Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for Super Bowl LIV
numberFire has no shortage of tools -- lineup generators, fantasy projections, and more -- to help you round out your rosters, but some extra prep never hurt anyone. So, here are some notes to know about each and every game on FanDuel's main slate for the Super Bowl.
San Francisco vs. Kansas City
|Matchup||San Francisco||Kansas City|
|Over/Under | Spread||54.5||-1.5|
|Implied Team Total||26.5||28.0|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||68%||72%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||68%||73%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||14||11|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||2||5|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||8||28|
Based on numberFire's metrics, this Super Bowl LIV matchup pits the NFL's third-ranked adjusted offense (the Kansas City Chiefs) against the second-ranked adjusted defense (the San Francisco 49ers). And it also is a matchup between the 5th-best offense (San Francisco) and the 12th-best defense (Kansas City) on the flip side. Either way you slice it, we have good versus good here at worst and elite versus elite here at best. The total is high enough that we could expect some fireworks, and both teams operated at top-half adjusted paces in 2019. A lot of the betting action is on the over, according to oddsFire, and the public -- and the money -- are picking the Chiefs.
San Francisco Offense Notes
- The Niners have not always needed to rely on Jimmy Garoppolo ($14,000) to get it done in 2019, and Garoppolo has thrown fewer than 30 passes in four straight games, including 27 total attempts in two playoff games for 208 yards and a single touchdown. It's been five consecutive games since he has had 15 FanDuel points. My simulated outcomes give him a 63.7% chance to get to 15 FanDuel points in the big game.
- Garoppolo's concern isn't efficiency. It's volume. Garoppolo ranked ninth among qualified quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season. He also has fared well against top-12 pass defenses. In seven such games this season, Garoppolo has posted 0.19 Passing NEP per drop back. The full-season NFL average against all opponents was 0.09. Quarterbacks against top-12 defenses averaged a mark of -0.05. He can play well in the matchup.
- The volume concerns were still there in this split, however, as Garoppolo has averaged 23.1 attempts for 202.6 yards and 1.4 touchdowns against top-12 opponents. He can overcome the matchup and may not be able to escape the game with fewer than 15 attempts if the Chiefs can put up points.
- We have a three-headed monster in the receiving game. In 10 games with George Kittle ($11,500) and Emmanuel Sanders ($7,500) sharing the field, Kittle leads the team with a 29.3% target share (7.1 targets per game). Sanders is tied for second with Deebo Samuel ($8,500) at a 19.4% target share (4.7 per game). The slight differentiator is the downfield work (targets at least 16 yards from the line of scrimmage). Sanders leads there with 10. Kittle has seven, and Samuel has six. That's still 1.0 or fewer downfield targets per game from a quarterback who doesn't sling it deep -- or throw it -- often.
- Samuel has had multiple rushing attempts in four of the past six games.
- As for a differentiation piece, know that Kendrick Bourne ($7,000) had five targets in the Divisional Round but had just one (of eight total) in the Conference Championship win. He is in play as a pivot piece but has not played even a third of the snaps in three straight games.
- The Chiefs ranked fifth in adjusted pass defense based on numberFire's metrics. They were eighth in Passing Success Rate allowed. They were 4th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers and 12th to tight ends. The matchup is pretty tight across the board.
- The vulnerability for the Chiefs has been the run defense (28th in adjusted efficiency overall). They're 31st in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. Of course, they limited Derrick Henry to 69 yards on 19 attempts but still allowed an above-average Rushing NEP per carry of 0.05 and a Rushing Success Rate of 47.4%. They're still just 22nd in Rushing Success Rate allowed since their bye, so the idea that they are an improving run defense may be true, but they aren't an elite unit in that regard. This is the most obvious way for the Niners to attack Kansas City.
- That'll almost assuredly come through Raheem Mostert ($13,500), who had 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Conference Championship. Mostert also had two targets. He has maxed out at four targets in a game (once); he has two games with three targets. Mostert doesn't profile as someone who gets a lot of passing-down usage, but he ran 77.8% of the team's pass routes (via ProFootballFocus) in the NFC Championship game while playing 81.8% of the snaps. He's a clear priority play for the single-game slate, and the other backs for the 49ers are just desperation plays based on the recent trends.
- Tevin Coleman ($10,000) is looking likely to play, which would take away punt value from Matt Breida ($7,500).
Kansas City Offense Notes
- The Chiefs are a pretty easy offense to figure out because they feature their studs.
- Patrick Mahomes ($16,000) is very good, and the Chiefs' star quarterback has not really been impacted by matchups with tough pass defenses. Granted, he has played just two top-four pass defenses, but in those games, he averaged 328.5 yards and 2.0 touchdowns. His Passing NEP per drop back is an astounding 0.31 in that split, which would have ranked him as the third-best passer on the full season, for context. In a larger sample of five games against top-12 opponents, Mahomes has averaged 264.8 yards, 1.8 touchdowns, and 0.35 Passing NEP per drop back.
- Mahomes also totaled 105.17 Passing NEP above expectation this regular season, the third-best mark of any quarterback. We know he can perform above expectation against his opponents of all calibers.
- In 10 games with Travis Kelce ($12,500), Tyreek Hill ($12,000), and Sammy Watkins ($10,500) playing at least half of the snaps together, the target shares have been: 25.0% for Kelce, 23.5% for Hill, and 17.9% for Watkins. Per game, those are 8.5 targets for Kelce, 8.0 for Hill, and 6.1 for Watkins.
- Hill has a strong claim to the downfield work with 49.2% of the targets (3.0 per game). Watkins has 1.3 per game, and Kelce owns 1.2. The 49ers ranked fifth against the deep pass this season based on Passing NEP per attempt.
- San Francisco also ranked third in Target Success Rate allowed both to receivers and tight ends.
- As for a quaternary pass-catcher, note that Mecole Hardman ($6,000) played 39.7% of the team's snaps last week, edging out Demarcus Robinson ($6,500; 36.8%) for the first time in these 10 relevant games with all three main pass-catchers healthy. This is a deviation from the Divisional Round, when Robinson played 57.8% of the snaps and Hardman played just 17.2%. Hardman makes more sense, but neither should be viewed as anything close to safe.
- Damien Williams ($14,000) is as expensive as Garoppolo, but it's probably merited. Williams played 85.3% of the snaps in the Conference Championship after playing 96.9% in the Divisional Round. He has run 29 times combined for just 92 yards in the playoffs but has scored four total times on a team that can pile on points. He also has 12 targets for 65 receiving yards and has been a game-script proof option in the playoffs. The 49ers are a top-eight adjusted rushing defense but were only 20th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. He may very well be the top play on the board behind Mahomes.
MVP Options: Patrick Mahomes, Damien Williams, Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel
Flex Options: Emmanuel Sanders, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Kendrick Bourne