Welcome to the MSG Super Bowl LV Breakdown. I wanted to first thank all of you for being part of FTN and our first NFL season. I know a lot of you have been with me for years now and I truly appreciate the loyalty. Like football stats, I also like to nerd-out on google analytics for the site, and I was flattered to see people have stayed with the breakdown for the entire season, while also reading the article for more time than any year prior. I also want to thank Daniel Kelley for doing such a great job editing this beast all year.
DFS will always be my first love, but prop betting is making its case to take over as my favorite way to get action on a game. If you are in a legal state (or not, just ask around, it’s not that hard) and aren’t pounding prop bets, you are leaving money on the table. Like all markets, they adjust and correct. DFS is no longer in the development stage, there is an edge to be had, but it “ain’t 2015 anymore,” if you catch my drift. Prop betting, though generally a sharp market, is still very beatable, as I and many of our guys have proven over a large sample size.
Overview: pace and playcalling
Great matchup for pace and playcalling, thus the third-highest total in SB history at 56.5.
Tampa Bay is fourth and Kansas City seventh in neutral pace, while both passing at a top-seven overall rate.
These teams start the games aggressively, passing at the Nos. 1 (KC, 69%) and 2 (TB, 66%) rate in the first half this season.
Tampa Bay was second in overall scoring and has scored 30-plus points in six straight.
Kansas City rolled through the regular season, finishing 14-1 with Patrick Mahomes under center (29.6 points per game, fifth).
Both defenses finished in the top-10 in scoring allowed, but Tampa Bay has a big edge in DVOA ranks, a metric that has done very well in predicting the winner of the big game, especially over the past decade. That said, San Francisco had the better overall and defensive DVOA rank last season, and we know how that ended.
As a result of a very good rush defense (first in adjusted line yards allowed), and playing with a lead often, Tampa allowed the lowest rush rate against (22 carries allowed per game). It served them well most of the time, but funneling the Chiefs into more Mahomes pass attempts seems like a -EV proposition.
Kansas City has scored a TD on 71% of their red-zone trips (last three) after scoring a TD on 83% against the Bills. They have scored on 11-of-14 offensive possessions and have punted just once in their last three games and one time (total) in their two postseason games.
Initially published in the FTN Bets Breakdown, updated at the bottom from Friday. We also have a special Super Bowl Injury report and “widget” (located on the home page) of our sites this week, thanks to our partners at ProFootballDoc.
Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher tore his Achilles against Buffalo. Martinas Rankin will start in his place, but likely at right tackle, with Mike Remmers moving over from his normal spot to protect Mahomes’ blind side, as they did last game. Remmers and G Andrew Wylie had their statuses upgraded to “full participation” Thursday. Mahomes was pressured on 28% of his 39 dropbacks (below his season average of 33%).
Mahomes was sacked only once last game (which was credited to Mahomes, per PFF), and completed 6-of-10 attempts for 8.1 YPA. This is the second starting lineman to go down for KC, with Mitchell Schwartz on IR and unlikely to be activated for the Bowl.
TB pressured Mahomes on 34% of dropbacks in Week 12, which is in line with his season average (6.9 YPA with 9 TDs and 3 INTs this season). He completed just 7-of-15 attempts, but he was able to connect with Tyreek Hill on one of those so finished with 109 yards and a TD under pressure.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the other KC player to move from limited Wednesday to full participation Thursday. That is a big move for CEH, who never made it out of limited status prior to the Buffalo game. Seeing him as a full go is encouraging. Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams will be joined by RB Le'Veon Bell to create a three-headed running back by committee for KC. Handicapping the playing time and touches for DFS and prop bets will be a challenge. Williams has dominated in these playoffs, handling 15.5 touches per game, but that was with limited Bell and no CEH against Cleveland and no Bell and a recovering Edwards-Helaire against Buffalo.
Sammy Watkins is the other notable KC offensive player to keep an eye. Watkins is supposed to return after a four-week layoff. Assuming he is back in full, the values of both Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson take a serious hit. Pringle received seven targets on 49 pass routes (5-36-0) in the Chiefs' two playoff games, while Robinson saw just two targets on 60 routes (1-14-0, none against Buffalo). Robinson saw his production cut in half with Watkins in the lineup this season, and now is behind Pringle as well. Watkins got the full practice designation Friday, so he should be good to go.
Robinson spent much of the week on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after being deemed a close contact as a result of the now-infamous team barber who tested positive, but Robinson never tested positive himself so has been removed from the list and is good to go.
On the defensive side, Kansas City standout CB L'Jarius Sneed was in the concussion protocol but was cleared and is good to go.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Unlike Kansas City, Tampa Bay spent the buildup to the game being much more guarded with the injury report, going as far as posting this message on their injury page (KC did not have it).
“Teams participating in the Super Bowl are required to produce injury reports during the bye week. That includes a report on Friday that will have game-status designations for the players' expected status if there was a game on Sunday, January 31. These game-status designations do NOT refer to Super Bowl LV. There will be another round of injury reports the week of the game.”
Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea returned last week after missing 13 games to play 46% of defensive snaps. You would expect the two-week recovery and his second game back to lead to more snaps. Vea finished as one of the highest-graded pass rushers by PFF prior to his injury and also is a beast against the run.
Antonio Brown logged a full practice Thursday and Friday and avoided any swelling after (per CheifsWire.com). DFS players are very prone to recency bias, so Brown (and Watkins) won’t be as popular as they would have been had they played in the Championship Round.
Cameron Brate was added to the injury report as limited with a back issue. I am not worried about it, as it sounds more precautionary. With the injury designation, and his price higher than Rob Gronkowski’s, I assume he will be one of the better lower-owned, value options on the slate.
Showdown basics, FTN SB content
(I tend to concentrate on DK for showdown slates. The FanDuel showdown product is terrible.)
Before going into strategy and roster construction, you should know what your goal is. Are you playing $50-$100 as a supplement to all your prop bets, parlays, boxes, etc.? Or are you a DFS grinder that is approaching this slate as you do with every other slate? When you figure that out, you will need to let those goals lead you to proper contest selection. The best way to play these large-field GPPs is to run 150 lineups, if that is out of your price range, or you aren’t comfortable with your process to create them, seek out the single-entry and three-max contests.
You can get even more Showdown goodness from my football spirit animal, Derek Brown, whose big football brain is perfect for going deep into showdown slates.
If you didn’t submit a lineup from TwoGun’s core every week, you did it wrong. In addition to the picks, Michael has shown us a never-before-seen look into how a mega-whale goes about his NFL/DFS business. My big takeaway and something I have already applied to my own play is his commitment to his process. Bad DFS players chase points and players, but they also chase their process. One week they are in cash, the next in large GPPs and qualifiers, the next they try to mass enter. TwoGun has his process, both in contest selection and lineup construction/player selection, and he repeats it every week without fail. He ended up as the 22nd-ranked NFL player on RotoGrinders thanks to five seats in the DK final and a four-week stretch where he won well over a million. Those that say this is due to his (very) large bankroll are morons (sorry, there is no way to sugarcoat it). Putting $50k a week in the hands of a bad DFS player would yield horrific results. Generally, high-stakes paylines are higher than lower-dollar GPPs, so tailing the guy consistently winning a $5k single-entry GPP against 100 of the world’s best players can be very useful for players that are in the $100 or $50 single entry GPPs.
DraftKings contest selection
DK Millionaire Maker — Got an extra $4,444 to play for a Million bucks on a one-game slate? Then this is your tourney. DK is rolling out a 750-entry, $3,000,000 prize-pool Milly Maker, which is currently half full when writing this. Like with most Milly Makers, there is a massive, $800,000 fall-off from first to second place, which could be decided by a half-point or less, or more likely tied with 50 or so of your closest friends that have the same winning lineup (9.9% rake).
DK is also featuring a 150-Max, $5,555,000 GPP with a $10 entry fee that is also a Milly Maker (15% rake!). It too was only half full Friday, but they usually fill closer to kickoff as all the pros enter their 150 lineups. I have stayed away from Milly Makers and qualifiers (for the most part) for two seasons and have been rewarded with a more consistent and higher ROI. That said, it is the Super Bowl, so I will likely toss 20 lineups in this one.
NFL $250K Power Streak (three-entry max) — I prefer these three-max contests, as you know by now. This one pays $100,000 to first, $40,000 to second and $20,000 to third (9.99% rake).
This and the $100 Hot Route (10% rake) and the $50 Red Zone are the first three contests you should be entering on a weekly basis, though the $50 contest is a bit more expensive (12% rake).
For those looking for bigger buy-ins, check out the $200 Double-Spy, which has a balanced payout structure, $50k to first, $25k to second (9.9% rake).
Another contest to focus (if you don’t have a huge bankroll) is the 20-max, $3 “Play-Action” GPP. Here you can max out entries at only $60. You can build some lineups from this article, Kyle’s model, TwoGun, Derek, David, etc. and have a nice mix of roster construction. This contest has a high rake of 15.9%.
Everyone have talked about correlating plays in the showdown contests. You want your lineups to fit a script, as the way the game plays out will determine what the “optimal lineup” is.
In this game, the “chalk” script is easy: Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady in a shootout. Because of that, Mahomes, Brady and Travis Kelce will likely be 60-70% in all contests. That is about right, as those three would be the high scorers in (at least 60-70% of simulated games). So there is being contrarian (mixing in a lower-owned player or two), and there is being crazy (stacking defenses and kickers). If this turns into a low-scoring, defensive battle and some asshole wins with two kickers and two defenses, all the power to him (or her). I would rather be wrong then go into the SB with these two high-scoring teams rooting for field goals and turnovers. I suppose it is fine if you are entering 150 lineups, but no way I do it in a 20-max. I would prefer mixing and matching 20 combos of all these talented skill position players.
Looking back at some historical trends in these contests, using the WR1 in the captain spot is a way to get leverage, as most tend to put the QB. Both teams have absolute monsters playing WR, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Kelce and Tyreek Hill all having 30-plus-point fantasy upside.
To squeeze in the ultra-expensive options, consider punting the captain spot with a “WR3 type” (Mecole Hardman, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski), which will allow you to fill out your roster with solid options. I don’t mind mixing in a kicker or D here and there, But I’m not looking for the full-blown defensive battle that leads to them all having higher scores than position players.
Core 1: Mahomes/Brady/Kelce (This certainly won’t be unique, but it is the optimal way to start a build) Core 2: Mahomes/Fournette/Kelce (Brady fade) Core 3: Mahomes/Hill/Kelce/Hardman (KC wins BIG. You can switch out Hill or Kelce for Brady to get another lineup) Core 4: Brady/Godwin (can also use Evans here)/Brown/Mahomes/Edwards-Helaire
Underweight: Both kickers
It’s a one-game slate, so if you multi-enter you should end up with some exposure to all viable offensive players. That said, there will still be some players who will be underweight on the field.
If kickers are the right way to go, I am OK losing my money. That will still feel better than investing in kickers for the Super Bowl featuring two GOATS at QB.
At this point, Kelce is the toughest player in the NFL to fade. He has six straight games with 10-plus targets, with the 15-target (13-catch) performance he had in the Conference Championship game against Buffalo representing his high-water marks in both categories. Tampa was 25th against TEs in DVOA and allowed the fifth-most receptions per game to the position. Tyreek Hill stole the show in Week 12, but Kelce still ended up with 8-88-0 on 8 targets. He also has some narrative street working in his favor with the league's most dominant TE of all time on the other side of the field. Kelce has outscored Mahomes on DK in four of their last five games.
There’s lots of speculation about how Tampa will try and slow down Mahomes. Whether they blitz heavy (Tampa Bay blitzed at a 39% rate, fifth-highest), or they drop back in nickel and dime and protect against big plays, Mahomes should get his 300-plus yards and multiple TDs. In Week 12, Kansas City ran the ball just 17 times against this tough front seven, 8 attempts below the season average. That led to 462 passing yards and 3 TDs for Mahomes on a season-high 49 pass attempts (39 per game this season). I covered the breakdown of the issues on the offensive line, and I do expect Tampa to get pressure with Kansas City rolling out a patchwork unit. That said, Mahomes is one of the best when under pressure and should be able to move around better after the two-week layoff has given his toe more time to heal. When he does get outside the pocket and buy time, defenders are asked to cover Hill and Kelce for an extended period, which we know doesn’t work. He has averaged 27.92 DraftKings points per game in seven playoff games.
Brady averaged 38.1 pass attempts per game (second) and has passed 40-plus times in four-of-seven games. He finished with 40 TD passes (second) and had at least 2 TD throws in 14-of-15 games.
Like always with Brady, pressure is the key and only real way to slow him down (30th in pressure completion). The TB offensive line has been great, allowing just a 22.8% pressure rate in the playoffs after 24.4% in the regular season (fourth among all eligible QBs). The big boys up front are the unsung heroes, as Brady has been pretty bad when pressured. He is 6-for-21,124 passing yards (3 sacks and an INT for a 31 QB rating). That is night-and-day compared to when he is kept clean, where he has a 105.0 passer rating (7 TDs).
I’m not worried about the layoff with Watkins. His problem from day one in the league has been injuries, so time off has always benefited him, whether it is in Week 1 of the regular season (19.1 FPPG in his career), or in the playoffs (17.73 FPPG in three postseason games with Mahomes). He averages 4.67-96-.33 TDs p/g in those three games, making him my “X” factor for this slate at his discount price and low (for a one-game slate) ownership.
For more info on Hill’s CB/WR matchup with TB CB Jamel Dean in the lineup (he did not play in Week 12), be sure to check out our WR/CB matchup tool and Jeff Ratcliffe’s WR/CB matchup article. I think he is good for another 90-100 yards and a TD to follow his epic Week 12 performance against this secondary.
Fournette has served us very well this postseason, averaging 21 touches per game for 104.3 total yards (21 fantasy points, 5.6 targets per game). He is on a TD streak also, scoring five times in his last six games. Kansas City finished 10th overall in points allowed to backs, the fourth-most targets and third-most receptions (25th in adjusted line yards allowed).
The Chiefs allowed 4.5 yards per carry to backs (20th) and allowed 141.8 total yards per game to opposing backfields during the season (28th), with eight different backs hitting 100 yards from scrimmage. That said, the Chiefs did allow just 10 touchdowns to opposing backs, which was tied for second-fewest in the league.
Even if Ronald Jones gets a larger workload with the extra time off, Fournette is a much safer bet. He can’t be gamescripted out, as he has run a pass route on 37.4% of the team dropbacks compared to 26.5% for Jones. Jones has not caught more than one pass in a game since Week 9 while Fournette played 20 passing snaps when these teams last played compared to eight for Jones.
Tampa Bay has been a bit of a nightmare for usage since Brown was acquired. Now all the other pass catchers have to contend with Fournette, who has become a fixture in the passing game. On a full slate, they made sense because their ownership was always low. But with both WRs projected to be higher-owned than Fournette and twice as high as Brown, they are not high on my exposure ranks. Godwin is usually the more popular option and is projected to be higher owned in Kyle’s model, which has me higher on Evans. Evans is a red-zone/goal-line beast, trailing only Davante Adams with 14 goal-line catches this season.
Hardman’s splits were almost identical with and without Watkins, so he retains his value in showdown contests, though anytime you add another “mouth to feed” the target distribution gets diluted (unless your name is Travis or Tyreek).
I absolutely hate kickers, but Butker should get 1-2 FGs and 3-4 extra points if this game goes in favor of KC. You can say the same for Ryan Succop. Both are fine plays when looking for a cheap “final” player to round out your LU.
I feel like nailing the KC RB situation (whether it be completely fade it or playing the correct player) will have a big factor on the slate. I always prefer the younger, more talented player, especially one who was taken in the first round this season. That said, we know Andy Reid likes his trusted veteran, who has back-to-back games with 13 carries this postseason. Again, CEH is just a far superior player and has more upside to make the most out of his 8-12 (hopefully 15) touches. He also has slate-breaking upside if KC decides to throw to him, with Tampa dead last in RB catches allowed per game.
Fournette’s emergence has led to a major slide in Jones’ playing time and has eliminated his usage in the passing game. Fournette outsnapped RoJo by nearly 30 snaps per game in their last two and has out-touched him 39-23 in that time. That said, 13 and 10 rush attempts at $2.2k is not the worst play in showdown if you are using Jones as a punt to fit in high-priced stacks. He also has some upside if Tampa ends up controlling the game. I realize that is an outlier, but we are talking about a $2.2k play on a one-game slate, if it were something that was probable, he wouldn’t be that price. He managed 9-66-0 in the shootout in Week 12 in addition to 2-37-1 through the air for 17.3 fantasy points. Even if we remove the passing work, the 66 rush yards would be enough for him to hit 3x.
DST can swing a slate with random tipped passes that end up as INTs or even defensive TDs. Even the best QB can’t control his player making a mistake that ends up in six, so we have to look at these guys like we treat the kickers. If you need a cheap sixth player on DK, both can’t create sacks and turnovers, even if they do allow points.
Pringle and Robinson are both candidates to post a donut with Watkins and CEH back in the lineup. You are hoping they catch 1-2 balls and one of them is either a long pass play or a TD. I don’t think Mahomes likes throwing it to Robinson very much and would prefer to throw to almost anyone else, including Pringle. I will have very little exposure to these guys.
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