IDP Snap Report: Super Bowl

| 4 years ago

IDP Snap Report: Super Bowl

We are now just days away from the Super Bowl. The lucky few are still playing fantasy football, and there are prop bets galore. Typically the Snap Report just looks at linebackers, but this week I will open up to the entire defensive side of the ball. Here is how all of the defensive players will be used in this game, which can help you win whatever fantasy challenge or bet you have.

Ravens Defensive Line

The Ravens run a 3-4 defense. The 49ers run almost exclusively out of a one or two wide receiver set, which means Baltimore should remain in their 3-4 base defense for nearly the entire game. At defensive end the most well-known Baltimore defense is Haloti Ngata, and he makes a tackle on 8.7% of his run snaps. If you need one defensive linemen Ngata is the one to have. Across from him will be Arthur Jones who will likely see anywhere between one and three tackles, and has a small chance for a sack. DeAngelo Tyson should see more snaps than usual and will likely also be good for one or two tackles. Pernell McPhee is a more recognized player on the line, but he typically just plays in the nickel defense, so he will see few if any snaps.

At Nose tackle, Ma’ake Kemoeatu has stepped up his game as of late, has three tackles in three of his last four games, and should see even more playing time due to the 49ers offense. He will have the best game of the nose tackles. Terrence Cody will be rotated in as well, but he only has two tackles over the last seven games so he gives little if any fantasy value.

49ers Defensive Line

The 49ers also run a 3-4 defense where Justin Smith and Ray McDonald will play nearly every snap at defensive end. Justin Smith is by far the best defensive lineman you could have in any sort of fantasy system or prop bet. He will go up against some of the weakest linemen in the Super Bowl, and three tackles has been his floor even with his injury.  Ray McDonald could very well be the second best defensive line option simply due to his snaps. Last time he played the Ravens and went up against Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher, he had five tackles. At nose tackle the 49ers have Isaac Sopoaga, but he won’t see as much playing time as the Ravens nose tackles. Ricky Jean Francois and Will Tukuafu will see limited playing time, and each will be lucky to get a tackle.

Ravens and 49ers Inside Linebackers

To keep things simple, the 49ers and Ravens both have their inside linebackers play every down. For the 49ers that means Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, while for the Ravens that is Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis. There is certainly a debate to be had on who will have the biggest fantasy impact as Bowman and Ellerbe were getting tackles in the regular season, while Willis and Lewis have in the playoffs.  The Ravens will face the run more than the pass, and Lewis has 19 run tackles in the playoffs compared to Ellerbe’s ten. It would be hard to pick against Lewis right now. Bowman has just nine tackles in the last three games, so he will likely be the worst of the four to choose.

Ravens Outside Linebackers

Baltimore will use some sort of rotation of Terrell Suggs, Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw at outside linebacker. These past two weeks it has been Kruger has played at least 93% of snaps, with Suggs also seeing the majority and Upshaw just giving the starters a rest when need be. Things could be very different this week as the Ravens are going from playing two very pass heavy teams to a run heavy one.  This should mean a lot more snaps for Upshaw, and with the second best Run Stop Percentage for 3-4 outside linebackers it could mean a big game for him. These past two games, Suggs has had six and four tackles after not having more than three all regular season. While Upshaw and Suggs will get the tackles, Kruger has the best chance of the Ravens to get sacks. It will be a little difficult as he will mostly go up against right tackle Anthony Davis who hasn’t allowed a sack in his last five games.

49ers Outside Linebackers

Unless there is a point in the game where Ahmad Brooks or Aldon Smith needs to sit out a few snaps, they are both likely to play 100% of the snaps. This already makes them more attractive options then the Ravens outside linebackers. If you need a pass rusher, Aldon Smith is your man as he will be against Bryant McKinnie. Ahmad Brooks hasn’t had more than three tackles since Week 10, and has just one sack over his last seven games so he isn’t likely to have a great game. You can rely on him for two to three tackles but that is about it. If you want a sure thing then Brooks is the second best option, but if you are willing to take a little more of a gamble go with one of the Ravens.

Ravens Defensive Backs

At cornerback Cary Williams and Corey Graham will play every snap while Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard will play every down at safety. Because of how rarely the 49ers use three receiver sets, Chykie Brown and Jimmy Smith should rarely if ever see the field. Corey Graham has 20 tackles over the last two weeks, but that was partially due to being targeted 27 times. He won’t be targeted as much because of the 49ers run game, and he also will make less tackles because he will be spending less time in the slot. Cary Williams has been much more consistent at getting tackles, so he should be the cornerback to use fantasy wise. Bernard Pollard makes more tackles in both the pass and run game than Ed Reed, so although Reed has the bigger name, Pollard is the better fantasy option. With how much the Ravens could put an extra man in the box, Pollard could very well be the best fantasy defensive back this weekend.

49ers Defensive Backs

The 49ers will use Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown at cornerback, with Rogers going into the slot with Chris Culliver coming in out wide for the nickel defense.  Both Ravens cornerbacks make more tackles in general than the 49ers ones, so if you had to pick cornerbacks go with the two in Baltimore. If you had to pick a 49ers cornerback, Chris Culliver has made more tackles and interceptions this year so he would be the man to go with. At safety Dashon Goldson has made 28 tackles to Donte Whitner’s 17 in the run game, while Whitner has 51 in the pass game to Goldson’s 38. If you assume the game will stay close or be a Ravens victory, Goldson is the man to have. If you think the Ravens will fall behind and be forced to pass late in the game, then Whitner is the man to have. Regardless, the man you choose is the second best option to Pollard for defensive backs.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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