NFL Week 12 wraps up with a Wednesday Afternoon Football contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens starting at 3:40 p.m. ET.
If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game NFL DFS format, it differs a bit on DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, you have one “captain” spot and five flexes. The captain will score 1.5x fantasy points, but he also costs 1.5x salary. That means if you want to roster Ben Roethlisberger at captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $17,100 as opposed to $11,400.
FanDuel’s single-game format features one “MVP” spot and four flexes. The MVP also scores 1.5x fantasy points, but he doesn’t cost any additional salary. That takes away a bit of the strategy and makes the goal simple: get your highest-scoring player in the MVP spot.
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The Ravens have been hit hard by COVID-19, which is why this game is being played nearly a week later than it was originally scheduled for. There are still a few question marks as to which players they will actually have available – they still have 16 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list – but a few more could be activated tomorrow.
One player who definitively will not play vs. the Steelers is Lamar Jackson, which makes it tough to trust any of their skill players in this contest. Jackson hasn’t been great this season, but the Ravens have moved from approximately 4.5-point underdogs to 10.5-point underdogs with Jackson out of the lineup.
That means that virtually all of the stud targets in this game play for the Steelers. They own the five most expensive players on DraftKings and five of the seven most expensive players on FanDuel.
Roethlisberger headlines the Steelers offense, and he’s put together a strong campaign in 2020. He’s averaging 253.4 passing yards per game, and he’s also racked up 24 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions. His production was down last week vs. the Jaguars since the Steelers had that game wrapped up early, but he did score at least 28.04 DraftKings points in each of his two previous games.
He also stands out from a Vegas perspective. Roethlisberger has historically thrived as a home favorite, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.81 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool). When favored by at least 10 points, that number increases to +6.03.
Overall, Roethlisberger leads all player in our NFL Models in median and ceiling projections. He will likely be a popular Captain choice, but he deserves to be.
Roethlisberger also benefits from getting to pass to one of the best WRs trios in the league. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster have all put together big games this season, and all three bring different skill sets to the table.
Johnson is the safest option of the bunch. He has been a target monster when healthy this season, logging double-digit targets in six of seven full games. That includes a season-high 16 targets last week vs. Jacksonville, which he converted into 12 receptions for 111 yards. He is expected to draw the majority of his snaps against Jimmy Smith – which gives him the worst matchup among the Steelers’ WRs – but he does move around the formation a bit. That means Smith won’t be on him for the full contest.
Claypool is the big play threat for the Steelers. The Steelers have done an excellent job of manufacturing touches to get the ball in his hands, and he’s rewarded them with 10 total touchdowns. He’s seen at least eight targets in four straight games, and his projected matchup vs. Marcus Peters is the best among the Steelers’ WRs on paper.
Smith-Schuster does a little bit of everything. He’s had some huge games this season, but he’s also had some duds. He’s coming off one of his worst outings of the season last week vs. the Jaguars, so this could be an interesting time to buy low on him.
His matchup is also the easiest to project. He plays almost exclusively in the slot, which means he should see a lot of Marlon Humphries. Humphries has been decent this season, but he’s not a player that you need to avoid in fantasy.
Finally, the Steelers RB situation could be an interesting source of value this week. The Ravens have been stout against the run, but they’ll be without defensive lineman Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams for the third straight game. They’ve struggled against Damian Harris and Derrick Henry the past two weeks, so this spot is better than it appears on paper.
Benny Snell is expected to start at RB in this contest after James Conner tested positive for COVID-19. However, he’s averaged a dismal 3.4 yards per carry in 2020, and he’s been priced up pretty aggressively across the industry. He could still return value if he scores a touchdown or two, but he has some downside at his current salary.
Robert Griffin III is expected to start at QB for the Ravens, and he’s priced like a stud on FanDuel at $14,500. That makes him the second-most expensive player on the slate. He’s much cheaper on DraftKings, where his $8,400 salary makes him just the sixth-most expensive player.
Griffin was one of the best players in the league for a brief moment, but he’s not nearly the same player now. He posted an adjusted yards per attempt of just 4.1 with the Ravens last season, and he’s thrown an interception on one of his only two passes this season.
That said, he does still possess some rushing upside. He started one game with the Ravens last year – also against the Steelers – and he finished with 50 rushing yards on eight carries. That makes him pretty appealing at his current salary on DraftKings.
The Ravens RB situation will be an important one to monitor prior to kickoff. Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins both did not travel with the team, but there’s a chance they could come off the reserve/COVID-19 list in time to suit up vs. the Steelers. If that happens, expect the team to continue to employ a three-man rotation at the position.
The more appealing situation would be if both players are inactive. That would leave Gus Edwards to handle the majority of the RB snaps. Edwards doesn’t have much upside as a pass catcher, but he’s been an effective between-the-tackles grinder throughout his career.
The Steelers represent a tough matchup – Edwards owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of -1.5 on DraftKings – but Edwards could see a ton of volume if this game stays competitive.
Eric Ebron doesn’t possess the highest ceiling, but he’s been a steady contributor recently. He’s logged at least five targets in each of his past four games, and he’s finished with at least 11.0 DraftKings points in four of them. He likely needs to find the endzone to pay off his current price tag, but he’s done that in three of his past four games.
The Ravens pass catching corps has also taken a hit this week. Willie Snead and Mark Andrews will both miss this contest, which leaves Marquise Brown as their clear top option. That said, Brown has been a boom-or-bust target this season, and there have been far more busts than booms. It’s hard to see that changing with RGIII at QB.
Newly signed Dez Bryant should also be asked to play more snaps in this contest. He finished with five targets last week on just 35 snaps, and he doesn’t need to do as much as Brown to pay off his current salary.
Finally, the Steelers defense is priced all the way up at $7,800 on DraftKings. I almost never pay that much for a defense in the single-game format, but Griffin has had some problems with sacks and turnovers. If they can grab an early lead and put the Ravens in passing situations – and the spread suggests that’s possible – they could put up a huge day.
- Kickers and Ravens defense – These options are always in play in the single-game format. The Ravens D doesn’t seem like a great play in this matchup, but both kickers stand out as decent values. The total on this game sits at just 42.5, so there could be more field goals than touchdowns.
- James Washington: $3,600 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – Washington is the clear No. 4 WR for Pittsburgh, but he still sees a handful of snaps each week. He’s finished with at least two targets in each of his past three contests, and he’s scored a touchdown in one of them.
- Devin Duvernay: $3,200 on DraftKings, $8,500 on FanDuel – He’s another potential pass catcher for the Ravens. That’s enough to warrant consideration given their current situation at WR.
- Anthony McFarland: $2,600 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – McFarland is an interesting pivot off Snell in this contest. It’s possible he could see a few more snaps than expected, particularly since he’s graded out as a better pass blocker than Snell according to Pro Football Focus.
- Justice Hill: $2,200 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel – He would be the Ravens’ backup RB if Ingram and Dobbins are unable to suit up. Hill was a fantasy darling before the 2019 season but has yet to receive any meaningful playing time. He does have a fantasy-friendly skill set given his ability as a receiver.