Best Daily Fantasy Football Plays – 2018 Pro Bowl & Super Bowl 52 Edition!

By Ha Kung Wong  Daily Fantasy Football

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

So most of the NFL season is over and you already miss playing daily fantasy football.  Well, stop worrying!  Turns out, as we’ve seen in the past, there are a assortment of contests left on FanDuel, Draft Kings and Yahoo Daily Fantasy that include the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl 52!

This year, there’s lots of variety, ranging from just the Pro Bowl or just Super Bowl 52, to some combination of the two.

I can tell you that I’ve attended only one Pro Bowl, back in 2009, and it was basically more of an excuse to spend some time in Hawaii.  Heck, I think for the first time ever, I was more interested in the halftime performance than I was in the actual game.  Anyway, the problem with the Pro Bowl for DFS (because we are all well aware of the problems with the Pro Bowl as a football game) is that it is near impossible to predict how long each player will be on the field and how many opportunities he will get to put up points.  It could be 3 Hail Mary TDs in a row, or 4 passes for 30 yards and an INT.

So the number one rule in these contests, if possible, is to stack your lineup with Super Bowl players, and then make up the difference with either high upside Pro Bowl players, or players with equivalent floors to all the Super Bowl options at their position.

Usually I focus on cash games, but there isn’t always a cash game option available, so for this one time only, I’ll give you my thoughts on who to play in DFS generally, and will note if they’re safe for cash, or better left for tournaments.

Super Bowl 52

Patriots favored by 5

Over/Under of 48

This format might look familiar as this how I usually breakdown matchups in the playoffs, but I’m going to put this here for your reference.  My complete detailed breakdown of Super Bowl 52 will come later next week.

Patriots Offense

Passing Rank (DVOA) – 1st

  • Passing Yards Per Game – 394.2 (1st)

Rushing Rank (DVOA) – 3rd

  • Rushing Yards Per Game – 118.1 (10th)

Points Per Game – 28.6 (2nd)

Top Cash Options:

  • QB Tom Brady
  • RB Dion Lewis
  • WR Danny Amendola
  • TE Rob Gronkowski

Possible Tournament Options:

  • WR Brandin Cooks
  • WR Chris Hogan
  • RB James White

Listen, I’m not talking you out of rostering Patriots, but just don’t go crazy, as you know that Brady and Belichick will spread it around, plus the Eagles have the 5th best passing defense in the NFL.  It’s true that Matt Ryan and Case Keenum aren’t Tom Brady, but they’re not chopped liver and the Eagles did manage to shut down both of them in consecutive weeks.  Brady will be the most played QB in all these slates for sure, as he has the highest floor, so for cash games, feel free to plug and play.

But pass catchers are going to be more dicey.  According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles are best against WR1s and WR2s.  The only problem is that although Brandin Cooks has generally been the supposed WR1, it’s unclear whether Danny Amendola or Chris Hogan will be the WR2.  As my colleague Ryan Whitfield has said on our podcast, though, Playoff Amendola is for real.  And based on his recent production — 11 of 13 for 112 yards followed by 7 of 9 for 84 yards and 2 TDs — I just can’t argue with that.  So I’d go Amendola in cash games, and perhaps Hogan in tournaments, but I don’t mind sprinkling in Hogan in cash as well.  My issue with Cooks is lack of consistency and price.  He’s the most expensive Pats WR on all sites, and I don’t understand why.  Sure, perhaps he hits a home run, but we’re trying to minimize risk.  Tournament plays are fine, but otherwise, give him a pass.

At RB, I just think Dion Lewis is the most reliable.  Sure, James White might poach another TD as Lewis is resting from breaking off a 35 yard scamper, but I prefer the guaranteed volume (at least 16 touches in his last 4 games) for cash games over simple TD upside.  Though for tourneys, feel free to use White.  Keep in mind though that the Eagles have the 3rd best run defense in the league, and did manage to limit Devonta Freeman to just 33 yards on the ground and Latavius Murray to just 18 yards on the ground.  “Backup” RBs Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon did better, but were still limited on the ground as well.

At TE, it’s a no brainer, assuming Gronk is healthy.  The Eagles are only 17th against opposing TEs, and Gronk is the best in the business.  Force him in to your lineups assuming he clears the concussion protocol.

Patriots Defense

Pass Defense Rank (DVOA) – 21st

  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game – 251.3 (30th)

Run Defense Rank (DVOA) – 30th

  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game – 114.8 (20th)

Points Allowed Per Game – 18.5 (5th)

The Patriots defense are certainly opportunistic, and they’re averaging over 5 sacks per game over their last 4, but I’m not paying up for it.  I’d rather save some money with a Pro Bowl defense, even with the high scoring, and I explain why below.

For the Super Bowl Lineups you need Individual Defensive Players, so here are my suggestions for the Eagles:

CB Devin McCourty – Tackles leader for the Patriots in the regular season (97) with pass defense and INT upside.  Playing at a very high level right now with 9.5 tackles in the postseason.

LB Kyle Van Noy – He does it all, tackles, sacks and pass defenses.  Had a whopping 7 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass defense against the Jaguars in the Conference Championships.

DE Trey Flowers – Had a team leading 6.5 sacks in just 14 games for the Patriots, adding 62 tackles.  Playing well in the postseason with 10 tackles, a sack and a pass defense so far.

CB Malcolm Butler – He’s not the same as last year, and is coming off an illness, but should be OK for the Super Bowl.  Still has 9 tackles and a pass defense this postseason, and maybe he catches more Super Hero mojo?  Plus he’s cheaper than the elite options.

CB Eric Rowe – If you want a really cheap option, you can always gamble with Rowe.  He’s 8 tackles and pass defense in the post season so far, has seen the field a majority of the defensive snaps, and is near minimum price.

Eagles Offense

Passing Rank (DVOA) – 5th

  • Passing Yards Per Game – 233.6 (13th)

Rushing Rank (DVOA) – 17th

  • Rushing Yards Per Game – 132.2 (3rd)

Points Per Game – 28.6 (Tied for 2nd)

Top Cash Options:

  • QB Nick Foles
  • RB Jay Ajayi
  • WR Alshon Jeffery
  • WR Nelson Agholor
  • TE Zach Ertz

Possible Tournament Options

  • RB LaGarrette Blount
  • WR Torrey Smith

I still think that Nick Foles is unpredictable, but he put on a show against the Vikings 2nd Ranked defense in the Conference Championships to the tune of 352 yards and 3 TDs.  Keep in mind that one week after doing something similar to the Giants he completely regressed against the Raiders, none of which are good passing defenses.  But this is the big game, and if he can shred the Vikings, there’s a chance he can shred the Patriots 21st ranked pass defense.  Plus, his offensive line is the best in the business.

And along with him also go Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  I didn’t expect Jeffery to go off last week since he was going to be shadowed by Xavier Rhodes, but Rhodes ended up with an in-game injury that opened things up and showed us how good Jeffery could be.  Both guys got looks with Jeffery getting 5 targets and Agholor getting 4 targets.  But the guy I really like is Zach Ertz.  Ertz had more targets than either WR with a whopping 8, of which he caught all of them for 93 yards.  Clearly, Foles likes him, and you should too.  Gronk is the better play, particularly in light of the fact that the Patriots are ranked 8th against TEs, but Ertz is going to get his fair share of looks and and has TD upside.  Last, don’t count out Torrey Smith.  He’s the least consistent of the bunch, which is why I don’t like him for cash games, but he did catch 5 of 7 targets for 69 yards and a spectacular TD against the Vikings.

The Patriots only have the 30th ranked run defense, but the Eagles run game is still a bit more of a question mark.  We know that Blount will get goal line carries (with a TD in each of his last 2 games), and we know that Ajayi should get the majority of the touches (with at least 16 touches in each of his last 3 games).  But then you have Corey Clement sprinkled in for anywhere between 1 to 6 touches.  Of the group, I like Ajayi best due to the guaranteed volume.  And for tournaments, Blount is a cheap TD-dependent lottery ticket.  I’d stay away from Clement, he’s just too unpredictable.

Eagles Defense

Pass Defense Rank (DVOA) – 7th

  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game – 227.2 (17th)

Run Defense Rank (DVOA) – 3rd

  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game – 79.2 (1st)

Points Allowed Per Game – 18.4 (4th)

Nope, not going to do it.  We’ve seen what the Pats can do in the postseason, and even though the Eagles have a solid defense that has been rolling in the postseason, there’s no reason to pay up for the chance of facing the high powered Pats offense.

For the Super Bowl Lineups you need Individual Defensive Players, so here are my suggestions for the Eagles:

CB Ronald Darby – Most pass defenses (4) in the post season overall and 4th most combined tackles (14) in the postseason in the NFC.  He’s rolling right now and should have a shot at some more pass defenses, tackles and perhaps an INT in the Super Bowl.

LB Nigel Bradham – Most combined Tackles in Philly during the regular season (88), has at least 3.5 total tackles in each of the postseason games and comes with pass defense upside (8 during the regular season, 1 in the postseason).

S Malcolm Jenkins – Most total Tackles in Philly during the regular season (63) with pass defense and INT upside (8 and 2 respectively in the regular season).  10.5 total tackles in the postseason, so he’s playing at a high level.

DE Brandon Graham – Sack leader in Philly during the regular season (9.5).  Sacks are worth enough to gamble here, but be aware there’s also a risky low floor here as he doesn’t have many tackles.

CB Vinny Curry – I’m not thrilled about this, but Curry has some sack upside and has had 4 tackles in the post season so far.  He’s seeing the field plenty, so if you want pay down so you can get better offense, I don’t hate the move.

Sample Super Bowl Only Lineups

Remember to diversify! These are just a few samples of potential lineups for the Super Bowl only slate.

For Draft Kings, I like to spend up on offense and not defense because I think the offensive stats are easier to come by.  But feel free to mix and match.

On FanDuel, you get to pick one player to get a 2X multiplier.  I think it goes without saying that you want one of the QBs to occupy that space, and I just prefer Brady because he has a higher floor.

2018 Pro Bowl

NFC favored by 3

Over/Under 70

There’s two things I look at when making Pro Bowl DFS player selections.  First, I like skill players that are playing with other guys from their team.  So that includes QBs, WRs, RBs and offensive linemen from the same team.  It just makes sense that they have a better chance of performing when working with someone they know and trust.  Second, you have to at least get a feel for what different skill positions are likely to do in the Pro Bowl, since it’s a game unlike any other played in the NFL season.

To understand that, let’s take a look at some per game stats since the Pro Bowl rules changed to allow defenses to play Cover 2 and press coverage in addition to man coverage and sped up the game clock in 2014, tossing out last year’s defensive battle aberration.

Quarterbacks

  • Average Total Passing TDs – 7.67
  • Average Number of QBs played – 6
  • Average Passing TDs per QB Played – 1.28
  • QBs with More than 1 TD – 2.33
  • Average Total INTs – 5
  • Average INTs per QB played – 0.83

This tells us that although QBs average 1.28 TDs per game, it’s very difficult to predict which QBs will get them.  Maybe you get lucky and the QB you chose gets 3 TDs, or maybe your QB completely bombs out at 0.  Plus, each QB averages 0.83 INTs per game, so you’re almost guaranteed at least one INT, with multi-INT downside.  Basically, this is all a result of QBs airing it out with reckless abandon in Pro Bowls because there aren’t any real consequences.  The bottom line is, if you have a choice, you should look to avoid quarterbacks at the Pro Bowl as they are simply too unpredictable.  Plus, at best, your chosen QB will play only half a game.  At worse, it’ll be just 1 or 2 series.  No one knows.  But if you must play a Pro Bowl QB, here are my thoughts:

Top Cash Options:

  • None

Possible Tournament Options:

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Russell Wilson
  • Drew Brees

My thought process on these guys is easy.  They’re playing a lot of the same guys they played with in the regular season.  Ben is playing with RB Le’Veon Bell, FB Roosevelt Nix, WR Antonio Brown, OT Alejandro Villanueva, G David DeCastro and C Maurkice Pouncey.  Plus he’ll get his regular season coach in Mike Tomlin, who will be heading up the AFC.  Wilson is playing with WR Doug Baldwin and OT Duane Brown.  Brees is playing with WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, RB Mark Ingram and G Larry Warford.  And similar to Ben, Brees will have his regular season coach as well with Sean Payton heading up the NFC.

Running Backs

  • Average Total Rushing TDs (from RBs) – 0.33
  • Average Number of RBs with a receiving TD – 1

Honestly, there’s no reason to go further here.  As you can see, RBs rarely if ever get rushing TDs in the Pro Bowl.  And only one RB a game gets a receiving TD.  There are a total of 6 RBs in the game.  Care to gamble?  I wouldn’t, not with these odds.

But if you must, here’s some thoughts:

Top Cash Options:

  • None

Possible Tournament Options:

  • Le’Veon Bell
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Mark Ingram
  • Todd Gurley

My thought process is the same as for the QBs.  Kamara might have a little extra upside being a predominantly pass catching back, and also being the youngest of the bunch.  There’s been a trend recently of younger players looking to showcase their skills in Pro Bowls, and Kamara is one of the best young players in the league.  Todd Gurley will also potentially have Jared Goff behind center for some snaps and has had a resurgent year, so I don’t mind gambling on him as well.

Wide Receivers

  • Average Number of WRs with a TD – 3.33
  • Average Number of WRs with a reception – 8
  • Average Number of TD per WR with a reception – 0.42

All 8 WRs each year gets at least one reception, but only 3.33 get a TD.  So you’re essentially gambling on which WRs will get TDs, and you have a better than 50% chance of being dead wrong.  If you want to slot in a Pro Bowl WR in your FLEX or as your 3rd WR, I don’t hate the idea, but I prefer to have a little more certainty with the Super Bowl WRs.

But if you must, here are my thoughts:

Top Cash Options:

  • None

Possible Tournament Options:

  • Michael Thomas
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Davante Adams

I prefer the NFC WR options since they just have better downfield QBs playing with them (i.e. Wilson, Brees and Goff), and I always like the chance that guys on the same team will have a good connection (e.g. Brees to Thomas and Russell to Baldwin).  Fitzgerald might just have a little extra motivation to shine being stuck on a downward spiraling team all season, plus he’s a reception fiend.  Adams may have similar motivation.  I’ll avoid Adam Thielen since he’s clearly still ailing from a back injury.  In fact, since he’s injured, he’s unlikely to play many snaps which opens up more opportunity for the other NFC WRs.  And I’m avoiding Antonio Brown since he’s still likely bothered by injury.

Tight Ends

  • Average Number of TEs with a TD – 2
  • Average Number of TEs with a reception – 4
  • Average Number of TDs per TE with a reception – 0.50

Now here’s where I think is a good place to look for value.  There are only 4 TEs in the game, 2 per side.  That means there’s a good chance that they play AT LEAST half of the game each.  Historically, TEs tend to get a lot of attention in Pro Bowls, and you essentially have a 50% chance of getting a TD.  With the TE options in the Super Bowl mediocre at best, I like looking to the Pro Bowl for your TE (or even your FLEX).

Here are my thoughts:

Top Cash Options:

  • Delanie Walker

Possible Tournament Options

  • Jack Doyle

Walker is a huge weapon downfield and a great redzone target.  Plus, Alex Smith loves hitting the TE and Derek Carr isn’t all that good and may have no choice but to go short to his TE.  I feel the same way about Doyle, but less so since I suspect Walker will get the majority of snaps and may even be out there on 2 TE sets.  The NFC options aren’t great, as Jason Witten is more of a blocking TE now and Kyle Rudolph is still potentially slowed from injury.

Defenses

  • Average Total Lost Fumbles – 1.67
  • Average Number of Sacks – 4

You can get some value here, as each game averages 5 INTs, 1.67 fumbles and 4 sacks.  Even with the high score, you should get something, and both defenses are dirt cheap.  So which should you choose?

Both sides got QB replacements.  The NFC All-Pros got Jared Goff.  The AFC All-Pros got Alex Smith and Derek Carr.  The AFC appears to have less downfield fire power, so I think the AFC is going to struggle more than the NFC.  In particular, Carr only averaged 233.1 passing yards per game with 22 TDs and 17 INTs for the 6-10 Raiders this season.  I don’t see that suddenly significantly improving in the Pro Bowl.  Which is why I’d go with the NFC Defense (for both Cash Games and Tournaments), which also happens to be favored in this game.

For independent defensive players (such as for Draft Kings Pro Bowl only lineups), generally I like guys that get plenty of tackles, as they are the easiest defensive stat to come by, plus you get a bonus for 8+ tackles on Draft Kings.  With that said, a sack artists brings in 5 points per sack, so it’s worth gambling on those folks as well.  At the end of the day, though, I prefer to spend up on offense instead of defense, so here’s who I like:

  • LB Chandler Jones (NFC) – 17 sacks this season and will be facing Derek Carr at some point.
  • LB C.J. Mosely (AFC) – 96 tackles this season and fairly cheap.
  • LB Telvin Smith (AFC) – A whopping 107 tackles this season and dirt cheap.
  • S Harrison Smith (NFC) – He’s the best safety in the business with 75 tackles and 5 INTs this season. And he’s surprisingly cheap.

Sample Lineups

FanDuel 

Draft Kings

Yahoo

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