DraftKings NFL Showdown Picks & Optimal Lineups for Saints vs. Panthers

As Week 15 of the NFL season wraps up and the playoff picture finally begins to reveal some clarity, fantasy football players have their sights set on Monday night. Whether it's due to a season-long league being in the playoffs or the big primetime matchup for daily fantasy games, there's plenty on the line. And we're going to take a look at the DFS side of things for Monday Night Football, specifically on DraftKings.

The top-seed in the NFC in the New Orleans Saints (11-2) have a chance to grab a stronghold on the No. 1 spot following the Los Angeles Rams' loss on Sunday night. But they're on the road in a tough divisional game against a Carolina Panthers (6-7) team who is in desperate need of a win to stay directly in the mix for the final Wild Card spot.

With a key game on tap for Monday, we're going to take deep dive into the DraftKings showdown slate. As always, there are a plethora of different game options here, including single-entry tournaments, multi-entry events (150-max or smaller) and additional choices beyond that.

Prior to diving right into the picks and lineups, here's a quick look at how DraftKings showdowns work.

– 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

For the matchup between the Saints and Panthers I'll break down my top picks and multiple different lineups to give an idea on routes to go for roster construction. There will be four lineups, including the optimal, two options for 150-max games (higher upside, more risk) and one single entry/cash option (safer).

Before we get there, I'll reveal some picks for the captain spot in this game and also the thought process for building around it.

Captain Choices for Saints vs. Panthers

With all DraftKings showdown games, the captain can be a differentiator when it comes to having success. Whoever you select in this spot comes with an increased price of 1.5-times their normal cost, but also offers a 1.5x bonus as well. I'll first evaluate the top names who I'll target as a captain and then explain my personal favorite from that group.

When it comes to captain selection, I typically lock in on 4-6 main players to target as captains, but much of that comes down to the actual game itself. Taking that approach allows me to be somewhat flexible on roster construction.. From there, I'll lock in on 2-3 who are my favorite options.

These are the top targets for Monday's matchup between the Saints and Panthers, all of which feature the 1.5x price tag on DraftKings.

– Christian McCaffrey ($17,400)
– Michael Thomas ($16,500)
– Drew Brees ($16,200)
– Cam Newton ($15,000)*
– Curtis Samuel ($9,600)
– Ian Thomas ($7,200)

*Cam Newton is dealing with a shoulder injury, and while there's risk involved, the importance of this game has him in contention for a captain spot. I would tread lightly and not go with him an overwhelming amount unless there's a positive news update on his injury.

**Alvin Kamara ($14,100) is a very strong captain option while D.J. Moore ($12,000) and Mark Ingram ($10,800, solid price) can be scattered in.

Favorite expensive/mid-range captains: Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas

Top value-saving captains: Curtis Samuel, Ian Thomas

There are some solid top options for the captain spot here, but if you opt to pay down around the D.J. Moore, Mark Ingram, Curtis Samuel, or Ian Thomas range, it provides upside. Much of the call comes down to how you believe this game will play out, but I'll be utilizing a mixture of both expensive and value options at the captain spot.

Let's first dive into the optimal lineup and I'll evaluate top picks throughout the process.