Super Bowl 53: NFL DFS & Prop Bets
Howard Bender breaks down the big game and the players from a DFS standpoint as well as offers his 10 favorite prop bets for Super Bowl 53 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
Here we sit, less than 48 hours away from Super Bowl 53 and then the NFL goes into hibernation, at least until the draft in April. In the fantasy community, we’ve been at it since best ball drafts started in May and it’s been a non-stop rollercoaster ever since. This season was jam-packed with some amazing highs like Patrick Mahomes ’ 50 TD passes and some nightmarish lows like the Le’Veon Bell hold-out. But overall, we’d like to think that it was, once again, another outstanding NFL season.
Fortunately, we’ve got one game left. One more showdown slate for DFS players and one more chance for all the gamblers out there to lay some action on the NFL. We’re not going to go the traditional route for the Fantasy Alarm Playbook because, let’s face it, one game slates are more of a crapshoot than anything else. Who sits in the Captain’s seat? Do you have to load in both kickers in order to get some of the bigger names like Sony Michel and Todd Gurley in there? The number of lineup permutations is insane and there’s really no way of telling you exactly what the optimal lineup will be.
Instead, I’ll break down each position with as many players and with as much relevant information as I can for DFS purposes and, as an added bonus, I’ll throw you a number of legitimate prop bets you can make to help keep the whole game interesting.
New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams
Spread: Patriots -2.5
Defensive Numbers to Know:
- 28th overall according to DVOA numbers
- 12th in run defense according to Pro Football Focus
- 4th vs RB pass plays with just 28.3 yards per game allowed
- Have allowed just 75 rushing yards per game over their last 3 games
- Patriots are No. 2 in run-blocking according to Pro Football Focus
- 9th overall according to DVOA numbers
- 4th in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus
- 3rd-ranked pass rush according to Pro Football Focus
- 254.7 passing yards per game allowed over their last 3 games
- 19th overall according to DVOA numbers
- 14th in run defense according to Pro Football Focus
- 22nd vs RB pass plays with 49.1 yards per game allowed
- Have allowed just 54.7 rushing yards per game over their last 3 games
- Rams are No. 1 in run-blocking according to Pro Football Focus
- 14th overall according to DVOA numbers
- 2nd in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus
- 24th-ranked pass rush according to Pro Football Focus
- 233.0 passing yards per game allowed over last 3 games
- Averaged just 232 passing yards per game over his last seven with just one 300-yard performance
- 6:1 TD: INT over his last four games
- Needs to step up if Gurley is not back to full-health, but can certainly game-manage if Gurley is the offensive focal point.
- Needs to do a better job of reading defenses. Patriots won’t tip their hand until the final 15 seconds of the play clock when McVay is no longer allowed to communicate via radio helmet.
- Averaged 287.3 passing yards per game over his last eight with four 100-yard performances, including each of his last two games.
- 14:6 TD:INT over last eight games
- Expecting more short passes (quick, timing routes) early on with a potential run-heavy scheme to start, but likely to open things up more if Pats give up a lot of second-half points like they usually do.
- No. 1 question is health – if you believe he is healthy, then he is a must-play. The Rams entire offensive game-plan will likely hinge on him.
- Averaged close to 20 carries and 5 targets per game in first 11 games of the season.
- A quick glance at his Super Bowl Props, if you matched those over/under number to his first 12 games, he would have hit the over on all props for all but three of the weeks.
- If you believe Gurley is healthy, you have to pull back here. He’ll be a part of the offense, but his touches won’t come close to what they’ve been if Gurley is a full-go.
- 16 or more carries in last four games
- Three 100-yard performances in last 4 games
- Averaging 2 targets per game
- Probably my lock-play for any contest as he’s been the most consistent performer for the Patriots. Coupled with the Rams run defense numbers and how the Patriots have opened every playoff game with a long, slow, methodical drive to set the tone, you can expect heavy touches.
- Double-digit carries in all 8 games since the bye
- 20-plus carries in 4 of last 8 games
- Four 100-yard performances in last 8 games
- 5 TD during playoffs
- We are all very much aware of how the Patriots have leaned on White in the playoffs over the years. So is Sean McVay and that’s what concerns me most. He’ll be super-chalky in all DFS contests which is why I am likely fading him as much as possible. Not gonna take down a big GPP with chalk….or atleast super unlikely.
- Averaged just under 5 carries per game over last 8 games
- Save for the 15-catch (17-target) game vs LAC, averaged just under 6 targets per game over his last 7 games
- If fading Michel and White and leaning towards more Rams, he could be a nice contrarian pick as he’ll see a lot of second-half work should the Patriots be playing from behind.
- Averaged 7 carries per game over last seven games (double-digit carries in 2 of last 4 games)
- Averaged just under 3 targets per game over last 7 games
- 25 or more snaps twice in the last 4 games
- Revenge game narrative? He bested the Saints, but will Bill Belichick single him out like he did Tyreek Hill ? During the Thursday livestream, Jon Impemba noted how the Pats neutralized Hill with speed corners Jonathan Jones and Keion Crossen . If that’s the game-plan again, it could be a tough night for Cooks.
- averages roughly 8 targets per game but had five RZ targets over his last three
- only one 100-yard game over his last seven.
- 19 targets in the playoffs, but no more than 69 rec yards in a game
- only one RZ target in his last three
- will face Stephon Gillmore in more man-coverage if Jones and Crossen are on Cooks. Unfortunately for the Rams, Gillmore is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career.
- looks like he’ll face Jason McCourty a lot more
- averaged 6 targets per game over last 3 but zero RZ targets in the playoffs.
- Patriots ranked 8th vs TE this season
- 4 targets in each playoff game with two RZ targets and one TD
- averaging just 3 targets per game in playoffs with just one RZ target
- coverage been a little tighter on him since he plays like a WR at times?
- averaging over 10 targets per game over last 6
- 14.5% of his targets were in the red zone in that 6-game span
- Expected be covered by the infamous Nickell Robey-Coleman out of the slot, though Marcus Peters should also be hovering
- 23 targets (5 red zone) over last 3 games
- 50% of his snaps this season have come out of the slot, so Robey-Coleman could be the guy with Peters on Edelman
- only 13 targets over his last 3 games (four inside the red zone)
- 3 TD over last 4 games.
- Underutilized in recent weeks – secret weapon?
- only 5 targets in the playoffs; not even used in reverses, jet sweeps or other gimmicks.
- focus has been on kick returns
- Rams ranked 5th in covering the TE this season but were extremely vulnerable in the early part of the season as their defense funneled everything into the middle of the field. Remember Jared Cook ’s 9 catches for 180 yards to kick off the season?
- had as many targets (11) in the conference championship as he had in the four games prior.
- Could end up with Aqib Talib in coverage if rams look to neutralize him.
Wagering & Prop Bets
Spread: Patriots -2.5
- Since 2000, as a favorite, the Patriots have only covered the spread once (2017). The game was a Pick ‘em in 2015 when they beat Seattle. Both games in ’04 and ’05 were tight and they lost the big game outright in ’08, ’12 and last year.
- The over has hit in seven of the last 10 Super Bowls
- If betting the Rams, I recommend betting now before the line potentially changes. Rumor has it there will be a lot of L.A. money put into play this weekend which could alter the line by maybe a point. If betting with off-shores, I recommend buying the extra ½-point just to play it safe.
- If betting the Patriots, I would wait until the last minute to see if this line drops at all.
My Picks: Rams and the over, though I will lay some late action on the Patriots to win, just to hedge my Todd Gurley Props
This is just a sampling of the prop bets I like and discussed on the Wager Alarm livestream with Craig Mish
- Will there be a score in the first 5 minutes of the game?
No. If the Pats get the ball first, we’ll see another slow, methodical drive to set the tone and control the clock. If the Rams get the ball first, I expect the same from them with Gurley leading the charge (Anderson, if the team has not been forthright with Gurley’s health)
- Wil there be a special teams or defensive TD?
No (-240). Neither team has been close to a kickoff or punt return TD in recent weeks and a pick-6 or fumble recovery for a TD are low-percentage plays.
- Longest Rush by Tom Brady – 2.5 yards
Under. Brady has had just four rushes for a total of two yards in his last six games and only once did he run for three yards in that span.
- Team to score last?
Rams. I’m picking the Rams to win this one and feel it comes at the end of the game whether it’s a late TD and then a defensive stop or a game-winner from Greg Zeurlein.
- Rob Gronkowski Receptions – 3.5
Over. The above descriptions regarding Rams vs the TE coupled with his performance in the AFC championship and the possibility this could be his very last game.
- Tom Brady Passing Yards – 300.5
Over. You can see the above description, but again, with the way the Pats give up points in the second half, I feel like Brady is going to have to throw more to try and close it out.
- Team to commit first accepted penalty?
Rams. They are widely the more penalized team of the two.
- Will the Patriots convert a 4th down attempt?
Yes. They continue to go for it on fourth down and have done so extensively this season. Why should they stop now?
- Total number of players to have a pass completion – 2.5
Under. I’m not buying into the Philly Special happening here, nor am I going to bank on Rams punter Johnny Hekker completing a pass on a fake punt.
- Todd Gurley -- Rushing Yards (69), Receptions (3.5) and Receiving Yards (32.5)
Over on all three. I believe the two weeks off did him good and I believe he is ready to dominate this game. As stated above, I am going to lay some action on the Patriots to win in case these props miss. If they miss, it’s because Gurley is not performing up to task AND the Patriots are probably killing them, so if you can get a better money line by increasing the number of points you lay, that’s how I would hedge just the Gurley props.
Best of luck to you all and enjoy the Super Bowl!