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

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

Did you know the Pittsburgh Steelers are 20-0 at home on Monday Night Football? At least, I assume that’s true. I read it a couple times on Twitter this morning. That’s good enough for me. The Steelers are also 37-8-1 against the Cleveland Browns dating back to 2000. I’m not the biggest “trends” guy in the whole, but those are two pretty daunting statistics.

Can the Browns stave off history this evening? Let’s break it all down.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $600K Monday Night Showdown [$200K to 1st] (CLE vs PIT)


Captain’s Picks

Nick Chubb ($18,300 CP) - While I think you can certainly make the case that the weather played a huge factor in the Browns’ success in Week 1, I don’t necessarily think it impacted Chubb all that much. Though the veteran logged a pretty underwhelming 48.7% snap share against the Bengals, Chubb still managed to put up 127 scrimmage yards on 22 touches. The only thing that stopped the Georgia product from a truly massive performance was his inability to get into the end zone, but that was far more about script than role. While Cleveland did manage three red zone drives versus Cincinnati, they were rarely near the goal line and did not call a single rushing play inside the five-yard line. That’s pretty wild when you consider that the Browns posted an AFC-high 55.6% rush rate with a pass rate over expectation of -9.1%. This team wants to run the ball. Chubb will eventually get his opportunities to score.

George Pickens ($12,000 CP) - While I have a hard time believing the Steelers will come anywhere close to having Kenny Pickett ($9,200) once again drop back 52 times on Monday, I do feel confident that Pickens will play a larger role than he did in Week 1. The reason? Diontae Johnson (hamstring) will be standing on the sideline. Johnson has been a target magnet in his time with the Steelers, finishing last season with a 26.8% share — the 10th-highest mark of any wideout. Heck, despite playing only 27 snaps and exiting mid-way through the third quarter in last weekend’s loss to San Francisco, Johnson still racked up six targets. With Pickett’s security blanket no longer available, look for the uber-talented Pickens to fill some of that void. The sophomore averaged 15.4 yards per catch in 2022. He’s no stranger to big plays.

Value FLEX Plays

Jaylen Warren ($3,000) - I don’t know. My eyes continue to tell me that Warren is the most explosive running back the Steelers currently employ. Even if you don’t agree with that assessment, even if you’re the biggest Najee Harris ($9,400) supporter in the world, it still must to difficult to wrap your head around the price discrepancy of these two RBs on this Showdown slate. While Harris did out-snap Warren 33 to 25 in Week 1’s lopsided loss to the 49ers, the duo finished with the exact same amount of touches (8) thanks to the latter’s six targets in the passing attack. In what should be a much more neutral game script, I’d anticipate both players being more involved in Week 2. That will likely translate into double-digit touches for Warren. At $3K, that’s more than enough workload to be viable.

Cedric Tillman ($200) - Obviously there’s going to be some risk when it comes to rostering an asset priced at the bare minimum, but with Amari Cooper ($8,800; groin) considered unlikely to play in tonight’s contest, there should be some opportunity for Tillman to shine. The third-round pick saw just 11 offensive snaps in last Sunday’s win over the Bengals, yet Tillman’s potential is crystal clear. The rookie was a monster in his junior season at Tennessee, registering 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6’3, Tillman is simply a natural born red zone target. It’s also crucial to remember that despite running the ball as much as it did in Week 1, Cleveland still operated out of 11 personnel on 61% of its snaps. Someone has to play alongside Elijah Moore ($6,600) and Donovan Peoples-Jones ($5,000), it might as well be Tillman.


Najee Harris ($9,400) - I probably tipped my hand when discussing Warren in the section above, but I simply can not get my self excited about Harris on this slate — particularly with him being three-times more expensive than his teammate. The Browns D/ST ($4,600) is not nearly as stout a matchup as San Francisco was eight days ago, yet Cleveland was able to limit the Bengals to a paltry 3.8 yards per attempt in Week 1. On top of all that, Pittsburgh’s implied for fewer than 19 points in this contest, which generally does not bode well for a team’s skill position players. Do you really want to pay up for the most expensive asset on a squad that might struggle to score all evening? How about when that asset is also pretty clearly in a committee situation? Yeah. It doesn’t sound all that appealing.


It’s really difficult to get a read on this game. Did Cleveland make a statement in Week 1? Or did they just get lucky that an injured Joe Burrow had to play in a monsoon? Are the Steelers really that bad? Or did they happen to run into one of the three best teams in the NFL to start their season?

When in doubt, I’ll side with the home team. Especially if that team is getting points and is coached my Mike Tomlin.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 17

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $600K Monday Night Showdown [$200K to 1st] (CLE 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.