Top lineup bargains include Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Pat Freiermuth
It’s time for Week 17 Monday Night Football, and that means it’s time to reveal our favorite NFL DFS lineup for the Steelers vs. Browns matchup. If you’re competing in DFS tournaments or 50/50 competitions, here are our two recommended fantasy football lineups. Each set of picks reflects the most likely game scripts. As always, this DFS lineup is based on FanDuel pricing.
This DFS lineup assumes Ben Roethlisberger’s (potential) final home game of his career highlights enough of an effective passing game to warrant starting some of Pittsburgh’s primary pass catchers. It also assumes Cleveland will lean on its running game, with Baker Mayfield unable to generate an effective passing attack.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns ($16,000)
Nick Chubb is a fairly automatic start, just as he is most days. He’s rushed for 80+ yards in nine of 12 games this season. I’m not expecting Kareem Hunt to meaningfully cut into his ceiling. While Chubb’s target rate remains fairly minimal, his floor is tremendous as a likely 18+ touch option. It helps that the Steelers are yielding the sixth-most points in the league to opposing backfields.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($14,000)
The Steelers have never had a losing season in Ben Roethlisberger’s career. No other NFL player has had 17+ non-losing seasons while never finishing under .500 in any other year. It could be an unbreakable record, and I’m betting Big Ben makes it even more unbreakable by going out on top tonight.
While he’s not nearly the same player he once was, Cleveland’s defense has been only middling against quarterbacks, giving up 17.1 fantasy points per game. 15-18 points seem realistic for Roethlisberger.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($13,000)
Big Ben has had some terrific No. 1 wideouts during his career. The 25-year-old Diontae Johnson certainly fits into that category. He’s enjoying career-highs in receptions (92) and receiving yards (1,079). He’s also become a valued chain-mover, earning a career-high 53 first downs (29% of the Steelers’ passing first downs). If Pittsburgh’s aerial assault is even marginally clicking, Johnson should be the biggest reason why. If you have an MVP DFS slot, he belongs there.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns ($10,500)
We’re going for the home run here. Jarvis Landry is probably safer. There are reports that head coach Kevin Stefanski wants to give Anthony Schwartz more run, which could cut into Donovan Peoples-Jones’ usage. But DPJ is a big-play threat facing a defense yielding the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Landry is a good bet for 8-10 points. DPJ has a lower floor and higher ceiling.
Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,500)
We have $6,500 remaining. Ray-Ray McCloud has garnered an offensive snap share of at least 63% in each of his last four games. He’s also caught 31 passes in 47 targets (a solid 66% catch rate). People don’t see him as much of a threat because he hasn’t scored this season and had only 8 catches through Week 9. But he’s had 23 since then and is a decent dart throw at this very cheap price.
This DFS lineup assumes a similar outcome but with three lineup adjustments based on different potential results. The following are three additions, replacing Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Ray-Ray McCloud. Also, Nick Chubb would replace Diontae Johnson in the MVP slot.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($15,000)
Najee Harris is almost always “safe,” but he’s been an RB1 only once in his last eight games. Running behind a subpar offensive line, his upside remains capped barring a touchdown or a significant number of receptions. So this lineup assumes he’ll get one or the other.
The Browns defense is a shade above average against running backs. In other words, at Harris’ steep price, for this lineup to win big, he’ll need to comfortably outperform expectations.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,500)
What Pat Freiermuth lacks in usage, he makes up for in red-zone efficiency. The rookie has 6 touchdowns in his last eight games. All of them have come inside the 15-yard line. On the season, 4 of his 7 scores have come inside the 5-yard line. The only downside is that he hasn’t exceeded 4 targets in any of his last four contests. But his sure hands (77% catch rate) and the trust he’s earned from Big Ben make him a worthwhile DFS investment.
Rashard Higgins, WR, Cleveland Browns ($6,500)
Rashard Higgins is not an exciting pick. With $6,500 remaining, we could go back to McCloud, or we could try Schwartz. I like that Higgins has stepped up the last two weeks as one of Cleveland’s lone healthy receivers, reeling in 8 of 11 passes for 82 yards. His realistic ceiling is around 10-11 points. Given his cheap price tag, Higgins offers enough to make this lineup work.