Super Bowl LII Preview for FanDuel & Draft Kings
Howard Bender shares his thoughts on the match-up between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII with relation to NFL DFS contests on FanDuel and Draft Kings.
Well here we are – one last chance to strike it rich in NFL DFS. Super Bowl 52 is upon us and both FanDuel and Draft Kings are throwing down some big-time prizes for their featured contests. Obviously with just one game from which to pick players we’ve got some abbreviated rosters, but there are some very interesting twists and countless ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd and hopefully take down a huge pot.
FanDuel’s Big Game Bowl is offering a cool $1M to the person who can choose the right combination of five players. All five slots are designated as a superflex which means anything goes, but there’s one catch – one of your choices will get double points for his efforts on the field. As in any superflex league, you’re looking for the guy who has the absolute highest ceiling which usually ends up being the quarterback. However, a $17K price tag on Tom Brady and a $13.5K tag on Nick Foles is certainly going to make it tough to roster both. Can it be done? Absolutely. But your options get really limited unless you want to throw that Phillip Dorsett dart for just $5,500.
On Draft Kings, they also offer the superflex option for four offensive players, but they’ve gotten a little more interesting with the addition of two defensive players as well. The two quarterbacks are priced similarly to what we see in FanDuel and again, using both is within reach, but your choices really get constricted from there again. The defensive side of the ball is really where it gets the most interesting as the scoring for defenders gets nice and creative. You get one point for a tackle and 0.5 for an assisted tackle, but a sack is worth five points while an INT is six. Passes defended are also worth 1.5 points so it really poses the question of whether you want a linebacker who lives off tackles and can get the occasional sack or a defensive back who should add some tackle points to a day that could include a pick-6. Decisions, decisions.
We’ll get to the lineup specifics in the Optimal Lineups which will come out Sunday morning, but for today, let’s just look at who could potentially be your best choices.
On the Patriots side, offensively, obviously the Brady/Gronk stack is going to be a popular one. It does put a major crimp on your budget, so be conscious of your need for a “sleeper” pick or two to fit them. Throughout the playoffs, Brady has actually honed in on Danny Amendola the most. He’s seen 22 targets over the past two games to just 16 for Brandin Cooks and eight for Chris Hogan. That, coupled with the fact that the Eagles ranked just 22nd against slot receivers this year, has him as the highest-priced receiver on New England on both sites. Of course, once you see that, you instantly think that Bill Belichick is going to change things up and frankly, I don’t mind giving Hogan a look here. He took 48-percent of his snaps out of the slot, so don’t think he’s going to have Jalen Mills climbing all over his back all game.
On the ground for the Patriots, you know the drill. You pick Dion Lewis because he gets the most touches and James White ends up the primary. You look to use White and suddenly Rex Burkhead is back in business. The Eagles were beasts against the run all year and also ranked 10th in the league against running back pass plays, so from a match-up standpoint, I don’t love any of them. However, Lewis and White combined for 17 targets in the AFC Conference Championship and we’ve seen Belichick use White out of the slot, so based on his price on both sites, I may lean his way.
Defensively, linebacker Kyle Van Noy is the most expensive as he’s coming off a 73-tackle, 5.5 sack season and figures to be on the field for every play this Sunday. Defensive end Trey Flowers is coming off an outstanding season (62 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and crushed it against the Jags as he, like Van Noy, racked up nine tackles. Flowers was credited with four QB hits and was just inches away from being credited with a sack, possibly two. But again, is that the route you want to take? Free safety Devin McCourty certainly makes for a nice choice as he’ll be all over the place in the secondary, not just lending a hand in coverage against the wideouts, but also coming in to help out against Zach Ertz. He racked up six tackles last week (all solo) and had 97 tackles in total on the season. With Foles under center for the Eagles, you don’t think an INT or two are possible here?
On the Eagles side, the options are actually a bit more plentiful given the defensive struggles the Patriots have had all season. Yes, they got better as the season progressed, but Leonard Fournette racked up 76 yards and a touchdown while Blake Bortles threw for almost 300 yards and a score as well. Foles is definitely capable of that, especially after a confidence builder like 352 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings. Alshon Jeffery will see Stephon Gillmore all game, but isn’t helpless against him and Torrey Smith will be used to spread the defense, but my favorite match-up is Nelson Agholor coming out of the slot against Eric Rowe. If the Eagles want to come underneath, Agholor and Ertz are going to see plenty of targets and Agholor’s price is significantly more affordable than that of Jeffery.
But let’s not ignore the ground game as that could be the Eagles biggest asset. They’re going to need to establish the run early and utilize it to control the clock, the pace and keep Brady off the field as much as possible. Long, sustained drives seem like the most sensible game plan. Jay Ajayi has been their main ball-carrier and is likely to see the majority of touches against a run defense that gave up 4.7 yards per carry all year and almost 115 rushing yards per game. He’s a little more reasonably priced on Draft Kings, but using him is, again, going to constrict your budget, especially if you try to use Brady or, even more so if you try to use both.
And then there’s the whole revenge game narrative for LeGarrette Blount. He is definitely the more affordable back, but he’s been out-carried by Ajayi 33 to 15 during the playoffs. He did score the touchdown last week and we have seen him poach inside the red zone after Ajayi did all the work between the 20’s, so he’s definitely a strong candidate. He’s $9K on FanDuel and just $5,500 on Draft Kings, so he definitely strikes me as a strong possibility if you wanted to try the two-QB route.
Given the strength of the Eagles run defense, it would seem that their secondary might be the best place to target for Draft Kings. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are likely to be popular choices since they’ll be tasked with working against Gronk most of the way (more Jenkins though) and people will look to Ronald Darby as well. I’d actually be more inclined to look at Patrick Robinson who will be covering Amendola out of the slot. He’s coming off a strong season that produced four interceptions. And truth be told, I also have a feeling about Nigel Bradham. He’s been rock-solid since jumping into a starting job and had back-to-back strong performances here in the playoffs. Sack city? We can only hope.
Check in Sunday, February 4th as I will have the Example Lineups for both sites posted by 4pm ET.
Also, for another look at game thoughts and some interesting prop bet analysis, be sure to check out Justin Mason’s Super Bowl LII Preview as well.