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

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. ET contest between the Jaguars and the Bengals with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

For as much as I like to crack jokes at the expense of the Thursday Night Football schedule, I have to admit that I understand what the league was going for with this one. The Jacksonville Jaguars squaring off with the Cincinnati Bengals might not feel all that important in a vacuum, but the opportunity to pit the past two No. 1 overall picks against each other is an opportunity you don’t often get.

It’s Joe Burrow ($11,600). It’s Trevor Lawrence ($10,400). It’s another Showdown slate in primetime. Let’s dive in.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.5M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (JAX vs CIN)


Captain’s Picks

Trevor Lawrence ($15,600 CP) - Have the results been pretty for Lawrence in his first three professional games? Not at all. Yet, at the same time, you can’t say he hasn’t at least been given the opportunity to showcase his talents. Through three weeks of action, Lawrence ranks eighth in the NFL in drop backs (128) and ninth in passing attempts (118), as the Jaguars tout the league’s third-highest pass ratio at 66.9%. That’s volume and it’s not like Lawrence is out there dumping the ball off to safety valves, either, as his 9.7 yard average depth of target is tied with Russell Wilson for the third-highest mark in football. Maybe Lawrence would have fewer interceptions if he were playing slightly more conservative, but I’ll always take the ceiling of a gunslinger in a Showdown setting.

Ja’Marr Chase ($15,300 CP) - Drafted just four picks behind the aforementioned Lawrence, Chase has been phenomenal in his brief time in the league, racking up 220 receiving yards and four touchdowns through his first three games. His target share isn’t amazing by any means — it’s Tyler Boyd ($7,400) who actually leads the team and is also very viable on Thursday — but with Tee Higgins (shoulder) on the sideline, both wideouts should get plenty of looks. You’d also be hard-pressed to find a better matchup than Jacksonville’s secondary. Coming into Week 4, the Jaguars rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense DVOA, they’re one of three teams surrendering at least 9.0 yards per opponent pass attempt and, most enticing for Chase, they’ve conceded a league-high 11.1 yards per target to opposing wide receivers. So, how did Urban Meyer go about solving this issue? He traded top corner C.J. Henderson to Carolina. The Bengals should be able to attack through the air at will.

FLEX Plays

Bengals D/ST ($5,600) - You could say that strength of schedule has something to do with this, but Cincinnati enters Thursday’s matchup with Jacksonville ranking fourth in defensive DVOA. I can’t say I saw that coming this season. New addition Trey Hendrickson is wrecking havoc up front and that’s helped the Bengals register 10 sacks through their first three contests — tied for the third-most in football. It’s a solid unit and it should be prime to take advantage of a Jaguars team that’s bled DKFP to opposing defenses so far in 2021. To wit, an NFL-high 26.5% of Jacksonville’s drives have ended in a turnover, which has translated into the Jaguars also ranking dead-last in time of possession and third-worst in points scored per drive (1.21). Yuck.

Auden Tate ($400) - I would have to anticipate that Tate is going to be a relatively popular low-end option on Thursday’s slate, yet it’s hard to ignore the wideout at this price. In the absence of the aforementioned Higgins this past Sunday, Tate logged a 57.4% snap share acting as the Bengals WR3. Now, that only translated into one reception for 14 yards, but at this salary, 2.4 DKFP is technically 6x value. That’s the kind of ceiling we’re dealing with here. Jacksonville has been arguably the best possible matchup for receivers so far in 2021 and Cincinnati is a team set up to take advantage of that weakness. In fact, a whopping 75% of the Bengals’ pass attempts have been directed at WRs through three games — the highest ratio in the AFC. Tate doesn’t have to do much to have an impact.


James Robinson ($9,400) - In general, I actually like Robinson’s role. He plays about two-thirds of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps and he’s heavily involved as a pass catcher. In 2021, that’s about all you can ask for from a potential fantasy asset. Still, this doesn’t set up as an ideal matchup for the sophomore. Cincinnati has been stout against opposing RBs this season, ranking second in rush defense DVOA and surrendering just 2.82 adjusted line yards per opponent carry — the lowest figure in the AFC. If I’m spending up for a running back on Thursday, it simply has to be Joe Mixon ($11,000), who is currently second in the NFL in touches (73) and has done so while logging an eye-popping 79.0% snap share.


It’s weird to think of the Bengals as a 3-1 team, but that’s where they’ll be by the end of Thursday evening. There’s just nothing that Jacksonville can point to as an advantage. Cincinnati’s better on defense, Cincinnati’s more consistent on offense and, plain and simple, Cincinnati just has more talent on their roster.

Final Score: Cincinnati 27, Jacksonville 17

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.5M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (JAX vs CIN)

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