The NFL season culminates with Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3. Unless you’re a New England Patriots fan or seasoned Patriots hater, you probably don’t have a vested interest in the game. True Los Angeles Rams fans are hard to find considering this iteration of the franchise is only a few years old.
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 $50k 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.
Advice for Single-Game NFL DFS Contests
Clearly, the biggest difference between single-game contests and multi-game DFS contests is the Captain or MVP element. On DraftKings, the difference in pricing makes choosing the correct captain even more vital.
Tom Brady ($15.9k (C), $10.6k, $16.5k) is actually priced below Julian Edelman ($16.2k (C), $10.8k, $16.5k) on DK, but will likely be the most popular play on both main DFS sites.
In large tournament formats, going against the grain by choosing an unpopular Captain is a high-risk, high-reward strategy to consider. Each scoring play is magnified in a one-game slate and even more so when yardage and TDs for a certain player are multiplied.
That philosophy trickles down to the other FLEX options. There are numerous factors at play in each matchup across the board in the Super Bowl. We have two masterful tacticians game-planning against each other in Bill Belichick and Sean McVay.
At least a couple of players will break out with a big play or two after posting scores close to zero in their previous games. But that doesn’t mean you should go too far afield in your selections.
In Cash games (50/50, Double Up, and H2H contests), the obvious picks are often the best way to go. Since the QBs and lead RBs on both teams have the highest floor, they’re a priority when building those types of lineups. Keep an eye on our matchups column later in the week to see which receivers are most likely to be featured in the passing game and pile up PPR production.
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.
There are ways to be slightly contrarian without gambling a large amount of payroll on specialists like Cordarelle Patterson or James Develin.
Injury concerns and previous biases can play a large role in influencing tournament fields. Since Todd Gurley handled just four carries and sat on the sidelines throughout most of the second half of the NFC Championship, he’s likely to see low ownership against a middling Patriots run defense. Playing Gurley, or even using him as Captain, in the hopes he’s finally over the ankle and knee issues that plagued him late in the season is a great way to separate in GPP formats.
The same can be said of Rob Gronkowski on the Patriots’ side of the ball. The hulking TE has been a step slow all year and has burned frequent DFS players so many times they might want to avoid him. Plus, the Rams are a top five in DVOA pass defense against TEs. That renders the perception around Gronk even more negative. But again, one big play can change all of that with a microscope on the production in one-game slates.
In one-game slates, predicting game flow will go a long way toward choosing the right players. The best indication of game flow is often the betting lines.
The Rams opened as one-point favorites, but the public hammered that line. Now, the Patriots are favored by 2.5 or 3 points in some spots. Basically, this game is expected to go down to the wire, which has been the case in all eight of Brady’s previous Super Bowls.
With the highest Over/Under (57.5) in SB history, we’d expect another high-scoring affair in which the QBs are the biggest producers in DFS contests.
Of course, actual game flow can go far differently than on paper. Therefore, it may be best to create a couple of lineups for that shootout scenario. Then, you can be contrarian with a couple of options that imply a low-scoring affair. Put some running backs, kickers, and D/ST in those lineups.
While this game projects as a shootout in the mind of the public, fading Brady and playing one of the capable D/ST in this game is one way to be contrarian. The kickers, particularly Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein, also offer appeal as value plays should this game devolve into more of a grind.
If you’re able to predict game flow, or at least construct a few different scenarios on how the Super Bowl might play out, that should help you build your lineup accordingly.
If the Patriots jump out to an early lead, they’ll almost certainly look to milk the clock behind a surging offensive line. That would lead to increased production from Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. That lineup would correspond with Rams receivers such as Josh Reynolds and Robert Woods. They would, in turn, see increased targets with the Rams in comeback mode.
Should the Rams control the game, C.J. Anderson would benefit most directly, and Jared Goff might become one of the biggest duds on the slate.
If the Patriots fall behind, James White is likely to see far more touches than Michel or Burkhead, as he did in the comeback win over Atlanta two years ago. Stacking Brady with his favorite short-yardage targets — White and Julian Edelman — is the best way to maximize on that game scenario.
Stacks featuring the QB and his top receivers, or a RB and the corresponding D/ST are the most obvious, but there are correlation plays to be found throughout both rosters on a one-game slate.
Now that you’re ready to build lineups, it’s time to consider what kind of contests you want to enter, as well as how much you want to wager.
Since one-game slates can turn on a pivotal play or two, the best approach is to cast a wide net in which a number of different scenarios could pan out and you would still cash.
Create a couple of GPP lineups following scenario A) an even shootout going over the 57-point total, B) a low-scoring slugfest with unpredictable scoring plays, C) a comfortable Patriots win, and D) a Rams win with the Patriots mounting a late comeback attempt.
Cash lineups would be skewed toward the most likely of those scenarios, a back-and-forth shootout.
The more you risk in GPP formats, the more it makes sense to go with the flow and attempt to cash a ticket rather than “go for broke” by using one of the contrarian strategies we mentioned above.
In general, the best method is to have 70 percent of your exposure in Cash games or “Cash model” lineups in tournaments with low-risk plays in those lineups. Then, put about 30 percent of exposure in risky contrarian lineups for big tournament fields, so that you might still turn a profit if none of those risky lineups pan out.