The 2018 NFL season boils down to one final showdown between two juggernauts – the AFC’s New England Patriots against the NFC’s Los Angeles Rams. A rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI will play out this Sunday night, with the CBS duo of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo set to call play-by-play and color, respectively.
Now, for the upcoming single-game showdown…
In case you’re unaware of how a DraftKings (DK) single-game contest works, you pick 6 players from the game that you think will score the most fantasy points within a $50,000 budget and the more points your lineup scores, the more money you win. The thing is, you need at least one player from each team in order to make a valid lineup.
You pick one player to be your ‘Captain’, who earns 1.5x the points a player would normally earn – this means a receiving or rushing TD is worth 9 points instead of 6 for this player only, so you basically slot in the guy you think will kill it.
That being said, DK operates differently from FanDuel (FD) with single-game contests, with the key differences being:
- FD’s single-game contests have 5 players while DK’ has 6.
- FD’s salary cap is $60,000 while DK’ is $50,000.
- DK offers kickers AND defense/special teams in their single-game contests, while FD only offers kickers out of the two.
- DK calls the top player in your lineup the ‘Captain’, while FD refers to them as the ‘MVP’.
- FD prices players at a set price, with the MVP costing the same as if he were a flex player… conversely, DK prices players regularly, however the Captain costs 1.5x his original price. (So Tom Brady on FD is worth $15,500 but he’d cost the same if he were your MVP.. if you pick Brady on DK, he’s worth $10,600 normally. In your Captain slot, he’d go for $15,900!)
- Lastly, FD operates on a .5 PPR scoring system, so each reception is worth half a point. On DK, each reception is a full point. Also, DK offers bonuses for players, namely for 300+ passing yards and 100+ receiving/rushing yards.
Noting these differences, an ideal way to save money and stack multiple studs in your DK lineup is to pick a Captain that is normally pretty cheap to play. In this Patriots-Rams matchup, a guy like Rex Burkhead ($7,200 Captain cost) or Chris Hogan ($5,700 Captain cost) could be a solid Captain play. Both players are seeing a lot of snaps despite their low cost. Burkhead of late has been seeing a lot of goal-line work, which earned him 2 TDs against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game, including the game-winner.
With this all in mind, don’t only play cheap plays at Captain. Chances are one of the top-priced guys will be the one to explode. My top guy in this game is Sony Michel. While I respect what Tom Brady has done in his past two Super Bowls with his arm, I’m thinking the Patriots lean more on the running game in this one. Michel has seen a whopping 53 carries out of the backfield in two playoff games, rushing for 242 yards and 5(!!) TDs. Clearly the Patriots love the young Georgia product, and up against his former teammate in Todd Gurley, Michel will want to put up major numbers. With the workload he’s been getting, a Captain salary of $10,200 is honestly a steal. On the year, the Rams were fairly run-of-the-mill against the run, allowing 114 yards per game to opposing rushers. However, in their last three games, the Rams have stifled opposing backs to 75 yards a game. Against the Rams’ defensive line featuring Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, running won’t be easy.. however, the Patriots have made their way to the Big Game through the run. The “three-headed monster” of Michel, James White and Burkhead make the Patriots very effective at time management and ball control, which I think will be huge factors in this game.
(Image courtesy of ESPN.com)
Putting Michel at Captain leaves $39,800 for the rest of my lineup. That’s room to fit in guys that are sure to score some points, like Tom Brady ($10,600) and Julian Edelman ($10,800). These three leave $18,400 left for three flex spots. At this point, choosing someone cheap will help to spread out the remaining money effectively. Tyler Higbee ($2,200) has seen 4 targets in each of the Rams’ playoff games thus far, including scoring a TD against the Saints. He could see a few more targets if Super Bowl LIII ends up being a back-and-forth shootout, so he may be a sleeper play. Stephen Gostkowski ($3,200) is one of the best kickers in the league (and in NFL history, let’s be real), and he’s made all three of his field goal attempts thus far in this playoff run. Expect him to see at least one or two FG opportunities while also having a safe floor with extra points; if Gostkowski gets you 8-10, that’s a pretty decent score from a low salary like his.
Choosing Gostkowski leaves you with $15,200 for two flex spots.. you could go high and choose Jared Goff ($10,000) for the chance of him throwing 300+ yards, Todd Gurley ($9,000) or C.J. Anderson ($5,200) in the hopes that they bowl over the Patriots, or choose one of his receivers in Brandin Cooks ($8,200) or Robert Woods ($7,800) and hope they go off. I like Cooks personally for this matchup – it’s a second-straight rivalry game for him as he faces the team that traded him away. Cooks caught 7 of his 8 targets for 107 yards, and while he didn’t score, the 100+ yard bonus added to his day for DK players that played him during the Championship weekend. Consider him a borderline must-start against New England.
Slotting in Cooks leaves me with $7,000. I typically don’t like leaving more than $300-$600 of cap space, but in this case, I’m going for it. Rob Gronkowski ($6,000) has been utilized more for his blocking ability than his pass-catching of late. This doesn’t translate well on the fantasy side of things, but I have a hunch the Patriots will try and get Gronk the ball early and often in this one. Now don’t get me wrong – Gronk will still block, as having him as an “extra offensive lineman” on running plays is a big part of the Patriots’ recent success on the ground – but Gronk is a big part of the passing attack that should see plenty of use as he’s been on this stage more often than most guys. With Rams’ cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib shadowing guys like Edelman and Hogan, I think Gronk is that X-factor that’s going to see attention, particularly in the red zone. Leaving $1,000 worth of salary hurts a bit, but I’m hoping my hunch of Gronk pays off this weekend.
So to recap:
CAPTAIN – RB Sony Michel, $10,200
FLEX – WR Julian Edeman, $10,800
FLEX – QB Tom Brady, $10,600
FLEX – WR Brandin Cooks, $8,200
FLEX – TE Rob Gronkowski, $6,000
FLEX – K Stephen Gostkowski, $3,200
TOTAL – $59,000 — $1,000 remaining
Best of luck to you all this Super Bowl weekend!