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Tuesday’s 2 p.m. ET matchup is the 33rd game for both the Bengals and the Lions, who have both been good at times but struggled with inconsistency as well. Detroit started these sims strong and sat near the top of their division early but have fallen back to below .500 at 15-17. Cincinnati has been even worse at just 12-20. However, the Bengals got the win the first time these teams met in the sims with a 19-14 win in Detroit. The Lions will look to return the favor and hand Cincinnati a home loss this afternoon. Both teams have some solid pass-catchers and good value in the running game, so there are some nice options to consider as you build your lineup for the $1K FREE Contest (DET vs CIN).
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He doesn’t have the highest average in this matchup, but Matthew Stafford ($11,000) is the most expensive player on the board. He showed off his ceiling with a strong game against the Giants in his most recent sim with 299 yards and three touchdowns for 23.86 DKFP. However, that was the first time in 11 games he has reached 20 DKFP. He hasn’t been awful with double-digit DKFP in each of those contests, but has hasn’t been great, either. Stafford does usually do most of the heavy-lifting in the Lions’ offense since their run game hasn’t stepped up. He has good upside based on the matchup and could end up being worth his hefty salary if he has another performance like he did against the Giants.
Stafford’s two main targets have been Kenny Golladay ($9,600) and Marvin Jones Jr. ($8,400), who 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 had two scores and over 20 DKFP against the Giants and is averaging just under 12 DKFP per sim after 32 contests. 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 often in an even better matchup as such a highly-rated WR2. He actually has a higher spectacular catching rating than Golladay and slightly better elusiveness for making plays after the catch. Jones has a catch in every one of the Lions 32 sims and is averaging just over 12 DKFP per sim. He is also in a revenge game against the Bengals, although the Madden sims don’t seem to factor in narrative very much.
While both the top WR make sense in some lineups, there’s also some good value in the Detroit receiving corps. Danny Amendola ($4,600) has been a productive WR3 out of the slot with six touchdowns and over 7.5 DKFP per contest. The Bengals have been vulnerable to slot receivers, so he could be a good play at this price in this matchup with his solid 80 overall rating. The Lions also have a solid TE to utilize in rookie T.J. Hockenson ($5,800), who has averaged just over 10 DKFP per sim with eight touchdowns and just under 50 yards per contest.
One Lions player I’m not interested in at all is RB1 Kerryon Johnson ($7,000), who is averaging under 5.0 DKFP per game despite a solid 82 overall rating. He’s losing a lot of work to third down RB J.D. McKissic ($3,000), who doesn’t have great ratings but gets touches. He’s actually averaging almost 7.0 DKFP per sim, which is why I’d rather go with him and hope for PPR points than with Johnson.
While the Lions’ DST ($3,800) hasn’t been great, I do like Matt Prater ($4,000), who has been one of the best kickers in Madden, averaging just under 8.0 DKFP per sim. He has at least 6.0 DKFP in four of his past five sims and has hit double-digit DKFP in 12 of his 32 sims.
Despite their overall struggles, the Bengals have had some good individual performances in their sims, and there are some solid options from their team to consider for your roster. A.J. Green ($10,200) is the highest-rated skill player for Cincinnati at 90 overall with a 90 speed rating, 92 catch rating, 96 catch in traffic rating and 96 spectacular catch rating. Green’s Superstar abilities are ”Cross Specialist” and “Streak Specialist,” which improve the success of those specific routes for the dynamic WR. However, despite that promising skillset, he has been held back by inconsistent QB play and is averaging under 12 DKFP per sim. He has big upside and even had 14.9 DKFP against the Lions in their first matchup, but he’s hard to pay up for given his inconsistency.
The other Bengals’ Superstar on offense is Joe Mixon ($8,000), but he has struggled as well, averaging under 8.0 DKFP. He is extremely high-risk and will only return good value if he gets multiple touchdowns. He has the Superstar ability of “Arm Bar,” which gives him more powerful stiff-arm animations along with his 87 overall rating. Most of the reason Mixon has struggled is that the Bengals use their RB2 as their third-down back. Giovani Bernard ($3,200) is averaging more than Mixon with over 8.0 DKFP per sim. Like McKissic, he makes sense as a value RB2 option since he’s involved in the passing game even though his ratings aren’t as high as Mixon’s.
Even though Superstars Green and Mixon have struggled, Bernard hasn’t been the only Bengal producing points. Tyler Eifert ($6,600), John Ross III ($5,400) and Tyler Boyd ($7,600) have all had bright spots with big games. Boyd is the team’s WR2 and is averaging over 10 DKFP per sim. He has been quiet lately but had three games with over 25 DKFP in a five-game span earlier this season and also had six catches for 72 yards and 13.2 DKFP in his first meeting with the Lions. If you can’t quite get to Boyd’s salary, though, Eifert is a solid alternative, averaging just under 10 DKFP per per. He typically gets decent volume with 3-to-5 catches per game. He has nine touchdowns in his 32 sims and if he gets his tenth in this contest will end up as a solid value play. Eifert and Boyd have good upside, but Ross has been a very popular value play since he has such a high ceiling with his blazing 97 speed rating to go with his 76 overall rating. He has 11 scores, including three in his past five sims, and can go for over 20 DKFP as he has in six contests so far this sim-season. He does come with more risk since he gets lower volume, but his upside is extremely high.
Most of the inconsistency in the Bengals’ offense is the result of Andy Dalton’s ($10,600) inaccuracy. He has just a 72 overall rating, making the 29th highest-rated QB in Madden. He has 48 touchdowns in his 32 sims but did produce over 18 DKFP in three straight before bad games against Washington and New England. He hasn’t been as consistent as Stafford but does have a higher ceiling, although he rarely reaches it. He only had 9.0 DKFP against the Lions in their first meeting, so I’d go with Stafford if you’re just playing one QB.
The Bengals’ DST ($3,600) does have some playmakers led by Geno Atkins, but they have only averaged barely over 3.0 DKFP per sim. K Randy Bullock ($3,400) is also in play as a cheap flier, but I’d much prefer Gio to either of those plays, and Prater and the Lions DST have better averages as well.
For your Captain’s Pick in this one, you could go a few different directions. Matthew Stafford ($16,500 CP) is a solid play if you think he’ll spread the ball around to his multiple receivers. You could also go with Marvin Jones Jr. ($12,600 CP) and hope the revenge narrative hits, but I actually prefer T.J. Hockenson ($8,700 CP), who also leaves you plenty to spend in your flex spots. On the other side, John Ross III ($8,100 CP) has a super-high ceiling and is definitely an option to consider, but I also feel like this could be a good spot for A.J. Green ($15,300 CP) to deliver, and you could probably get relatively low ownership since he’s so pricey.
Neither offense has been spectacular on a regular enough basis to confidently pick them to win this contest. The Lions have more depth to their passing attack and the more highly-rated QB, though, so I’m going with them to get the win on the road over a Bengals team that is used to playing catch-up but has fallen short most of the time in these sims.
Final Score: Lions 24, Bengals 17
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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.