When the New England Patriots were slated to play the Buffalo Bills during Week 8 on Monday Night Football, very few expected it look like this. The 2-5 Bills are down to quarterback No. 3 (or No. 4, depending on how you look at it), with Derek Anderson set to be under center. The positive side is that this game will be in Buffalo, but will be a tall task for the home team against Tom Brady and company.
For Halloween week, DraftKings is offering up a special $1 million showdown game which features a $10 buy-in and $250,000 to first place. They’ve also upped the ante with their $3 game which features 20-max entries and $300,000 guaranteed as well as $30,000 to first place.
I’ll break down the showdown slate here by first looking at top captain options to target and then offering an optimal line on this game. But before we get into that, here’s a look at showdown rules to be aware of prior to building lineups.
- Six total players (one captain, five flex players)
- Captain selection costs 1.5 times standard salary but scores 1.5 times the standard points
- Can choose from any position (QB, RB, WR, TE, K, DST)
- $50,000 salary cap
- You can use more than one quarterback
Favorite Captains for Patriots vs. Bills
These are the main players I’ll target for the captain spot for this game (with captain pricing of 1.5x more). With the potential for this game to get slightly crazy, I’ll use others aside from these as well, but much of it comes down to how the actual construction of lineups works out.
- Tom Brady ($18,300)
- James White ($17,700)
- Rob Gronkowski ($12,600)
- Derek Anderson ($10,500)
- LeSean McCoy ($9,900)
- Zay Jones ($3,900)
Let’s break down the top optimal lineup for this showdown slate, which I’ve opted to get a bit creative with in an effort to differentiate from the field.
Top Optimal DraftKings Showdown Lineup: Patriots vs. Bills
- CAPTAIN: Zay Jones ($3,900)
- Tom Brady ($12,200)
- James White ($11,800)
- Rob Gronkowski ($8,400)
- Derek Anderson ($7,000)
- LeSean McCoy ($6,600)
I’ll just start with the elephant in the room. Yes, Bills wideout Zay Jones in the captain spot is a daring and bold move. But that’s exactly what I’m shooting for here. There’s not a lot of ways to get unique with this specific showdown slate, as many of the stats point to the same players likely having success.
But one thing that stands out for me is the fact that the Patriots can be beaten by speedy wideouts, and Jones has the ability to fly. New England has been in the middle of the league against opposing tight ends, allowing 92 receptions for 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns. And although I like Kelvin Benjamin, he’s likely going to see a lot of Stephon Gilmore. In turn, I’ll take a chance on the big-play potential of Jones, who received five targets last week from his quarterback.
Speaking of the Bills new quarterback, it’ll be Derek Anderson holding down the fort. While Anderson isn’t very good and is likely going to throw some interceptions, he’s only $7,000 and Buffalo will be playing from behind the entire game. If we can get Anderson and Jones to link up for two big plays, that’ll leave us with plenty of upside from the rest of the lineup.
Sticking with the final Bills player here, LeSean McCoy has cleared concussion protocol and is good to go for Monday night, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Although I do expect the Bills to be forced to throw early and often, that’s not the worst thing for McCoy, the Patriots have allowed 45 receptions for 415 yards (fifth-most in the NFL) to running backs. For good measure, they’ve also given up three touchdowns through the air to opposing rushers.
I’m going to hand the mic over to StatMuse here in order to handle the breakdowns of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. In his career, Brady has averaged 251.5 yards per game against the Bills, throwing 68 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions over 31 games. The Buffalo defense is solid, but I expect Brady’s hot stretch to continue, as he’s turned it on as of late.
One more for good measure is Gronk, and I’m hoping the injury tag which held him out last week will lead to lower ownership. I’m not exactly sure what Gronkowski’s love of playing in Buffalo is about, but over seven games he’s averaging 104.3 receiving yards per game with seven touchdowns, per StatMuse. If he weren’t injured, the Patriots tight end may rival the final name on this list in terms of ownership Monday.
I’m not sure there’s a way to fade James White. Unless you believe the Patriots are up by 30 at halftime and White somehow doesn’t catch 6-7 passes and score a touchdown in the first half. With Sony Michel not playing, his backfield mate should dominate the snaps, leaving Kenjon Barner to fill in from time to time.
Not only is the workload appealing, but the Bills have given up nine total touchdowns to opposing running backs (six rushing, three receiving) along with 40 receptions. All of this bodes well for White (and Brady), so it’s safe to assume the stack of this duo will be the most popular on the slate.
Additional targets: Jullian Edelman ($9,600), Josh Gordon ($8,600), Patriots DST ($4,800), Kelvin Benjamin ($3,800), Stephen Gostkowski ($3,400)