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Fantasy Football Picks: Ravens vs. Steelers DraftKings NFL DFS Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Wednesday’s 3:40 p.m. ET contest between the Ravens and the Steelers with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

If you’re the type of person that’s reading a Showdown preview article, you’re likely also the type of person who doesn’t need a warning about Wednesday’s proceedings. This matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers promises to be among the strangest games played in NFL history, and I say that directly on the heels of the Broncos not having a QB this past Sunday. The most important thing to keep in mind will be 12:30 p.m. ET. That’s the cut off point for roster moves for both these teams, so if anyone’s going to be a surprise activation off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, it’ll have to come with some time to adjust your lineups.

With all that context given, let’s dive in and break down all the madness from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Wednesday Showdown [$500K to 1st] (BAL vs PIT)



SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Ben Roethlisberger ($17,100 CP) - There’s more than a couple of things to consider when spending up for Roethlisberger on this slate. First and foremost, with the amount of value available on Baltimore’s roster due to numerous skill-position players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, there will be places to save salary elsewhere. Beyond that, Roethlisberger is just clearly the most stable aspect of Pittsburgh’s offensive attack and the team has been throwing the ball a lot lately. Like, more than anyone else in football. Not only have the Steelers passed on 67.8% of their snaps dating back to Week 9, but within that same span, Roethlisberger leads the NFL in attempts (134) and passing touchdowns (9), while he also leads the AFC in passing yards (906). You don’t often know which of the veteran QB’s talented stable of wide receivers will have the biggest performance on a given afternoon, yet you can be sure that Roethlisberger himself will be heavily involved all game long — especially when facing an opponent that sports the conference’s best rush defense according to DVOA. As Roethlisberger said last week, maybe Pittsburgh will throw it 70 times.

Steelers D/ST ($11,700 CP) - I’d be shocked if Pittsburgh’s defense didn’t turn out to be one of the most popular plays on the slate, especially with how depleted Baltimore’s offense projects to be. As of writing, we know that the Ravens will be without Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Matt Skura and Willie Snead for Wednesday’s tilt. On top of that, the team might be down both J.K. Dobbins ($7,200) and Mark Ingram ($5,200), though the two RBs will be eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Let’s also not forget that the Ravens have issues outside of the direct virus concerns. D.J. Fluker is questionable to play against the Steelers with a back injury, while star left tackle Ronnie Stanley is on IR. Toss in a week where Baltimore was unable to practice and you’ve got a potentially disastrous situation on your hands in a matchup with the defensive unit that leads the NFL in turnovers generated per drive (0.18) and QB hits (99). The Ravens would be hard-pressed to cobble together a functional offense regardless of opponent on Wednesday; that they’ll have to do it versus Pittsburgh is criminal.


FLEX Plays

Benny Snell Jr. ($8,800) - Snell is basically the last man standing in Pittsburgh when it comes to active running backs on the roster. Yes, I’m sure both Anthony McFarland ($2,600) and Ray-Ray McCloud ($1,200) will play small roles on Wednesday, but Snell should emerge as the “bell cow” for all intents and purposes. Generally, that wouldn’t mean much in a matchup against a defense that only concedes 4.03 adjusted line yards per opponent rushing attempt; however, Snell isn’t exactly catching this Ravens unit at full strength. Starters Calais Campbell, Pernell McPhee and Matthew Judon all remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, while interior lineman Brandon Williams — a lynchpin in Baltimore’s rush defense — has been ruled out with an ankle issue. Snell should be able to feast on squad that’s front seven is in shambles. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the 22-year-old being vultured in the red zone, as Snell’s recently been featured as the Steelers’ goal line back.

Robert Griffin III ($8,400) - Though I very much stand by my above assessment of Steelers D/ST, the fact remains that Griffin is a starting quarterback with scrambling ability that’s priced just above $8K. That has to get one’s attention in a DFS setting, despite the fact that Pittsburgh has surrendered the fewest DKFP to opposing QBs this season. While the squad’s dominance does impact Griffin’s ceiling, the few pivots that have had some level of success versus the Steelers in 2020 have followed a relatively similar path: Exploiting garbage time. To wit, there have been three quarterbacks to exceed 19.0 DKFP in this matchup — Daniel Jones, Jeff Driskel and Carson Wentz — with all three scoring a majority of their fantasy points in the second-half after Pittsburgh had pulled out to at least a two-touchdown lead. I could certainly see Wednesday’s script going in that direction for Griffin, making him the ideal candidate to bring back a Steelers stack.

Dez Bryant ($4,800) - After logging a 54% snap share in Week 11’s loss to Tennessee, there’s a very solid chance that Bryant’s opportunity grows in Week 12, specifically in high leverage situations. We all remember what type of threat Bryant can be near the goal line, but this is about much more than the veteran’s past exploits. Simply put, there’s just no big-bodied receivers left on Baltimore’s roster besides Bryant. In fact, Andrews, Snead and Nick Boyle (knee) have accounted for a whopping 63.6% of the Ravens’ 33 red zone targets in 2020. The speedy Devin Duvernay ($3,200) should also find himself in a position for a volume increase on Wednesday, but it’ll be Bryant who likely finds the end zone.


Fades

Gus Edwards ($6,200) - Obviously the Ravens’ backfield is something we’re all going to have to watch closely as we get closer to kickoff. Will Dobbins or Ingram be active? If one or both are active, how involved can we expect them to be without zero football activity in the past 10 days? Still, even if both are sidelined on Wednesday, I’m still not overly crazy about Edwards’ viability. He’s been priced up to account for such a scenario, yet he’ll have to contend with a Steelers defense that’s allowing an AFC-low 3.45 adjusted line yards per opponent carry. It’s also not like Baltimore’s restricted from using other RBs on its depth chart. Justice Hill ($2,200) will surely be in the mix with no Dobbins or Ingram; while someone like Ty’Son Williams ($200) might even make his NFL debut. At the end of the day, I’m not expecting much from a back that’s usually a non-factor in the passing attack, especially one playing for a team with an implied total well below 20 points.


THE OUTCOME

I think it’s fair to say that the Ravens, even before all this COVID madness, have been stuck in a rut as of late. Coming into Wednesday’s tilt, the squad is 1-4 ATS in its past five games. Take away a reigning MVP and more than a handful of impactful players on both sides of the ball and I’m just not sure how they’re supposed to be the team to hand the Steelers their first loss of 2020. This one could get ugly.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 13

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Wednesday Showdown [$500K to 1st] (BAL vs PIT)


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