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NFL Bowl Game DFS: Finding the Edge

You’re probably thinking that NFL DFS season is over now that we only have the Super Bowl remaining, but not so fast.  DraftPros is here to cover all grounds and the NFL DFS season is still very much alive. DraftKings happens to have a couple of Bowl Game contests that incorporate both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. As wacky as this may sound, you could invest $23 this week and come out with $40,000, so it’s imperative to do homework and make the smartest selections possible considering there’s great potential to win big. I get it, it’s almost impossible to study an exhibition game but there is always an edge.

Rosters for the Pro Bowl have not been finalized, so as of right now, all you can do is reserve your entry into these DraftKings’ contests.  I’ve been doing a bit of homework and definitely see some areas to attack and avoid. The Pro Bowl is a tricky spot because there are many players who see their playing time limited as workloads are often reduced to just a few plays. However, there have been some standout performances in the Pro Bowl that brought DFS success to experts in the past. For example, last year Matthew Stafford threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 passing attempts. Golden Tate also had a big game, finishing with 98 receiving yards on just two catches. While DFS experts entering this contest should focus most of their efforts on the Super Bowl, there will definitely be some value in the Pro Bowl. Here are some statistics to help you construct a strategy for the Bowl game contests. Enjoy!

A Carolina Panthers helmet.
A Carolina Panthers helmet.

Defense: Carolina Panthers

Last year there were two total interceptions in the Pro Bowl and the scoring is ridiculously high.  Keep in mind that there is no hard hitting, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see many fumbles. In 2014 there was a lot more turnovers, as five quarterbacks featured in the Pro Bowl threw a total of six interceptions. The fact that it’s an exhibition game leans toward a heavy scoring matchup and this will undoubtedly hurt your team if you select either the Team Irvin or Team Rice defense. Go the safe route and select the Carolina Panthers. As good as the Denver Broncos defense was against the Patriots, the Panthers have protection and will not allow Cam Newton to get hit as much as Tom Brady did. In contrast, the Panthers made the Arizona Cardinals passing defense, the second best in the league heading into the conference championship games, look like a mess. Carson Palmer threw four interceptions, fumbled twice and was never in the game against the Panthers. Therefore it’s best to go with the safest route and select the Carolina Panthers as your DST.

Receivers: Go with the Pro Bowl

Last year, Team Irvin had a total of 463 receiving yards while Team Carter had 351 total receiving yards. The Pro Bowl is always expected to be an offensive showcase, so it’s integral that your lineup is filled with receivers playing in this meaningless game. Both the Broncos and Panthers have terrific defenses that could limit each other but there are some stars in the Pro Bowl that could definitely break out. Odell Beckham Jr. is a name I have circled as he finished last year’s game with 89 receiving yards on five catches. These receivers will get plenty looks and as I mentioned before, this is not a hard-hitting game which means receivers will find themselves in open space.

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Quarterbacks: Lean towards the Super Bowl

Pricing has not been released yet, so I can’t tell you to take either Cam Newton or Peyton Manning but I’d go with one of those two before I select a Pro Bowl quarterback. While Stafford was spectacular last year, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns, the limited workload affects Pro Bowl Quarterbacks. The starting quarterbacks tend to get approximately 20 attempts and rarely do ever throw for more than 200 yards. In the last two years, twelve quarterbacks have played in the Pro Bowl and Stafford is the only quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards. Stafford is also the only quarterback over the last two years to attempt more than 22 passes, which heavily favors the Super Bowl quarterbacks.

Running Backs: Avoid the Pro Bowl

Don’t get infatuated with the big names on the Pro Bowl rosters, as they are unlikely to live up to expectations on DraftKings. In the past two years there have been 21 running backs playing in the Pro Bowl, which exemplifies exactly how crowded these backfields are. Of these 21 running backs, only one player has rushed for more than 50 yards, with Mark Ingram pacing the pack with 72 rushing yards on eleven carries. Also, there has only been one rushing touchdown scored in the Pro Bowl over the last two years and that wasn’t even scored by a running back, as Cam Newton found pay dirt on the ground in 2014. There is little to no value for these running backs, who do not get much run in the red zone and have to split their carries with five to six other backs, so go with Jonathan Stewart or C.J. Anderson, who will both have a bigger workload than any Pro Bowl back.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88).
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88).

Tight Ends: Lean towards the Pro Bowl

During the 2015 Pro Bowl, four of the eight touchdowns in the game were scored by tight ends as both Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham had two touchdowns each. Of course, neither of these players will be playing in the Pro Bowl, but it shows that in the red zone, these offenses tend to lean towards the tight end. In 2014, Jordan Cameron and Jimmy Graham each scored a touchdown, meaning there have been six total touchdowns from tight ends in the last two Pro Bowls. While Owen Daniels had two touchdowns against the Patriots in the Conference Championship game, he will face tougher coverage against the Panthers. Greg Olsen has been electric this season but the Denver defense will also do their best to cover him, giving the edge to players playing in the Pro Bowl.

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