FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Super Bowl LIII

Can Todd Gurley bounce back in a big way for Super Bowl LIII, or should we be avoiding him on FanDuel?

If you've never played daily fantasy football on FanDuel before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every week.

Here at numberFire we offer great tools for premium members. The analysis below is meant to help you understand why some of these players are top picks in our tools and projections because we don't want you going into the weekend completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things can change drastically if an injury is announced, so make sure you're double-checking the tools and projections as close as possible to kickoff.

Speaking of tools for premium members, we've introduced Sharpstack, designed specifically for single-game slates. Sharpstack utilizes historical performances and relationships to identify correlated players and help specialize our lineups for the best what-if scenarios. For example, if Tom Brady throws for five touchdowns, it's far more likely that it's his receiving back, James White, outperformed his red zone back, Sony Michel.

Let's break down the Super Bowl from a DFS perspective with a little help from some Sharpstack simulations.

Game Format

Like we saw last week for the Pro Bowl, the format for the Super Bowl slate is different than what you've played all season on FanDuel.

For this week's Super Bowl, you roster five players -- regardless of position. One of them has his points multiplied by 1.5. That's your MVP.

You have the usual $60,000 salary cap for your five flex spots, and you have to roster at least one player from each team. Scoring is the same as usual, aside from the player you choose to flex in the MVP slot.

General Trends

Anything can happen in a single game, but one of the constants in the past few Super Bowls has been quarterback production.

Percentage of Top "X" Scorers by Position
(Past 10 Super Bowls)
Top Top 3 Top 5
Quarterback 40% 43% 36%
Running Back 30% 17% 14%
Wide Receiver 30% 33% 44%
Tight End 0% 7% 4%
Kicker 0% 0% 2%

What this means is that 40% (4 out of the past 10) of the top scorers were quarterbacks, and 30% were either running backs or wide receivers. A tight end or kicker has not led a single Super Bowl in scoring over the past 10 years.

Not too surprisingly, the quarterbacks have just been the best bet to find themselves inside the top three. Also not too surprisingly, wide receivers are the most common players to finish inside the top five. Problematically, we have more receivers to choose from each game than any other position.

Flexing kickers or tight ends can work, of course, but they haven't particularly been stellar options over a somewhat decent sample when seeking top-end scores. In the same breath, they aren't overly expensive this year, and we can seek value from them while seeking upside from quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.

Positional Breakdowns


Tom Brady ($15,500) - Most lineups are going to start with Brady in the MVP slot -- and for good reason. We already know one of the two quarterbacks is the best bet to emerge as the top scorer, and just two passers have wound up outside the top five in single-game scoring over the past 10 Super Bowls (Peyton Manning in 2014 and in 2016). So even at top dollar, he's a safe pick to anchor lineups. Since he lost Josh Gordon, he has averaged just 267 yards per game with 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions but has still posted a Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back of 0.25 (league-average this season was 0.11). Brady has been pressured at the lowest rate in football since the Patriots' Week 12 bye. The Rams do own the league's highest pressure rate, via ProFootballFocus (PFF), but Brady ranked seventh-quickest in average time of release and was the fastest draw in each of his two playoff weeks, via NextGenStats. The Rams have improved their pass defense with Aqib Talib back, yet Brady -- even if not your MVP -- is a good bet to flex unless you're trying to leverage his high ownership into a contrarian lineup.

Jared Goff ($15,500) - We already know that rostering both quarterbacks is the best bet, historically, to give you access to top performers. A Sharpstack simulation that spit out 150 lineups featured Brady and Goff as the top-two most popular picks. It makes sense. Of course, their elevated prices will require value elsewhere, but it does exist this year. As for Goff's in-game prospects, he has been pressured at the second-lowest rate in the playoffs (second only to Brady), yet the Pats have generated the highest pressure rate among playoff teams, via PFF. Goff struggles under pressure (he's 22nd in quarterback rating among 29 qualified passers, via PFF). Even with those concerns, he's projected to outscore every player other than Brady by at least five full points. The only real merit to fading either passer is to benefit from their elevated ownership rates in case one or both struggle.

Running Backs

Sony Michel ($14,500) - Michel has scored 32.3 and 23.3 FanDuel points in his two playoff games (thanks to 242 yards and 5 touchdowns on 43 carries and despite just one target for 9 yards). There's a clear path to Michel losing snaps and touches to receiving backs, James White and Rex Burkhead, but under the assumption that the Patriots lead or are in a neutral script, Michel looks capable of a huge workload here. Also in Michel's favor is that he doesn't necessarily need to play elevated snaps to see his usual workload, as he led all backs in touches per snap this year by a wide margin and has had a touch on 77% of his postseason snaps, via FantasyData. No other back has been above 58% in the playoffs. With his elevated price and the Rams' ability to stop the run down the stretch, Michel projects to go underowned while more players roster White ($12,500), who has seen 17 and 6 targets in the playoffs.

Todd Gurley ($14,000) - Gurley -- despite talk from Sean McVay that Gurley will be a "big part" of the Rams' gameplan -- also could wind up being underowned based on sentiment from FanShareSports and his lofty price tag. Gurley was outsnapped 37-32 last game by C.J. Anderson ($10,500), in part because of some costly drops early in the game. His route rate dipped to 34% (from 66% in the Divisional Round), and Anderson ran 30% of routes last game by comparison. The reason to play Gurley is clear: he had 12 games with 15 or more FanDuel points in the regular season, second-most of any running back, and he certainly looks healthy again. While the easier construction is to go with both quarterbacks and the cheaper running back alternatives, rostering Gurley and/or Michel could certainly pay off.

James White ($12,500) - White has accounted for 26% of the Patriots' targets in the playoffs (tied for the team lead) and owns a team-high 27% red zone target share, as well. His snaps fell from 46% to 34% last game, though he may or may not have gotten hurt. Either way, the Rams rank sixth in target success rate allowed to backs this season, meaning they're a tough matchup for running backs out of the backfield. However, he's run about 22% of his routes from out wide, via PFF, making him a versatile enough option to thrive regardless. He's more than playable, but the matchup suggests that he may not post a ceiling game here. White was the most common running back selected in my Sharpstack simulations, however.

C.J. Anderson ($10,500) - Anderson played 54% of the Rams' snaps last game and ran a route on 30% of their drop backs (compared to 46% and 34%, respectively, for Gurley). In all, he stole 16 of the 20 carries between the backs last game and has been a very efficient back, netting a success rate of 67% on the season, compared to 49% for Gurley (both are elite numbers, but Anderson's is otherworldly). Anderson's 14 routes last game led to just one target, but what's more important is that it proved he's not necessarily worthless if the Rams do fall behind. That puts him in play again, despite potentially high ownership given his low salary.

Rex Burkhead ($10,000) - Burkhead has accounted for 6% of the Patriots' targets in the postseason after seeing his route rate jump from 11% to 37% last game while James White played fewer snaps than usual. He also handled 6 of 14 red zone carries last game (and 2 of 8 the week prior). His overall workload, however, looks boosted by the Patriots' insane 94 plays run and White's limitations. He's only in play as a pure pivot where we hope he vultures touchdowns from Michel and White.

Wide Receivers

Julian Edelman ($14,000) - Edelman is tied with White with a 26% postseason target share and leads remaining players with 218 playoff air yards (second most is Brandin Cooks' 151). Edelman has played at least 96% of snaps in both games and has run virtually every route, leading to four deep targets and three red zone targets. His workload is elite, helping us consider the obvious stack with Brady. He does face a tough cornerback in the slot, as Nickell Robey-Coleman ranked first in yards per snap allowed among qualified slot corners this season, via PFF, but the elite workload helps mitigate those concerns. Edelman is the best bet for double-digit targets in the game and should be the first place to look when stacking with Brady.

Brandin Cooks ($11,500) - Cooks obviously has paths to upside here. He has 151 air yards through two games, thanks to multiple deep targets in each playoff game, and he's playing virtually every snap and running almost every route. One thing to note is that the Patriots, despite ranking 29th in adjusted yards per attempt allowed on deep throws during the season, limited Tyreek Hill last games (1 catch on 3 targets and 103 air yards). Via NextGenStats, Hill averaged just 1.34 yards of separation on those three targets, down from 3.10, on average, during the regular season. Similar treatment could cap Cooks in a revenge spot.

Robert Woods ($10,500) - While the Patriots clamped down on the speedy Hill, Sammy Watkins averaged 3.50 yards of separation per target on his eight targets. Woods averaged 4.0 yards of separation on his 10 looks for comparison, in the Conference Championship. Woods' ceiling could be a bit of an issue, however, as -- despite playing all but one snap and running heavy routes (90% and 98%), his 18 postseason targets have yielded just 96 air yards and 102 actual yards with just one deep target and red zone target each. The high-leverage looks haven't been there, but the cushion he could see again gives the Rams' target leader a nice floor. For that reason, Woods emerged as the most popular pick from the thousands of Sharpstack simulations I ran -- excluding the quarterbacks, of course.

Phillip Dorsett ($8,500) - Dorsett should be considered an afterthought, but just know that he has had 5 and 3 targets (just a 9% postseason share) but 138 air yards (second-most on the Patriots). He also has accounted for 25% of their deep targets and 13% of their red zone targets while running 61% and 46% of the routes. He's a gamble who may not play much, but when on the field, he's been targeted in high-leverage situations.

Josh Reynolds ($8,500) - Reynolds' snap rate dipped (87% to 75%) as did his route rate (90% to 77%) last game, but his targets spiked from 4 to 7, and he has now accumulated 127 air yards for the Rams in the playoffs, just 24 fewer air yards than Cooks has amassed. The Rams run primarily out of the 11 set (3 receivers), via SharpFootballStats, a great sign for Reynolds to be on the field as a cheap option, but the Patriots have actually excelled against such sets since their bye week. He's the type of play we can stack while assuming that Jared Goff throws often and the running backs get phased out, but he has maxed out at 80 receiving yards and is a touchdown-dependent play. Given his price and role, though, Sharpstack liked him enough to feature him in more than a third of the 150 lineups generated.

Chris Hogan ($7,500) - Hogan's never a player we can trust, and we saw that last week, as his snap rate fell from 92% to 74% and his route rate dropped from 100% to 80%. He still saw seven targets but has yet to eclipse 78 yards all season (and has topped 50 yards just four times). Hogan has scored three times on the year but with a multi-touchdown game, he's converted a tuddy in just two of 16 outings. He may be a player to avoid actively, given the lack of yardage and scoring -- despite his ostensibly safe role.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski ($9,000) - Gronkowski's routes in the playoffs (86% and 85%) have been about the same as they were once Marcus Cannon returned and Gronkowski didn't have to pass block as much. He has played 93% and 100% of snaps the past two games and ranks fourth on the Patriots in playoff air yards (110, trailing Hogan by one yard). Perhaps problematically, Gronkowski has just one red zone target in this two-game sample but has three deep targets. At his depressed price, he's an intriguing flex with legitimate upside, given that the Rams are just 17th in target success rate allowed to tight ends since Talib's return to heavy snaps. He actually popped as the most frequent MVP candidate outside of the quarterbacks during my Sharpstack simulation.

Tyler Higbee ($6,500) - Higbee has seen an end zone target in each of the Rams' two playoff games, which can happen when there are so many other options to worry about on offense. Problematically, his snap rate fell from 70% to 57% last game, and his route rate remained stable at 32% in each. He's in play for a touchdown snipe, but his counterpart had better usage in the Conference Championship.

Gerald Everett ($6,000) - Everett's snap rate (43% to 68%) and route rate (45% to 61%) climb from the Divisional Round to the Conference Championship makes him a pretty interesting play at just $6,000. He has accumulated 70 air yards and 2 deep targets -- plus an end zone look -- in the postseason. New England, despite sitting 12th in target success rate allowed to tight ends, is actually more vulnerable there than against running backs (6th) or receivers (7th).


Greg Zuerlein ($10,000) and Stephen Gostkowski ($9,500) - Of the past 20 kickers in the Super Bowl, just one (Brandon McManus in 2016) finished as a top-five performer in a single game, but six of the 20 kickers netted at least 10 FanDuel points, and eight of 10 notched at least 9 FanDuel points (six of those eight were on winning teams for that angle). All but five produced at least 5 fantasy points, meaning that both are likely viable (considering the high over/under) in smaller formats, but for huge upside, you may want to look elsewhere. We project Zuerlein for 8.8 FanDuel points and Gostkowski for 8.5, which would rank them 11th and 13th, respectively, in our projections. Zuerlein popped in 8% of the Sharpstack simulations, and Gostkowski appeared in fewer than 5%.