We are at the end of the road! It's been 22 weeks (including this one) of NFL DFS action and like all good things, they must come to an end. There have been some ups and downs. As for single game slates, things have been up more often than down if you follow the free advice I share on Twitter. In fact, I have a positive ROI of +6.16% with single game showdowns on DraftKings (DK) this season. There was a very small loss with single game slates on FanDuel (FD) this season (-0.16%). Overall my ROI with single game slates for both DK and FD is +4.25%. It's not as high as I would like it to be but it's profitable.
There are a couple of things I do that helps separate my lineups from the rest of the pack: (1) my multiple linear regression model I built a few years ago for QBs, RBs, and DSTs and (2) the player correlation app on the Advanced Sports Analytics (ASA) site. Many people who play single game slates kind of do so haphazardly. They pick their favorite players or don't think about the possible game script. For example, in the Super Bowl last year, Kansas City players were heavily owned. I went contrarian by placing Tom Brady as my MVP on FanDuel grouped with Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette. The only Chiefs player I had was Travis Kelce. See the results below.
It was a great way to end the season and I am confident my methods will yield similar success for Super Bowl LVI. This time, I will be entering close to the number of entries in the flagship contest on FanDuel. In fact I will be submitting 100 lineups. The best way to do that is to subscribe to any of the fantasy sites out there so that you can use their optimizer and download a CSV of the optimal lineups. You then upload them to DK and FD and you're all set! If you want to be a millionaire, you have to spend big to win big. Actually I highly doubt a single person wins the top prize all by him or herself since there will be several duplicate lineups. Usually first place will pay somewhere between $100,000 - $150,000 split among 15 - 20 participants. I would still be very happy winning such an amount!
So what players will help us make big money tomorrow? Let's break it all down by position.
Of course we have just two options: Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow. You could roster both of them and that may not be such a bad idea if you anticipate a shootout. Remember the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl four years ago? That game was a track meet and if you didn't have both Tom Brady and Nick Foles in your lineups with one of those two in the Captain/MVP spot, you most likely lost money. However, the Super Bowl the year after was a total dud when the Patriots beat the Rams 13-3. The winning lineup didn't have Brady or Jared Goff. I am guessing that Super Bowl LVI will be somewhere in between those two games. Wih a Vegas total of 48.5 points and the Rams favored by 4 points, a 28-21 Rams victory seems plausible. After all, I am predicting such an outcome if you read the Super Bowl LVI prediction article I published on Friday. Of course Burrow can shock the world by leading Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl victory ever. If so, perhaps the Bengals win 27-24. If both teams combine for 45 - 50 points and the game is close (as Vegas is suggesting with the lines), we are most likely looking at 3 TDs for each team.
Interestingly the Bengals scored 52 TDs during the regular season which is an average of 3.06 TDs per game. The Rams were not far behind with 51 TDs for exactly 3 TDs per game. For Cincinnati, 36 of their 52 regular season TDs came through the air. The Rams had an even higher frequency of passing TDs with 41. This means that we should expect Burrow and Stafford to pass for at least 2 TDs each. Here is where your mind will be blown: Stafford has thrown exactly 2 TDs in each of his 3 postseason games this year. Burrow has thrown exactly 2 TDs in two playoff games. Stafford rushed for a TD in the wild card and divisional rounds but I doubt he does that again in the Super Bowl. Both QBs average close to 300 yards per game and throw about 1 INT per game.
If you do the math using both DK and FD scoring for passing stats, Stafford and Burrow should each earn about 19 - 20 points. Of course you get the 3 point bonus on DK for surpassing 300 passing yards. Stafford has done so 7 times in the regular season and 2 twice in the postseason so I would say he has a 50-50 chance of breaking the 300 passing yard barrier against Cincinnati. Burrow on the other hand is more of a wild card. He had 6 games of 300 or more passing yards during the regular season and just one playoff game with the same passing yard achievement. Oddly the one playoff game he did not pass for a TD is when he broke 300 passing yards. Of course Burrow had two amazing games near the end of the regular passing for 525 yards against Baltimore followed by 446 yards against Kansas City. If you are looking for some consistency and plan on playing mainly cash games, Stafford is your guy. If you want to be somewhat contrarian and take down a tournament, then you roll the dice with Burrow.
So what does my model say? Stafford is expected to score 20.86 points and Burrow 20.09 points. Sorry that I cannot give you a more definitive answer. Maybe you play three lineups: one with just Stafford, one with just Burrow, and one with both QBs. The problem with rostering both Stafford and Burrow is that you would be foolish to do so and not have Cooper Kupp. After all, Kupp arguably had one of the greatest seasons of all time for a WR and is incredibly consistent. You won't have much left in salary if you roster Stafford, Burrow, and Kupp and you will need to place one of them in the Captain/MVP slot. One thing we can feel confident is that neither QB will let you down but then again, Burrow gets sacked a lot and Stafford had some issues with turnovers during the middle of the regular season.
Play multiple lineups and get exposure to both QBs.
This is where I say buyer beware. Joe Mixon has been great this year and should see a high snap count once again (probably somewhere between 45 - 50 snaps). The problem is that the Rams run defense is very good. They allowed the 6th fewest rushing yards this season and found a way to silence the 49ers strong rushing attack in the NFC Championship game. In fact, the Rams held the Cardinals to just 61 rushing yards, the Bucs to 51 rushing yards, and the 49ers to 50 rushing yards. Do you see a trend here? The Rams are a tough team to run against and seem to be getting better each week with the war in the trenches. Their defensive line is very strong and I believe they will dominate the Bengals offensive line.
So do we take the Rams RB duo of Cam Akers and Sony Michel? Timeshares can be tricky since it's hard to tell which RB will make the most of his limited opportunities. My money is on Akers having a stronger game but Michel has excelled at this level before by rushing for 94 yards and 1 TD on 18 carries in Super Bowl LIII. Unfortunately he has not done much since Akers returned to the lineup. Akers is a tough nut to crack as well since he hasn't lit the world on fire this postseason and almost lost the game for the Rams in the divisional round when he fumbled twice with both fumbles recovered by the opposing defense. Just to make matters more complicated, Darrell Henderson was just activated from the IR.
My thinking is that we avoid RB altogether but it would still be wise to have some exposure to Mixon, Akers, and Michel. Maybe a lineup or two with Henderson and Samaje Perine since each will have low ownership and could score a TD.
This is where you will be making your money on Super Bowl Sunday. Kupp is money, period. Not since Jerry Rice have I seen a WR run routes as precise as Kupp. If you like to throw money in the garbage then enter a lineup without Kupp. Otherwise, you are playing Kupp in pretty much every lineup you submit. The real question is not if you should fade Kupp but if you place Kupp in the Captain/MVP spot. His ownership will be high but it's chalk you have to eat.
The other WRs is where we hope to get some differentiation. Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) is an interesting option. He will most likely see single coverage all game and he may not get another chance to win a Super Bowl. Keep in mind that OBJ was a top 3 WR in the league from 2014 - 2016. He then missed 12 games in 2017, had an aging Eli Manning throwing him the ball in 2018 who was near the end of his career, and then was shipped to Cleveland where Baker Mayfield had no clue how to utilize OBJ's skill set. Plus Cleveland has been a run first team since 2020 ranking 4th in rushing play percentage in 2020 and 4th this season. OBJ's career has been resurrected in LA and he has a great opportunity for a happy ending under the Hollywood stars.
Van Jefferson is another intriguing choice. He is cheap and still plays a high number of snaps. The issue with Jefferson is that his target share took a big dip after OBJ joined the Rams. Maybe Stafford will look to Jefferson more often now that Tyler Higbee is out. I highly doubt that Jefferson will see a big spike in targets since he is usually used as a deep threat. His air yards percentage is strong near 25% so you could be counting your lucky stars if Stafford hits Jefferson for a big gain and Jefferson has low ownership.
Now that we got granular with the Rams WRs, what about the Bengals WRs? After all, it's the Year of the Tiger! I like Ja'Marr Chase and he has such outstanding chemistry with Burrow. They were both incredible in the national title game two years ago so they have plenty of experience excelling on a large stage. The issue I have with Chase is that Jalen Ramsey will most likely shadow him. Ramsey is an All Pro cornerback and like OBJ and other veterans on the Rams, he may not get another chance to win a Super Bowl so I am confident that Ramsey will have a superb performance. I also don't like the fact that Burrow was the most sacked QB in the league. Of course if the Bengals are playing from behind, then Chase is your guy since he is such a good deep threat. His air yards percentage is 37% which is very high. Clearly Burrow looks to Chase when the Bengals need a big play.
If you don't feel like paying up for Chase and are worried about Ramsey's coverage on him, then Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are viable options. As mentioned earlier, Burrow should be able to pass for at least 2 TDs and he has to throw those TDs to someone. If I had to choose between Higgins or Boyd, Higgins is my guy. Like OBJ, Higgins will most likely see single coverage unless Ramsey can handle Chase on his own. Higgins may not have Chase's skill set but he is very good. In fact, Higgins outperformed Chase on several occasions this season. In Week 2, when the Bengals lost to the Bears by 3 and Burrow was harassed by Khalil Mack all game, Higgins was Burrow's security blanket. In four other losses for Cincinnati this season (NYJ, CLE, LAC, and SF), Higgins scored more fantasy points than Chase. What this tells is that if we expect a Rams victory, it will be Higgins who will produce since Higgins is the receiver Burrow will target when he needs short passing plays to sustain drives. Also, the best cornerback Chase saw this season was Denzel Ward who held Chase to 6 receptions and 49 yards on 13 targets. Higgins had 6 receptions for 78 yards on 8 targets in that game. Ramsey is better than Ward and I would rather pay down for Higgins and still probably get better production, especially if the Bengals lose.
While we could target Boyd, I think tight end is a better option for the price. Just wait until you see the tight end discussion below!
There are just two options here: CJ Uzomah and Kendall Blanton. If you like to live dangerously, you could take a flier on Drew Sample but even with Uzomah leaving the AFC Championship game early, Sample didn't do much. I like how Uzomah looked in the wild card and divisional rounds and he seems very motivated to make it back to the field at SoFi Stadium. The problem is that MCL sprains typically take 6 weeks to fully heal. Uzomah sprained his MCL two weeks ago. Tyler Higbee suffered the same injury also in the conference championship and he has been declared out for the Super Bowl. I like Uzomah's promise to bathe in chili if the Bengals win but if Cincinnati wins, it will be due to other players stepping up. Uzomah just won't be healthy enough to make a meaningful impact against LA.
As for Blanton, PLAY HIM! He is the guy who will win us money on Super Bowl Sunday. For some reason, tight ends do very well against the Bengals. Check out the stats below for every starting tight end against Cincinnati this season.
Week 1, Tyler Conklin (MIN): 4 receptions, 41 yards
Week 2, Cole Kmet (CHI): 1 reception, 0 yards
Week 3, Pat Friermuth (PIT): 3 receptions, 25 yards, 1 TD
Week 4, Dan Arnold (JAX): 2 receptions, 29 yards
Week 5, Robert Tonyan (GB): 1 reception, 8 yards
Week 6, TJ Hockenson (DET): 8 receptions, 74 yards
Week 7, Mark Andrews (BAL): 3 receptions, 48 yards
Week 8, Tyler Kroft (NYJ): 2 receptions, 20 yards, 1 TD
Week 9, David Njoku (CLE): 1 reception, 18 yards, 1 TD
Week 10, BYE
Week 11, Darren Waller (LV): 7 receptions, 116 yards
Week 12, Pat Freirmuth (PIT): 4 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD
Week 13, Jared Cook (LAC): 3 receptions, 29 yards
Week 14, George Kittle (SF): 13 receptions, 151 yards, 1 TD
Week 15, Noah Fant (DEN): 5 receptions, 57 yards
Week 16, Mark Andrews (BAL): 8 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD
Week 17, Travis Kelce (KC): 5 receptions, 25 yards, 1 TD
Week 18, David Njoku (CLE): 2 receptions, 11 yards
Wild Card, Darren Waller (LV): 7 receptions, 76 yards
Divisional, Anthony Firkser (TEN): 0 receptions, 0 yards
Conference Championship, Travis Kelce (KC): 10 receptions, 95 yards, 1 TD
While there have been some games the tight end did nothing against Cincinnati, you can't ignore the gangbusters performances by Andrews, Waller, Kittle, and Kelce. Of course those are Pro Bowl level TEs and I would not put Blanton in that group. However, he stepped up when Higbee was knocked out early, unlike Sample who was non-existent when asked to play nearly every snap once Uzomah left the game. I would compare Blanton to TEs like Conklin, Hockenson, Freirmuth, and Fant. If Blanton can get 5 receptions for 57 yards when suddenly thrown into action in the NFC Conference Championship, I think he can repeat that performance with two weeks of practice with the first team unit. Also, Stafford loved throwing to Higbee often this season so the tight end is an integral part of the Rams offense. Given Blanton's affordable salary, favorable matchup, and high snap share, Blanton could lead us to the promised land.
This is only applicable for DK since you can't roster defenses/special teams on FD. If you feel compelled to play a DST, go with the LA Rams. Remember, the Rams defense has All Pro players and Burrow was the most sacked QB during the regular season. Donald is the best pass rush specialist in the NFL and Von Miller is not too bad either winning a Super Bowl MVP award six years ago when he put Cam Newton on his ass often. And maybe Jalen Ramsey gets an INT. I don't know if the Rams score a defensive TD since those are hard to predict but it wouldn't surprise me, especially since they are playing at home. Don't waste your time rostering the CIN DST.
I have a love-hate relationship with place kickers when playing single game showdowns. Rarely did I roster a kicker when I have won big this season but there are also times I have finished near the bottom because I didn't roster a kicker. I am expecting 3 TDs and a FG or two for each team. That means we are looking at 6 - 9 points for each kicker. I feel that there are enough mid-priced offensive players who will exceed that fantasy score that taking a kicker could hurt us. I may have a few lineups with either Matt Gay or Evan McPherson but I won't have high exposure to either.
OK, there you have it! QBs will probably be a toss up but you would be wise to pair Stafford with Kupp and Kupp should be your Captain/MVP (definitely Captain on DK given the full point per reception and 3 point bonus for 100 receiving yards). OBJ could be a good complement to your Stafford/Kupp pairing and I would run it back with Higgins instead of Chase. Blanton is the one who can put us over the top and I would steer clear of RBs and Ks. On DK, the Rams DST could be a good play given their talent and Burrow's high sack total. Sample lineups are below and send me a direct message on Twitter if you would like my CSV for my plethora of lineups on DK and FD. Good luck and enjoy the game!