Before the NFL Divisional Round gets started with the first day of back-to-back excellent doubleheaders, the DraftKings Dream Stream has its own doubleheader of Madden sims ready to roll. The first game starts at 12:00 p.m. ET when the Carolina Panthers visit the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2:00 p.m. ET matchup should be an even better contest, as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of top teams in the AFC. While most of the star power is in the second game, there are also some nice fantasy options in the Panthers-Bengals contest, so make sure to consider all the options while building your lineup.
As usual, it’s important to note that each roster is not impacted by COVID-19 opt-outs, injuries, suspensions or illness in these sims and that the highest-rated options have been placed at the top of the depth charts. The roster for each team includes all player movement that occurred prior to Week 1 of this season and uses the Madden 21 ratings from Week 1 of this season.
For more details, you can find the game settings, depth charts, abilities and X-factors for each team in Madden 21 along with the upcoming schedule on the Madden Stream info page. There were a few tweaks to the X-factors and Superstars in the latest December update, so be sure to check the depth charts of each team.
Check out the daily DraftKings Madden Stream contests lobby with paid contests for real cash prizes now available alongside free contests. Each simulation will be played out computer vs. computer via an online Madden Stream using Madden 21. In this format, you can enjoy watching the game stream on the DraftKings YouTube channel, the DK Live app (download here) or right here in this post.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, $8,200 — Mahomes has been the top QB in these Madden 21 sims, averaging 24.7 DKFP per contest. He has thrown an incredible 96 touchdowns in 40 sims while adding nine more rushing scores as well. He is averaging 289.3 passing yards per sim and is remarkably consistent from sim-to-sim. He lit up the Steelers for 328 yards, three touchdowns and 27.72 DKFP in his most recent matchup against them after Pittsburgh held him to 15.92 DKFP and 12.84 DKFP in their first two meetings in Madden 21. It’s very unusual for Mahomes to have down games like that, and he has posted over 23 DKFP in six straight games and in eight of his past nine. He has multiple touchdowns passes in all nine of those games and over 275 passing yards in seven of those sims.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers, $5,600 — Burrow is the cheapest of the four QBs on this slate, but he has averaged 16.3 DKFP per sim, which is second to only Mahomes of the QBs in play. Burrow has struggled lately with six interceptions and three touchdowns over his past four contests. In one of those sims, he only managed 0.98 DKFP, so that bust potential is why his salary has dropped so low. However, he has nice upside as this cheap of a play and gets a pretty good matchup against the Panthers. The Bengals beat the Panthers in each of their previous meetings with Burrow posting 15.9 DKFP and 15.92 DKFP. If he hits for near that number again and Mahomes is held in check by the Steelers, he could be the key to paying up for the top stars available at the skill positions.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals, $7,900 — CMC has a 99 overall rating in the Week 1 ratings used in these sims and he has had some monster sims in Madden 21. He does sometimes bust when the Panthers’ offense struggles, but he has a higher ceiling than any RB on the slate. He had multiple touchdowns in three straight games with over 28 DKFP in each of those sims before being held to just 8.1 DKFP against the Jaguars in his most recent contest. He tore up the Cardinals for three touchdowns and 45.5 DKFP a few sims ago, and he had a similar monster game against Cincinnati in one of their earlier matchups as well, with 31.5 DKFP on 66 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, six catches and 69 receiving yards. He should be able to find success again in this rematch with the Bengals’ defense and if he does he’ll be worth paying up for even though his salary is almost $8K.
Other Options — Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,000)
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers, $5,600 — Normally, Gio Bernard ($5,100) would be the preferred option in the Bengals’ backfield timeshare since he does most of the receiving work, but in this matchup, Mixon seems to be a better option based on his past track record against the Panthers. He had a touchdown and 12.9 DKFP in his most recent meeting with Carolina, but he was even better with 26.5 DKFP in their first sim, running for three touchdowns and 84 yards. Mixon has scored 18 touchdowns total in his 34 sims while rushing for 50.5 yards per game. His lack of PPR production does make him high-risk, but his success against Carolina makes him worth a look under $6K.
Other Option — Jaylen Samuels ($4,400)
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, $7,900 — While the Steelers’ defense has lots of playmakers, they have struggled against slot receivers like Hill in the past. Hill has scored a touchdown in each of his past three games against the Steelers, averaging 4.3 catches for 52 yards per contest. He has been even better overall, though with 6.5 catches for 93.0 yards per sim in his 40 Madden 21 contests along with scoring a total of 34 touchdowns. He is coming off a monster game against the Eagles in which he put up 10 catches, 155 yards and a touchdown for 34.5 DKFP. He has that kind of ceiling in every matchup due to his 99 speed rating, and he can break loose for big plays any time he touches the ball. With so much volume coming his way in almost every matchup, he usually puts together big totals.
Other Options — JuJu Smith-Schuster ($7,200), John Ross III ($6,500)
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers, $4,000 — Boyd is the Bengals’ slot receiver in Madden and he usually gets enough volume to be a solid PPR play. Boyd had a total of 12 catches in his first two games against Carolina, producing 5.5 DKFP and 14.6 DKFP. He is averaging 3.4 catches per sim overall and has found the end zone 11 times. If you’re paying up for Mahomes, CMC, Hill or other high-priced plays, you’ll have to go ultra-cheap at a spot or two, and Boyd is one of the lowest-risk ways to still be certain of some production at this price point.
Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, $3,900 — Another cheap WR play that makes sense is Robinson, who is the Chiefs’ WR3 on their Madden depth chart. Robinson wasn’t very involved in the first head-to-head meeting with the Steelers but posted three catches, 52 yards and 8.2 DKFP in the rematch followed by four catches, 85 yards, a touchdown and 18.5 DKFP in their most recent meeting. Robinson has scored eight touchdowns overall and has caught at least one pass in all but one of the Chiefs’ sims. He has over 6.0 DKFP in four straight and seven of his past nine games, and he has a high ceiling for such a cheap play since he is regularly involved in such an effective passing offense.
Other Options — DJ Moore ($5,000), Diontae Johnson ($4,400)
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, $6,300 — Even though Hill gets so much work out of the slot, Kelce hasn’t had any trouble getting enough targets to still be the top TE play in Madden 21 as well. He is averaging 6.1 catches for 75.4 yards per sim and has scored 23 touchdowns in 40 contests. He has had a lot of success against the Steelers in particular with 11 catches for 138 yards and 27.8 DKFP in their first meeting and 10 catches for 147 yards, a touchdown and 33.7 DKFP in their most recent contest. He should dominate in this matchup once again, and he definitely is an elite play worth building around.
Other Option — Eric Ebron ($5,100)
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals, $3,500 — If you need a cheap TE play to pivot away from Kelce or an ultra-cheap flex option, Thomas makes sense at this bargain salary. He has caught a pass in 31 of 32 Panthers sims with multiple catches in 29 of those contests (91%). He had three catches for 41 yards and 7.1 DKFP in his most recent game against the Bengals after posting 17.4 DKFP in their first meeting with five catches, 64 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals give up lots of big games to TEs, and Thomas is an intriguing way to pay up in other spots.
Panthers DST at Bengals, $2,900 — The Panthers have been a solid defense and get a good matchup against the turnover-prone Bengals. They have forced 16 turnovers in 32 sims with 59 sacks and five defensive touchdowns as well. They only totaled 1.0 DKFP in their two earlier meetings with Cincinnati, but have been playing better lately with multiple sacks in nine of their 10 most recent sims.
Chiefs DST vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, $2,800 — The Chiefs’ defense has been very inconsistent in these sims but has come up with some big games against the Steelers. The Chiefs had two takeaways, three sacks and 13.0 DKFP in their most recent meeting and had 6.0 and 9.0 DKFP in the earlier games against Pittsburgh. While the matchup isn’t as good as the Panthers’ against Cincinnati, the Chiefs are actually a little better play as long as you don’t mind stacking the late game too heavily.
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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.