FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Browns at Steelers
Per our oddsFire tool, the betting public is hammering Pittsburgh. Of bets placed on the spread, 69% of them and 76% of the money is taking Pittsburgh to cover. On the moneyline, 81% of the money has been on the Steelers. Action on the total is pretty even. The money is a 51%-49% split in favor of the over.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
This past offseason, our Brandon Gdula did a deep dive on single-game strategy. It's worth checking out before you make your lineups.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers ($16,000)
I really like the Pittsburgh offense in this spot. The Steelers are taking on a COVID-riddled Browns team, one that ended the regular season with the sixth-worst defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. Cleveland gave up the seventh-most FanDuel points per game (20.6) to quarterbacks.
Back in Week 6, Pittsburgh roasted Cleveland for 38 points, but Ben Roethlisberger had just 10.98 FanDuel points in the easy win. However, it was one of the few games this season in which the Steelers had a lot of success running the ball, getting three rushing scores in addition to a defensive touchdown.
The pendulum should swing back Big Ben's way tonight. For the season, Pittsburgh had the second-highest pass rate (64.2%), and Roethlisberger has attempted at least 37 passes in eight straight games, including five games of 46-plus attempts.
With Pittsburgh implied for nearly four touchdowns, we have Roethlisberger projected for 18.0 FanDuel points. He's likely to be the chalk MVP pick, so while I'll have some of him in the MVP spot, I'll mostly go elsewhere for my multiplier.
Baker Mayfield, Browns ($15,500)
Cleveland is a run-based offense, sporting the fourth-lowest pass rate. In this one, though, I think they'll have to go to the air more often that usual, so I'm targeting their passing-game pieces instead of Nick Chubb ($15,000).
This is unquestionably a difficult matchup for Mayfield, who is on the road against one of the league's elite defenses (second-best by our numbers) without his player-caller/coach and at least one key offensive linemen. So, yeah, this could go poorly.
But with Cleveland close to a touchdown 'dog, they'll likely have to rely on Mayfield's arm more than pounding Chubb. Our model projects Mayfield for 15.7 FanDuel points.
Diontae Johnson ($13,500) and Chase Claypool ($12,000), Steelers
These two are my favorite MVP plays on this slate as the Browns have allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to receivers (33.0).
It's easier to make a case for target monster Diontae Johnson, who has seen 10-plus looks in seven of Big Ben's last eight starts, with the lone exception being a seven-target game. In that eight-game span, Johnson has accounted for a 26% target share and 25% air yards share, according to AirYards.com.
After some early-season fireworks, Claypool drifted into the background a bit as the campaign progressed, with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin saying the team was pulling back the reins on Claypool to help him avoid hitting the rookie wall. Well, this is what Pittsburgh was saving Claypool for, so we should expect to see him fully unleashed tonight. Even with the reduced snaps over the second half of the year, Claypool still recorded a team-best 30% air yards share in the aforementioned eight-game stretch -- along with a 17% target share -- and he leads the team in targets inside the 10 for the season (nine).
We project Johnson and Claypool for 12.4 and 8.3 FanDuel points, respectively. Johnson is going to be a fairly popular MVP choice while Claypool will likely be an off-the-beaten-path multiplier pick. But using the big-play rookie there isn't that weird, and those are my favorite type of MVP plays.
Jarvis Landry, Browns ($13,000)
Jarvis Landry's has seen 20 targets across the Browns' past two defeats, and his role in the short passing game should keep him busy as Cleveland tries to cope with a short-handed offensive line versus Pittsburgh's stout defensive front.
Over the final five weeks, Landry averaged 8.8 targets per outing and made 6.8 catches for 73.8 yards per game. He scored three times in that span and paced Cleveland for the year in targets inside the 10 (eight).
Admittedly, our algorithm doesn't love Landry, forecasting him to score 10.5 FanDuel points, which makes him the worst point-per-dollar play among those with a salary of at least $12,500. But he -- not Mayfield -- is my preferred way to get a piece of the Browns' passing attack.
James Conner, Steelers ($12,000)
A starting running back on a big favorite would normally be a popular target on a single-game slate. I don't expect James Conner to be all that popular, especially in the MVP spot. And he probably shouldn't be. He hasn't played more than 70% of the snaps in a game since Week 10, and he's scored just twice over his last six games as the Steelers have gone to the air early and often.
Conner's role, however, is trending in the right direction. He logged snap rates of 62% and 64% over the final two games and got 13 targets in that time -- although eight of them came in Week 17, when Pittsburgh saw a negative game script with Mason Rudolph under center.
I'm in no way saying Conner is any sort of safe. He's not. But I do think he's a sneaky-good play tonight, and his rushing touchdown projection, per our model, is the best on the slate. We peg Conner as the premier point-per-dollar play after Roethlisberger, projecting him for 12.4 FanDuel points.
Austin Hooper, Browns ($7,500)
Austin Hooper is probably going to be this slate's chalk value pick. Since the start of Week 6, Hooper has played in just two defeats. In them, he logged 15 and six targets. The 15 looks were a season-high mark, and he had only one other game in that span with as many as six looks. With Cleveland expected to see a negative game script, Hooper should wind up being busy.
Hooper has three total tuddies across his past five games, playing at least 70% of the snaps in every outing in that stretch. We have him totaling 7.8 FanDuel points, making Hooper the fourth-best point-per-dollar value on the slate and the top point-per-dollar option among those with a salary under $12,000.