NFL DFS Super Bowl LVIII Strategy for 49ers vs. Chiefs
Super Bowl LVII gives us one final shot at turning a few bucks into a million dollars. If you’re still playing DFS at this point in the season, I’m going to assume you know the general vibe of each team. Christian McCaffrey scores a lot of fantasy points. The Chiefs only throw to two players and it’s a complete mess behind them. Both defenses are great. Things of that nature. I’ll be focusing more on the strategy and game theory of playing large-field, single-game contests in this article. For a more detailed breakdown of the game itself, check out Denny Carter’s Funnel Report.
Captain and MVP Options
Despite his price, McCaffrey is the easiest click on the slate. He’s averaging 6.5 more DraftKings points per game than any other player taking the field on Sunday. CMC topped 20 fantasy points 14 times this year and scored more than 30 four times. His team is a two-point favorite and his rushing numbers have exploded in wins.
Touchdowns aside, his receiving numbers haven’t been muted in victories either. McCaffrey may come in over-owned relative to his odds of making the optimal lineup, but I think there are easier ways to make good teams than fading the best play on the slate.
Purdy is my favorite Captain/MVP of the game. Between CMC hoarding ownership for San Francisco and the Chiefs’ narrow passing tree making both of their top pass-catchers easy clicks, it’s hard to imagine the field getting too much Purdy at the Captain/MVP spot. Because we’re looking to make lineups that project well but aren’t duplicated by hundreds—even thousands—of other DFS players, that makes him a great choice in tournaments. I especially like Purdy in rosters heavy on 49ers.
Tight 2-point spread for SF-KC, lots of attractively priced options on both sides, expect a lot of balanced 3-3 builds in the Super Bowl— Cody Main (@cmain7) February 4, 2024
Macro construction remains a great way to get different and still have paths up the leaderboard if game plays differently than Vegas expects pic.twitter.com/bfNnpazWXB
Establish the Run’s single-game expert Cody Main has shown that 5-1 and 4-2 stacks show up in the top one percent of lineups significantly more often than in the field’s total set entries. Purdy put together a historically efficient regular season and proved more than capable of playing with a deficit in his comeback win over the Lions. As the quarterback of the favored team, he comes in as a great fantasy option.
Mahomes, on the other hand, is my favorite fade in both Captain and FLEX. He has been lights out in the playoffs, but that hasn’t translated to fantasy production. Mahomes has been held under 20 DraftKings points in all three of his postseason appearances. He has as many 25-point games as Deebo Samuel and two fewer than Purdy.
Mahomes’ greatness doesn’t lie in his ability to put up 400 yards and four touchdowns, though he’s more than capable of doing that. What makes him so different is that he doesn’t make mistakes. He has 103 pass attempts in the playoffs and has yet to be intercepted. Opposing defenses have only sacked him twice. That is incredible for his team’s real-life success but isn’t nearly as valuable for fantasy purposes.
Travis Kelce vs. Rashee Rice
Both Kansas City pass-catchers have been great fantasy options in the playoffs and I expect Travis Kelce’s streak of three games with at least 70 yards to make him a more popular option. His target share of 30 percent in this postseason is elite as well. On the other hand, Rice isn’t far behind Kelce with a 25 percent postseason target share. Dating back to Week 14—Rice’s first game with a route rate over 80 percent—Rice leads the team in target share and air yards share. Given the price discount compared to Kelce, I’ll be better on Rice this slate. On FanDuel, where touchdowns matter more player price isn’t multiplied in the MVP spot, I’ll be more interested in Kelce.
Brandon Aiyuk vs. Deebo Samuel
Deebo has been getting plenty of DFS hype heading into the Super Bowl and looks likely to be the more popular play for DFS purposes. He does have plenty of factors working in his favor as well.
Chiefs allow the 3rd highest rate of screens.— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) February 8, 2024
Deebo Samuel (23)
Christian McCaffrey (21)
Ray-Ray McCloud (5)
Elijah Mitchell (3)
George Kittle (2)
Jauan Jennings (2)
Brandon Aiyuk (0)
Teams have targeted the Chiefs with screens at a high rate and that is Samuel’s bread and butter. Deebo also thrives against two-high looks.
3B. The Chiefs' defense leads the league in two-high safety looks.— Connor Allen (@ConnorAllenNFL) February 5, 2024
In those 11 games on plays against two high looks, the 49ers target shares were:
Deebo Samuel 27.2% target share
Brandon Aiyuk 17.8% target share
George Kittle 16.3% target share
On the other hand, Aiyuk was known as the team’s man coverage beater all season. He averaged an absurd 4.8 yards per route run and an equally impressive .33 targets per route versus man coverage. The Chiefs utilized man at a top-five rate this year. George Kittle averaged 3.3 yards per route run and Deebo was all the way down at 1.6. Without a strong reason to go in either direction with these two, I’ll try to pick the one who will be less popular and my bet on that axis is Aiyuk.
As mentioned previously, this could be a great matchup for Kittle and he is the ideal tournament tight end. He had eight games under eight points but five over 20. With Brandon Aiyuk finding another gear and CMC soaking up targets, Kittle didn’t earn as many looks as he has in years past, but he remained elite in the efficiency metrics. Including the playoffs, Kittle led all tight ends in yards per route run.
This is a bad spot for Pacheco and I will likely end up lower on him than the field. No team faced a higher pass rate over expected than the 49ers this season and it wasn’t a close race. The Chiefs, in turn, led the NFL in PROE. Pacheco isn’t a bad play by any stretch of the imagination, but I fully expect an underdog Chiefs team to lean into their passing strength.
Chiefs Wide Receivers
The Chiefs have solidified their receiving rotation in the playoffs, giving Marquez Valdes-Scantling 65 percent of the routes, Justin Watson 55 percent of the routes, and no other receiver more than 30 percent of the routes. These will be two of the three more popular pay-down options. MVS has seen 94 more air yards and four more targets than Watson in the playoffs.
As of Thursday night, Skyy Moore is off injured reserve and looks likely to play. Kadarius Toney is not on the injury report, though it’s unclear if the team will have him active. Barring a setback for Moore, I love him as a disgusting dart-throw. He was tied for second among the Kansas City receivers team in routes through 14 weeks before suffering a knee injury in Week 15.
Aside from Watson and MVS, Gray is the other easy salary saver on both FanDuel and DraftKings. He has a 42 percent route rate and a 10 percent target share in the playoffs. Given that he is the easy option for saving salary, I will be careful with how I deploy Gray. I will stick to playing him in weird lineup constructions or on rosters that leave a lot of salary.
The Chiefs were slightly more conservative than the 49ers on fourth-down decisions this year and attempted .5 more field goals per game than San Francisco. Both kickers are fine plays. I don’t have to have a “take” on everything.
Purdy isn’t known as a mistake-maker, but he does slip up more often than Mahomes. Pro Football Focus charted him with the 17th-highest turnover-worthy play rate. He had a phenomenal pressure-to-sack rate of 13.8 percent which was still higher than that of Mahomes. Neither defense is a great play this week, but the Chiefs would be my bet. Playing them in tandem with Isiah Pacheco is one of the few ways I will play Kansas City’s top back.
A lot of optimal showdown roster construction correlation is straightforward but figuring out how to use D/ST & K can be difficult— Cody Main (@cmain7) September 4, 2023
* paired with 3.03 teammates on average
* paired with exactly (3) teammates in 40.4% of top-1% finishing lineups pic.twitter.com/kkEMpBJ0xQ
If I’m playing the Chiefs’ defense, in general, I’ll be looking to play them as part of a massive Kansas City stack with either three or four other Chiefs.
Juszczyk has touched the ball in 10-of-19 games this year. He has two touchdowns and has averaged a dozen routes per game. He is the least degenerate of my three long shots but is still best saved for large-field lineups or chalky small-field entries.
Woerner is only playable in contests where the number of entries takes up six digits, but he did run a route on 14 percent of his team’s passing plays before Week 17 when the 49ers rested their starters and his role was inflated.
👀The Chiefs’ defense has struggled against 21 and other personnel packages this season, giving the 49ers a chance to capitalize— FTN Fantasy (@FTNFantasy) February 6, 2024
On offense, the Chiefs have thrived with at least two tight ends on the field. The 49ers with Fred Warner at the helm are well-prepared to counter… pic.twitter.com/GhQclZ1kML
The Chiefs have also been a weak defense against 12-personnel, so Woerner could see a few extra reps in this game if Kyle Shanahan wants to pick on that flaw. Woerner will likely be the lowest-owned player capable of scoring a single fantasy point.
Bell’s route rate was lower than Woerner’s in the regular season, but he did catch five passes and score once. He even has a few snaps at quarterback as a member of the Chiefs, and you know Andy Reid is in the lab cooking up the most deranged goal line plays imaginable for the big game.