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Fantasy Football Picks: Steelers vs. Browns DraftKings NFL DFS TNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:15 p.m. ET contest between the Steelers and the Browns with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

If last week was the glitzy debut for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football coverage, tonight is the crushing return to reality. Did you like the amazing quarterback play you saw in Chiefs-Chargers? Too bad! You’re stuck with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns this time around. Our only hope is that at least the coming interceptions look cool.

Let’s dive into a true TNF Showdown slate.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.5M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st] (PIT vs CLE)


Captain’s Picks

Nick Chubb ($18,000 CP) - I’d expect Chubb to be a little chalky after a three-touchdown performance last week against the Jets, but he’s more than justified as the most expensive asset on this slate. The Georgia product has seen at least 20 touches in both games the Browns have played in 2022, with his 43 overall touches ranking him fifth in the NFL. This isn’t empty volume, either. A year after leading the league in adjusted line yards per rushing attempt, Cleveland is averaging a healthy 4.68 yards through two weeks. The offensive line is stout and if there has been a slight weakness for Steelers D/ST ($4,400) so far this season, it’s been defending against the run. Pittsburgh has conceded 128.5 rushing yards per contest.

Browns D/ST ($5,700 CP) - Entering Week 3, here’s where the Steelers rank offensively. The team is dead-last in yards per drive (22.4) and drive success rate (59.2%). Pittsburgh is also 28th in pass DVOA and 26th in points scored per drive (1.36). Surprisingly, the Steelers haven’t turned the ball over much through two games, yet I’m sure Mitch Trubisky ($8,600) can change that trend in a hurry — particularly if he keeps averaging over 35 pass attempts per contest. While I think we can all admit that Cleveland’s defense crumbled when it mattered most this past Sunday, I can’t imagine a scenario like that playing out with how anemic Pittsburgh looks with the ball right now. Add in a short week to prepare, and you’re looking at a lofty ceiling for this unit.

FLEX Plays

Diontae Johnson ($9,200) - It’s difficult to get too excited about any element of the Steelers’ aerial attack, as the aforementioned Trubisky currently owns the lowest yards per attempt (5.1) and third-lowest air yards per attempt (3.3) of any qualified QB. It’s almost like Big Ben never left! So, without the benefit of banking on big plays, we’re left with hoping for pure volume. That’s where Johnson thrives. The wideout has garnered double-digit targets in each of Pittsburgh’s first two games of the season, which has resulted in team-high marks in both target share (30%) and air yards share (36%). The Steelers’ status as a road underdog is also a boost to Johnson’s implied volume, as a pass-friendly game script will only inflate the WR’s numbers.

David Njoku ($5,200) - There isn’t much of a price difference between Njoku and Harrison Bryant ($4,600), and on first glance, that passes the sniff test. In fact, Bryant has more targets (8), receptions (5) and receiving yards (63) than his teammate through two games. However, when you dig a little deeper, it immediately becomes clear that Njoku has the much bigger role — something he’ll likely take advantage of this evening. Njoku’s 91.2% snap share actually leads all Browns skill-position players, with Bryant sitting at a lowly 46.9% share. Bryant’s also far more likely to be the TE asked to stay in to pass protect, as he’s run a route on only 46% of drop backs, compared to 75% for Njoku. At some point, Njoku’s going to take advantage of these opportunities.


Najee Harris ($9,800) - Through no fault of his own, Harris is in a tough position in 2022. First and foremost, he’s stuck playing in a terrible offense — one that comes into this tilt with the lowest implied team total of Week 3. The Steelers also didn’t do much to improve an offensive line that ranked 28th in adjusted line yards in 2021 and, on top of all that, Harris has been dealing with a nagging Lisfranc sprain since training camp. When you combine all those factors, it’s not hard to see why Harris is lacking for explosive plays thus far. In fact, of the 20 players with at least 30 touches so far this season, Harris’ average of 3.6 yards per touch is the second-lowest of the group. Until his price tag falls or his touchdown expectancy rises, he’s relatively easy to avoid.


During the regular season, Kevin Stefanski is 1-11 ATS against the AFC North and 0-4 ATS against Mike Tomlin. That’s pretty daunting. Also, for as much as I’m underwhelmed by the presence of Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett ($8,800) isn’t really all that much better. I do think the Browns pull this one out, but I’d be more inclined to bet the under than the spread.

Final Score: Cleveland 17, Pittsburgh 13

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.5M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st] (PIT vs CLE)

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