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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 only 4 NFL clubs left vying for a slot at Super Bowl 54, let’s look at skill players who could light-up Hard Rock Stadium with big plays (and lots of Daily Fantasy Sports points) on February 2nd.
Super Bowl DFS Roster Ideas: NFC Quarterbacks
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!
Thankfully, the demise of NFL quarterbacks in 2019-20 has been greatly exaggerated. Whether you trust old-school pocket passers or a new breed of dual-threat QBs, the upcoming battle in Miami is liable to have a couple of dandies taking the snaps.
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 it’s San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who has taken center stage in recent days, out-gunning Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints in an epic 48-46 victory at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Garoppolo soon followed up by leading the team over Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.
However, despite the 49ers having beaten the Vikings by 17 points, and despite standing as a point spread and moneyline favorite to win again this Sunday, the main allure for San Francisco’s takers is not the quarterback. Garoppolo served strictly as a game-manager vs Minnesota, and not a perfect one, finishing the contest with 11-of-19 completions for 131 yards with a TD and a pick.
It’s safe to say that Garoppolo should not be on top of anyone’s Super Bowl Fantasy Draft sheet if for no other reason than the cautious style of offense employed by San Francisco.
The NFC’s other potential Super Bowl 54 quarterback needs no introduction for veteran Daily Fantasy Sports players – Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
We know for a fact that sportsbook handicappers don’t think Rodgers has the supporting cast of Garoppolo, or of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. That’s because Green Bay is only a (+650) futures wager on FanDuel’s Super Bowl odds board, and no quarterback is more respected or trusted in big games than the Lambeau gunslinger. Bookmakers simply feel that the Packers don’t have what it takes – as a team – to out-play 2 more elite contenders and raise the Lombardi Trophy.
DFS enthusiasts don’t need to worry about the odds. What’s important is that Green Bay needs only 1 more victory to play in Miami, and once in the Super Bowl, the great Aaron Rodgers will be a sought-after DFS pick no matter what defense he is facing.How did Rodgers score in Fantasy Football last week? Pretty darn good for a QB whose offense only scored once in the 2nd half. Green Bay’s signal-caller finished the Divisional Round with 16 completions for 243 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 interceptions. That’s the kind of modest yet efficient day at the office that can win a Super Bowl – and smite a Fantasy opponent whose QB coughed-up a few picks.
NFC Running Backs: Best Super Bowl 54 Roster Picks?
Remember that picking a roster for a DFS match-up does not involve the same logic as a real-life GM. Or even a GM on “Madden” football.
For example, the 49ers’ ground game has been excellent in 2019-20. San Francisco is one of the only NFL teams that can currently hold a candle to the Baltimore Ravens in running the rock. But if the 49ers make it to the Super Bowl, picking an NFC tailback for your DFS roster may not be ideal. That’s because San Francisco’s carries tend to be split-up among the team’s crew of running backs. Matt Breida currently leads the 49ers with just over 500 rush yards and has only scored once on the year.
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 last weekend, 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.
Green Bay running back Aaron Jones may be rounding into form at the right time. Jones only ran for 63 yards in last weekend’s win over Seattle, but scored twice, and put up a combined 250+ yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 previous victories over Minnesota and Detroit. Say what you will about the Packers’ Super Bowl chances as a team, but the Green Bay offense knows how to keep a ground game humming on the road…and the Greatest Show on Earth won’t be a home game for anybody in 2020.
Potential Super Bowl DFS Roster Ideas: NFC Wide Receivers
As is the case with the NFC’s star running backs, many of the top wide receivers in the National Football Conference are busy playing golf. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans each having had fantastic seasons with Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Buccaneer QB Jameis Winston gave out INTs like candy as Tampa Bay missed out on the playoffs. Julio Jones is still lighting up the field for the Atlanta Falcons, but the Falcons were a cellar team in the NFC South this season.
Emmanuel Sanders of San Francisco is a potential dark-horse DFS jackpot in Miami, should the 49ers win the NFC title. 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.
Sanders was as quiet as the rest of the San Francisco WR corps against the Vikings, catching 2 passes for 33 yards. 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 on the scoreboard. 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.
Green Bay’s receiving corps comes with a “good” and “bad” asterisks in the NFC Championship Game. The good news for Fantasy draftniks looking at Packer WRs is that Aaron Rodgers is the team’s quarterback and will almost certainly target them accurately with the ball. The bad news is that the Packers are on their way to San Francisco, taking on an extremely-tough defense in a hostile setting.
The Super Bowl in Miami wouldn’t be a hostile setting, but that doesn’t mean a good defense won’t have emerged out of the AFC. Which of the Pack’s receivers could potentially flourish against the stingy Tennessee Titans or speedy Kansas City Chiefs?Davante Adams may prove hard for any NFL defense to handle. Adams was a talisman for the Packers in Week 19, catching 8 Rodgers passes for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, the Fresno State product has found himself in a postgame sniping match with elements of the Seattle fan base, and must focus on preparing to play in San Francisco to have any chance of success vs the powerful 49ers.
DFS Roster Ideas for Super Bowl Sunday: AFC Quarterbacks
3 out of the 4 AFC quarterbacks profiled here at FanDuel’s Super Bowl DFS blog are now eliminated from contention, with Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, and Deshaun Watson losing in the Wild Card or Divisional playoff rounds. Only Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes is still playing ball in January.
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 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.
Ryan Tannehill painted a real David vs Goliath masterpiece in Tennessee’s 28-12 upset of the Baltimore Ravens. Playing on the road against a phenom with a bigger arm and faster legs, the veteran remained cool and confident, connecting on 2 TD passes while rushing for another score. Tannehill only passed for 88 yards in the entire game, but avoided turnovers at all costs…another DFS positive.
Fantasy buffs aren’t talking about the Tennessee QB this week, however, so much as they’re chirping about someone Tannehill handed-off to 30 times against the Ravens.
AFC RBs Who Could Make Your Super Bowl Roster
Derrick Henry of the Titans is tops among current Super Bowl DFS roster prospects. The 6’3” 247-pound Henry surfed atop Fantasy point-average rankings all season and rang-up an imposing 190-yard stat line with his 30 carries against Baltimore. Henry didn’t score on the ground, but tossed a lovely 3-yard jump pass for a crucial TD in the 2nd half.
Once again, if the underdog Titans reach Super Bowl 54, it will be as important for Daily Fantasy Sports GMs interested in spending a bundle on Henry to look at the match-up of NFC offense vs Tennessee’s defense in addition to the match-up of Henry vs the NFC defense.
For instance, in a match-up of 49ers vs Titans the leading club would be likely to run the ball 60% to 80% of its snaps from scrimmage. San Francisco may have a better 2-deep depth chart than Green Bay, but a Packer offense led by Aaron Rodgers might be more likely to score on a big play early in the Super Bowl and force Tannehill to lean on Henry a little less often.
The Kansas City 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 is the only remaining NFL team in the 2020 playoffs that runs a lot of 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.
Recently, KC’s most-consistent rusher has been Damien Williams, who has scored 4 times in the last 2 games. 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.
Super Bowl DFS Roster Ideas: Receivers of the AFC
Finally, let’s take a glimpse at some potential WR picks from the AFC’s pair of remaining teams
Kelce will be a hot commodity at tight end if the Chiefs reach the Super Bowl. 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 return-specialist.
Tennessee’s WR corps will not be capable of the kind of Super Bowl numbers Kansas City can produce unless the Titans drastically alter their play selection. However, Tannehill has shown the ability to open things up and manufacture aerial strikes when the club needs them, and DFS players have cleaned-up on the Nashville bunch at bargain prices. A.J. Brown caught 4 passes for 124 yards and a TD in a 35-14 win over the Texans in late December, capping-off a regular season in which he led the team in catching yards with 1051.
Titan WR Corey Davis, on the other hand, has been quiet in the playoffs apart from snagging Derrick Henry’s dramatic jump-pass against the Baltimore Ravens.
It just goes to show you! Fantasy players almost never simply cheer along with the headlines. Our fortunes and fates are made in the fine print.
Stay Tuned for More Super Bowl Roster Picks
We’re not finished handicapping potential standouts who could push your DFS point-total over the top on February 2nd. Stay tuned to this URL for a look at kicking stats from each NFC and AFC postseason contender – any strong DFS competitor knows her kickers left, right, and upright.
Until then, get an early jump on the big dance in 2020, and sign-up for Daily Fantasy Sports at FanDuel to learn the ropes prior to the 54th Super Bowl.Play Now