Welcome to the Super Bowl 56 DFS Showdown slate!
The big game is finally here and that gives us one final opportunity to dip our toes into the NFL DFS pool this season. This game is expected to be an exciting one for daily fantasy players as both the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams have an extensive list of players all capable of busting out huge games, including their kickers and defense. Given the fact that it is the final football game of the 2021 season, you’re going to see a ridiculous number of entries this week and you’re going to see a ton of chalk.
You’re going to want to find a way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd, but be careful not to get too weird with your lineups. The Bengals got here because of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, just like the Rams did it with Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. They are not to be ignored. I think the real value is going to be in the secondary and tertiary pass-catchers, so establish your narrative and potential game flow and pick your lineup accordingly.
Now before we begin, please take a moment to understand what exactly you are getting yourself into by playing a single-game Showdown Slate, especially the Super Bowl. We love to have some skin in the game, for sure, but these slates are, for all intents and purposes, a lottery ticket. Sure, there are times when the chalk hits, and everyone shares in the prizes, but, more often than not, you need to hit on that random dart throw that differentiates your lineup from that of the herd in order to claim the top prize. As a result, we encourage you to play responsibly and not over-invest. Stick to the GPP contests (single-entry preferred), don’t blow your whole bankroll, and understand that, unless you are a max-entry player, you should prioritize having fun.
OK. Lecture over. Let’s get into the action.
DVOA Defensive Rankings
vs Pass: 13th
vs Run: 24th
Los Angeles Rams
vs Pass: 6th
vs Run: 5th
**Please note that players not listed below are not necessarily a complete fade and any player listed can certainly be used as the MVP/Captain. These are merely suggestions for players to use when setting Showdown lineups.
The Rams didn’t trade away all that draft capital to acquire Stafford and just run the ball in the big game, did they? He’s thrown for at least 335 yards in each of his last two playoff games, he had seven 300-yard efforts during the regular season and he’s thrown for no fewer than two touchdowns in nine of his last 10 games. The Bengals secondary has looked good here in the playoffs, but stopping Stafford and his weapons are going to be a tall order.
More like Joe Cool, amirite? The Bengals don’t make it to the Super Bowl without the confidence and subtle swagger of Burrow. The talent is pretty strong too. He’s been good here in the playoffs so far and seems unfazed by the magnitude of any big moment, but we’re looking for more in this match-up. He’ll have to throw away from wherever Jalen Ramsey is on the field which may make it tough for him to find Ja’Marr Chase, but we’ve seen him excel using just Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Given the strength of the Rams run defense, we could see Burrow eclipse the 300-yard mark with ease.
While we expect the Bengals secondary to bracket Kupp and contain him as much as possible, there’s a reason you’ve asked yourself, “How does this guy always get so wide open?” throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Kupp has surpassed the 100-yard mark in seven of his last nine games and has 10 touchdowns in that span. He and Matthew Stafford have been on the same page all season long, so there’s no reason to think this game will be any different.
Mixon may find it tough to gain yards rushing, but I love him in the Super Bowl as a pass-catcher. The best way for Burrow to neutralize the Rams’ pass-rush is through check-downs and designed screens to Mixon. Once he gets the ball out in space, he can rip off chunks of yardage and I’m banking on it playing the over on his 25.5 receiving yards prop. He’s averaged six targets per game over his last five and has no fewer than three catches for 27 yards in a game during that span. On the ground, he should still see 15-20 carries which are his average for the full season, and let’s not forget a career-high 16 touchdowns for him this year.
I expect Chase to see a lot of Jalen Ramsey in this match-up and when he isn’t dealing with the all-pro cornerback, he’s likely to be in bracket-coverage. But before you write him off for your DFS lineups, understand that Burrow is most comfortable when finding Chase downfield. Ramsey can definitely be beaten deep and Chase has been incredibly impressive accumulating yards after the catch. The Chiefs may have stopped his “100-yard per game in the playoffs” streak, but he still found the end zone for a critical score. If people are nervous about Ramsey, Chase could end up a fantastic contrarian play.
He’s likely to be pretty chalky this weekend, and rightfully so. When Chase is covered, we’ve seen Burrow turn to Higgins for some outstanding performances. He had over 100 yards on six catches against the Chiefs and you can’t forget his run of 100-yard performances in four of five games down the stretch during the regular season. If the Rams spend too much time worrying about Chase, Higgins could explode. Remember, if the thunder doesn’t get ya, then the lightning will!
You can expect a heavy focus by the Bengals secondary when it comes to Cooper Kupp, which is why I’m a big OBJ fan for this game. He’s seen 23 targets during the Rams playoff run and turned them into 19 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. Something that has been very interesting as well, is the number of times Stafford looks for Beckham when he needs a third-down conversion. Once reserved strictly for Kupp, Beckham has stepped in and proven to be incredibly reliable.
Boyd just might be my favorite player to use this week and he becomes an even bigger “must-use” if tight end C.J. Uzomah (knee) is limited in any way. Burrow loves to attack the middle of the field early on in the game and he not only uses it to move the chains, but also to set up the outside passes downfield. Boyd should be leaned on fairly heavily early on as the Bengals look to exploit the Rams linebackers who are often more concerned with rushing the passer than they are to falling back into coverage.
While most people are rightfully staring at the receivers in this game, Akers cannot be forgotten, especially against a Bengals team that ranked 24th in DVOA against the run this season. He doesn’t seem to be feeling any ill-effects of the Achilles injury he suffered back in June, but there is a shoulder issue to keep an eye on this week. He has yet to find the end zone since his return and hasn’t surpassed 55 rushing yards or 40 receiving yards in any of the four games he’s played, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to turn to him if they are inside the green zone at any point.
OR Tyler Higbee, TE LAR – If I’m a betting man, and you know I am, I expect Higbee to sit this one out or, at the least, only see a small handful of snaps. His sprained MCL has kept him out of practices over these last two weeks and Blanton has taken all first-team reps. He took over for the injured Higbee during the Division Round and had two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. In the Conference Championship, he caught all five of his targets for 57 yards. With Van Jefferson’s knee still seemingly an issue, Blanton could be the DFS surprise no one was expecting but everyone loves.
The Rams defense is no joke as it boasts names like Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd and Jalen Ramsey. They had the seventh-most takeaways in the NFL this season and had the third-most sacks. We know there are some struggles on the Bengals offensive line as Burrow was sacked 51 times this season and the nine sacks he took in the Conference Championship are fresh in our mind. If your format allows you to use a team-defense, the Rams should make for a strong play, no matter the outcome of the game.
If your format permits the use of kickers, then McPherson is an outstanding option. He’s got a big leg and enough swagger to rival that of his quarterback. We’ve seen Zac Taylor settle for a lot of field goals throughout the season, including the playoffs, so look for him to take the points when he can and lean on the guy who is 12-for-12 in field goals during the playoffs.
The Rams kicker is 7-for-9 in field goals during the playoffs and has only missed one extra point all year long. Sean McVay loves to go for the touchdown, but we could see him play a bit more conservative and take the points when he can to avoid another poor offensive showing during the Super Bowl.
If you’re building multiple lineups, then you may want to splash in a little bit of Jefferson to be contrarian. He’s been dealing with a knee issue for a few weeks and hasn’t been a big part of the offensive game-plan, but that could be the zig McVay makes when everyone expects him to zag.
OR Drew Sample, TE CIN – As much as I love Uzomah, I’m a little hesitant this week due to his knee injury. He says he’s not missing the biggest game of his life, but he could be limited. If he is, he’s more of a contrarian dart-throw. We know Burrow likes to use him to attack the middle, but without having practiced at all these last two weeks, it’s a risk. As for Sample, he simply isn’t the pass-catcher Uzomah is. He is a fantastic blocker, but his mobility elicits images of a refrigerator with feet. He may be good for a couple of catches, but I’m only using him if building a number of lineups and need to save some salary.
He’s a shifty complement to Joe Mixon and is expected to be mixed into the game-plan in a similar fashion to what we’ve seen over the last five games. The 41-yard catch-and-run during the game against the Chiefs is fresh in everyone’s mind, but he is more of a contrarian dart-throw as that one play has been his only highlight over the last six games.
His usage rates have gone down significantly with the return of Akers and is not likely to be leaned on too heavily this week. The Bengals defensive line is certainly vulnerable and a power-rusher like Michel could have some success here, but will he be given the opportunity? That’s a real tough call to make, so best to reserve for those looking to save salary among a multi-lineup weekend.
While tight end Kendall Blanton is more of my favorite low-end guy in this game, Skowronek could find his way into the mix if Van Jefferson is either limited or even out for this game. He hasn’t seen a target in four games, but if you’re looking for a salary-saver and a way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd, he could be an interesting option. Skip him if setting just one or two lineups, but you multi-entry folks shouldn’t completely ignore him.
Did someone say fresh legs? Yes, Akers is the No. 1 guy in this backfield and yes, Michel did a very good job filling in when needed, but Henderson was the Rams go-to- guy early on in the season and he performed exceptionally well. If you think he’s McVay’s secret weapon this week, get him in there!