Steelers vs. Browns Showdown NFL DFS Lineup Advice for DraftKings & FanDuel

Week 2 of the NFL ends with a divisional game between the Steelers and Browns that could be a low-paced grinding matchup with a game total of just 38.5 and Cleveland favored by 2.5 points. Almost a mirror-image of the Philadelphia – Minnesota game that opened the week, this game features a very expensive Nick Chubb and then not much we usually look to for fantasy relevance. That fantasy relevance is even further eroded by each team missing one of their top receivers, with Cleveland’s Amari Cooper and Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson each expected to miss the game (although recent reports have Cooper giving his hamstring a test run in warmups tonight). While the points may be hard to come by, we’ve still got the same prize pools, and I’m here with some quick lineup advice on how to get an edge on the field in our FanDuel and DraftKings single-game DFS entries.

Steelers vs. Browns Showdown DFS Lineup Advice

How I Plan to Beat the Field

The two critical factors I see for this particular single-game contest will be creating good lineup construction and correctly parsing the injury news and depth charts for each team. The salary structures on both FanDuel and DraftKings start with Nick Chubb as the most expensive player in the game and also the most secure source of fantasy points, but Chubb has a higher path to failure than most very expensive single-game players. At his elevated price tag he needs a very specific game scenario to pay off his price. Plugging Chubb into our lineups – particularly on DraftKings with the salary multiplier at the CPT spot – eats up a large chunk of salary and makes it difficult to fit in other expensive skill players like the QBs and WRs. If I’m using Chubb in my lineup, especially with his relative lack of pass-catching – I’m considering a pairing with the Cleveland defense and may exclude both team’s QBs on that roster.

Another direction to go in for our lineups is to play for a game script that features more points than the current game total, using either QB for the game and pairing him with multiple receivers. Pittsburgh players are projecting for less points than their Cleveland counterparts, which makes sense with the Steelers being the underdog team. But Pittsburgh is still playing at home in a game with a very close spread, and pairing Kenny Pickett with multiple WRs – or pass-catching TE Pat Freiermuth – will likely be a strategy that isn’t used as much as it should be tonight.

The other important element for tonight’s single-game contests could be parsing the depth charts for which players will be the next to step into larger roles due to injuries – and even whether those injury situations will be as expected. Should Amari Cooper be surprisingly active for this game after being doubtful yesterday, he could draw less ownership than he otherwise would. If Cooper is inactive, the depth chart WRs on the Cleveland side could play some role in this game and become extremely important if they catch what is expected to be one of the few TDs. Any of Marquise Goodwin, David Bell, and Cedric Tillman could become relevant, and Tillman may be the most intriguing as a third-round rookie the team could be looking to see in live action.

Single-Game Rule I’m Willing to Break

Speaking of lineup construction, while we’ll want to set some rules in LineupHQ if we’re building multiple lineups, setting our rules too strictly can prevent us from getting to unique lineups. Each week I’ll aim to hit on a “rule that can be broken” for our lineups.

This week, with a low game total and potentially some very-low priced players that could step into larger roles due to injuries, I’ll be willing to use an extreme value play at the CPT or MVP spot. I’m usually wary of using a cheaper player in the top spot, as the savings may seem worth it while we’re putting the lineups together in an optimizer, but even if they score a TD their raw point total might not be enough to warrant having them in the multiplier spot. With a lower game total, however, that becomes less of a concern. If any of the relatively unknown WRs catches a long TD – whether it is Calvin Austin III, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, etc – they could easily find themselves as the MVP or CPT if that’s the only touchdown in the game. Similarly, while I’m usually reluctant to put a Kicker or Defense in at the top spot, we’ve already seen a D/ST in the MVP/CPT position of winning lineups in the single-game format this year, and this seems like the ideal game for that to happen.

DraftKings Strategy

The first key difference between DraftKings versus FanDuel is the salary multiplier for the Captain position. It’s not just that a Captain’s fantasy points get the 1.5x multiplier, but his salary counts 1.5x against our cap as well. The next important consideration is the difference in the scoring rules. DraftKings gives a full point per reception instead of a half point on FanDuel, making receivers and pass-catching running backs ideal for the DraftKings format.

On DraftKings the key differences for this contest are particularly important for Nick Chubb. While some RBs like Austin Ekeler can catch over 100 receptions in a season, Chubb has never caught more than 36 in a season, and the past three seasons he has racked up only 63 catches combined. Chubb is $1600 more expensive than the next player on this slate, Deshaun Watson, and he is a full $3000 more expensive than the third-most costly player Kenny Pickett. If I am using Nick Chubb in a lineup I would consider pairing him with the Cleveland defense and consider leaving Deshaun Watson off the roster entirely. The chances that Chubb and Watson make the winning roster – compared to Chubb and one Cleveland WR or TE who is the recipient of a Watson TD pass – are not as high as will likely be played by the field.

FanDuel Strategy

The flip side to the DraftKings scoring is the half-point awarded for receptions on FanDuel and no salary multiplier in the MVP position. This can make it very difficult to get away from the highest projected player at the MVP spot but makes it critical to have some intelligent differentiation in the AnyFLEX spots.

Nick Chubb makes much more sense as the MVP on a FanDuel single-game roster, where using more salary in the top spot doesn’t carry a salary multiplier penalty, but the consequence is that it will be much more difficult to differentiate our rosters from the field. With that being the case, I will make an effort to pair Chubb in the MVP spot with at least one player projected for lower ownership who could be a difference-maker in tonight’s game. Touchdowns are more important for scoring in the FanDuel format with the lack of a full point per reception, and using a back-up TE like Harrison Bryant or even pairing Chubb with his own back-up RB in Jerome Ford would make for a very different – but still plausible – single-game roster.

Week 2 of the NFL season ends with a potentially low-scoring game, but divisional games can be important for the playoffs and there has been no love lost between Cleveland and Pittsburgh over the years. Good luck to everyone tonight and enjoy!

Image Credit: Getty Images

About the Author

  • John Breslin (squirrelpatrol)

  • John Breslin, aka squirrelpatrol, is a consistent top-ranked Grinder and RotoGrinders contributor. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and graduated with an M.B.A. from prestigious New York University. John is a Live Final specialist who has won 90+ Live Final seats, taking home 1st place in the 2018 FanDuel World Fantasy Baseball Championship, both 1st and 2nd place at the 2021 FanDuel World Fantasy Basketball Championship, 2nd place at the 2022 FanDuel World Fantasy Basketball Championship, 2nd place at the 2023 DraftKings Fantasy Baseball World Championship. He also took down a $1,000,000 prize on an NFL GPP. John has been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and is still scarred from being on the losing end of James Stewart’s 5-TD performance in 1997.

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