The NFL season culminates with Super Bowl LV on Sunday, Feb. 7 and there are huge DFS contests being offered on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Since this is the only NFL game left, those contests operate under different rules. For those not familiar with the DFS Single-Game Slate rules, here’s a quick recap:
In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are five utility spots and a “Captain” slot, who receives 1.5x multiplier for all DK points accrued. Pricing differs for players when selected in the Captain spot versus the FLEX spots, with all players required to fit under a $50,000 salary cap. All options are in play from QBs, RBs and WRs, to kickers and D/ST from each team.
On FanDuel, single-game contests include an MVP spot (1.5x multiplier) and four utility spots with a $60,000 salary cap. Positive and negative scores are impacted by that multiplier, so if you choose a quarterback as MVP and they fumble, you will lose 3 FD points. Conversely, each passing TD is 6 FD points (4 in standard scoring) and a rushing or receiving TD is worth 9 FD points (vs 6). The price is the same for all five positions on FanDuel.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
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Choosing the Captain Spot in Single-Game Contests
Picking your Captain or MVP is likely going to make or break your lineup in a Single-Game NFL DFS contest.
On DraftKings, there is a notable difference in pricing when you chose a player as your captain versus picking them in a utility spot.
Patrick Mahomes ($18.0k (C), $12.0k) is significantly more expensive to get in the multiplier spot, as are his top weapons Travis Kelce ($16.5k (C), $11.0k) and Tyreek Hill ($15.6k (C), $10.4k).
While the safe play might be to get Mahomes in your Captain spot, it significantly hamstrings the rest of your lineup construction since you can only average $6,400 in salary for the five FLEX spots. Slotting one of his top weapons in the Captain spot and playing Mahomes at FLEX for $12k is a good way to keep your exposure to the QB while doubling down on a specific receiver.
With the pricing the same at FanDuel, it’s easier to just slot who you think will be the top performer into the MVP spot. Mahomes ($16.5k) isn’t much more than Tom Brady ($15.0k) on that site and can be paired with one or both of his top weapons while staying under the salary cap.
Creating Rosters Based on DFS Scoring System
The differences in scoring at DraftKings and FanDuel are marginal, but every decimal point counts in a single-game slate where unique lineups are hard to find.
At DK, players are awarded a full point-per-reception, whereas FD only gives out 0.5 PPR. Players are awarded a bonus of 3 DK points for topping 100-plus receiving yards, 100-plus rushing yards, or 300-plus passing yards. There are no such bonuses at FanDuel.
In today’s NFL, it’s far easier to top 300 passing yards or 100 receiving yards then it is to produce 100 rushing yards. That explains the lower cost for RBs in Super Bowl LV, especially for the crowded Chiefs backfield as they go up against the top-rated Bucs run defense.
The best way to find value at DraftKings is to target WRs, TEs, or RBs who will likely be schemed a lot of targets, even if they don’t necessarily average a lot of yards per reception. A running back who sees 10-15 carries but only 2-3 targets could produce less than half as many DK points as a back who sees 5-8 targets and just a handful of carries.
The extra emphasis placed on receivers at DK effects every position by making other stats less valuable. Conversely, a kicker or D/ST might have a bigger impact on overall lineup placement at FD since receptions aren’t as important.
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Using Betting Lines in Roster Decisions
So, how do we make the right lineup decisions based on an expected outcome? Betting lines serve as a useful guide for predicting gameflow and modeling the distribution of targets or touches for each team.
The Chiefs opened as 3.5-point favorites in most spots and have received around 80% of the handle at DraftKings Sportsbook. The defending champs have been pretty much unstoppable on offense this year and produced 20 points in the first half of a Week 12 win at Tampa Bay, so oddsmakers are expecting KC to build a lead and force the Bucs to catch up.
The implied total of 57.5 ties the highest Over/Under in SB history. While 3 of the last 5 Super Bowls have gone Under the total, 3 of the last 4 that involved Tom Brady and the Patriots went Over the total.
The trick would be predicting which receivers each QB leans on most when they’re in the two-minute drill. Those players should see increased volume if their team falls behind. A savvy strategy would be to build lineups for each scenario (if the Chiefs fall behind or the Bucs fall behind) so that one lineup construction hits a big score if the game plays out as expected.
Take a look at individual player proposition bets to get an idea of which players are expected to see more touches. The receptions-based props are a great indication for receiving volume and the rushing TD props will tell you how likely a RB is to pay off by finding the end zone.
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Contrarian Tournament Strategy
The best way to stand out in large tournaments is to make the picks that few others are willing to make. Yet you must make sure the value plays you consider are candidates to play a certain number of snaps, run a certain number of pass routes, or garner at least a few handoffs in scoring position.
In Cash games (50/50, Double Up, and H2H contests), the obvious picks are often the best way to go. Slotting both QBs into Cash lineups is a safe play that should guarantee a certain floor for your lineups.
But in large tournament formats, going against the grain by choosing an unpopular Captain is a high-risk, high-reward strategy to consider. Even choosing a WR, RB, or TE rather than a QB is a good way to differentiate from the field.
And the same strategy can work in the FLEX spots by taking a D/ST or Kicker in the hopes that each defense can hold up in the red zone and produce a lot of field goals. Don’t be afraid to take some risks, just make sure that your contrarian plays have a chance to see a good amount of opportunities.
First Look at Super Bowl Betting Lines on PlayPicks!
Predicting game flow can also help you create the best “stacks” to maximize the ceiling of your lineup.
If Mahomes is in your MVP slot, playing 2 or 3 of his receiving options seems like an obvious choice. It’s important to consider which Bucs players to deploy from the other side of the equation.
Will Mahomes be throwing often because the Bucs took an early lead? If so, which Tampa receiver is targeted most often in the red zone? Or, perhaps Tampa will have success running the ball and produce multiple scores on the ground.
The latter scenario might imply creating a D/ST and RB stack. That construction is sure to be unpopular since it would presume that Mahomes and the Chiefs offense will turn the ball over and set the Bucs up in scoring position.
Take a look at pace of play statistics when each team is up or down by 6 or more points. Those numbers might indicate whether the Chiefs offense would take their foot off the gas, or continue to throw regardless of the situation. If it looks likely that KC will throw regardless, play around with different combinations of receivers to pair with Mahomes, and consider mixing them into the MVP spot to look for an edge with some tournament lineups.