The Pittsburgh Steelers head into Tampa Bay for a tense battle with the Buccaneers to cap week three. The potentially explosive slugfest will be captured in front of the nation on Monday Night Football, allowing everyone to get a firsthand look as to whether the Bucs are really this good and whether the Steelers can finally get a win.
If you asked me three weeks ago where these two teams would be right now, I’d absolutely have told you Tampa Bay would be winless and the Steelers would be looking to go 3-0.
That hasn’t happened. Instead, Ryan Fitzpatrick has put up 400+ passing yards and 4+ touchdowns in each of the Bucs’ first two wins and suddenly everyone is thinking he should remain the starter even when Jameis Winston returns from his three-game ban.
The Steelers, meanwhile, battled to a tie with the Cleveland Browns in week one and couldn’t out-shoot Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last week. Now two talented offenses are going up against each other in a contest nobody wants to lose and Vegas sets things up with a nasty 54 Total (per Sportsbetting.ag).
Even for a one-game showdown contest on FanDuel, this is certainly the type of game you want a hand in. As always, you need to be careful not to fade some big names, but you also want to differentiate enough so you don’t end up with a great lineup but tie with 100 different people.
Let’s go over my favorite NFL DFS picks for tonight’s showdown contest at FanDuel:
MVP (x1.5 points): Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($15.5k)
Ben Roethlisberger’s road woes are well documented and he’s struggled with turnovers to start the year, so I’ll pull the fade here and ride this Fitzmagic wave.
Do I actually trust The Beard going forward? No, but I do like a few things here; he’s at home, the Steelers are not elite defensively, he certainly does have weapons and the Bucs are encouraging him to let it rip. This reminds me of what we saw out of Case Keenum with the Minnesota Vikings last year, only times a million.
Fitzpatrick is on an epic tear and he’s got everyone rallying around him right now. The Steelers badly need to win this game, but that doesn’t mean they will and it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll slow down the hottest quarterback in the NFL.
FLEX: DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($11.5k)
Obviously if I like Fitzmagic I need to roster a few of his weapons and I definitely want D-Jax, who has been his most explosive deep threat with 20+ fantasy points in both games this year. Jackson is not a big PPR guy, but he is a home run threat every time he hits the field.
Pittsburgh struggled mightily with Kansas City’s speed in week two, so I have to think he gets behind them for a couple of big plays. Hopefully one of them is for a long score.
FLEX: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($13.5k)
While you’ll want to consider rostering Jackson, it’s Evans who is the more reliable possession and red-zone target. His size and ball skills make him a threat to rack up 10 grabs, 100+ yard and 1-2 scores in any game he plays in.
Pittsburgh doesn’t really have the corners with the physicality to keep him in check and since I’m banking on another big Fitzpatrick outing, I might as well stack his top two targets.
FLEX: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($15k)
You have to pick at least one Steelers player, so why not the guy who has had 16+ targets in both games this year? Brown grew frustrated with Pittsburgh’s issues last week, but he still has a massive role and the talent to put up huge fantasy numbers if all goes well.
Tampa Bay has been surprisingly solid defensively so far, but their secondary is not scary and pretty much nobody in the league can hope to truly “stop” Brown. He’s going to get targeted and a 10-100-1 line is absolutely on the table.
I’m taking a hard stance here and banking on the Steelers playing from behind and struggling a bit, but if you want to pivot here to Big Ben, James Conner or JuJu Smith-Schuster I won’t really talk you out of it.
FLEX: Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($5k)
For me, it’s not so much about getting the perfect showdown lineup on Monday night, but just stacking as many explosive weapons as I can. Both Big Ben and Fitzmagic could wreck in this one, but fitting the pair on a roster will be difficult. I’d rather just pick the guy playing at home and squeeze a slew of dangerous options around him.
To do that, I need to take a plunge somewhere and I think Brate could be the perfect dive. He has had a big role in Tampa’s offense in the past, hauling in 14 touchdowns over the last two years. Obviously nobody will want to use him after seeing him get just two targets over the first two weeks (0 receptions), but that non-existent role won’t last forever.
Eventually the Bucs will give different looks or want two-tight end sets in certain spots and Brate will have a chance to break out for a solid outing. The fact that the Steelers rank a woeful 30th against fantasy tight ends is extra encouraging.
The role isn’t there, but Brate has excelled in the red-zone in the past. He’s an awesome punt that allows me to load up elsewhere. Here’s to Fitzmagic rolling on strong and all of these Bucs wrecking right along with him.