This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.
The Football Team are three-point favorites at home to the Giants in a game that features a noticeably low 40.5-point total. Washington will turn to Taylor Heinicke at quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick injured his hip in Week 1. In single-game contests, a low total means that more players are in play for the captain/MVP spot because it usually doesn't take as many points to be viable there. Quarterbacks will remain the most popular, so I'll look to differentiate by using some of the skill players.
As always, focus on building lineups that fit specific scenarios and leave some salary on the table so you don't duplicate with too many people. It's more important to find viable ways to be unique than to worry about which player might have a slightly higher projection. Remember that we aren't rostering these players for the whole season and we only need them to perform once. Football is quite variable and often unpredictable; take some chances.
Washington's Week 1 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) will be sidelined 6-8 weeks so Taylor Heinicke ($10,200 DK, $14,500 FD) will start. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown after entering the game in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Chargers. Heinicke was impressive in the playoffs last season, throwing for 306 yards as the Football Team lost by eight to the eventual champion Buccaneers. It's also worth noting that he rushed six times for 46 yards and showed he was capable of making plays with his legs. If the Giants defense has a strength, it's stopping the run. The point being that their pass rush and secondary are not reasons to downgrade Heinicke. He's one of the top plays on the slate and will be a popular choice in the captain/MVP spot, as quarterbacks always are.
Daniel Jones ($10,400 DK, $15,000 FD) is coming off a solid Week 1 from a fantasy perspective. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown while running the ball six times for 27 yards and touchdown. He averaged more than 30 yards rushing per game last season. While I wouldn't necessarily call him a dual threat, the rushing upside is nice for showdowns because it gives him an extra path to end up on the optimal lineup. As for the matchup with Washington, it's a tough one. The Football Team boast a pair of elite pass rushers in Chase Young and Montez Sweat to go with a good secondary that got better in the offseason with the additions of CB William Jackson and SS Landon Collins. All told they allowed the NFL's fourth-fewest points and sixth-fewest points to quarterbacks last season. Jones has his work cut out for him.
I expect the popularity of Heinicke and Jones to be similar, so don't make any decisions based on potential leverage. Rostering both together makes a lot of sense in game that features a close spread and low total. If I'm choosing just one, Heinicke at home seems like a much safer bet than Jones on the road against Chase Young and co. Both are solid options in the captain spot, but this one of those slates where a QB is exceedingly likely to be optimal there.
Antonio Gibson ($9,600 DK and $12,500 FD) carried 20 times for 90 yards and caught three of five targets for 18 yards in the Football Team's Week 1 loss to the Chargers. He fumbled twice, which is somewhat concerning in general but not for this showdown. With Fitzpatrick out, expect Washington to rely heavily on Gibson in both the running and passing game. J.D. McKissic ($2,200 DK, $7000 FD) played 36 percent of the snaps Week 1, mostly spelling Gibson in obvious passing situations. He finished with just one carry and one target, but we saw him heavily involved the passing game last season. For only $2,200 on DK, he's worth a flyer in a small percentage of lineups, especially as a running back in Giant-heavy builds. If Washington is chasing the game, McKissic would see plenty of snaps and be in line to catch a few check downs.
Saquon Barkley ($10,000 DK, $14,000 FD) struggled against a good Denver defense in Week 1, carrying 10 times for 26 yards and catching one of three targets for one yard. It was his first game back after tearing both his ACL and MCL in Week 2 last year, and the Giants have said they'll be cautious as he works his way back into form. He's been limited in practice this week, but that's to be expected, and his status for Thursday doesn't seem to be in doubt. What is in doubt is whether he can have success against this tough Washington defense. It's also possible the Giants continue to limit his workload, especially coming off a short week. If that's the case, Devontae Booker ($2,800 DK, $7,500 FD) would be in line for more work. He had four carries and one target in Week 1. If the Giants had been winning, it's likely he would've seen more rushing attempts. Similar to McKissic, it's worth taking a shot on these cheap backup running backs to differentiate. I think Booker makes most sense in scenarios where the game isn't competitive in the second half as the Giants will go out of their way to rest Barkley if given the chance.
Gibson is definitely my preferred choice. Expect him to have 20-plus touches and have opportunities to get in the end zone. Normally, running backs don't make for great captains/MVPs but this slate is exception. Gibson ends up the highest scorer often enough in this matchup.
WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS
Terry McLaurin ($9,000 DK, $12,000 FD) caught all four of his targets for 62 yards in Week 1. That isn't the type of volume you're hoping for from a No. 1 WR, especially one who costs $9,000. We know McLaurin has big-play ability, and that's important for these single-game contests, but Washington threw for just 133 yards and will once again be relying on backup QB Taylor Heinicke. Adam Humphries ($4,800 DK, $6,500 FD) was expected to be the No. 2 WR going into Week 1 but played just 60 percent of snaps and caught both of his targets for 10 yards. He figures to handle the same slot role in three-wide sets Thursday. He doesn't seem to have too much upside and his optimal chances are likely to be touchdown dependent, so I wouldn't roster him without Heinicke.
Exciting third-round rookie Dyami Brown ($1,400 DK, $5,500) would be preferred spot to gamble on a cheap punt. Brown played 93 percent of snaps serving as the No. 2 WR in Week 1. He caught just one of four targets, but for $1,400 all it takes is one play to become optimal, and being on the field is what's most important. Cam Sims ($1,000 DK, $6,000 FD) will be even less popular. There was some thought that Sims might split duties with Brown, but he saw only two snaps and caught one pass for 17 yards in Week 1. Definitely not a good play from a projection standpoint but these are the type of fringe moves that result in six-figure scores every so often because no one wants to roster them. He's almost certainly TD dependent and would have to be rostered alongside Heinicke.
The Giants spent $72 million to bring in Kenny Golladay ($8,200 DK, $10,500 FD) in the offseason. A preseason hamstring strain limited his prep time with Daniel Jones, but he caught four of six targets for 64 yards in Week 1. Similarly priced Sterling Shepard ($8,000 DK, $11,500 FD) exploded for seven catches, 113 yards and touchdown. Choosing between the two, Washington's vaunted pass rush has me siding with Shepard in the slot, as I expect Jones to be getting the ball out quicker. Darius Slayton ($6,600 DK, $9,000 FD) is the Giants' third option. He had a big 42-yard catch on the game's opening drive last week and finished with three grabs on seven targets. He's going to be less popular than Golladay and Shepard, so that makes rostering him a bit more appealing. Here's an easy way to differentiate in tournaments: take your best Golladay lineups and replace him with Slayton, but then leave the leftover salary on the table as opposed to upgrading somewhere else. First-round rookie Kadarius Toney ($1,800 DK, $6,500) dealt with myriad issues, both on and off the field during preseason. His role going into Week 1 was uncertain and he ended up catching both of his targets for -2 yards. He doesn't project well as the team's fourth WR, but he's the type who could be involved in a gadget play or two. He won't be popular and the salary is cheap. All it takes is one long touchdown.
Moving to tight end, Logan Thomas ($7,400 DK, $10,000 FD) played 100 percent of the snaps in Week 1 for the Football Team, catching all three of his targets for 30 yards and a touchdown. Normally on these showdown slates we can take a chance on the backup TE for minimum salary, but that seems like a waste given Thomas' snap share. The Giants are without Evan Engram (calf) again. Kyle Rudolph ($3,200 DK, $7,000) started Week 1 and played 77 percent of snaps while catching two of five targets. Kaden Smith ($200 DK, $6,000 FD) played on 48 percent of snaps and failed to record a target. Rudolph's cheap salary makes him a viable option for Thursday. Smith is the minimum price on DK, and there's always a chance he could catch a short TD. He's another one of those players that very few will roster.
The lower the total, the better it becomes to roster kickers. Dustin Hopkins ($3,800 DK, $9,500 FD) and Graham Gano ($3,600 DK, $8,500 FD) both stand out in a game where points may be hard to come by. It's always important to compare kickers with the other options in that salary range. Humphries ($4,800) and Giants DST ($4,200) sit just above, while Rudolph ($3,200), Booker ($2,800) and McKissic ($2,200) fall below. It's not hard to imagine a kicker outscoring all of those players. It would be quite contrarian, but we've seen a kicker in the captain spot win tournaments before. Five 40-yard field goals equals 20 points. Stranger things have happened.
I mentioned the Football Team ($5,600) has one of the better defensive units in the league. Led by Chase Young and Montez Sweat, the defensive line will give Daniel Jones problems all night. Here's a crazy stat to consider: Jones has fumbled a whopping 30 times in his 28-game career. There is plenty of turnover upside and therefore touchdown upside for Washington. The Giants ($4,200) are viable in this matchup also. Anytime the opponent is starting a backup QB who's making his first start of the season, the defense has to be considered. Especially in a game with such a low total.