This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
DraftKings is running its largest Showdown Mode contests of the year for Super Bowl Sunday, including four tournaments with prize pools of $1 million or more. There's also the usual assortment of cash games and smaller tourneys, but this article will focus on large-field GPPs, which is where most of the money will be headed.
Odds, Weather & Injuries
Odds: Chiefs -3, O/U 56
Forecast: 66° F with a 8% chance of rain at 6:30 PM EST.
The over/under for Sunday's game opened at 57.5, a half-point higher than the Super Bowl record (Pats vs. Falcons in Feb. 2017). The number has since dropped to 56, with concerns about the weather perhaps playing a role.
An Accuweather forecast earlier this week showed a 75 percent chance of rain at kickoff, but updated projections have the Tampa area getting most of its rain Saturday evening through Sunday morning. The playing surface at Raymond James Stadium has a good reputation, so any rain that comes down before Sunday afternoon shouldn't have too much impact on the game.
While both teams have lost an O-line starter to a severe injury this postseason, it looks like Gay — who averaged on 16.7 defensive snaps per game for KC — will be the only other guy sidelined for the Super Bowl. Watkins and A.B. were full practice participants at the end of the week, while Brate is expected to play despite missing Friday's practice.
It's the Greatest Of All Time vs. the Greatest Of Right Now (GORN!), both playing in offenses that largely rely on passing. Mahomes threw for 462 yards and three TDs when the Chiefs and Bucs met in Week 12, while Brady finished with 345 yards, three TDs and two INTs in the 27-24 loss.
Both quarterbacks had all their favorite weapons healthy for that game, and it appears the same will be true in the Super Bowl unless Watkins or A.B. takes a late turn for the worse. While the two teams also are healthy on defense, this will be Mahomes' first start of the season without OT Eric Fisher (Achilles) protecting his blindside.
Fisher is the third O-line starter Kansas City has lost to injury this year, and that doesn't even include RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif taking a COVID-19 opt out before the season so he could work as a doctor. Mahomes and Andy Reid continue to make it work, but the O-line situation is far from ideal. Mike Remmers is shifting from RT to LT, while Andrew Wylie will move from RG to RT, and 31-year-old journeyman Stefen Wisniewski is expected to enter the starting lineup at RG.
That's no small matter against a Bucs defense that finished the regular season in the Top 10 for sacks (48, t-3rd), pressures (192, 2nd), blitz rate (39.0 percent, 5th) and PFF pass-rush grade (79.0, 8th). Granted, Mahomes torched this same defense back in Week 12, including 106 yards and two TDs on just nine pass attempts against the blitz, per PFF.
Despite blitzing at a far lower rate than usual in that game, the Bucs gave up pass plays of 75, 44 and 34 yards — all to Tyreek Hill as part of his 13/269/3 effort. According to The Athletic, Tampa played man coverage on just nine of Mahomes' 53 dropbacks, giving up 113 yards on those plays. It's near-impossible to contain Mahomes if you can't get pressure with four pass rushers, so the Bucs will need OLBs Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to repeat their magic from two weeks ago (five combined sacks of Aaron Rodgers).
Brady isn't quite as much of a conundrum for defenses, but he'll still make plenty of throws that remind us why he's the G.O.A.T. I don't love him as a Captain pick for Sunday, but he's a good choice for a regular lineup spot, entering Sunday with a seven-game streak of 20 or more DK points.
Mahomes has topped 20 in 10 straight appearances, falling shy of the mark just once all season (a Week 7 game in Denver where he threw just 23 passes). You can make an argument for/against pretty much anything on a one-game slate, but I'm not gonna be the guy who fades Mahomes.
Looking through the game logs, I was surprised to see that Mahomes has scored more DK points than BOTH Kelce and Hill in seven of the 17 games they've played this year. Mahomes is a solid captain choice, though likely to be a popular one.
Given what we've seen in the playoffs so far, it's unlikely Bell or McCoy gets more than a handful touches — and even that sounds generous — unless one of the guys ahead of them gets injured. McCoy has played just two snaps in two games since Jones returned to the lineup, while Bell got just two carries and three targets in his most recent appearance (the divisional round vs. CLE), despite Edwards-Helaire being out for that game.
Coach Andy Reid gave Bell a shot earlier this season, but Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams both have worked ahead of the former Jet when they've been healthy the past couple months. CEH, of course, just returned to the lineup for the AFC Championship Game after missing three straight contests.
Reid split backfield work between Edwards-Helaire and Williams in the win over Buffalo, with the rookie getting six carries and two targets on 49 percent snap share, while the veteran got 13 carries and one target on 46 percent of snaps. Both guys scored a touchdown — a one-yarder for CEH and a six-yarder for Williams — but Williams had a 61-7 advantage in total yards. Here's the breakdown from the AFCCG:
Maybe the rookie is cleared for a larger role now that he's two weeks further removed from his injury, or maybe Reid sticks with Williams as a key part of the offense. That means both guys are in play for DK Showdowns, though neither can exactly be called a value, especially against Tampa's beastly run defense.
The Bucs limited Edwards-Helaire to an 11-37-0 rushing line and one catch for two yards in the Week 12 matchup, with the rookie playing 59 percent of snaps, Le'Veon Bell (31 total yards) taking 30 percent and Williams getting 10 percent. Jones was the only RB to put up a decent stat line in that game — 9-66-0 rushing and 1-37-1 receiving on 36 percent of snaps. Fournette took 56 percent of snaps in that game, yet touched the ball only six times (he was mostly used as a passing-down guy in November).
Fournette, of course, has taken over the lead role in the playoffs, logging 69 percent of snaps in back-to-back games even after Jones returned from hand and ankle injuries. Fournette has scored 18.4 or more DK points in each playoff game, and he'll face a Chiefs defense that finished the regular season ranked 31st in DVOA against the run.
Last week, Fournette got only two more carries than Jones, but had a 21-6 advantage in routes and a 7-0 edge four targets. Bruce Arians has never seemed to trust Jones on passing downs, and RoJo kind of showed us why with his handful of drops this season. Here's the breakdown from the NFC Championship Game:
This is more skewed toward one guy (Fournette) than KC's backfield split from conference championship weekend, but it's generally the same idea — guy who got more work throughout the season had the smaller role in the playoffs. Of course, Jones and Edwards-Helaire both dealt with late-season injuries, and it's not clear how much that impacted the workload breakdown, if at all.
I lean toward Jones in this situation, as the $5,600 price gap between him and Fournette is more than three times the difference ($1,800) between Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams ($1,800). There's a decent chance RoJo will be a complete bust, but there's also upside for double-digit carries, especially if the Bucs are in positive game script. Of course, Jones could all but disappear if the Bucs fall behind my multiple scores, whereas Fournette likely would stay involved.
Watkins' presumed return leaves fewer snaps for Hardman, Pringle and Robinson, while Brown's presence leaves Miller and Johnson with scraps. I can get on board with a team's No. 4 WR on a showdown slate, but I'll stay away from the No. 5s, which in this case appears to be Johnson and.... ?
Robinson is the cheapest player with a realistic chance to play more than one-third of offensive snaps, though we still have the familiar problem of not really knowing how work will be split between him and Hardman (and now Pringle, too). I default toward the cheaper guys when the price gap is this drastic, even though Hardman is more explosive. Here's what the workload split looked like in the AFC Championship Game, with Watkins out of the lineup:
It's not exactly promising for Hardman, who scored 12.4 and 10.2 DK points in the first two playoff games. He does have some chance to add six points on special teams, but that's mostly limited to punt returns, as Pringle has handled the majority of kickoffs this year.
On the Tampa side, we'll look at the WR breakdown from the NFC Championship Game (sans Brown), and then also see the breakdown from the first two rounds of the playoffs (with Brown available):
Wild-Card + Divisional Round
Long story short, we shouldn't expect Miller or Johnson to see much playing time, unless Brown is a surprise scratch or re-injures his knee. And even Brown won't necessarily see a ton of work, as the Bucs have used 11 personnel on only 57 percent of snaps in the playoffs. No. 2 TE Cameron Brate took on more snaps at Brown's expense through the first two rounds of the playoffs, so we can give A.B. a little boost if Brate ends up on the inactive list.
The big decision here is between Godwin and Evans, though there's nothing to say we can't roster both. I tend to favor Godwin, as he's better at getting open and tends to play a few more snaps. Including playoffs, Godwin has produced 1.96 yards per route this year, slightly ahead of Brown (1.95) and well ahead of Evans (1.76), per PFF.
The Kansas City cornerbacks have all played pretty well this year, but Godwin should still have an edge over rookie L'Jarius Sneed, who has played 72 of his 97 playoff snaps in the slot. Godwin has run 62 percent of his routes from the slot this postseason, compared to 41.7 percent for Evans and 22.2 percent for Brown, per PFF.
Brate was a tough sell at $4,800 even before his mid-week back issue. It sounds like he'll play, but if not, Hudson could pick up a bunch of the vacated snaps and routes. Hudson caught 19 passes for 245 yards during the 2019 preseason, and at 6-5, 239 pounds, he's more of a pass catcher than a blocker. Hudson has been active for every playoff game, while blocking specialist Anthony Auclair has been a healthy scratch. Here are TE workload breakdowns for both teams so far this postseason:
I'll stick to Kelce and Gronk for the most part, but I don't hate the idea of using Keizer in a Mahomes CPTN lineup and praying for the dirt-cheap touchdown.
Kickers + D/ST
No strong feelings here. Any of the four is a reasonable choice if they fit with a lineup construction.
Top Captain Picks
WR Chris Godwin ($13,200)
PFF charts Godwin with seven drops this postseason. That might not sound like a good thing, but it means 21 of 28 targets have hit his hands. Few players in the league get open more consistently, and Godwin's track record doesn't spark any concern about the drops being a long-term issue.
QB Patrick Mahomes ($18,000)
Mahomes was the Chiefs' highest-scoring player in six of his 15 regular-season games. Tyreek Hill did it four times, Travis Kelce thrice and Edwards-Helaire twice. In the playoffs, Kelce has been the high scorer in both games.
TE Travis Kelce ($16,500)
The Bucs' style of defense would seem to favor Kelce over Hill, yet it was the latter who had his career-best day when the Chiefs travelled to Tampa in November. I'm guessing the Bucs will be more cautious with Hill this time around, realizing it's better to lose to Kelce in 12-yard chunks than to get beat by Hill for the long one.
RB Ronald Jones ($2,200)
A lineup with Jones or Gronkowski in the captain spot allows us to roster both quarterbacks plus two out of Godwin/Evans/Kelce/Hill. Given the price, we don't necessarily need Jones to score 20-plus points in order to be the CPTN for the optimal lineup.
QB Tom Brady + TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronk isn't likely to see a lot of targets, but he's still a significant threat in the red zone, and the recent cold streak has his price way down in the gutter. He's a reasonable CPTN choice, and a great pick for any lineup that uses Brady as CPTN. I'm also fine stacking them together in a lineup with one of the Chiefs as captain.
RB Ronald Jones + D/ST Bucs
The KC run defense is exploitable, and Leonard Fournette is far from infallible. This is a cheap correlation play that doesn't figure to be especially popular.
AVOID: WR Mecole Hardman + D/ST Chiefs
This is the correlation play that everyone thinks is clever, but really, it isn't. Plenty of lineups will do it, and Hardman is overpriced now that the Chiefs have Watkins back in the lineup. Plus, Byron Pringle handles a lot of the kick returns, and Bucs punter Bradley Pinion had 85 touchbacks on 100 kickoffs in the regular season. Hardman will need to get it done on a punt if he's going to score on special teams.