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

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

Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Look, I could write something pithy about this much-maligned matchup between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but instead, I’m just going to link this tweet.

This game is going to be horrible. In a weird way, I’m pretty excited about it. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Iowa Football on Saturdays.

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

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $1.25M Thursday Night Showdown [$300K to 1st] (NE vs PIT)


Captain’s Picks

Ezekiel Elliott ($14,100 CP) - You’re going to have to pick at least a couple offensive assets on this slate. Kickers and defenses will only fill out so many lineup slots, right? You could do worse than starting with the man that is likely to see the most touches of any player taking the field on Thursday. With Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) suffering an injury in the first-half of Week 13’s loss to the Chargers, Elliott was transported back in time. He was a bell cow again, finishing the game with 21 touches, 92 scrimmage yards and a 68.8% snap share. Stevenson has already been ruled out for Week 14, and while Ty Montgomery ($2,600) and JaMycal Hasty ($200) will surely pilfer a few carries, Elliott appears to be in line for a similar role against Pittsburgh. It’s also worth noting that Steelers D/ST ($6,600) hasn’t been amazing stopping the run this season, sitting in the bottom half of the NFL in DKFP per contest surrendered to opposing RBs and opponent rushing yards per game (121.0).

Steelers D/ST ($9,900 CP) - I’m not going out on a limb by suggesting that both defensive units are viable in this spot. However, picking which unit is the better asset is going to be key. I’ll lean with the Steelers over Patriots D/ST ($5,000), though it has more to do with the matchup each faces than the quality of the defenders themselves. Pittsburgh just doesn’t turn the ball over. Like, ever. Through 13 weeks, the Steelers are tied for the fewest turnovers per game of any team in the NFL (0.8). Meanwhile, New England has six giveaways in its last three contests. The Patriots are also averaging just 4.3 points per game in that span of time, which almost seems impossible. Pittsburgh has forced a turnover on 14.9% of its opponents drives — the fourth-highest rate in the league. It’s the main reason the Steelers have seven wins. They consistently win the turnover battle.

FLEX Plays

Editor’s Note: Patriots WR DeVante Parker (knee) is inactive for tonight’s game vs. the Steelers.

DeVante Parker ($5,600) - Allow me to be completely upfront about this: There might be nothing funnier than citing air yards for a game where a receiver’s team literally scored zero points. I mean, it’s pushing the boundaries of hypothetical and expected statistics to the absolute extreme. Still, having said that, Parker finished Week 13 with the ninth-most air yards of any wideout (142). He also wound up being targeted on an eye-popping 32.1% of his routes — the 12th-highest rate of any WR. Now, it would be easy to dismiss this as a one-off performance if not for the fact it was Bailey Zappe ($9,000) under center making his first start of the season. The Patriots’ lengthy injury report is worth noting, too, as JuJu Smith-Schuster ($3,800; ankle) seems unlikely to suit up and Demario Douglas (concussion) has already been ruled out. Who else is Zappe supposed to throw to?

Chris Boswell ($5,400) - Did you think I was kidding about kickers being viable? I wasn’t. The Patriots have not been allowing teams to find the end zone as of late. Heck, they’ve barely been letting opponents inside the 20. To wit, since Week 10, New England’s conceding just a single red zone scoring drive per game — the lowest mark in all of football. If the Steelers are going to put points on the board, I assume they’ll do doing so with Boswell, who has made 91.7% of his field goals this season.


George Pickens ($10,000) - I will not be paying up for any player priced at or over $10K on a slate with an implied total this microscopic. Why would I? Furthermore, it’s not like Pickens has been all that impressive as of late, averaging just 2.8 receptions and 8.0 DKFP over his last six games — games, it should be noted, played with Kenny Pickett (ankle) at quarterback. Say what you will about the sophomore, but he gives me more hope than Mitch Trubisky ($9,200). I truly feel like Pickens would be a star in another market, but you don’t get fantasy points for raw talent. Pickens is a prisoner of his environment.


Pittsburgh has been fine against the spread this season, going 7-5 overall and 4-3 at home. In this space back in Week 9, I wrote that these are the exact type of games that Mike Tomlin specializes in. He thrives in winning ugly. I still believe that and think that a Steelers squad with playoff aspirations does come out on top in this spot. However, there’s something inside of me that won’t let me take Mitch Trubisky as a six-point favorite in a matchup will Bill Belichick. What world are we living in?

Final Score: Pittsburgh 13, New England 10

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $1.25M Thursday Night Showdown [$300K to 1st] (NE vs PIT)

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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.