We’re all in need of some entertainment during these times of the unknown. DraftKings is doing their part by offering Madden simulations with a variety of teams going at it. For this piece, we’ll focus on the Buccaneers vs. Browns matchup, which will take place at 12:00 p.m. ET on Friday, July 10.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices
I’m hesitant to say that this is a rematch that the Browns have been waiting for - as that would imply that these virtual teams have feelings and emotions - but things did not go well for Cleveland the last time it played Tampa Bay. Despite the Buccaneers’ less than stellar defense on paper, the Browns were held without a single point. In fact, that was the first of what would become back-to-back shutouts for the squad. Not great at all. Baker Mayfield ($9,800), as you would expect, was awful in that first meeting, registering just 8.7 DKFP when it was all said and done. Still, things have vastly improved for the quarterback since that day, specifically in Cleveland’s past four contests. Within that span, Mayfield’s been nearly unstoppable, averaging 28.0 DKFP per game and collecting an eye-popping 14 touchdown passes. Recency bias might not mean much in these simulations, but I’m willing to give the sophomore’s high ceiling another chance in his second shot at Tampa’s underwhelming secondary.
Trusting Mayfield is also made easier by the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. ($11,000). Yes, the wideout might be luxuriously priced on this slate, but it’s hard to fault anyone for that decision with Beckham having hauled in seven touchdowns in his past three starts. To make things even more impressive, the LSU product recently dropped 57.9 DKFP on the Falcons, breaking Miles Sanders’ long-standing record for most fantasy points scored in a single stream. It’s literally an amount of upside that is unmatched by any other asset in all of Madden. Plus, Beckham’s hefty salary is made far more palatable with the savings presented by teammate David Njoku ($5,600). I mean, each contest is it’s own puzzle, yet I still can’t wrap my head around how the tight end has suddenly dropped below the $6K plateau for the first time ever. Not only does Njoku lead all Cleveland players - including OBJ - in receptions (161), but he’s averaged 8.5 catches and 24.3 DKFP over his past four games. There’s a chance that Jarvis Landry ($7,200) or Damion Ratley ($3,600) end up making an impact in this matchup; however, Njoku is almost a free space with that curious price tag.
Finally, we get to the Browns’ backfield tandem of Nick Chubb ($8,000) and Kareem Hunt ($2,600). Here’s the thing you have to understand about the former: His floor is cavernous. Even with Cleveland scoring touchdowns at will in its past four games, Chubb only found the end zone once and it wasn’t even on a rushing play. Somehow, the Georgia product caught a 55-yard touchdown, his first receiving TD of the “season” and just his 10th reception overall. Doesn’t seem like a very sustainable DFS resource, does it? Sure, Chubb has managed to exceed 25.0 DKFP on three occasions, but if you don’t feel like living dangerously, Hunt’s the superior dollar-for-dollar asset. Though, if we’re being completely honest, neither is anything close to a must-play on this slate.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It sort of shocking how similar these two teams are when directly juxtaposed to each other. High profile wide receiver with a salary larger than his quarterback’s? Check. QB with lots of upside, but a ridiculously low awareness rating? Check. Virtually no running game to speak of each and every simulation? Check. However, when forced to nitpick these rosters in a Showdown setting, I have to admit that I would much rather pay up for Mayfield than Jameis Winston ($10,200). It simply comes down to ceiling. Winston’s only eclipsed the 20.0 DKFP threshold twice in Tampa Bay’s last 10 simulations, a drawback of the Florida State product having failed to throw for at least three touchdowns in 14-straight contests. Now, obviously that’s a relatively high bar to clear for any pivot, yet it’s something that Mayfield’s been able to do on 10 different occasions. I’m not stipulating that you can’t try and squeeze both into a single build, but Mayfield is easily the more appealing of the duo.
Mike Evans ($10,600) also loses in a direct viability battle with the aforementioned Beckham, though I don’t think anyone will be too shocked by that stance. Evans’ production has been microscopic as of late, with the hulking WR having failed to exceed 10.0 DKFP in seven of his last 11 streams and having caught three passes or fewer in eight of those same 11 games. Heck, Evans has just one 100-yard receiving performance going back across the Buccaneers’ most recent 28 simulations. To put that in context, O.J. Howard ($6,800) has reached the bonus four times in his last 20 starts, while the former first-round pick also leads the team in catches (139) and receiving yards (1,946). Honestly, with Evans, Howard, Chris Godwin ($9,000) and Breshad Perriman ($4,800) all averaging between 10.0 and 13.0 DKFP per contest, why would you ever feel the need to spend up at the position? Especially with Perriman’s blazing speed and big-play upside always ready to break a slate wide open.
Let’s wrap things up by addressing the three-headed monster in the room: Tampa Bay’s running back committee. Granted, you really don’t have to account for Peyton Barber ($2,000) as anything more than a vulture; yet the fact remains that the Buccaneers are one of very few teams in these streams to legitimately involve three different RBs. Still, Ronald Jones ($6,200) would technically be dubbed the feature back and he’s had a handful of performances that have showcased his ceiling. In fact, on the rare occasion Jones is viable, he’s proved to be extremely viable. Four of his last six games with double-digit DKFP have seen the 22-year-old surpass the 20.0 DKFP plateau. The trouble is that those four outputs have been spread across 18 simulations. With Dare Ogunbowale ($2,200) stealing third down snaps, it’s hard to see Jones as anything more than a variance option.
It feels like the key to unlocking this slate is with the tight ends. Both David Njoku ($8,400 CP) and O.J. Howard ($10,200 CP) are very clearly under-priced on Friday and that makes each a great option in the Captain’s slot. In particular, putting Njoku at 1.5x value leaves over $8.3K in salary to spend on all remaining FLEX assets, meaning you can pay up for the likes of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham and Jameis Winston. Considering how high-scoring I assume this matchup will be, getting that level of exposure to both passing attacks seems like a necessity.
Final Score: Cleveland 27, Tampa Bay 21
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.