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Fantasy Football Picks: Bengals vs. Jaguars DraftKings NFL DFS MNF Showdown Strategy

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

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

What could have been, right? Initially, this clash between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals had all the makings of a fantastic AFC battle. However, with Joe Burrow (wrist) going down in primetime a couple weeks back, this game suddenly has the vibe of a blowout. At the very least, it’s a crucial contest in the playoff picture, as a win would vault the Jaguars to the top of the conference.

Let’s dive in and break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Monday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (CIN vs JAX)


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Ja’Marr Chase ($14,100 CP) - While Chase’s value is obviously impacted by the loss of Burrow and the presence of Jake Browning ($8,800), the former first-round pick hasn’t seen his production fall off a cliff with the rookie under center. Chase hauled in Browning’s first-career touchdown pass against Baltimore, then he racked up 81 yards on four catches in last week’s defeat versus Pittsburgh. It hasn’t be an ideal transition, but Chase is surviving. I’d expect that trend to continue in far better conditions — both in terms of weather and game-script — on Monday. Jaguars D/ST ($4,800) has struggled to contain opposing aerial attacks so far this season, as the team is surrendering the fifth-most opponent passing yards per contest (255.0) and the ninth-most DKFP per game to opposing wide receivers. That’s all encompassing, too. This likely won’t be a neutral setting. With Jacksonville coming into Week 13 as a double-digit favorite, there’s a scenario where Cincinnati is throwing the entire second-half. Volume won’t be an issue for Chase.

Calvin Ridley ($13,800 CP) - It hasn’t been a consistent campaign for Ridley. Far from it. Yet the Alabama product seems to be settling in as the Jaguars’ wide receiver 1A, with Christian Kirk ($8,200) just behind as the 1B. Honestly, the key difference between the two is touchdown expectancy. Ridley’s caught three scores in Jacksonville’s past two games, and while that specific level of finding the end zone is unsustainable, it is somewhat justified by the 28-year-old’s usage inside the 20-yard line. Ridley entered Week 13 ranking seventh in the NFL in red zone target share (35.5%), sitting slightly ahead of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyreek Hill — pretty good company.


FLEX Plays

Evan Engram ($6,200) - Speaking of frustrating fantasy assets on the Jaguars, let’s dive into the season that’s Engram’s put together so far in 2023. His 75.5% snap rate? Great. His 79 targets? The third-most of any tight end in football, trailing only T.J. Hockenson and Travis Kelce. In fact, since the beginning of Week 2, Engram’s registered fewer than seven targets in just a single game, and even that was six targets in Week 11 against the Titans. You can’t say that the man isn’t a favorite of Trevor Lawrence ($10,800). Still, despite the secure role, Engram’s produced single-digit DKFP in four of his past five starts. He’s exceeded over 15.0 DKFP one time. He’s had absolutely zero upside in DFS, as he’s yet to find the end zone. Do you know how insane that is? Of all the players currently sitting in the top 60 in targets, Engram is the lone person without a touchdown. But it ends tonight. Bengals D/ST ($3,200) is allowing the second-most DKFP and receiving yards (70.8) per game to opposing TEs. If ever there was a time for Engram to find pay dirt, it’s now.

Irv Smith Jr. ($1,000) - No team in football uses their tight ends like the Bengals. Take last week’s loss to Pittsburgh as the perfect example. Tanner Hudson ($4,000), Drew Sample ($1,200), Mitchell Wilcox ($800) and Smith Jr. all logged between 12 and 19 offensive snaps against the Steelers, and all four recorded at least one reception. Hudson saw the most targets despite playing just 13 snaps, while it was Sample that found the end zone on an 11-yard pass from Browning. I guess my point is this: If you’re looking to punt salary at a FLEX slot, you could do worse than one of the three Bengals TEs with a price tag hovering around $1K. Smith Jr. and Sample tend to play most often, so those should be your primary punt options.


Fades

Joe Mixon ($7,000) - It’s strange, but Mixon is somehow the Bengals asset that feels most impacted by the loss of Burrow. In general, it’s been an underwhelming season for the RB, as Mixon’s managed at least 80 rushing yards in just two of his starts. That’s places an even greater importance on the veteran finding the end zone, something that is far less likely to happen with Browning taking the QB1 snaps. To wit, Cincinnati’s implied total in Week 13 was the lowest of any team. Lower than the Panthers. Lower than the Jets. Add in the fact that no AFC squad is surrendering fewer opponent rushing yards per game than Jacksonville (87.4), and you can understand how quickly Mixon becomes an unappealing way to spend $7K.


THE OUTCOME

The Jaguars are good. Though they may not seem qualified to be the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Jacksonville entered Week 13 sitting fifth in defensive DVOA and eighth in total DVOA. The team has also won seven of its last eight games. Cincinnati’s defense is also among the league’s best, and that unit will keep a backdoor cover alive, but I can’t trust Jake Browning to take advantage.

Final Score: Jacksonville 24, Cincinnati 13

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Monday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (CIN vs JAX)


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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.