It all comes down to this. Super Bowl LV – aka the final NFL game of the year – will take place Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game NFL DFS format, it differs a bit on DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, you have one “captain” spot and five flexes. The captain will score 1.5x fantasy points, but he also costs 1.5x salary. That means if you want to roster Patrick Mahomes at Captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $18,000 as opposed to $12,000.
FanDuel’s single-game format features one “MVP” spot and four flexes. The MVP also scores 1.5x fantasy points, but he doesn’t cost any additional salary. That takes away a bit of the strategy and makes the goal simple: Get your highest-scoring player in the MVP spot.
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The Super Bowl is expected to be a high-scoring and competitive affair. The Chiefs are listed as just three-point favorites at most sportsbooks, while the total sits at 56 points. There were some weather concerns earlier this week, but that no longer appears to be an issue. The current forecast calls for 67-degree temperatures and just an eight percent chance of precipitation at kickoff.
Any analysis of these teams has to start with Mahomes. He was the MVP of the league in his first full season as a starter, and he was the Super Bowl MVP just last season. He put together another brilliant campaign in 2020, finishing with 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions while leading the league with an average of 316 passing yards per game.
Mahomes has also been extremely consistent from a fantasy perspective. He’s scored at least 20.22 DraftKings points in all but one game this season, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +5.32 on DraftKings overall.
However, Mahomes does carry a bit more risk than usual this week. He’s taking on an excellent Buccaneers defense – they rank fifth in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA – and he will also be operating behind a patchwork offensive line. The Chiefs will be missing both of their starting offensive tackles, which is not ideal against a team that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times last week.
Even though that might give him a slightly lower floor than usual, Mahomes is still grading out very well in our NFL Models. He leads all players in median, ceiling, and floor projections, and he also owns the highest projected Plus/Minus.
The next big question on this slate is how to approach Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. It’s very difficult to stack both players with Mahomes, particularly if you want to use one of the three at Captain. It’s still possible, but you’re going to have to get very creative with the rest of your lineup.
If you’re choosing between Kelce and Hill, our Models give a slight edge to Kelce. He’s been absolutely on fire recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +8.63 over his past 10 games, and he has a massive mismatch against Devin White per Pro Football Focus. White has the reputation of being one of the better linebackers in the league, but PFF gives him just a 46.9 coverage grade this season.
Hill also has an elite matchup. He plays the majority of his snaps in the slot, which sets up a matchup vs. Sean Murphy-Bunting. Murphy-Bunting is the weakest corner on the Bucs, and he definitely does not have the speed to hang with Hill. If you need further evidence, just look back at the first time these teams played. Hill was unstoppable in that contest, finishing with more than 200 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone.
One interesting way you can approach this duo is by playing them without Mahomes. That obviously could backfire, but Kelce and Hill have absorbed the vast majority of the receiving volume in the Chiefs’ passing game recently. If that happens again, you don’t necessarily need Mahomes to make this stack viable. Kelce and Hill are also positively correlated (+0.10), so they can both find success in the same contest.
On the Bucs’ side, the only real stud to consider is Tom Brady. He’s priced below all three Chiefs players on DraftKings, but he owns the second-highest salary on FanDuel.
Brady has the potential to be one of the highest scorers on the slate. He leads all players with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.5, and he owns the third-highest ceiling projection in our Models.
That said, the Chiefs’ defense has been strong against the pass recently. They held the Bills to 234 passing yards last week, and the Browns managed just 196 passing yards the week prior. The Chiefs’ bigger weakness is on the ground, so it’s possible that the Bucs go with a run-heavy approach in this contest. Moving the ball on the ground would obviously help the Tampa offense, but it would also help the defense by keeping Mahomes off the field.
Speaking of the Bucs’ running game, how you choose to approach their backfield is going to be a big decision on this slate.
Leonard Fournette has been excellent for the Bucs during the postseason. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in three straight games, and he’s scored at least 18.4 DraftKings points in all three contests. His chops in the passing game have also been on full display, and he’s caught five passes in back-to-back games.
That said, Fournette split the carries with Ronald Jones pretty evenly vs. the Packers. Fournette led the team with 12 carries, but Jones wasn’t far behind at 10. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if people gravitate towards Jones given the huge discrepancy in salary. Fournette is priced up at $7,800 on DraftKings, while Jones is all the way down at $2,200. That could result in Fournette being a little overlooked on this slate in a juicy matchup.
Choosing between the Chiefs’ running backs isn’t much easier. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams split the snaps essentially right down the middle vs. the Bills. Williams was far more effective as a runner, but CEH had the slight edge in targets. Both players also managed to find the end zone.
Choosing between these two guys was hard enough, but now it seems like Le’Veon Bell will also be back in the mix. This is a difficult situation to handicap, so I imagine that most people will likely avoid it. That means there could be some value in grabbing one of these players, with Williams being my preferred target of the group.
Finally, the Tampa Bay WR corps presents one final tough decision. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin dominated the targets for the Bucs’ wideouts vs. the Packers, but Antonio Brown is expected to be back in the mix for the Super Bowl. All three players were active for each of the Bucs’ final eight regular-season contests, and there wasn’t much to split those players: Evans logged 63 targets, Godwin logged 55, and Brown saw 61.
From a matchup perspective, PFF gives a clear edge to Godwin. He plays the majority of his snaps in the slot, and he owns a sizable advantage over cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. Our Models also give Godwin the highest median and ceiling projections of the group, but he’s also the most expensive of the trio across the industry.
If you’re looking to stack the Bucs, Godwin also owns the best correlation with Brady at +0.67 on FanDuel, while Evans owns the worst mark of the group at +0.24.
- Mecole Hardman: $5,600 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Hardman has been a solid option for the Chiefs recently, but his role does take a hit with Sammy Watkins expected to suit up. However, he still has the speed to take any touch to the house, and his role on special teams gives him a bit of hidden upside.
- Cameron Brate: $4,800 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – Brate was a DNP at Friday’s practice, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that he’s still expected to play. He’s served as the primary receiving TE for the Bucs recently, and the injury concerns could result in lower ownership than usual.
- Sammy Watkins: $4,200 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Watkins looks like one of the best values on the slate if he’s able to suit up. He’s served as the No. 2 wide receiver for the Chiefs when healthy this season, and he should step right back into that role vs. the Bucs.
- Defenses and Kickers – These options are always in play in the single-game format. That said, the projected high-scoring nature isn’t great for any of these options. The best option out of this group might be the Bucs’ D if you think they can generate a bunch of pressure against the weakened Chiefs’ offensive line.
- Scott Miller: $3,400 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel – Miller is tough to roster if Brown suits up, but he might still have some appeal on FanDuel. That said, he’s finished with one catch or fewer in nine of his past 11 games.
- Rob Gronkowski: $3,000 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel – It’s crazy that Gronk is so much cheaper than Brate, but it’s justified with how they’ve produced recently. Still, Gronk has out-snapped Brate by a wide margin, and he remains a threat in the red zone.
- Ronald Jones: $2,200 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel – He should be one of the highest-owned players in this range on DraftKings, but it’s possible that Fournette has done enough to secure the majority of touches vs. the Chiefs. I like him as a fade.
- Bryon Pringle: $1,800 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel – With Watkins back, Pringle should revert to his typical WR5 role. That’s not enough to make him viable, even at such a cheap price tag.
- Demarcus Robinson: $1,400 on DraftKings, $5,500 on FanDuel – If you do want to go dumpster diving with the Chiefs’ WRs, Robinson seems like a better bet. He’s played over Pringle all year, and he’s always a threat to score a touchdown.
- Le’Veon Bell: $800 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel – Bell could be a big part of the Chiefs’ rushing attack, or he could be a complete non-factor. I lean more towards the latter, but it’s really anyone’s guess at this point.
Photo Credit: Mark Brown/Getty Images
Pictured: The Chiefs’ offense