For millions of NFL fans who are also DFS players, the Super Bowl represents a bittersweet moment on their annual sports calendar. The game serves the highest-stakes contest of the season between the supposed two best teams in the league. It also gives DFS devotees one final opportunity to get their NFL sweat on for that particular season.
Roster construction offers significant flexibility
Each site offers nearly identical roster construction for this format.
One slot earns fantasy points at rate of 1.5x based on that site’s scoring format. On DraftKings, this position is designated as the Captain slot. On FanDuel, it’s labeled as the MVP slot.
- DraftKings’ Showdown rosters consist of five other Flex spots besides the Captain. Those can be filled with any skill-position player (QB, RB, WR, TE), a kicker or a team defense.
- FanDuel’s Single-Game contest rosters consist of four other Flex spots besides the MVP. Those can be filled with any skill-position player (QB, RB, WR, TE) or a kicker.
- As is the case during the regular season and earlier portions of the postseason, the salary cap for these contests is $50,000 on DraftKings and $60,000 on FanDuel.
Those who have played standard NFL DFS contests on either site during the regular season and multi-game postseason slates will likely appreciate the added flexibility. There isn’t an option for team defense on FanDuel, either. That removes one of the lineup construction decisions DFS players most often struggle with on a week-to-week basis.
Captain/MVP slot often makes or breaks single-game DFS lineups
With one roster spot earning fantasy points at a rate of 1.5x, the biggest strategic element in this contest type is selecting the right player for that slot. Many might initially jump to the conclusion a quarterback is the “safest” pick for that position. That may not be accurate in every case.
Super Bowl LIV serves as a textbook example. There’s no questioning the fantasy upside of the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. A scenario where he outscores any other player in the game in terms of fantasy points is highly conceivable.
Yet the same couldn’t be said with any certainty for the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo. As has been evident on multiple occasions – most notably this postseason – San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan will take the air out of the ball and lean on his running game as much as possible if game script allows it.
Therefore, arriving on an astute 1.5x-spot selection is driven first and foremost by intimate familiarity with each team’s offensive tendencies. Run-heavy squads – the 49ers once again serving as a good example – can certainly be less-than-ideal candidates to tab quarterbacks from for a spot that awards fantasy points at an accelerated rate. Instead, focusing on a lead running back for such a team, especially if that back has a consistent and dependable red-zone role, would offer the best path to success.
The one other aspect of DraftKings’ Showdown contests to consider is salary discrepancy between a player’s “Captain” salary and that of his price as a Flex position player. There’s a significant markup on the former. That makes prudent decision-making all the more important.
Using betting lines in lineup decisions
The positional flexibility offered in single-game contests gives DFS players a chance to go heavy at one position, or even one team. Conversely, especially in a game between two strong offenses that is predicted to be close, contest participants have the option of rostering multiple pieces of each team in an effort to capture where the likeliest production will come from.
The process of deciding how much of a balance to strike in selecting players from each team can often be greatly assisted by examining the betting lines for the game. There are elements of these lines that can be utilized as predictive metrics for how a game is likeliest to unfold.
A large spread implies a potential win going away for the favorite. The winning team might be relying heavily on its running game in the latter stages in such a scenario. That would likely cap the production of the quarterback and pass catchers. On the underdog side, it could also lead to the losing team going pass-heavy in the second half in an attempt to catch up.
Conversely, a much tighter spread (such as that of Super Bowl LIV) implies a potential back-and-forth affair. Both teams’ passing games will be involved throughout in such a scenario. Yet the rushing attacks also will remain viable because neither squad should be forced to abandon their respective ground games.
A high projected total always looks good on the surface for DFS purposes. However, buyer beware.
To begin with, games with elevated totals can turn into defensive slugfests. Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams. That game that had a projected total well over 50 points at kickoff and finished with a combined 16 points scored.
Then, it’s important to not only look at the combined projected total, but the individual implied team totals. A game with a projected total of 50 points could still be projected as a blowout. For example, the favored team could have an implied total of 32.0 points, while the underdog could be projected for 18.0 points.
There’s been debate about how “sharp” player props set by sportsbooks are. Their ability to serve as a good measuring stick for projecting DFS production for any given player has therefore been questioned. However, particularly for experienced DFS players with a good working knowledge of the offenses of each of the two teams, these can be selectively utilized to help narrow down selections in the areas of running back, wide receiver and tight end.