This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.
The Rams are coming off their first loss of the season Sunday when they were handily beaten at home by Arizona. Prior to that, they'd looked like one of the best teams in football as the addition of Matthew Stafford has been just what the offense needed. The Seahawks improved to 2-2 after defeating the 49ers on Sunday. Similar to previous seasons, they'll be reliant on Russell Wilson for success this season. Thursday's matchup sees the Rams as 2.5-point road favorites in a game that features a 54.5-point total. I'm expecting a competitive game with plenty of points, which would be a welcome change from the majority of these Thursday night games. As always when it comes to constricting showdown lineups, pick a specific game script and build lineups to fit that scenario.
Matthew Stafford ($11,400 DK, $16,000 FD) has 11 touchdowns and two interceptions through four weeks. He's looked great in Sean McVay's offense. After struggling against Arizona last week, this should be a bounce-back spot against a Seahawks defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Expect McVay to be aggressive in the passing game coming off a loss, especially considering the trouble Seattle has had in the secondary. Stafford is the most expensive player on FanDuel and the third-most expensive on DraftKings. Quarterbacks are always popular in the MVP spot on FD and rightly so, but on DK, I'll look to captain some of the cheaper pass catchers to save salary.
Russell Wilson ($11,800 DK, $15,500 FD) has a career-high 72.5 percent completion rate to go along with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions through four weeks. He leads the league in both yards per attempt (9.6) and passer rating (129.9). The Rams defense has been shredded in back-to-back weeks by Tom Brady and Kyler Murray, so Thursday night should set up well for Wilson. He and Stafford are priced next to each other on both sites. Many will try to fit both QBs in their lineups, but their high salaries make it likely that only one will be optimal. That said, this game definitely has the potential to be a high-scoring shootout, and I'll make lineups for that scenario too. In that case, using a cheaper pass catcher in the captain spot makes it much easier to afford both QBs.
WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS
Cooper Kupp ($12,400 DK, $14,000 FD) has been targeted at least 10 times in every game this season for a total of 46 through four weeks. He'll look to bounce back after catching just five of 13 against Arizona and failing to find the end zone for the first time this season. It's a bit jarring, however, to see him as the most expensive player on DraftKings. The $12,400 salary makes it rather prohibitive to roster him in the captain spot, so I'll only be using him in the flex. In prior seasons, he and Robert Woods ($7,600 DK, $10,000 FD) were options 1A and 1B, but Kupp has clearly established himself as the main man now. Woods has seen 25 targets through four weeks and is coming off his second touchdown of the season last week. The difference in salary between him and Kupp is as pronounced as we've seen, which has me plenty interested in Woods on Thursday. Third WR Van Jefferson ($4,800 DK, $9,500 FD) has been a pleasant surprise. He caught six balls for 90 yards and a TD last week. He's definitely ahead of DeSean Jackson ($4,400 DK, $8,000 FD) in the pecking order, but Jackson's big-play upside always makes him a good option in these single-game contests. Both Jefferson and Jackson are appealing for their cheap salaries on DK, while on FD, Jefferson is priced too closely to Woods. I think it makes a lot of sense on DK to use one of these cheap WRs in the captain spot as it makes it considerably easier to afford more of the elite players in lineups.
DK Metcalf ($10,200 DK, $12,500 FD) or Tyler Lockett ($9,600 DK, $12,000 FD) is always the question when it comes to Seattle's WRs. Metcalf has seen 33 targets to Lockett's 25 through four weeks. It's also worth noting that star CB Jalen Ramsey has spent most of his time in the slot this season, so I wouldn't expect him to shadow either WR. If I'm forced to choose one, Metcalf seems more likely to get in the end zone based on his higher target share and the fact that he's scored in three of four weeks. The salaries are similar on both sites. If the Seahawks win, one is almost certain to be in the optimal lineup. No. 3 WR Freddie Swain ($4,600 DK, $6,500 FD) played 45 percent of the snaps last week. He already has two TDs from 12 targets this season. Priced in the same range as Jefferson and Jackson, it seems likely that one of those three will be optimal Thursday.
At tight end, Tyler Higbee ($5,600 DK, $7,000 FD) has caught 15 of 18 targets this season. He's establishing himself as one of Stafford's favorite targets and the salary is quite affordable on both sites. Will Dissly ($3,800 DK, $6,000 FD) caught both of his targets for five yards last week when he was a popular play as he filled in for the missing Gerald Everett ($4,000 DK, $6,000). Everett appears likely to be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing negative Monday. Between the two, Everett is the more appealing option. He plays more snaps, has higher upside and gets a matchup against his former team.
Darrell Henderson ($8,400 DK, $13,000 FD) returned from a one-game absence and carried 14 times for 89 yards while catching five of six targets for 27 yards. He out-snapped Sony Michel ($1,800 DK, $7,000 FD) 61 to seven and out-touched him 19 to 3. It's a great matchup for Henderson as the Seahawks defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Running backs have become increasingly less popular in single-game contests but Henderson looks like a great option Thursday. He's the sixth-most expensive player on DK yet has the upside to be the top scorer on the slate.
Chris Carson ($6,600 DK, $11,000 FD) has seen more than 13 carries just once this season and he hasn't really been involved in the passing game either. Last week, the Seahawks used a near-even timeshare as Carson saw just three more snaps and three more carries than backup Alex Collins ($3,200 DK, $7,500 FD). Something similar may be the case as Seattle looks to keep the often injured Carson healthy. Collins outgained Carson 78 to 31 last week and rushed for a 14-yard TD in the fourth quarter. The significant difference in salary has me preferring Collins for Thursday.
Usually kickers make more sense in games with lower totals, but that doesn't mean that Matt Gay ($3,600 DK, $9,000 FD) and Jason Myers ($3,400 DK, $8,500 FD) aren't in play Thursday. With the exception of Alex Collins, there just isn't much to like in the cheap range. We usually have a few viable cheap options to choose from, but that isn't the case on this slate. Double-digit fantasy points from either Gay or Myers would probably be enough to be optimal, considering no one cheaper than them is likely to do much.
I'd rather take a chance on a cheap defense that doesn't project well over an expensive one that's going to be relatively popular. We've seen defenses priced about $6,000 in many of these primetime single-game contests and they end up somewhat popular because they're in a good spot or the game has a low total. This Thursday, the Rams ($3,000) and Seahawks ($2,800) are priced about as cheap as we ever see when it comes to D/ST. They're in play for the same reason that the kickers are. It's possible we don't see any fantasy points from the options priced below them and all it would take is a defensive TD or a return TD for either to be optimal.