.5 yards and 16.9 DKFP per contest. He has been one of the most popular plays throughout our contests since he is such a consistent contributor at such an affordable salary. Williams has an 81 overall rating and uses his 88 catching in traffic rating and 87 awareness rating to be a top red-zone target. He has had a few down games, but with so many touchdowns his ceiling and his floor are both very high, even against a solid Ravens secondary. Williams has seen an increased target share in previous rain games that I’ve seen, so he is a great place to start your lineup at under $7K.

You won’t get as much of a discount on WR1 Keenan Allen ($10,400), who has the X-Factor of “RAC ’em up,” which gives him greater success rate on RAC catches against single coverage. He also has the Superstar abilities of “Slot-o-Matic” and “In-Out Elite.” He has almost caught up with Williams’ production pace with 16.2 DKFP per sim but only has 16 touchdowns compared to 21 for Williams. Allen does most of his work out of the slot, which makes his routes typically shorter and more conducive to success in the rain. He has been slightly less volatile than Williams and has over 50 yards in nine of his past 10 games, dating back to a monster 39.4-DKFP performance against the Colts. The Ravens use Marlon Humphrey as their slot corner, who has an 89 overall rating and 89 awareness, making this a tough matchup for Allen on paper.

With the WRs soaking up so much usage, Hunter Henry ($7,800) has been inconsistent and relatively quiet despite an excellent 87 overall rating. He has only averaged 9.3 DKFP per sim, but his usage has gone up lately. The biggest reason he looks overpriced, though, is that he only has four scores given that most of Rivers’ passing TDs go to Williams or Allen. Another player I’ll probably pass on due to his usage and salary is Melvin Gordon III ($8,600), who has a decent 84 overall rating but shares too much work in the backfield, only averaging 7.8 DKFP per contest. Gordon has had a couple of good games lately with three scores in his past two contests but still only has eight touchdowns on the season and struggles to return value if he doesn’t have multiple touchdowns.

When Gordon is not in the game, the much more affordable Austin Ekeler ($3,200) steps in as the team’s third-down back with his 83 overall rating. While Gordon has done most of the work recently, Ekeler is still averaging 6.4 DKFP per sim and 2.2 catches per contest. He is a volatile option depending on game flow but has solid upside that makes him one of the best bargains in the Showdown. Another nice value to consider if you have a little more than Ekeler’s salary is WR3 Travis Benjamin ($4,800), who has a 92 speed rating and an 88 elusiveness rating, making him almost impossible to bring down in space. Benjamin has a dozen touchdowns and is averaging 36.4 yards per sim. His big-play potential gives him a high ceiling, and you could pair him with Williams, especially if you think Allen may struggle due to matchup.

It’s also worth checking out the Chargers’ DST ($3,600), which could be set up for success in the rain. The unit has piled up 55 sacks in 29 sims but has only forced 16 turnovers. Los Angeles is not one of the top units in all of Madden but has been better than the Ravens’ DST ($2,600).


BALTIMORE RAVENS

While the Chargers have been fairly consistent in the passing game, the biggest star in the game is definitely Baltimore’s X-Factor Superstar Lamar Jackson ($11,800), who has been announced as the Madden 2021 cover athlete. He is averaging just over 20 DKFP in his 30 sims. He was upgraded and given the X-Factor of “First One Free” in a mid-season update and also has the Superstar traits of “Escape Artist,” “Fastbreak” and “Juke Box.” His running abilities have given him both a high ceiling and low risk since he can usually get going one way or the other. He has run for 16 touchdowns and over 60 yards per contest and thrown for 37 touchdowns. He has only hit the rushing bonus four times in 30 sims but has over 18 DKFP in three straight, including a monster 33.24 DKFP performance with two touchdowns against the Bengals. He has a huge ceiling and can break any slate, but he hasn’t always been a lock.

When Jackson takes to the air, he’s often locked in on TE Mark Andrews ($7,200), who has a team-high 108 catches. To show how much better the Chargers’ passing game has been, Henry, Allen and Williams all have more catches than Andrews. Andrews has averaged more DKFP than Henry, though, since he has amassed eight touchdowns in these sims. He has an 85 overall rating, which is higher than any WR on the team, along with an 85 catching rating, which is tops among starters. His 86 speed rating isn’t elite, but it is solid for a TE and gives him enough ability to make things happen after the catch.

Speaking of being able to make things happen after the catch, WR1 Marquise Brown ($8,200) has an incredible 97 speed rating and 84 elusiveness which make him a dangerous option any time the ball is in his hands. The problem for him has been that he hasn’t gotten the ball often enough in the right spots. He only has 99 catches and is averaging 45.3 yards per contest. He has been better lately with four touchdowns in his past three games and over 15 DKFP in each contest but remains a very hit-or-miss option. Willie Snead IV ($5,200) has also struggled as the WR2, averaging just 5.7 DKFP per sim on 2.4 catches per game with only two touchdowns all season. If you’re looking for a Ravens WR, you may want to drop down to Seth Roberts ($4,200), who has nine touchdowns on his 79 catches and has been regularly involved with his 90 speed rating and 85 spectacular catching rating, which is higher than both Brown’s and Snead’s rating in that category. Roberts is a nice value play and one of my favorite non-Lamar Ravens options.

In the backfield, the Ravens use almost exclusively Mark Ingram II ($9,200), who is the team’s third-down back and power back as well as the starter. His ratings are solid, as he has an 86 overall rating with an 82 strength rating and 93 awareness making up for his so-so 88 speed rating. He is averaging 58.6 rushing yards per sim but has lost lots of rushing touchdowns to Jackson, which has resulted in him producing just 10.8 DKFP per sim. He had over 13 DKFP in four of five games before a disappointing 2.1 DKFP in his most recent contest against the Dolphins, who knocked off the Ravens. He does have upside but is a big investment at over $9K.

The Ravens’ DST has only averaged 3.1 DKFP per sim, as mentioned above. Baltimore’s defense has highly-rated players but has only managed 43 sacks (1.4 per game) and 12 takeaways. If you need value from Baltimore, a better option would be Justin Tucker ($3,800), who has produced 6.3 DKFP per contest and has one of the highest ratings of all the kickers in Madden with his 87 overall rating due to 98 kick power and 98 kick accuracy ratings.


THE OUTCOME

The best option for his salary based on past performance is clearly Mike Williams ($9,900 CP), and he should be in a favorable matchup as well, which will likely make him a very popular option. If you roll with him as your Captain’s Pick, you’ll just need to find other ways to differentiate your lineup. On the other side of the ball, Lamar Jackson ($17,700 CP) is also an obvious play but has such a high ceiling he’s hard to overlook. The Chargers’ defense has been good against the run overall, though, so that’s why I’d go with Williams or maybe even Philip Rivers ($16,500 CP) if you’re looking for lower ownership for your Captain. As much as possible, I’d lean into the Chargers’ passing game, since it has been reliable from sim-to-sim and maybe mix in Roberts, Tucker and the Chargers’ DST for your flex spots.

I do think this should be a good game in the rain, and could have some big plays from Jackson, Allen and Williams. Jackson makes any matchup enjoyable to watch, but he hasn’t been consistent enough in these sims to pick him to win against the Chargers, who have been very solid. Baltimore has gone just 5-10 at home, and I think they’ll lose another close one in this sim on Wednesday.

Final Score: Chargers 21, Ravens 17


DEPTH CHARTS

Chargers

Ravens


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.