Tue. Feb 18th, 2020

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Start and Sit: Super Bowl LIV

7 min read
Start and Sit: Super Bowl LIV


The Super Bowl is a unique experience in daily fantasy the way it is in reality, and it isn’t all because of the glitz and glamour. Because of a limited field of two teams, daily hosts have gotten creative with their games this weekend. For this article, I’ll focus on the type that treats every player as a flex option regardless of position. That’s why I’m displaying my rankings in the tables as overall rankings rather than positional ones like in normal weeks. However, the fundamental approach this week is the same as every week. You are trying to find the best value players relative to their DFS prices, and I’ll aim to help you do that by reviewing player venue, weather, and defensive matchups.

The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him (among all players, not just at his position this week) within a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) — home and road and dome and outside — the forecasted weather (Wea), and the defensive tendencies of the opponent (Def). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.

The forecast for the Sunday Super Bowl is sunshine with a 67-degree kickoff temperature and winds in the high single digits, just shy of moderate. It should be a typically mild Miami winter day that is perfect for fans, and it will leave the bulk of the matchup considerations to the defenses involved. And because both the Chiefs and 49ers have excellent pass defenses, you’ll find the bulk of the reasonable daily options in this game under the “Worst Matchups” heading.

The major exceptions to that point are the 49ers running backs, who draw a Chiefs defense that ranked 29th in run defense DVOA. The Chiefs increase their opponents’ rushing yards per attempt by 10% and only cut total run plays by 5%, a small number given the Chiefs’ tendency to build leads and incentivize their opponents to pass to try to catch up.

The major question, then, is which 49ers back or backs to start. Raheem Mostert is the obvious choice and certainly your safest option. Tevin Coleman returned to a limited practice on Wednesday but will still be just two weeks removed from a shoulder dislocation come game time. Meanwhile, Mostert has been the team’s definitive lead back in six of seven games since the start of December, and his total of 11 of the team’s 19 running back targets in that stretch make him the best bet to take advantage of the Chiefs’ poor pass coverage against receiving backs — they are No. 20 in pass defense DVOA against the position, allowing 58 receiving yards per game, the most in football. But whichever back gets the carries should have success. The 49ers ranked eighth with 4.53 adjusted line yards while the Chiefs were the No. 28 defensive front against the run with 4.82 adjusted line yards. I would definitely build teams around Mostert this week, but he is priced as a workhorse at $14,100 in DraftKings’ In-Game Showdown, fifth-highest of all players. I ranked him sixth overall. Coleman is closer to a value at $9,600, which puts him 10th, the same place where I have him ranked. But that assumes health. Honestly, it isn’t the worst idea to throw Matt Breida ($4,800) into some lineups as a counter strategy to take advantage of the chance that Coleman will be unable to stay on the field.

The Chiefs’ weakness against receiving backs could be a boon for Jimmy Garoppolo, but the real reason he lands a plus matchup grade is his lack of home/road splits and the typical game script of Chiefs opponents. To the former point, Garoppolo has thrown for 24 more yards and scored 0.5 more fantasy points per game on the road than at home since 2017, an unusual split for a position that tends to perform much better at home. To the latter point, the Chiefs cut passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 11% and 16% with their No. 6 DVOA pass defense, but they also increase pass plays by 10%. Especially if the 49ers fall behind, Garoppolo may well offset a lesser efficiency with more total passes and score in fantasy because of it. All things considered, I have him seventh out of all players, the same ranking his $12,000 DraftKings price tag suggests.

The Chiefs don’t have the same favorable rushing matchup as the 49ers. The 49ers defense may be worse by DVOA against the run (No. 11) than the pass (No. 2), but they decrease run plays by 7% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 21%. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ 3.88 adjusted line yards on offense is just 28th in football and should put them at a noticeable disadvantage against the 49ers’ 4.16 adjusted line yards on defense (13th). But rushing hasn’t keyed Damien Williams’ success in recent weeks, anyway. He excels in fantasy because of his receiving ability and usage near the goal line — he has seven touchdowns in his last four games. I’m not sure any defense can handle the problems the Chiefs offense creates, and so I think Williams’ $14,700 salary is appropriate. But consider that the 49ers have the No. 1 DVOA defense against receiving backs and limit opposing backs to just 25 receiving yards per game, the lowest average in football. Williams makes sense as a piece of a Chiefs stack, but I’d prefer to build around Mostert in more daily lineups even though he is less clearly his team’s top option at the position.

The 49ers have the No. 2 DVOA pass defense for the season and limit their opponents’ pass plays by 9% and passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 17% and 11%, respectively. But nothing would scare me away from Patrick Mahomes at this point. He averaged 303 passing yards and 2.3 total touchdowns in his three games versus other top-eight DVOA pass defenses — the Patriots, Ravens, and Bears — this season. And he has thrown for 20 more yards and 0.6 more touchdowns while scoring 3.9 more fantasy points per game on the road than at home since 2017. A healthy 49ers defensive front may sack him or force a turnover, but it will also likely induce some scrambles to further boost Mahomes’ fantasy totals. He ran for 53 yards each of the last two weeks. With a lower expected total of passing touchdowns, I have Mahomes closer to other players in my projections than his $18,900 DraftKings price tag would suggest. But he’s still my No. 1 option for the week.

I expect most daily players will want to stack around Mahomes, and that makes the Chiefs skill players the critical ones to forecast this week. DraftKings prices would lead you to believe that Tyreek Hill ($16,500) is the top choice in that respect, but I ranked Travis Kelce higher. By DVOA, the 49ers look a bit tougher against tight ends (No. 2) than against No. 1 receivers (No. 10). For the season, the 49ers have allowed 34 yards per game to tight ends, the fewest in football. But by my estimation, the 49ers have faced a very easy schedule of opposing tight ends this year. They’ve only matched up with four tight ends who finished in the top 12 at the position for the season — including Tyler Higbee twice, although once before his second-half breakout — and those elite players were productive in those games.

I doubt the 49ers can cover Kelce, and pass pressure may shift some of Mahomes’ target share away from deep passes on the outside and toward his shallower tight end target. And so, despite the bad matchup on paper, I ranked Kelce second among all players this week.

The Chiefs’ secondary receiving options all have incredible DFS upside given their tendencies to score long touchdowns. But Sammy Watkins is a non-starter for me. His $10,500 price tag is about triple that of Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. Watkins may have excelled with seven catches and 114 yards against the Titans two weeks ago, but his 10 catches in the teams’ previous six games since the bye were closer to double the receiving pace of Robinson (six) and Hardman (five). Hardman is the least expensive at $3,300, and I think that makes him the best value.

The 49ers have a clearer pecking order with their receivers, but if the game script falls in their favor, they will likely pass the ball 22 or fewer times like they have in each of their last three games. George Kittle had just 11 catches and 121 yards over that three-game stretch as a primary run-blocker, but his potential is the highest if the 49ers need to pass. The Chiefs are the No. 4 DVOA defense against tight ends, but they have a more transparent susceptibility to tight ends in fantasy than the 49ers do. The Chiefs allow 59 yards per game to the position, sixth-most in football. Kittle is the sixth-most expensive player in DraftKings at $12,600. I ranked him fifth.

Deebo Samuel has overtaken Emmanuel Sanders as the 49ers’ top wide receiver option since mid-December. And given their similar matchup considerations — the Chiefs are top-seven in DVOA defense against both No. 1 and No. 2 receivers — I’m happy to pay the $3,600 surplus to get the former receiver in my lineup. That said, if you need an inexpensive option at the end of you roster, Kendrick Bourne is likely the best value among his team’s receivers. The Chiefs are relatively weak with the No. 21 DVOA defense against other receivers. Playing out of the slot, Bourne has scored six touchdowns on a modest target total in the second half of the season and playoffs. And Bourne is the only 49ers wide receiver besides Samuel and Sanders who has seen a target since Week 12. He’s a strong flier at just $5,100.

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/start-and-sit/2020/start-and-sit-super-bowl-liv

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