Optimal DFS lineups for the Pro Bowl/Super Bowl slate
We’ve sadly reached the end of the 2016-2017 NFL season, which means there’s just one slate of NFL DFS left until preseason comes again in August.
You probably don’t need me to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway: This is a weird DFS slate. The Pro Bowl features a ton of scoring, but it’s mostly spread out in terms of who produces. Fortunately, this year’s Super Bowl should also feature a ton of scoring. As such, my optimal DraftKings (tournament) lineup below features players from both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.
Let’s get to it.
QB: Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($8,700)
Brady was my favorite quarterback entering the week, and that remains the case. His guaranteed volume shines compared to all of the Pro Bowl options, and his matchup is objectively better than Matt Ryan’s — the Falcons gave up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
RB1: Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons ($5,800)
I don’t expect Coleman to do much on the ground, but I do expect him to damage the Patriots through the air. He’s $2,800 cheaper than Devonta Freeman, and while Freeman has a higher ceiling, Coleman has averaged 16.3 DraftKings points per game over his last six outings, while scoring at least one touchdown in five of those six games.
RB2: James White, New England Patriots ($2,900)
White is my shot-in-the-dark tournament play — although it’s not entirely dark. I see a glimmer of light — otherwise I wouldn’t be making this move. White ran 24 pass routes last week while playing 38.4 percent of the snaps, which was just in line with his season average. Dion Lewis ran seven pass routes and played 23.3 percent of the snaps. Does that guarantee it will happen again in the Super Bowl? No. But it does indicate that White’s role as a pass-catching back in New England’s offense is secure. And that’s a great thing against the Falcons, who gave up 109 receptions, 870 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns to running backs this year — all of which were league-high marks. White is also only $2,900.
WR1: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($10,100)
The savings with White allow me to pay up for Jones. And if we’re being honest, it was extremely hard to fit Jones and Julian Edelman (see below) into this lineup. As a result, Jones should be much lower owned than he normally is, making this a contrarian play. Jones as a contrarian play in a projected shootout is a “yes please” for me. I do think Bill Belichick will focus on limiting Jones, but Jones is a freak of nature, and he will still get his.
WR2: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots ($8,900)
Edelman is outrageously expensive. As in, I wouldn’t be doing this on a “normal” week. But he has also been pristine over the past three weeks, topping 100 yards and scoring at least 25 DraftKings points in every game. Edelman has also scored twice in that span after scoring just twice from Weeks 1 to 16. Give me his 8-10 receptions for 80-120 yards and a 50-50 shot at scoring in this slate. We also know Brady will look to Edelman in crunch situations (See: 2014 Super Bowl game-winning touchdown.)
WR3: Mike Evans, NFC ($5,500)
Tall receivers and downfield threats tend to do well in the Pro Bowl. (Okay, okay, everyone tends to do well in the Pro Bowl.) Of all the Pro Bowl wideouts to choose from this year, I simply like Evans’ chances of scoring two touchdowns and topping 100 yards the most. He caught six touchdowns on passes thrown 20-plus yards down the field this year, which was second in the NFL behind Antonio Brown.
TE: Travis Kelce, AFC Team ($4,000)
Flex: Delanie Walker, AFC Team ($3,100)
I’m bunching my explanation for Kelce and Walker together. In my DFS preview article from earlier in the week, I explained why I think going with two tight ends in tournaments is a viable option this week: “Delanie Walker (3-80-1) and Travis Kelce (5-91-2) both dominated at the Pro Bowl last year, while Jimmy Graham (3-30-2) and Greg Olsen (3-52-2) shined in 2014. In 2012, Kyle freakin’ Rudolph was the Pro Bowl MVP after going 5-122-1 in 2012. Walker, Kelce, Graham and Olsen are all options again this week, and I’d be happy to play any of them — or even two of them.”
I’m taking my own advice and slotting Kelce and Walker into this lineup. The savings allow me to pay up for Brady, Edelman, Coleman, and Jones — all of whom are full-time players on this slate — and it doesn’t really limit my ceiling, since as we’ve seen in recent Pro Bowls, the tight ends put up similar numbers to wideouts.
D/ST: All-Pros NFC ($1,000)
Every defense this week is terrible. But the NFC defense costs just $1,000, and the AFC quarterbacks are Alex Smith, Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers. One of last year’s Pro Bowl teams (there was no AFC vs. NFC last year) threw a combined six interceptions — so at least we know a truly awful game is possible. With literally all of the defenses being bad options this week, I’ll gladly just take the cheapest one and use the money elsewhere.