DFS with Doug: Super Bowl Edition

Apologies to everyone for no DFS article last week. There was a medical situation in my family. Things are fine, and everyone will be okay, but there was a lot of uncertainty at the time. Enough of that, though; let’s talk some Super Bowl Daily Fantasy! A year ago, I wrote my first article for DFF. It was a DFS article for last year’s Super Bowl. Hopefully, those who read last year’s article were able to make some money. 

Showdown Strategy

The first thing we need to discuss is Showdown strategy. If you have been reading the articles all season, we have been discussing “Classic” roster construction. Showdown is an entirely different animal. In Showdown, you select only six players, and those can be from any position, including D/ST and even Kickers. There is a small catch: one of the players you select is different from the other. You designate one player as “Captain” on your roster. This player will cost you 1.5x their normal salary but also receive 1.5x the fantasy points. 

There are two big principles I consider when building Showdown lineups for GPPs: correlation and duplication. In a single-game showdown slate, every single point can be so important in winning the whole tournament or finishing just above the cash line. The margins are so razor-thin. When building a Showdown lineup, envision a game script that matches your selected captain. I use a couple of “rules” when building a Showdown lineup.

  1. Pair a CPT QB with at least 2 of his WRs, TEs, or K
  2. Pair a CPT WR/TE with his QB
  3. Pair any CPT QB/WR/TE with at least 1 QB/RB/WR/TE from the opposing team

There are other small correlations, but these are ones I will start with and only ignore with specific intentions. We do have some room for some modification for specific games. For example, a Brock Purdy lineup could use Christian McCaffrey as part of that same group with the WRs/TEs/K for the 49ers. 

The other major discussion we need to have is duplication. If you have been reading my articles all season, you know how much I emphasize avoiding duplication to maximize payouts when you hit a lineup. In Showdown, with only six roster spots and five of them effectively, the same position group creates a lot of opportunity for duplication. If the field is large enough, it is nearly impossible to completely avoid duplication, but we can minimize it. These are the main strategies I use to avoid being dup’d.

  • Leaving Salary on the table
  • Anti Correlation

The first is one I lean on a bunch when a Showdown isn’t priced particularly tight. I will still avoid using all $50,000 of my available salary, but leaving over $2-3K on the table when a slate is priced as tight as this one may be giving up too much point equity. I could only see doing that here if your captain is someone in the $8K ($12K for the CPT salary). If you do go cheaper at captain, you should be leaving some salary to avoid doing what many lineups do with a cheap captain: squeeze in all the studs. 

Anti Correlation is intentionally ignoring a correlation or even putting anti-correlated players in the same lineup. So, for example, early this year, the Seahawks played against the Eagles. The winning lineup of the biggest contest that night was a 5×1 Seahawks lineup with an Eagles captain. Not just any Eagles captain, Jalen Hurts. Completely ignoring the correlation between a quarterback and his pass catchers because Jalen Hurts is a unique type of quarterback who could rush for two touchdowns and throw for none in a game. This could also be playing an RB captain and playing his backup as well, a quarterback captain with the opposing D/ST, multiple tight ends, etc. Playing these pieces that do not correlate together is a great way to get different.

Finding the balance between a lineup that has enough correlation to occur but also has enough to make it different from every other lineup that has those pieces in it. 


The Players

Tier One (price at flex)

These are the best plays on the slate. I think most lineups will have at least one of these players in the flex if not at captain. For smaller fields, I do love all of these plays, but in larger fields, I may fade the quarterbacks to some extent. I plan to build 150 lineups, so I won’t completely fade them at captain, but I will be underweight on the field. The issue with quarterback captains is they need to spread the ball around quite a bit to avoid having one of their specific pass catchers being the optimal captain. They usually end up higher owned than they should be, given how the scoring plays out. I will play a lot of the quarterbacks in the flex spot, though. 

Tier Two

This is the group I will be hammering in for my captains this week. They all offer multiple touchdown upside at much lower ownership than the players from the first group while also opening up a bunch of salary so you can still access the fantasy points of those top-tier players. These guys will also be a big part of all builds except the extreme stars-and-scrubs builds. This is the lowest I will be going for captains for this particular slate. There are different philosophies, and many folks will play the punt captain to squeeze in all the other pieces. It is very infrequent and usually odd game scripts that lead to the punt captain being optimal. Most of the time, the optimal captain is the player who scores the most points during the game or a player very close to them in points but a couple thousand cheaper. So you want guys with a realistic chance of scoring the most points during the game or close to it. From this group, I’m prioritizing Pacheco and Aiyuk as my captains. I am leaning toward Chiefs (+2.5) from a betting perspective, so I will lean into that for my DFS lineups.

Tier Three

Now we get to discuss kickers and defenses. In general, defenses and kickers get way more ownership than they should, especially at captain. They lack a lot of the ceiling that traditional position players have for fantasy purposes. I say this, but this season, D/STs and Ks have had a great showing in Showdowns thanks to so many low-scoring prime-time games. I stand by taking the upside and the ownership discount of guys like Jennings, MVS, and even some of the guys in the lower tiers for salary relief. Many people building lineups on the toilet will just click a D/ST or a K because it’s easy to do. I will still play kickers and D/STs some, but I will limit to only one per lineup and put a cap somewhere between 15-20% on each of them. 

Tier Four

So we have our backup RBs and the Chiefs’ lower tier of pass catchers. You will first need to figure out which of these KC WRs is the healthy scratch. I’m guessing at least one will not be dressed on Sunday. Skyy Moore is just coming back from IR. Last year, CEH was in the same position but was a healthy scratch. It is a different position group, though, and the alternative is likely Kadarius Toney. Monitor that situation because if you can find the random Chief to catch a touchdown, then your lineup gets a huge boost, and you know Mahomes and Andy Reid will find a way to get an oddball touchdown for someone. I love the running backs here at their price and ownership. In particular, if you want to fade CMC at captain (you can still flex him), Mitchell makes a great leverage play if you project a game script where he vultures a touchdown or two from McCaffrey. Noah Gray has redzone upside and a surprisingly decent target share, but will likely be the most popular play in this group thanks to his well-defined role. 

Tier Five:

Kyle Juszczyk: $800

Jordan Mason: $600

Richie James Jr.: $400

Ray-Ray McCloud III: $200

Chris Conley: $200

Brayden Willis: $200

Charlie Woerner: $200

La’Mical Perine: $200

For those who play traditional DFS but not Showdown, this may be the biggest hurdle. With the players in this salary range, you need so little for them to pay off. If Juszczyk matches his NFC championship performance of 1 rush for 3 yards and two receptions for 33 yards, it is the equivalent of Christian McCaffrey scoring 84 fantasy points from a FPTS/$ perspective. I will give you a small correlation I like to squeeze, in lineups with either Richie James Jr. or Ray-Ray McCloud, I will likely force their own D/ST into those lineups. One of the ways those guys may get there is through a punt or kick return touchdown, which also counts toward the fantasy points of their own D/ST. There will be low ownership on all these guys for the most part unless one gets steamed by game time. With pricing this tight, that could easily happen. I think Juszczyk is the most likely to get some steam since he does have a real role, and for roster-building purposes, $800 and $200 aren’t massive differences. Similar to the group above, watch actives and inactives for this group. While nobody in this group is an injury concern, we could see a healthy scratch here to open up another player that one of these teams wants active for gameplan reasons.  


Gut Play

Isiah Pacheco: $8,000 ($12,000 at CPT)

This is sticking with my projected game script. From a sports betting perspective, we see the Chiefs getting more bets placed on them while the money is closer to even. We can imply some amount of sharp money being placed on the 49ers from this. Despite this, I will ride for the public here and lean with the Chiefs. I learned this with Tom Brady. When there is a guy that is that dude, you bet on him every time, and you are profitable in the long run. If that’s the case, perhaps I should say Mahomes himself or even Kelce. I am leaning toward Pacheco, as I can see Andy Reid using the run game near the goalline during this game. The Chiefs have done an excellent job this year of leaning into their strengths of running the ball and playing good defense. 

Good luck to everyone this Super Bowl with betting and DFS. We will be without the NFL for a long time, so enjoy watching the game. 

Thanks so much for reading. If you want to discuss more, you can reach me on Twitter @DougHarrelson. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our Dynasty Football Factory Membership to get all things Dynasty, DFS, Sports Betting, Devy, and IDP. Annual subscribers also get access to our discord server, where you can talk to our entire staff!