This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.
We're treated to an absolute gem of a game Thursday night, as the 6-3 Cardinals travel to face the 6-3 Seahawks, with the home team 3.0-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, who have the game total at a wonderfully high 57.5. Some of the best fantasy players in the league are in this one, including the league-leader in total fantasy points, two of the three highest-scoring quarterbacks and three of the top six wide receivers. The biggest difficulty will be figuring out which elite player to captain/MVP because we have plenty of sky-high ceilings on this slate; unfortunately, they're all expensive, so stacking either side is really just taking one or two expensive ones and hoping for the best among the cheaper plays.
Kyler Murray ($13,000 DK, $17,000 FD) is the most expensive player on both sites because he's the highest-scoring fantasy player in the league and facing a Seahawks defense that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. They've simply been a sieve through the air, allowing all but one quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards, and seven have accounted for multiple touchdowns. One of those quarterbacks was Murray back in Week 7 when he threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 67 yards and another score, his highest-scoring fantasy game of the season on FanDuel and second-highest on DraftKings. And while he's only 13th in the league with 2,375 passing yards, his 604 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns are more than any other quarterback; in fact, only one player in the league has more rushing touchdowns (Dalvin Cook has 12), and only seven players have more rushing yards overall. There isn't really anything more that can be said other than Murray is a great play Thursday night, lots of people will have him, including as captain/MVP, and fading him will surely be a good place to differentiate and potentially lose all your money.
On the other side is Russell Wilson ($11,800 DK, $16,500 FD), the second-most expensive player on both sites and the third highest-scoring fantasy player in the league. He is the league leader in passing touchdowns (28) and is second in passing yards (2,789) despite playing one fewer game than Josh Allen, and his 325 rushing yards are the fifth-most among quarterbacks. Those gaudy totals include his Week 7 game against Arizona when he threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for a season-high 84 yards. However, it also marks the beginning of his recent struggles with turning the ball over, as he threw three interceptions in that game and then turned it over seven times in the next three (all of which came in his last two games).
The Cardinals defense has been better than Seattle's, allowing the 12th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, holding all but Wilson under 280 yards. However, quarterbacks threw seven touchdowns in their last three games (that includes Wilson's three), so there could be something to exploit there. Additionally, the three-most rushing yards they've given up to quarterbacks have come in the last three, with Tua Tagovailoa and Allen both breaking the 30-yard mark. There's certainly upside to be had with Wilson, but his high price makes it really tough to pair him with Murray, especially if either is in the captain/MVP spot, so he seems to make for a more reasonable pivot than complement, which isn't outrageous given his production this season and higher implied total in this game.
We have three of the best wide receivers in the NFL playing Thursday night, as DeAndre Hopkins ($10,800 DK, $13,500 FD) comes in with the fourth-most targets (88), second-most receptions (67), second-most receiving yards (861) and highest team target share (29.7 percent), which is why he is more expensive on DraftKings than DK Metcalf ($10,200 DK, $13,500 FD), who is third in receiving yards (816), second in air yards (1,023) and fourth in receiving touchdowns (eight). Metcalf's production may have been even higher if not for No. 2 wideout Tyler Lockett ($9,400 DK, $13,000 FD), who actually leads Seattle in targets (79) and receptions (58), while his 681 receiving yards are the 12th-most and his seven receiving touchdowns are tied for sixth in the league. Metcalf's production could potentially being higher Thursday night, as Lockett is officially questionable to play because of a knee sprain that forced him to miss two practices this week. That being said, he's expected to play.
Lockett has been pretty up and down this season, but he was very "up" against the Cardinals in Week 7, catching 15 of 20 targets for 200 yards and three touchdowns, one of three games this season with at least 92 yards (two were at least 100). For comparison's sake, Metcalf has had at least 92 yards in all but two games this season, with one of those shortcomings against Arizona in Week 7 when he caught two of five targets for 23 yards. Additionally, Lockett has only scored in three games even though he has just one fewer touchdown (seven) than Metcalf, who has found the end zone in six games. Given his consistency, it seems more likely that Metcalf will be the more popular of the two, even with Lockett's price savings and huge game against this same opponent, and both could be popular captain/MVP picks if fantasy players want to save a little money by using one of the quarterbacks in a flex spot.
Metcalf and Locket dominate the Seattle passing game, accounting for 77.43 percent of their wide receiver targets this season, with David Moore ($4,800 DK, $8,000 FD) and Freddie Swain ($1,800 DK, $5,800 FD) combining for 32 catches on 44 targets for 466 yards and four touchdowns, with much of that coming from Moore, who has 22 on 29 for 332 and three. Both players would be expected to play more snaps if Lockett is inactive, though he is expected to play so their biggest hopes are that he's limited and they can run more routes.
Tight end Greg Olsen ($3,600 DK, $6,500 FD) is actually third on the team with 33 targets this season (Moore has one more reception), though you really need him to score a touchdown to make any relevant contribution because his 7.3 aDOT and 240 air yards won't lead to a big play. That kind of applies to Swain too since his 6.9 aDOT is actually lower than Olsen's, while Moore's 10.7 indicates he could be a bigger-play threat. Of course, Metcalf and Lockett are really the big-play guys, the former more than the latter. Olsen has had some competition from Jacob Hollister ($1,000 DK, $7,000 FD) and Will Dissly ($1,800 DK, $5,500 FD), but none profile as big contributors.
The Arizona pass-catching group is dominated by Hopkins, who will surely be a popular play against a Seahawks defense that has allowed the most receptions and receiving yards, and the third-most receiving touchdowns to wide receivers this season. Using Hopkins as a captain/MVP is a way to differentiate from those who captain Murray, and he saves a little salary, though it's not like it's he's going to go overlooked. The key may be to figure out which Arizona pass catchers other than Hopkins need to be targeted.
Larry Fitzgerald ($4,400 DK, $7,500 FD) is second on the team in targets (47) and receptions (35), but his 5.7 aDOT is just so low that it's tough to get excited about anything he does. Instead, more fantasy players are likely to look at Christian Kirk ($7,400 DK, $10,500 FD) even though he's much more expensive. Kirk has only one fewer target than Fitzgerald (in one fewer game) but has 427 receiving yards versus Fitz's 274 thanks to his 543 air yards and 12.3 aDOT. Additionally, he's been able to get into the end zone five times in the past four games, twice finishing with at least 86 receiving yards in that span. Given that he doesn't need to catch 10 passes to put up a big fantasy score, there could be some people who captain Kirk on DraftKings because his 1.5x multiplier price of $11,100 is actually cheaper than the flex price of both quarterbacks and only slightly more than Hopkins and Metcalf.
Anyone after that, at least in terms of wide receivers or tight ends, isn't likely to get enough volume to pay off on their own, so they'll need to either score a touchdown or break off a very long play to be important. That includes wide receiver Andy Isabella ($2,000 DK, $7,000 FD), who has 31 receiving yards in the past four games. Fantasy players could be interested in tight end Dan Arnold ($2,200 DK, $5,500 FD) even though Isabella has more upside because Arnold actually has passes coming his way.
The Seattle backfield situation has been really messy this season, mostly because of injuries to Chris Carson ($8,400 DK, $12,500 FD), who missed the last three games with a foot injury and is questionable to play Thursday. Additionally, backup Carlos Hyde ($5,200 DK, $8,000 FD) missed those same three games with a hamstring injury but comes in without an injury designation. The early expectation is that Carson and Hyde will be active, which could lead to a split backfield if they don't want to bring Carson back with a full load. Otherwise, Hyde could be a popular play if Carson doesn't play, even against a Cardinals defense that allowed 91 rushing yards to running backs in the past two games combined. What their availabilities likely ensure is that DeeJay Dallas ($600 DK, $9,000 FD) won't get enough touches, even at his cheap DraftKings price, especially after taking a back seat to Alex Collins last week. Collins rushed 11 times for 43 yards and a touchdown last week against the 49ers and was promptly sent back to the practice squad, and if he's playing over Dallas then the latter is certainly not playing over Carson and/or Hyde.
The Cardinals got Kenyan Drake ($6,200 DK, $11,000 FD) back from injury last week, and he rushed 16 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, his second 100-yard game in his last three. The down game in that span came against Seattle when he rushed 14 times for 34 yards, which looked particularly poor because backup Chase Edmonds ($5,600 DK, $9,500 FD) rushed five times for 58 yards and caught all seven targets for 87 receiving yards. Edmonds got a huge workload during the Week 9 game Drake missed, rushing 25 times for 70 yards and catching three targets for 18, but he took a back seat last week, rushing eight times for 56 yards and catching three targets for 21, with the latter production more likely the range for Thursday's game.
Only four teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns to running backs this season than the Seahawks, who have also allowed the fifth-most receptions to the position, but we can't ignore that only three teams have allowed fewer rushing yards, so it's not the easiest of matchups. Plus, we can't forget that Murray still accounts for so much of the rushing production, which obviously takes away from Drake and Edmonds.
With so much emphasis on the passing games, using Drake or Carson, or even Edmonds or Hyde, as captain/MVP could be a very strong differential if they can get enough touches early on and hopefully limit any kind of passing onslaught. In fact, rostering running backs from both teams would be a huge way to differentiate, though it's more of a first-or-last lineup construction.
We don't usually consider kickers in high-scoring games, but we should make an exception for Thursday because Zane Gonzalez ($4,200 DK, $8,500 FD) and Jason Myers ($4,000 DK, $8,500 FD) have been very effective fantasy-point scorers despite their positions. Gonzalez has scored at least 7.0 points in all but one game this season while Myers has three games with fewer than 7.0 but also 12.0 in three of his last four. Given how well both teams move the ball, their kickers are presumably always close to being in field-goal range, and if you think all of the scoring comes from the elite players then rostering a kicker instead of guys like Moore, Fitzgerald, Hyde, Olsen, Swain and Hollister makes total sense.
A game with a total relatively close to 60 isn't likely to have fantasy players jumping for the defenses, but those who build contrarian lineups should surely be looking in their directions. The Seahawks ($2,800 DK) come in with 13 sacks in the last three games, and while Murray isn't sacked that much, they'll have to rely on the fact that only five quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than Murray. And speaking of interceptions, only two players have thrown more than Wilson, so there's intrigue in the Cardinals ($3,200), who picked off Wilson three times in their prior meeting. Taking either defense is relying on the variance that one of their turnovers can turn into a touchdown, as the likelihood that this one ends up being so low scoring that the defenses pay off in GPPs is still very low.