NFL DFS Monday Night Football showdown lineup advice: Browns vs Steelers

Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns
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Ricky Dimon

NFL· 3 weeks ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Welcome to daily fantasy football, Pickswise Nation. For those who haven’t yet dipped their toes into the DFS pool, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Howard Bender and I have been working in the fantasy sports industry for more than 20 years. I am the head of fantasy sports content for Fantasy Alarm and DFS Alarm as well as a bi-weekly columnist for the New York Post. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success over the years, but this NFL season has been one of our best as our Playbook and Showdown write-ups have already brought in a $1,000,000 winner on FanDuel, as well as several others who have enjoyed six-figure wins. We promote the process and teach you to be a better DFS player and that has certainly been the case this year. Welcome to the #FAmily….

While the NFL regular season winds down, the window for DFS action closes just a bit. But with two more Monday Night Football games and then the playoffs, it doesn’t shut completely until the Super Bowl is over. Tonight’s game offers up a battle between two storied AFC North rivals, and while one still has a remote shot at the playoffs, the other is going to do everything in its power to spoil that opportunity. The animosity between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers is no secret and both defenses are hurting right now, so we could see some points on the board in this one. The last time they played, the Steelers won 15-10 — but that was when both defensive units were at full strength. Tonight the offenses should take over, which always makes showdown lineup-building fun.

MVP/Captain

Nick Chubb, RB, CLE

The Steelers’ run defense has been obliterated in recent weeks, allowing an average of 190 rushing yards per game over their last three. Chubb is an absolute beast and is coming off a 17-carry, 126-yard game with one touchdown against Green Bay. He has touchdowns in back-to-back games. Chubb should have a fierce game tonight, especially with the Steelers dealing with COVID issues at the linebacker position.

Najee Harris, RB, PIT

The Browns’ run defense has been stingy this season, allowing just 105.9 rushing yards per game. But the Steelers need to establish the run early if they want the passing game to click. Harris also picks up tremendous value in the passing attack, as he is usually good for 3 to 5 catches per game and some yardage on top of that. He had 26 carries for 91 yards and a score the last time these two teams met.

Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT

It’s all about the volume for Johnson, who has seen double-digit targets in 10 of 14 games this season. The Browns are unlikely to have Denzel Ward shadow him, but Greedy Williams on the other side also presents a tough challenge. However, with both starting safeties out the coverage help in the middle of the field could be suspect.

Other Plays

Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE

A lot could hinge on whom the Steelers use as their slot-corner throughout this game. If it’s Terrell Edmunds, Landry will have a fight on his hands. But if Tre Norwood gets used, Landry should school the rookie and rack up some catches. He has averaged 9 targets per game over his last three and has one 100-yard effort and one touchdown in that span. Landry could make for a nice play tonight.

Pat Freiermuth, TE, PIT

The Browns may rank ninth in DVOA against the tight-end position, but they’re allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to them. That screams red zone work, and that just happens to be Freiermuth’s specialty. He is healthy again and ready to get back at it. With 6 touchdowns and 14 red-zone targets over his last eight games, he could even warrant some captain-seat consideration.

Chase Claypool, WR, PIT

He has been quiet over the last two games, but Claypool has still averaged just under 7 targets per game and should see close to that again today as the Steelers could be throwing in the second half if their run defense gets mauled by Chubb. He is also a threat near the red zone when it comes to Mike Tomlin’s weird penchant for jet sweeps inside the 10-yard line.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT

Unless Harris and the offensive line dominate the line of scrimmage, Big Ben is going to have to throw and take second-half matters into his own hands. His last two games have been bad for fantasy, but the two prior to that were rock solid. If he can throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, he will return the value you need.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) walks off the field following the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field.

Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE

The Browns have blamed a shoulder harness on Mayfield’s recent struggles, so if he’s wearing it again tonight, be wary of it. He has thrown 4 interceptions to just 4 touchdowns over the last two games and the team will rely on Chubb pretty heavily early on. Hopefully that will open up play-action down the field, but only use Mayfield if setting multiple lineups and you want to be a little contrarian.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, CLE

This guy would be absolutely amazing if he could learn to hold onto the ball. The drops have been killing his value lately, and as such he has lost some snaps in recent games. DPJ has a tremendous skill-set and can very easily dazzle down the field, so don’t rule him out.

Anthony Schwartz, WR, CLE

He tends to be more of a deep threat than someone the Browns rely on across the middle to move the chains, but if he continues to see targets because Peoples-Jones keeps dropping the ball, then we could see some downfield heroics.

Austin Hooper, TE, CLE

He has settled in as the team’s No. 1 tight end and he leads them in snaps, routes run, and receptions. Hooper tends to be a chain-mover for the Browns, but he does have 3 red-zone targets and 1 touchdown over his last two games.

Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, PIT

With 19 targets over his last three games, McCloud has stood out as a legitimate No. 3 receiver for the Steelers. He doesn’t have the consistency of a Johnson or a Claypool, but with 4 red-zone targets over his last three games, it appears as if Big Ben’s confidence in him is on the rise.

Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE

We just don’t know how much playing time Hunt will actually see as he only put in limited practices on Thursday and Friday after battling both an ankle issue and COVID. Just because he won’t see a ton of snaps, though, does not mean he can’t be productive — especially not when the Steelers rank 20th against running back pass-plays. He’s a super-contrarian play.

David Njoku, TE, CLE

As the second tight end, Njoku doesn’t see the targets you want for your lineup but does manage to get a decent amount of red-zone work and has 3 touchdowns on the year.

Dart Throws

Harrison Bryant, TE, CLE

With a lack of receivers on Cleveland’s roster, Bryant seems to always find work even as the No. 3 tight end. He only has 3 catches for 12 yards over his last two games, but two of those three grabs went for touchdowns. This is the ultimate dart throw.

James Washington, WR, PIT

If you want to throw another absolute dart, then Pittsburgh’s receiving corps has a possibility in Washington. He doesn’t see much in the way of targets, but we have seen Big Ben air it out downfield to take an occasional shot — and Washington makes a spectacular grab.

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