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Madden Stream Picks: Bengals vs. Chargers DraftKings DFS Showdown Strategy

Zach Thompson preps you for Wednesday’s 12 p.m. ET Madden Stream contest between the Bengals and Chargers with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

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 DraftKings YouTube channel, the DK Live app or right here in this post. Follow along to watch your fantasy team rack up some big fantasy points.

Another wild weather Wednesday is on tap for July 15, and the day full of sims starts at 12 p.m. ET with a matchup between the Bengals and the Chargers in the rain from virtual Los Angeles. This will be the 35th sim for the Chargers, who have gone 20-14, which is the best record in the virtual AFC West. They have especially good at home, where they are 11-5. The Bengals have not had that much success, going just 13-22 in their 35 sims. They have pulled some notable upsets, though, so there is a chance they can get the win here if things go their way. In the first sim between these two teams, Cincinnati actually got the win, 19-13. Can they pull off another upset and knock off the Chargers again? I’ll give you my pick and my favorite plays for this single-game Showdown in this post.

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Showdown Strategy

Cincinnati Bengals

It finally happened! The Bengals’ WR3 John Ross III ($4,800) has been a popular play due to his high ceiling. He has only a 76 overall rating but also has a blazing 97 speed rating, which gives him lots of upside. All sim season long, we’ve been waiting for him to break free and go off for a big game, and he finally did with four catches, 130 yards, two touchdowns and 32.0 DKFP against the Dolphins. He had 13 scores now on the season and is averaging 3.5 catches for 53.9 yards per sim. He has at least three grabs in nine straight games, but his most recent sim was the first one in which he absolutely went off. He has that potential again but remains a boom-or-bust play with an affordable sub-$5K salary.

On the depth chart, Ross is behind A.J. Green ($9,600) and Tyler Boyd ($7,200), who have each had a few big games as well. Green is the highest-rated skill player on the Bengals with a 90 overall with a 90 speed rating, 92 catch rating, 96 catch in traffic rating and 96 spectacular catch rating. He also has Superstar abilities of ”Cross Specialist” and “Streak Specialist,” which improve the success of those specific routes for the dynamic WR. He was quiet last sim while Ross went off but had a pair of two-touchdown performances prior to that for 23.5 and 24.3 DKFP. He had double-digit DKFP in eight of his previous nine games and also had 16.3 DKFP in the first meeting between these two teams. I don’t think he’ll be nearly as popular as the two Chargers WR, but he does definitely bring upside if he’s the go-to WR in this matchup. Boyd is a little more affordable but is still averaging over 10 DKFP per sim. He has been quiet lately with under 10 DKFP in six straight sims but is still averaging 3.6 catches for 48.7 yards per contest.

Green isn’t the only Bengals’ Superstar on offense since Joe Mixon ($8,000) has the Superstar ability of “Arm Bar,” which gives him more powerful stiff-arm animations along with his 87 overall rating. However, he has struggled in these sims and averaged just 7.2 DKFP per contest. Most of the reason Mixon has struggled is that the Bengals use their RB2 as their third-down back. Giovani Bernard ($3,200) is much cheaper and is averaging 8.3 DKFP per sim, so I’d go with him over Mixon and use the salary savings somewhere else. Bernard has seven touchdowns and has been involved in every sim, producing 25.1 rushing yards and 20.7 receiving yards on 2.5 catches per contest.

Another piece of the Bengals offense that is affordable but productive at times is Tyler Eifert ($6,800), who is averaging just under 10 DKFP per sim. He has double-digit DKFP in three of his past five games and usually gets decent volume with 3-to-5 catches per game.

As a group, the Bengals’ offense has been hit-or-miss largely due to inconsistent QB play of Andy Dalton’s ($10,200) inaccuracy. He has just a 72 overall rating, making the 29th highest-rated QB in Madden and has produced just 16.3 DKFP per sim and 231.6 passing yards per contest. He has 55 touchdowns in his 35 sims and has thrown multiple scores in each of his past three. He’s an expensive option compared to the more consistent plays on the Chargers’ side, but he could also end up with low ownership. He has over 20 DKFP in 10-of-35 (29%) of his sims.

The Bengals’ DST ($3,000) does have some playmakers led by Geno Atkins, but they have only averaged under 3.0 DKFP per sim and are in a tough matchup against the Chargers. K Randy Bullock ($3,600) also makes sense as a cheap flier since he’s averaging 6.3 DKFP per contest. I’d still go with Gio over either of those plays, though and also lean toward the Chargers DST ($4,400) if you have the salary.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have gotten good work from QB Philip Rivers ($11,000), who remains the L.A. QB in simland even though he’s now with the Colts. Rivers is the most expensive play on the slate at $11K and is averaging 18.3 DKFP with 69 touchdowns and 248 yards per game in his 34 sims. He had just his second game with over 30 DKFP in his most recent contest, piling up 370 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-24 victory over Washington. 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. He’s a much safer option than Dalton and doesn’t have many busts.

Part of the reason Rivers has been so consistent is that he has been getting great work from his top two WR. WR2 Mike Williams ($8,800) has been a fantasy beast in these sims with 24 touchdowns in 34 contests. He’s averaging 4.3 catches for 73.4 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 produced at least 100 yards in each of his past two sims but was strangely shut out against the Bengals, which is the only time all sim season he has been kept catchless.

While Williams has been putting up great numbers at a good salary, don’t overlook the fact that WR1 Keenan Allen ($10,600) has also been very productive. He has the X-Factor of “RAC ’em up,” which gives him greater success rate on RAC catches against single coverage, along with the Superstar abilities of “Slot-o-Matic” and “In-Out Elite.” He has almost caught up with Williams’ production pace with 16.9 DKFP per sim but only has 21 touchdowns compared to 24 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 five touchdowns in his past four sims with over 14 DKFP in each of those games and in 20-of-34 (59%) of these sims.

With the WRs soaking up so much usage, Hunter Henry ($7,600) has been inconsistent and relatively quiet despite an excellent 87 overall rating. He has only averaged 8.9 DKFP per sim. He does typically get a few catches but has only managed five touchdowns, so he usually doesn’t return value. Another player I’ll probably pass on due to his usage and salary is Melvin Gordon III ($5,600), who has a decent 84 overall rating but shares too much work in the backfield, only averaging 7.2 DKFP per contest. Gordon has hit a few times, and his salary reduction makes him a high-risk boom-or-bust play against a Cincinnati defense that has given up big games to RBs.

Another RB who will look to get a piece of the matchup is RB2 and third-down back Austin Ekeler ($2,400), who has a solid 83 overall rating. While Gordon has done most of the work, Ekeler is still averaging 6.7 DKFP per sim and 2.3 catches per contest. He is a little more hit-or-miss than Bernard but both present good value. Another nice value to consider if you have a little more than Ekeler’s salary is WR3 Travis Benjamin ($4,200), who has a 92 speed rating and an 88 elusiveness rating, making him almost impossible to bring down in space. Benjamin has scored 14 touchdowns and is averaging 36.3 yards per sim. His big-play potential gives him a high ceiling.

It’s also worth checking out the Chargers’ DST ($4,400), which could be set up for success in the rain. The unit has piled up 69 sacks in 34 sims but has only forced 22 turnovers. Los Angeles is not one of the top units in all of Madden but has been a good unit overall and should be able to take advantage of this matchup and the weather conditions to put together a solid outing.

The Outcome

The obvious play is Mike Williams ($13,200 CP), who is very affordable for his consistent production level in these sims. He did have no catches the first time these teams met, but maybe he was just saving them all up for this contest. While Williams is in a favorable matchup it isn’t quite as lop-sided as the matchup for Keenan Allen ($15,900 CP), who has been hot lately and could bring lower ownership as well. On the other side, John Ross ($7,200 CP) finally showed his ceiling and is worth a look along with A.J. Green ($14,400 CP) if you want to try and go with a contrarian option. I also like Melvin Gordon ($8,400 CP) much more than I usually do since the Bengals have been so bad against the run and his salary has dropped so much.

The Chargers’ offense has been so much more stable than the Bengals, and the matchup out of the slot for Allen should be one they can attack whenever they need to. The rain will make this game closer, but I still think the Chargers pull out the win.

Final Score: Chargers 24, Bengals 16

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Depth Charts



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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.