NFL DFS Showdown Simplified: Quarterback Correlations Update

Last year, I wrote about how I approach NFL Showdown slates on DraftKings for large-field GPPs. My approach is, admittedly, based a lot more on experience and instinct than stats, sims and back-testing. But I think it is important to keep tabs on the DFS landscape, track what wins and adjust as necessary. I took a look at every Showdown slate from last season that had a top prize of at least $500,000 to see if and to what extent my instincts matched actual results. Here I will compare NFL DFS showdown strategy for quarterback correlation with the actual results and let you know if I am adjusting.

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NFL DFS Showdown Strategy: QB Correlations

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Quarterbacks Without Rushing Upside 

I said: “More often than not, if you have a quarterback at captain who doesn’t put up points on the ground, you’ll need at least two of his pass catchers in flex spots.”

2022 results said: In the 36 slates, there were just seven instances of a quarterback at captain. In six of those seven instances, two or three wide receivers or tight ends from the quarterback’s team were in the flex. The one instance without multiple pass catchers had Justin Fields, an elite rushing quarterback, at captain.

Takeaway: I am going to continue playing multiple pass catchers in the flex when I have a quarterback at captain.

Pairing At Least One Pass Catcher With Rushing Quarterback 

I said: “While I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary to play a pass catcher in the flex, along with a rushing quarterback, more often than not even a rushing quarterback will bring at least one pass catcher along for the ride.”

Results said: Again, there was just one instance of a quarterback at captain with fewer than two of his pass catchers in the flex. That quarterback was Fields on Monday Night Football in Week 7. He did not have any wide receivers or tight ends in the flex, but he did have a pass catcher: Running back Khalil Herbert, who caught Fields’s only passing touchdown of the game. Fields added 82 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Takeaway: I think the logic holds up, but with the caveat that running backs can qualify as pass catchers.

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Rushing Quarterbacks In Optimal Lineups

I said: “If a non-rushing quarterback [in the flex] puts up enough fantasy points to be in the optimal lineup, chances are he’ll bring at least one pass catcher along with him, either in the captain spot or another flex spot.”

Results said: There were five instances of a quarterback in the flex without any of their wide receivers or tight ends elsewhere in the lineup.

  • Daniel Jones was in the winning lineup’s flex in Week 3 despite scoring zero touchdowns in the game. It was a low-scoring game, and Jones rushed for 79 yards. Saquon Barkley was also in the flex, accounting for four receptions and 45 receiving yards.
  • Patrick Mahomes was in the flex in Week 4 without any tight ends or receivers in the lineup. Mahomes threw three touchdowns in the game: One to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was also in the winning lineup; one to tight end Jody Fortson, who had just one reception for 10 yards; and one to Travis Kelce, who did not make the winning lineup despite catching nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Mahomes added 34 yards on the ground.
  • In Week 9, Lamar Jackson was in the winning lineup without any primary pass catchers. Jackson threw just one passing touchdown, for 24 yards to Isaiah Likely for his only reception of the game. Jackson threw for just 133 yards in the game and added 82 yards on the ground.
  • In Week 12, Kenny Pickett made the winning lineup despite throwing for just 174 yards and zero touchdowns and adding only 32 yards on the ground. Pickett was actually the seventh-highest scorer on the slate, but nobody had the optimal lineup, which would have replaced Pickett with kicker Matthew Wright.
  • In the Super Bowl, Mahomes made the optimal without any skill position players from the Chiefs. Mahomes threw three touchdowns in the game: two of them to Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore, neither of whom had any other touches in the game, and one to Kelce, who did not make the winning lineup despite six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Mahomes added 44 yards on the ground.

Takeaway: There were more instances than I expected of quarterbacks making it into the flex without any primary pass catchers and fewer than 50 rushing yards. Two of the three were Mahomes, whose primary pass catcher, Kelce, was also among the highest scorers in the game. In both of those instances, there were multiple expensive players in the game who outscored Kelce’s big score, pushing him out of the lineup. I think this is worth considering when building lineups for Showdown slates that have several expensive studs in them. It is not something that happens frequently enough that I would adjust my optimizer settings, but it is enough that I would allow unstacked quarterbacks into the flex when these lineups are recommended by the Stokastic Lineup Generator or Stokastic Sims Tool.

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Neil Orfield has been playing DFS regularly since 2013, but his success really started taking off in 2019 when he had a six figure payday with a hand built NFL lineup. The next day, he signed up for a Stokastic+ subscription with FantasyCruncher. Since then he has won an NFL milly and added six figure wins in XFL, MLB, and NBA. He has recently excelled at NFL Showdown, with many five- and six-figure wins since 2021.

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