Best Daily Fantasy Football Plays for Cash Games – 2019 Pro Bowl
By Ha Kung Wong Daily Fantasy Football
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!
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 predicting options for Pro Bowl DFS lineups is pretty tough, which means that more than usual, you’re closer to gambling on these lineups. With that in mind, I’ll at least give you a few facts to help you make your educated guesses.
All the Pro Bowl lineups this year on most sites are of the “Single Game” or “Showdown” variety. This means slightly different things on FanDuel and Draft Kings.
- FanDuel – You have $60,000 total salary to fill 1 MVP and 4 regular spots. MVP scores 1.5x but does NOT cost more. The average amount you have to spend per player is $12,000.
- Draft Kings – You have $50,000 total salary to fill 1 Captain and 5 regular spots. Captain scores 1.5x but COSTS 1.5x more. The average amount you have to spend per player is $10,000. But since you have to pay more for your Captain, assume you’re paying around $15,000 for a Captain leaving you with around $7000 for each of the 5 remaining slots.
- Yahoo – It’s a regular slate including both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. I’ve included more explanation on this one below next to the Sample lineup.
Usually I focus on cash games, but since the Pro Bowl is mostly a crap shoot, there are really no differences in looking at cash or GPP tournaments. I’ll give you my thoughts on who to play in DFS generally, will note if I like them for the Captain/MVP position, and will provide a few SAMPLE lineups.
One last note for all of you. As I ALWAYS do, I prefer to enter LOTS of $1 tourneys than a few $10 tourneys. The reason is that there’s no accounting for crazy people just randomly selecting players, and although they’re unlikely to win, you never know when they might catch lightening in a bottle and knock you out of the cash. So to minimize this randomness, I prefer to spread out all my lineups over more entries (i.e. I’d rather be in 10 x $5 tourneys than 5 x $10 tourneys). Just sayin, do what you prefer, but that’s why you’ll see me put in a lot of $1 tourneys.
OK, so let’s get started!
2019 Pro Bowl
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 through 2016 & 2018, tossing out the 2017 defensive battle aberration.
Average Total Passing TDs – 6.50
Average Number of QBs played – 6
Average Passing TDs per QB Played – 1.08
QBs with More than 1 TD – 1.75
Average Total INTs – 4.75
Average INTs per QB played – 0.79
This tells us that although QBs average 1.08 TDs per game, it’s very difficult to predict which QBs will get them. Maybe you get lucky and the QB you chose gets 2 TDs, or maybe your QB completely bombs out at 0. Plus, each QB averages 0.79 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 minimize your exposure to multiple quarterbacks at the Pro Bowl as they are really 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. The only sure thing is that they’ll at least get some play time, so at least there’s a floor (as opposed to WRs who might get 0 targets or 0 receptions regardless of time in the game). If you want to play a Pro Bowl QB, here are my thoughts (in priority order):
- None (But feel free to use any of the below if you feel sassy)
- Patrick Mahomes
- Andrew Luck
- Dak Prescott
- Mitchell Trubisky
- Deshaun Watson
My thought process on these guys is easy. Mahomes is playing with Hill and OT Eric Fisher. Luck is playing with Ebron and OG Quenton Nelson. Prescott is playing with Elliott and his usual head coach, Jason Garrett. Trubisky is playing with Cohen as well as two of his o-line in Cody Whitehair and Charles Leno Jr. Watson will likely overlap with Lamar Miller. For Prescott, Trubisky and Watson, perhaps you’ll get a few rush yards as well.
Honestly, if you want to take a shot at one of these guys as your Captain/MVP, go for it. Just know that it’s pricy and you might not get much of a return on investment.
Average Total Rushing TDs (from RBs) – 0.50
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 generally wouldn’t, not with these odds.
But, unfortunately, you need to fill spots with someone, so you’ll probably have to consider at least one RB. I tend to like rookies and younger players who make the Pro Bowl over veterans, as they’re more likely to want to stay in the game. I also prefer RBs that catch passes, as at least you have the PPR upside:
- Saquon Barkley
- James Connor
- Alvin Kamara
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Tarik Cohen
- Lamar Miller
My thought process is the same as for the QBs. Barkley is a rookie and may push to stay on the field, along with the fact that this O-line is loads better than what he played with during the regular season. Kamara might have a little extra upside being a predominantly pass catching back, plus he’s playing with his usual OGs Andrus Peat and Larry Warford. Cohen is an exceptional pass catcher and gets to play with some of his o-line as well, with Cody Whitehair and Charles Leno Jr. getting added as subs. There’s been a trend recently of younger players looking to showcase their skills in Pro Bowls, and Barkley, Kamara and Cohen are some of the best young players in the league. Ezekiel Elliott has his QB, Prescott, and head coach, Garrett, with him, so there’s always a little potential there.
James Conner and Lamar Miller are here because I think Melvin Gordon, who’s dealing with two bad knees, is unlikely to play much. Plus both Conner and Miller can catch passes out of the backfield. So perhaps they both get a little more run than the usual RB in the Pro Bowl. Plus Conner is young and playing with some of his usual o-line in C Maurkice Pouncey and OT Alejandro Villanueva.
Average Number of WRs with a TD – 2.75
Average Number of WRs with a reception – 8
Average Number of TDs per WR with a reception – 0.34
All 8 WRs each year get at least one reception, but only 2.75 get a TD. So you’re essentially gambling on which WRs will get TDs, and you have a better than 60% chance of being dead wrong. If you want to slot in a Pro Bowl WR, I don’t hate the idea, but you should really temper expectations and expect a very low floor.
- Tyreek Hill
- Amari Cooper
- Adam Thielen
- Mike Evans
I prefer Hill and Cooper because they’ll at least theoretically have some overlap with their regular season QBs in Mahomes and Prescott (plus, Cooper gets his regular season head coach on the sidelines in Garrett). Thielen managed to produce last time out and Evans has good hands, runs good routes, and might have a little extra motivation to shine through after a solid year on a terrible team. I’ll stay away from Davante Adams and Keenan Allen as both had recent injuries and may not want to push it in a meaningless game.
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 around 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. Heck, TE Delanie Walker (who I suggested using in DFS last year) was one of the MVPs of the 2018 Pro Bowl with 4 receptions for 29 yards and 2 TDs. And every TE in the game had at least 2 receptions, with Kyle Rudolph rolling up 7 receptions for 70 yards. So, as I mentioned in this week’s podcast, its actually worth using multiple TEs in your Pro Bowl lineup.
- George Kittle
- Eric Ebron
- Jared Cook
Kittle had a monster breakout year in SF. I don’t see any reason for him not to benefit from it in the Pro Bowl seeing as how his TE competition is Austin Hooper. Anything can happen, but I like Kittle’s chances to garner plenty of targets, so I even like him as a play at Captain. The same goes for Ebron, who finally met our expectations after moving from Detroit to Indianapolis. Sure, Jack Doyle was out a lot, so he benefited from the increased targets, but he’s demonstrated his ability to rack up receptions, yards and redzone looks. With Luck on the field, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a few more in the Pro Bowl, so he’s also a decent play at Captain. Cook is another guy that benefited from increased targets, mostly because no one else on the dysfunctional Raiders could catch the ball, particularly after Amari Cooper was traded away to Dallas. He’s cheap and worthy of roster consideration.
Average Total Lost Fumbles – 1.75
Average Number of Sacks – 3.75
You can get some value here, as each game averages 5 INTs, 1.75 fumbles and 3.75 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 Mitchell Trubisky, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. The AFC All-Pros got Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson. The NFC appears to have less downfield fire power, so I think the NFC is going to struggle more than the AFC. Which is why I’d go with the AFC Defense (for both Cash Games and Tournaments), but have no problems with the NFC Defense as well. The current -1 spread doesn’t really impact my decision here. And if you feel particularly sassy, go ahead roster one of them as your Captain/MVP too. Why not?
Remember, as per the regular season, these are JUST SAMPLES. Mix and match your lineups to minimize your risk!
For Yahoo, you’ll see that lineups include both the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. For these types of games, I prefer to stock up on as many players from the Super Bowl as possible, since they’ll have much more motivation to score and much better defined role. That being said, I don’t mind getting value from one of the Pro Bowl Defenses (take your pick) or one of the Pro Bowl TEs for the reasons I noted above.
I’ll break down my Super Bowl DFS picks next week in more detail, but for now, know that my favorite plays include Sony Michel, Julian Edelman and, depending on what we hear from practice, Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson. My favorite Super Bowl value plays so far are Phillip Dorsett, Josh Reynolds and Tyler Higbee.
Good luck everyone and hope you win Pro Bowl DFS Cash! Come back next week for in depth Super Bowl LIII DFS picks!