Get your smelling salts ready! While this Monday Night Football showdown on DraftKings doesn’t carry the same excitement as past games, it is still a fine opportunity to make some serious coin. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns each have players with exploitable matchups tonight. With fantasy glory on the line, it’s crucial to assemble a winning lineup that can dominate the competition. In this DFS article, I’ve dissected key players for your lineups, offering insights on who should take the coveted captain slot, which core player should anchor your player pool, a value gem that can boost your salary cap flexibility, a sleeper pick with breakout potential, and one player to steer clear of – the dreaded bust. Strap in, as we dive into the tactical choices that could lead you to DFS victory in this primetime battle!
*Disclaimer: These picks have been constructed with the mindset of building a single lineup. When building large field/multi-entry tournaments, if the player sees the field you’ll want to have a piece of him somewhere, “busts” included.*
DraftKings Monday Night Football Showdown Picks
Nick Chubb ($18,300)
One of the only true Bellcow running backs left, Nick Chubb got his 2023 season off to a good start. Chubb sliced through the Bengals’ run defense to the tune of 106 yards on 18 carries. Chubb was so efficient in the blowout victory that he was only needed for 49% of his team’s snaps. That, paired with the fact that the Browns have had an extra day of rest, signal that the all-pro running back will be fresh and ready to handle a full workload.
Nick Chubb’s $12,200 salary ($18,300 in the captain slot) on DraftKings comes in as the most expensive on tonight’s DFS slate. I don’t think Chubb will have any problems paying off that price tag. Last week Chubb put up 19.7 DK points all without scoring a touchdown, a feat I believe he will accomplish tonight. On a day where rain poured from the heavens, Chubb’s involvement in the passing game was a dazzling ray of sunshine. Last week marks the first time that Chubb has made at least four receptions since he played the New York Giants in Week 16 of 2020. With WR Amari Cooper (groin/hamstring) banged up, Chubb is likely to be leaned on heavily tonight.
Captain to consider: Deshaun Watson ($15,900)
George Pickens ($8,000)
Welp, things did not go as expected for George Pickens in the Steelers’ home opener. On a day when Kenny Pickett completed 31 passes, Pickens was only able to make five receptions. Pickens did start receiving some extra attention from Pickett after Diontae Johnson (OUT) was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury. Johnson’s absence tonight on Monday Night Football is the main reason that I’m targeting a George Pickens breakout performance.
George Pickens are you serious?!?! pic.twitter.com/LoO8EU80UT
— PickensBurgh (Tino) (@PickensBurgh) September 10, 2023
Although Pickens didn’t exactly show out last week, he still managed to rank second on the team in targets. His seven targets was only one short of the eight that were thrown at Allen Robinson II. The only other receiver to receive much attention was Calvin Austin III, who caught all six of his targets, albeit for just 37 yards. As far as this Pittsburgh WR group is concerned, Pickens represents the player most likely to provide the most bang for his buck. At $8,000 tonight on DraftKings, rostering Pickens still allows you to get to the other relevant players on this single-game slate.
Core play to consider: Najee Harris ($9,400)
Elijah Moore ($6,600)
As mentioned, Amari Cooper (groin) is banged up, and there is real concern about his availability on MNF tonight. Enter Elijah Moore, who led the Browns in receiving yards last week. Moore also managed to tie Cooper for the lead in targets with seven each. Apart from Cooper and Moore, no other pass catchers made an impression in Week 1. Fellow WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who is known as the jump ball deep threat, only managed to catch one pass on just two targets. The TE David Njoku didn’t fare much better as he went for a lousy 24 yards on two catches (3 targets).
While Moore’s Week 1 stat line (3-43-0) doesn’t jump off of the page, there’s one thing for me that did. Last week against Cincinnati, Moore rushed the ball twice for 19 yards. Sound the alarm! 19 whole yards, am I right!? It’s not the yardage that I’m excited about, it’s the role. It’s the fact that Cleveland clearly wants to get the ball in Moore’s hands any way that they can. With Cooper banged up or straight-up absent tonight, Moore’s role has the most room for growth in this Browns offense. I fully expect him to be heavily involved in tonight’s game plan.
Value to consider: Steelers DST ($4,400)
Jaylen Warren ($3,000)
“Najee Harris is still the uncontested lead back of this football team.” Tell that to the 40% of snaps that Jaylen Warren received compared to Harris’ 52%. There has been a real concern all offseason that Warren would begin to steal work away from Harris. While the game script certainly could have played a role in the split last week, it’s still worth monitoring going forward. Forty percent is a lot of playing time for a player who only carries a $3,000 price tag on DraftKings tonight. Warren’s involvement last week cements his qualifications to be a lock for me in this article’s sleeper slot.
Against a stout 49ers defense, Warren wasn’t able to get anything going on the ground. He recorded three carries, picking up six yards. However, Warren’s involvement in the passing game is promising. Kenny Pickett seemed to have no issue checking the ball down to his back-up back. Warren’s five receptions tied for second on the team, falling behind only Calvin Austin III. The Pittsburgh passing attack hasn’t exactly been on point to start the year, so the team might turn to the running game early to attempt to set the tempo. Look for head coach Mike Tomlin to deploy Warren in any situation when the time comes to give Najee a breather.
Sleeper to consider: Connor Heyward ($400)
Kenny Pickett ($9,200)
Pickett and perhaps Deshaun Watson will both be without their number-one wide receiver in this Monday Night Football contest. On one hand, Watson should be able to make up for his lack of receiving options with his legs. On the other hand, Pickett has not been known for his running, at least not in the NFL. You can also turn to the offensive line. Pittsburgh’s O-line wasn’t able to get any push for either of their running backs. Worse of all, they allowed Pickett to be sacked 5 times.
Tonight Pickett faces a defensive line that dropped Burrow twice and recorded 4 tackles for a loss. The forecast for this matchup should provide much better field conditions for the Browns defense, compared to the torrential downpour they played through last week. I believe that both QBS are going to be under constant pressure in this matchup. Pickett faces an uphill battle to get his offense moving tonight in Cleveland.
Bust to consider: Najee Harris ($14,100)