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2020 Super Bowl DFS Roster IdeasBy Kurt Boyer
The National Football League is no fan of folks risking and making money from its games. Suspending players who gamble on their own games is a no-brainer, and it’s easy to see where the integrity of the NFL could be compromised by such tomfoolery. The Shield’s prudish streak can go way over the top, though, such as when NFL players tried to participate in a small-stakes charity arm wrestling tournament in Las Vegas and faced a crackdown from league headquarters.
But if you didn’t know better, you’d imagine that the NFL – and the Super Bowl – are geared specifically to bettors and fantasy competitions.
FBS handicappers would go crazy trying to rate every player who could possibly appear in a major bowl game. In contrast the NFL has only 32 teams, and most of them are already ruled-out of a potential Super Bowl appearance by early January. That means prospective Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS players have the chance to analyze all possible QBs, running backs, and receivers who could play for an NFL title well before everyone’s fantasy team is set for the big date in February.
There’s no end to the subtle strategies and tactics of drafting a DFS roster. Any kind of a “head start” on drafting DFS picks is welcome, especially when time is of the essence once Super Bowl opponents have been determined.
With the 49ers and Chiefs booked to play in Super Bowl 54, let’s look at players who could light-up Hard Rock Stadium with big plays - and lots of DFS points - on February 2nd.
Super Bowl DFS Roster Ideas: San Francisco’s QBs, RBs, and WRs
FanDuel and other DFS providers only allow for a single QB on customer’s Super Bowl roster. With only a lone pick at the most important position, it’s crucial to make it count!
For example, there’s a QB playing in Super Bowl 54 that Fantasy players drool over, and he’s not suiting-up for the NFC-representative San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo is a fine player with strong leadership skills, but he doesn’t play in the kind of high-flying offense associated with Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo’s job often entails handing the pigskin to Raheem Mostert or Tevin Coleman 20+ times per game. However, as a high-ranking DFS commodity, Mahomes will cost more in Fanduel’s DFS “dollars” than Garoppolo ever would. Daily Fantasy competitors must think like gamblers sometimes – is it worth the risk to sacrifice a huge chunk of your budget to draft Mahomes, or worth the additional funds to go with the game-manager taking snaps for San Francisco?
The San Francisco 49ers are known for an intimidating defense. Earlier this season, the NFC West champions went 4 games in a row without giving up a passing touchdown. But Garoppolo has managed to take center stage at times, out-gunning Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints in an epic 48-46 victory at Mercedes-Benz Superdome late in the season. Garoppolo soon followed up by leading the team over Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.
Despite his 49ers being only a very slender point spread and moneyline underdog in the upcoming Super Bowl, Garoppolo’s stats are often paltry due to the run-heavy nature of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The QB finished the contest vs Minnesota with 11-of-19 completions for 131 yards with a TD and a pick. In the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, he was only asked to attempt 8 passes.
It’s a new era of NFL clubs breaking from the norm and finding unorthodox ways to win, and a simple glance at the Super Bowl oddsat FanDuel tells us how much the San Francisco offense is respected. But it’s the running backs who are usually the stars of the show, and it’s San Fran’s RBs who could demand the steepest prices on the Super Bowl DFS draft board.
The 49ers can hold a candle to the Baltimore Ravens in running the rock, and that’s saying something. But it hasn’t been a 100% smooth ride for Fantasy Football competitors counting on the team’s offensive backfield this season. That’s because San Francisco’s carries tend to be split-up among the team’s crew of running backs. Matt Breida led the team in rushing yards in the regular season without coming close to the 1000-yard mark.
However, hedging your Super Bowl bets on San Francisco’s ground game has some advantages, namely that the running plays are the reliable foundation of the 49er offense. Having a QB throw for less than a dozen completions, less than 150 yards, and a less-than-stellar TD-to-INT ratio can kill your chances to win a Super Bowl DFS match-up. Drafting a running back who only gets 15 touches isn’t necessarily the kiss of death…so long as the RB plays behind a strong run-blocking OL that opens up daylight for explosive carries.
San Fran’s offensive line most certainly applies. Tevin Coleman was the featured “committee” member in the 49er backfield 2 games ago, and the University of Indiana product rushed for 100+ yards and a pair of scores on 22 carries. Coleman’s stable-mates Breida and Raheem Mostert have each averaged more than 5 yards per rush in 2019-20, and the “’9ers” have more where that came from. In a Super Bowl setting, it’s just a matter of how often each player will touch the football.The good news – for DFS players anyway – is that Mostert’s emergence as a feature back for the 49ers has coincided with health issues surrounding Coleman’s potential appearance in Super Bowl 54. Mostert was dazzling against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, rushing for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns on 29 carries. That’s a tremendous DFS performance no matter which scoring system you use, and on FanDuel’s scoreboard Mostert was simply off the charts. The 27-year old is a big, strong runner with a straightforward style who struggled behind poor offensive lines early in his career, but running behind Joe Staley and a crack 49er OL, he’s nearly unstoppable unless the defense is outstanding getting off blocks and tackling for 60 minutes.
The only potential negative with spending a bundle on a Mostert draft pick? Kansas City’s defense did a pretty good job of stopping Derrick Henry of Tennessee in an AFC Championship Game victory.
Emmanuel Sanders of San Francisco is a potential dark-horse DFS jackpot in Miami. Sanders took many weeks to crack the 1000-yard receiving benchmark on the season as the team played cool, steady offensive football to supplement a crushing defense. But the 49ers would need a go-to passing target by February, and Sanders loomed large in the epic road win over New Orleans. The 5’11” speedster caught 7 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, the kind of performance that makes DFS competitors drool.
If the 49ers reach Super Bowl 54, handicapping the opposing offense – not just the 49er offense – will be crucial to determining whether the star receiver is a smart DFS pick on February 2nd. San Francisco has shown that the club is not interested in passing the ball when ahead. Sanders would only be likely to produce points on the DFS scoreboard if the opposing AFC attack scored early and forced Garoppolo to put the pigskin in the air a little more often.
Potential Chiefs DFS Picks: Mighty Mahomes and a Bevy of Skill Players
Mahomes reasserted himself as the top dual-threat QB in the NFL on the same weekend in which Jackson was too inexperienced to overcome bad breaks. Once the Chiefs fell behind 24-0 to the talented Houston Texans, it was up to Andy Reid’s signal-caller and a high-tech offense to produce TDs in bunches and pull out a comeback.
Kansas City roared in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, scoring 4 times in what felt like the blink of an eye prior to taking a 28-24 lead into the halftime break. Watson’s lone score in the 2nd half – a 5-yard run with :24 left in the 3rd frame – felt like an afterthought. The score was still 41-31 in favor of the Chiefs, who coasted for a 51-31 triumph to earn an AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mahomes team-leading 53 rush yards with an explosive 21-yard scamper. You don’t use a pencil and paper or even a cell phone to calculate DFS points from a performance like that. It takes Google Alpha Zero.
The superstar QB went on to lead the Chiefs over the stubborn Titans in the AFC title tilt, passing for an efficient 3 TDs and 0 interceptions in the 35-24 win. Remember that as important as TD numbers can be to a DFS competition, interceptions hurt your Super Bowl DFS point scoring tally, and Mahomes’ ability to avoid the bad throw is just as valuable as his penchant for producing aerial (and rushing) scores in bunches.
The only problem? Mahomes creates so much offense on his own that there isn’t always room for more than a handful of targeted receivers to join in the fun. Leading KC tailback Damien Williams ran for less than 50 yards against the Texans, but scored twice to rescue his Fantasy GMs. Travis Kelce has the QB’s go-to receiver and put up huge DFS numbers as well. But there were few other spoils to speak of on KC’s stat line outside of defense and the kicking game. Kansas City’s offense revolves around Mahomes, and if the quarterback isn’t having a good day, any DFS contestant who has drafted a WR or an RB from the Chiefs could be having a bad day too.
The Chiefs aren’t opposed to running the ball, but as referenced in the above section, it’s a guessing game as to which KC tailback might stand out at a given time. Kansas City likes to run option plays, and option football is notorious for producing weird stat lines and rushing numbers that have much more to do with a defense’s alignment than the relative talents of runners in the backfield. Mahomes is often the club’s leading rusher at the end of a Sunday.
Recently, KC’s most-consistent RB has been Damien Williams, who helped get the Chiefs’ point-scoring blitz off an running in the playoffs. But consider that the 27-year old did not play when the Chiefs beat the Patriots in early December. DFS players are cautioned against reading too much into very recent statistics. The player’s season stat-line is often more indicative of value. With a backfield like Andy Reid’s, however, sometimes the previous handful of games is all a GM can go by when selecting a tailback – and even then it can be tricky to read the tea leaves.
TE Travis Kelce will be a hot commodity in Super Bowl DFS drafts. Tight ends are viewed as an X-factor that opposing defenses can’t stop even when they shut down everyone else on the field. But while a lot of TEs seem to flourish or not based on how a secondary is covering, Kelce produces receptions, yards, and points on a weekly basis as an integral part of the KC game plan. The 5-time Pro Bowler caught 11 passes for 142 yards against the Broncos in mid-December, then scored the following week to help Kansas City clobber the Chicago Bears.
Kelce’s quiet Week 17 performance against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers comes with the caveat that KC was already prepping for the postseason. It’s worth noting, though, that Kelce stayed in the lineup and was targeted by Mahomes several times, as opposed to Reid simply going with another “interchangeable” tight end in cautious scenarios as so many NFL teams do.
Oh, and yes, of course – the Chiefs do have WRs who don’t line up in 3-point stances. Tyreek Hill hasn’t matched Kelce’s overall receiving numbers this season thanks to missing 4 games. Healthy reps for Hill are bad news for a defense, and even the Patriots’ stubborn secondary gave up 62 yards on 6 catches to the former kick return-specialist.
Super Bowl 54: Drafting a Defense and Kicker for a DFS Roster
DFS enthusiasts will face a draft-day conundrum with Super Bowl 54 when it comes to picking a defense. Yes, the San Francisco “D” is considered the stoutest unit in the NFL, with several dominating pass-rushers and a secondary featuring Richard Sherman. But the 49ers will be charged with stopping Mahomes and Kansas City – no easy task for any unit. Conversely, the high-scoring Chiefs have been known for soft defense throughout much of the Andy Reid era, but the Kansas City front-7 and defensive backfield have each notably improved in 2019-20, and the club’s tendency to force turnovers could produce bonus DFS points (and even defensive TDs) that San Francisco may not match even if the 49ers manage to contain the Chiefs and hold Mahomes’ offense to field-goal attempts in the Red Zone.
But speaking of field goals, we promised FanDuel readers a handicap of the 2 kickers taking the field in Miami. On the AFC side, Harrison Butker is among the brightest young special-teams stars of the National Football League, nailing close to 10 kicks from 40-49 yards without missing a single attempt from that range during the 16-game season. Long field goals are valuable on the DFS scoreboard, and there’s no doubt Andy Reid will have full confidence in his PK even if the Chiefs are staring at a 50-to-55-yard attempt at 3 points at some juncture of Super Bowl 54.
Robbie Gould of the 49ers is a little harder to handicap, and could be substantially lower-priced than Butker on the final draft board due to comparatively unimpressive stats and the relative lack of 4th-and-long situations faced by San Francisco in plus-territory. But it bears mentioning that Gould was injured and missed a string of games during the autumn stretch, and the PK has been “solid Gould” throughout the postseason. In fact, the 49ers haven’t missed a field-goal attempt or an XP through 8 quarters of playoff pigskin. The now-healthy Gould nailed a 54-yarder while going 3-for-3 against the Packers.
Sign Up for Super Bowl DFS Competition at FanDuel
If betting on the Super Bowl is your bag, and you’re from 1 of 4 states in which FanDuel Sportsbook is taking legal wagers on the meeting in Miami, then don’t forget to register before Super Bowl Sunday rolls around on February 2nd.
But for readers in most of the United States – and for those who caught the Fantasy Football bug long before the 2010s ended – it’s time to sign-up for Daily Fantasy Sports at FanDuel and begin working on a winning DFS draft.
There’s so much talent taking the gridiron at Hard Rock Stadium that even a bargain-basement draft pick could score multiple times and put your DFS score over the top. Get registered and start scouting for those diamonds in the rough before your opponent does!
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