It is Super Bowl LVI week, and this means there is only one game for our DFS enjoyment. Fortunately, all of the major sites offer single-game (and even partial-game) contests, often referred to as Showdowns.
These contests often introduce different strategies compared to regular full slate DFS contests, so I will break them down for you in addition to analyzing the individual players in the game.
First up: The Rules
On DK, you are required to put together a six-man roster for $50k or less and
must use at least one player from each team. In addition, one of those six players must be identified as your Captain. The captain is awarded 1.5x his total output (including potential negative points). This player also costs 1.5x more when you place them in the Captain slot, so you have to weigh the value difference of those extra points versus the extra cost. Consider it as almost a mathematical curve where you want to achieve the highest total points before it becomes cost-prohibitive.
Also on DK, you are allowed to choose one or both defenses as a roster spot. They gain points for typical defensive stats (fumbles, interceptions, sacks, defensive and special teams TDs) as well as being assigned points based on how many points they allow (just as they do in standard contests).
On FD, you are given more money ($60k) for fewer spots (only five). You still select a Captain (or as they call it an MVP). The biggest difference, however, is your MVP costs the same as your non-MVPs. There is no penalty for putting a player in that slot. This means that you want the top scorer in your lineup in that slot regardless of his price. Also, unlike DK, you cannot choose a team’s defense.
Second: The Usual Strategies
Oftentimes on DK, people will attempt to reach for the one bottom-priced player who they believe will score a vultured TD at some point in the contest. This player will give them the highest likelihood of having a different lineup than the rest of the players. Many times this player is a fourth WR, or a backup TE, or a reserve RB, and sometimes even a non-starting QB. These players are hoping that they can catch lightning in a bottle at a subpar price while still rostering the top three or four talents on the slate. This strategy can be effective most of the time. Unfortunately, this week, we have two teams that refuse to utilize depth pieces. There are literally only 18 players (including the two defenses) with a legit chance of doing anything significant this week barring an injury. This is why I do not recommend this strategy this week.
Much like in regular DFS, you can effectively stack players (QB-WR/TE) or (RB-DEF). The key thing to remember, though, is you need to have at least one player from both teams. This encourages doing (QB-WR/TE-Other teams WR/TE) like lineups. This strategy should be popular this week with both teams featuring dynamic passing offenses.
If you think (as most do this week) this game will be high-scoring, then you will probably want to do a combo stack including both QBs and at least one receiving option for each team). This will be my favorite strategy this week. Just know that both sites price their players so that you will likely not be building a stack of Matthew Stafford-Joe Burrow-Cooper Kupp-Ja’Marr Chase (with one of them at Captain/MVP). It mathematically cannot be done on FD. It can be done on DK, but only if you want to round your roster out with the likes of Ben Skowronek and Stanley Morgan. That said, you can do up a competitive DK roster with all four of them if you choose a different player to be your Captain.
Perhaps you feel strongly that the game will be low-scoring. In that case, you may want to use one or both defenses on DK and/or one or both kickers on either site. You can also use a combination of any of these strategies if you feel strongly that one team will be successful while the other one suffers. With a very talented defense like Los Angeles and a weak offensive line (and an electric kicker) like Cincinnati, this strategy has some merit this week.
Also, remember that on FD your MVP salary is the same as his non-MVP price. This means put the player you think will score the most in that slot regardless of his price tag.
Potential lineups for DK
Update: Tyler Higbee will not play.
Captain: Matthew Stafford $16.2k, Roster: Joe Burrow $10.6k, Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Tyler Boyd $5.4k, Rams defense $3.4k, Samaje Perine $2.4k – This lineup gives you both QBs and a top-three receiver for each team. It also gives you exposure to sacks on Burrow and squeezes in Perine, who could see some passing game volume if Cincy falls behind.
Captain: Evan McPherson $6k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Matthew Stafford 10.8k, Joe Burrow $10.6k, Ja’Marr Chase $10.4k, Ben Skowronek $600k – This lineup gets you both QBs and both No. 1 WRs. It also gives you exposure to the elite kicker McPherson and allows you to take a dart throw at Skowronek (maybe he will catch it this week).
Captain: Kendall Blanton $6.9k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Matthew Stafford $10.8k, Joe Burrow $10.6k, Evan McPherson $4k, Tyler Boyd $5.4k – This lineup gets you both QBs, the top WR for Los Angeles, the third WR for Cincy, the best kicker, and gets you the likely starting TE for the Rams (remember Cincy was rotten against the position later in the year). By using Blanton, it offers you some differentiation (although I believe his ownership will be high if Tyler Higbee cannot suit up).
Captain: Cooper Kupp $17.4k, Roster: Matthew Stafford $10.8k, Drew Sample $4.2k, Tee Higgins $7.6k, Tyler Boyd $5.4k, Kendall Blanton $4.6k – Perhaps you really want Kupp as your captain (he is the top scorer per game season to date on the slate). This gives you Kupp and his QB. Two of the Bengals top three WRs, and possibly their starting TE (if C.J. Uzomah is out). Note that this lineup construct does not allow you to roster Burrow. You could sub in Burrow for any of the four, non-Stafford, regular players with a dart throw elsewhere here.
Captain: Rams defense $5.1k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Matthew Stafford 10.8k, Joe Burrow $10.6k, Ja’Marr Chase $10.4k, Ben Skowronek $600k – This lineup gets you both QBs and both of their top WRs. It also gives you differentiation up top if you think that Burrow will have a few sacks (just remember that as Cincy scores, the Rams defense’s total points will go down exponentially).
Captain: C.J. Uzomah $6.6k or Drew Sample $6.3k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Matthew Stafford $10.8k, Joe Burrow $10.6k, Evan McPherson $4k, Cam Akers $6.4k – This lineup gives you both QBs along with Kupp. It gives you exposure and differentiation up top with whichever TE starts for Cincinnati. It also gives you Akers, if you feel that Los Angeles will jump out to an early lead in the game.
Captain: Cam Akers $9.6k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Matthew Stafford $10.8k, Joe Burrow $10.6k, Matt Gay $3.8k, Rams defense $3.4k – Perhaps you believe that Los Angeles will be dominant in the game. This gives you all of the Rams offense and Burrow for playing catchup later in the game.
Captain: Matthew Stafford $16.2k, Roster: Cooper Kupp $11.6k, Odell Beckham $8.4k, Kendall Blanton $4.6k, Rams defense $3.4k, Tyler Boyd $5.4k – If you think that this will be a passing game blowout for Los Angeles you can go Voltron stack on the Rams and then just run it back with the best remaining Bengal that you can afford (Boyd).
Captain: Joe Burrow $15.9k, Roster: Ja’Marr Chase $10.4k, Tee Higgins $7.6k, Evan McPherson $4k, Bengals defense $3.2k, Odell Beckham $8.4k – Perhaps you feel strongly that Cincy will win this one going away as Stafford fumbles under the big spotlight. This lineup gets you loaded on Bengals offensive players and uses the Bengals defense to differentiate from most teams. It then runs it back with the best affordable remaining Ram, Beckham.
Captain: Ja’Marr Chase $15.6k, Roster: Joe Burrow $10.6k, C.J. Uzomah $4.4k or Drew Sample $4.2k, Tyler Boyd $5.4k, Tee Higgins $7.6k, Cam Akers $6.4k – Here is your Cincy Voltron stack where you get Burrow and all four of his top weapons. You can run it back with any Ram that fits, but I like Akers, Van Jefferson, Sony Michel, or Blanton there.
Potential lineups for FD
Roster: Cooper Kupp $16.6k, Matthew Stafford $15.5k, Joe Burrow $15k, Van Jefferson $7k, Drew Sample $6.5k – Kupp, Burrow and Stafford can each be used at MVP here. You can also sub in the combos of Ben Skowronek and C.J. Uzomah or Kendall Blanton and Stanley Morgan for Jefferson and Sample.
Roster: Matthew Stafford $15.5k, Joe Burrow $15k, Cam Akers $10k, Tee Higgins $10.5k, Evan McPherson $9k – This is probably my favorite FD lineup. I get both QBs. I get a Bengals WR not covered by Jalen Ramsey to run it back with. I get the Rams’ top RB since Cincy is rotten against the run, and I get McPherson, who has been absurd this postseason.
Roster: Matthew Stafford $15.5k, Cooper Kupp $16k, Cam Akers $10k, Tee Higgins $10.5k, Kendall Blanton $8k – Here is your FD Rams Voltron stack running it back with Higgins (or Tyler Boyd).
Roster: Ja’Marr Chase $12k, Tee Higgins $10.5k, Cam Akers $10k, Joe Burrow $15k, Joe Mixon $12.5k – Here is your FD Bengals Voltron stack running it back with Akers (or Jefferson, Matt Gay, or Blanton).
Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Matthew Stafford has the easier matchup of the two QBs as Cincy allowed the seventh-most passing yards per game this season. He also has three or more passing TDs nine times this season and two more games where he had a combined three TDs. The Bengals have been bad against both the run and the pass this season, but the opposition threw the ball on a league fourth-high 62.7 percent of their snaps against them. Some of this has been caused by game script, but you know that Sean McVay will look to jump out early here with a pass-heavy plan.
Joe Burrow has a much harder go of things navigating Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Jalen Ramsey. Fortunately, Burrow has several weapons to target. He entered the playoffs as the hottest QB in the league, and he has performed right on par with his season averages during the postseason. Typically, you could argue that the veteran presence of Stafford would out-value Burrow here, but don’t underscore Burrow’s youthful moxie. He also has been unflappable all year despite being battered in the pocket like a Whack-a-Mole.
Cam Akers is starting in the Super Bowl. Earlier this year, you would’ve shocked me if you had declared that he was going to play again before the 2022 preseason. There was also plenty of talk in regards to how well he would perform when/if he did return. Well, not only is he back, but he has been good since his return. Sony Michel got minimal work in the divisional round but saw more of a split in touches in the conference title game. Some of this was due to Akers hurting his shoulder and some may have been attributed to Akers’ fumbles the prior week. Unfortunately for Michel, he did nothing with the extra touches last week. Only eight teams allowed more yards per carry than Cincy, so either or both could be in play here. I’m expecting a pass-heavy game script, so this should favor Akers. That said, if the Rams jump out to a huge early lead, we may see more Michel later in the game. There is also a chance that Darrell Henderson returns this week from his MCL injury. If he returns, it will hurt Michel’s value more than Akers. I just doubt that he would get enough touches to consider here.
Joe Mixon is the main back for Cincinnati. He had a bit of a career resurgence this year as he went from “an RB everyone drafting at the end of the first round was forced to settle for” to “a potential dynasty top-10 RB”. He offers value both in the passing game and on the ground, leaving him a solid floor. Unfortunately, I don’t love having to swallow a floor outcome at a price this high. I also don’t like that he has only three scores in his last seven games. Plus, while he rules the roost in carries, Samaje Perine has seen more usage in the passing game the last couple of weeks. Considering Perine’s price, he could be a valuable bottom-of-the-roster addition. That said, fitting Mixon in will be tough and isn’t one of my preferred strategies this week. Chris Evans has two touches in the playoffs and can be ignored here.
Cooper Kupp is the top per-week scorer in this slate. He should have little difficulty repeating his usual solid line against a subpar secondary that has better strength in outside coverage than over the middle. He needs to be on your roster, unless you firmly believe Cincy will sell out to stop him. Odell Beckham went from being barely rosterable in season-long leagues to back on the dynasty radar. I do not like his matchup this week as much as I like Kupp. Still, he and Tee Higgins make the most sense when considering the “second option” in the passing games of two teams that should throw the ball a lot this week. Van Jefferson went from being a huge part of this offense midway through the year to an afterthought in the postseason. Plus, he is nursing a knee issue. His price makes him a nice roster-filler, but I do not love his recent usage and the chance he leaves the game early due to reinjury. Ben Skowronek has just one playoff target and only five targets since Week 16. His minimum salary provides an interesting roster filler if you believe that Jefferson may play limited snaps due to his knee. That said, will Skowronek be trusted in this big spot? Brandon Powell is the WR5 for Los Angeles. His last target was in Week 16 … of 2020.
Ja’Marr Chase is usually not the undercard at the WR position. Even in ugly matchups this year (yes, I’m looking at you, Marlon Humphrey), Chase has dominated. This week, he faces one of the few WR1s who may be his superior. He also faces another elite-level CB. Facing off with Jalen Ramsey is not the death sentence it once was, but you still need to factor this into your roster builds. Tee Higgins is a great bargain this week compared to the other WRs. When I don’t use Chase, I will likely use Higgins. His matchup should also be easier than Chase’s, so Joe Burrow may look his way more often this week. As much of a bargain as Higgins is, Tyler Boyd is an even bigger bargain. Boyd has scored in four of his last six games, and he is always a part of this offense. His usage may be even higher this week if C.J. Uzomah is out or limited. The Bengals have lots of subordinate WRs, but none has much value. Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin, and Trent Taylor don’t do much for me, and they may even be inactive for this game. The one depth WR with some interest to me is Mike Thomas; he gets the revenge-game narrative this week and could have some minimal value.
Kendall Blanton is shaping up to be the starter this week for Los Angeles. He looked very good filling in for the injured Tyler Higbee last week. Obviously, if Higbee plays he will have some value. That said, I doubt he plays. If Higbee does, I could see him being nothing more than a decoy. At the discounted price, Blanton makes a great play at both Captain and on the regular roster. Cincy was one of the worst against the position this year, making this arguably the easiest play on the board.
Cincinnati’s starting TE, C.J. Uzomah, is also dealing with a knee injury. He has made it abundantly clear on social media that he intends to play this week. I can’t imagine him being more than a bit player if he does suit up. If he is out, Drew Sample will get the start. Cincy uses their TE more than they use their fourth WR, so whichever one of these two starts will have some value as a roster filler, and Sample (if Uzomah is out) could be a Captain.
Evan McPherson has been absurdly good this postseason. His moxie is right there on par with Joe Burrow. Pairing a great offense with some shortcomings on the O-line against a great defense could produce numerous FG attempts. Considering what he has done recently (40 standard kicking points in the playoffs), I don’t see how you cannot play him. I’ll even use him some at Captain.
Matt Gay hasn’t gotten the attention that McPherson has. That said, he also has 30 standard kicker points in the playoffs. He also has two failed FG attempts, so he could have had even more points. His price is cheaper than McPherson’s on DK, making him a sneaky pivot. Considering the offensive upside, I could even see building a lineup with both of them.
The Rams defense will be very popular as people expect that they will pressure and fluster Burrow repeatedly. Consider using them in a stack with Cam Akers.
The Bengals defense will have far less ownership. To use them you are making the assumption that Matthew Stafford will go full Jared Goff on the situation. I just don’t see it. Still, people seem to always make up at least one lineup with both defenses in it.
The Player Pool
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