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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.

While it’s very likely Monday’s tilt between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t feature a playoff-caliber team — the Browns were officially eliminated on Sunday — that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few interesting storylines. I mean, there’s a pretty good chance that this will be the final home game of Ben Roethlisberger’s ($9,400) career. How’s that for an inviting DFS narrative to wrap up Week 17?

Let’s break things down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Monday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (CLE vs PIT)


Captain’s Picks

Nick Chubb ($17,400 CP) - While there is a chance that Kareem Hunt ($5,400; ankle) comes back and steals a few of Chubb’s snaps on Monday, I don’t even think the RB is Cleveland’s most impactful returning player. That designation should be reserved for tackle Jedrick Wills, who will start against the Steelers after missing the Browns’ past two games on the reserve/COVID-19 list. With Cleveland’s offensive line now mostly intact, I’d expect to see Chubb run wild in a matchup with a Pittsburgh defense that’s gifted DKFP to opposing backfields all season long. To wit, the Steelers entered Week 17 surrendering a league-worst 4.8 yards per carry and ranking as the NFL’s third-worst run defense by DVOA. As you might anticipate, that’s led to Pittsburgh conceding the seventh-most DKFP to opposing running backs per contest. It’s a hefty price tag, but with a workload likely around 20 touches, Chubb should be able to produce value.

Diontae Johnson ($15,600 CP) - As worried as I am about a Captain’s Pick that even tangentially involves the noodle-armed Roethlisberger, Johnson’s volume is so consistent that it makes him difficult to ignore. In fact, dating back to Week 6, Johnson is averaging an eye-popping 10.7 targets per game. It’s a span where he’s also managed to exceed 15.0 DKFP seven times, a figure that could be higher when you consider that Johnson’s 17 red zone targets for the season as a whole are inside the top 10 among all wide receivers. Matchup has to be factored in here, as well. Though the Browns have been generally unremarkable against opposing WRs in 2021, they’ll be without both John Johnson III and Ronnie Harrison Jr. on Monday — their two starting safeties. Could turn out to be an issue against a wideout as talented as Diontae.

Value FLEX Plays

Donovan People-Jones ($5,000) - Peoples-Jones is far from an asset that you need maximum exposure to, but I’m struggling to see why he’s less expensive than the likes of Rashard Higgins ($5,600) and Austin Hooper ($5,200). Last week against Green Bay, with Jarvis Landry ($8,400) back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, it was Peoples-Jones who once again led the Browns’ wide receivers in snaps played, finishing the loss with an 86.8% share. Also, while he only wound up with a single reception for five yards, Peoples-Jones was targeted six times, bringing his total to 21 targets across his past three starts. With an aDOT of 16.5 yards, that type of volume is certainly enticing.

Ray-Ray McCloud ($3,400) - I’d expect McCloud to be a relatively popular asset for prospective owners looking to save a little dough on this slate. The former sixth-round pick has been highly involved in the Steelers’ offensive attack as of late, logging at least a 60% snap share in each of the team’s past four games. It’s not like he’s been running empty routes, either. McCloud has actually registered eight targets in two of Pittsburgh’s last three contests, including Week 16’s loss to Kansas City. McCloud isn’t really a red zone threat, nor is he averaging all that many yards per reception; yet, at a price tag like this, beggars can’t be choosers.


Baker Mayfield ($9,200) - October 10th. Joe Biden was the President of the United States, No Time To Die was the No. 1 movie at the box office and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy was still topping the charts. Alright. It wasn’t really that long ago in a vacuum, but in football terms, three months is quite the stretch. It was Week 5 and it was the last time Mayfield produced 20.0 DKFP in a start. Since then, Mayfield’s played eight games. He’s averaged just 0.39 DKFP per drop back — fewer in that same span than Mike White — and tossed nine interceptions to 11 touchdowns. One of those contests was against this same Steelers D/ST ($4,600) and Mayfield finished with an underwhelming 9.5 DKFP. He’s not healthy and, if we’re being perfectly honest, he might simply not be that good.


Both of these teams have disappointed so far this season and neither comes into this matchup in particularly good form. In fact, both the Browns and the Steelers are 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games. With the line moving significantly towards Pittsburgh — they’re now favored after being 3.5-point underdogs to start the week — I’m inclined to just take the points with Cleveland. However, I feel more strongly about the total. The Browns are 4-1 to the under in their last five contests, while the under has hit in four of the Steelers’ past five home games.

Final Score: Cleveland 21, Pittsburgh 17

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Monday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (CLE vs PIT)

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