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

Zach Thompson preps you for Tuesday’s 12 p.m. ET Madden Stream contest between the Chargers and Lions 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.

Tuesday’s Color Rush slate starts with a fun matchup between the Chargers and the Lions from virtual Detroit. Both these teams have had some very strong offensive games and also put up some duds, so it feels like we have a wide range of potential outcomes. The Chargers enter this sim 22-14 in 36 contests, which would put them atop the virtual AFC West. The Lions have gone just 19-18 which would put then last in the virtual NFC North, which is the only division with every team over .500. Detroit has gone an impressive 5-1 since we started our second round of sims, and they’ll look to continue that recent momentum against the Bolts in this one. The first time these teams met in the sims was long time ago in just the sixth game for each team, and it was a decisive victor for the Chargers, who walked away 31-13 winners. Can they get another win against the Lions, or will coming home to virtual Ford Field give the Lions enough bite to roar back and avenge their earlier loss? I’ll give you my pick to win and my favorite plays for the single-game Showdown below.

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Showdown Strategy

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ success in these sims has mostly been due to a strong passing game led by now-Colts QB Philip Rivers ($11,600). Rivers is the most expensive play on the slate and is averaging a slate-high 18.2 DKFP per contest. He has piled up 73 passing scores in his 36 sims and has multiple touchdowns in six straight coming into this matchup. He had four scores and 27.4 DKFP the first time these teams met and should be in a good spot to carve up the Lions’ secondary again in this matchup. The veteran QB has an 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 is a very safe play if you can afford to pay up for him in this contest.

Rivers has thrived thanks to exceptional work from his top two WR. WR2 Mike Williams ($8,000) has been a Madden sim legend 26 touchdowns in 36 contests. He had two more scores in his most recent game on his way to 30.5 DKFP against the Giants. He’s averaging a robust 4.2 catches for 71.5 yards and 17.1 DKFP per contest. 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. Williams is an obvious play given his production and affordable salary, but he’s been too good to ignore especially in a good matchup like this one.

With Williams’ huge production, it’s easy to assume that WR1 Keenan Allen ($10,600) has taken a back seat, but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, Allen been very productive, averaging 16.6 DKFP per sim with 5.4 catches and 72.6 yards per sim, which is actually better than Williams, although with not quite as many touchdowns (21). Allen brings 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.” Allen is a big investment at over $10K but has the third-highest DKFP-per-sim average behind just Rivers and Williams.

With the WRs soaking up so much usage, Hunter Henry ($7,200) is usually just a peripheral option. He does have an excellent 87 overall rating but is averaging under 10 DKFP per sim with only six scores in 36 contests. He does have double-digit DKFP in each of his past three contests and had 22.4 DKFP in his first meeting with the Lions, so if you want to pivot off the top WRs, he does have some upside in this specific matchup. Another pivot option to consider that will cost you less than Henry 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. He doesn’t typically get a ton of volume but has scored 15 touchdowns. He has big-play potential and a high ceiling but does also come with some significant risk of a bust due to lack of usage.

One player I’ll probably pass on due to his usage and salary is Melvin Gordon III ($6,800), who has a decent 84 overall rating but shares too much work in the backfield, only averaging 7.3 DKFP per contest. Instead, I’m looking at RB2 and third-down back Austin Ekeler ($3,000), who has a solid 83 overall rating and is much more affordable. While Gordon has done most of the work, Ekeler is still averaging 6.6 DKFP per sim thanks mostly to his involvement in the passing game.

I also like the Chargers’ DST ($3,600) in this contest since the Lions have struggled offensively at times in these sims, especially when facing a strong pass rush like the Chargers. Los Angeles has 71 sacks in their 36 sims and has caused 22 turnovers to go with four defensive TDs and a safety. They had 6.0 DFKP in their first meeting, and they can be a solid value option even though they’re not a must-play.

Detroit Lions

On the other side of things, the Lions’ passing game has been hit-or-miss. Matthew Stafford ($11,000) is the most expensive Lions option on the board, and he has thrown for multiple scores in each of his past two games with 18.96 DKFP against Arizona and 26.48 DKFP against the Dolphins. Stafford threw for three scores and 312 yards in Miami in one of his best performances of the season in his most recent outing. He has the potential to be good but has also busted badly in some contests, including just 10.96 DKFP in his first meeting with the Chargers. While there is upside, I’d rather lean more into the Chargers’ passing game since they have been much more consistent. Rivers, Williams and Allen all have higher averages than Stafford.

Like Rivers, Stafford leans heavily on his top two WR in the passing game and both Kenny Golladay ($9,800) and Marvin Jones Jr. ($8,800) have very high 86 and 85 overall ratings, respectively. Golladay is the only offensive player for the Lions with a Superstar ability, and his “Red Zone Threat” makes him more likely to make catches in single coverage in the red zone. He caught his 14th touchdown of the sim season in his most recent game and finished with 17.2 DKFP against Miami. He has the potential for a big game but is touchdown-reliant since Stafford usually spreads the ball around. Due to his spot on the depth chart, Jones is actually often in an even better matchup as one of the highest-rated WR2 in Madden. He actually has a higher spectacular catching rating than Golladay and slightly better elusiveness for making plays after the catch. He has two touchdowns in his past three contests to bring his total to 17 in his 37 sims. Jones has been slightly better and makes sense for your lineup, although you could get lower ownership on Golladay. Both WRs struggled against the Chargers in their first meeting since there weren’t many passing yards to go around.

While both the top WR have been solid, Detroit has also some gotten good value from pass-catchers. Danny Amendola ($4,600) has been a productive WR3 out of the slot with seven touchdowns and over 7.2 DKFP per contest. Amendola did have a touchdown in the first meeting between these teams and had 16.3 DKFP in that contest. The Lions also have a solid TE to utilize in rookie T.J. Hockenson ($6,400), who has caught at least one pass in every single sim and produced 10.9 DKFP per contest with 11 touchdowns. He is a little more expensive than Amendola but comes with good upside at just over $6K.

Like the Chargers, the Lions don’t rely much on their RB1. In Detroit’s case, that’s Kerryon Johnson ($5,400), who is averaging just over 5.0 DKFP per game despite a solid 82 overall rating. Lots of work is going to third-down back J.D. McKissic ($2,600), who doesn’t have great ratings but gets touches. He has produced 7.0 DKFP per sim, which is actually even better than Ekeler at a similar price point. McKissic has over 7.0 DKFP in three of his past four games and in 16 of 37 (43%) of sims overall.

While the Lions’ DST ($3,400) hasn’t been great, I do like Matt Prater ($3,800), who has been one of the best reliable in Madden, averaging just under 8.0 DKFP per sim. He has at least 6.0 DKFP in seven of his past eight sims, making him a good pick to return value.

The Outcome

I’d definitely be looking at the Chargers for my top Captain’s Picks options. Mike Williams ($12,000 CP) is always an attractive play with his high ceiling and affordable salary, but I think you could also go with Keenan Allen ($15,900 CP) or Philip Rivers ($17,400 CP) if you want lower ownership. If you want to try and go against the flow, T.J. Hockenson ($9,600 CP) and Hunter Henry ($10,800 CP) could also make some sense, although they’re much higher risk and will likely need to find the end zone to be worth the Captain’s Pick spot.

The Chargers have been the much more consistent team, and the Lions have been bad at home. Detroit’s secondary has had trouble containing effective passing attacks, and that’s exactly what Los Angeles has been throughout the sims. It’s a great matchup for the Bolts, and I think they’ll cruise to another win.

Final Score: Chargers 28, Lions 13

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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.