FanDuel NFL Single-Game Strategy: Pro Bowl Preview
Hello Grinders. FanDuel has a nice single-game contest going on for the Sunday Pro Bowl. Let’s quickly look at some of the game factors and touch on some possible roster construction options for our daily fantasy football lineups.
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The Game Environment
Vegas has this Pro Bowl game opening with an over/under of 51 and the NFC as slight one-point favorites, but I’m also seeing some places putting this at a 50.5 over/under and the AFC now 1.5 point favorites. My guess is injuries and roster changes have shifted the game environment a bit. To be honest, I’m not even concerning myself much with the Vegas odds too much in terms of which team I stack or target because there’s typically very little effort and defense played on both sides. Let’s move on to the injuries.
A number of replacements have been made for injured players, so you’ll want to keep this in mind. Let’s actually break down the skill positions to get a better sense of our player pool:
K – Justin Tucker
K – Will Lutz
A few highlights to note:
1. Zach Ertz is in the player pool but he withdrew from the Pro Bowl and was replaced by Jared Cook, so don’t play Ertz.
2. I have no idea if Mark Ingram plays. I see on Twitter he’s practicing at the Pro Bowl but I also see reports he was battling an injured calf late in the season. Even if he does play here, I have no interest as they could easily just sit him.
I’m going to do something slightly different in that rather than call out specific players, I think we should look at specific positions and highlight those areas.
The Pro Bowl has predominantly been a focal point for pass catchers, specifically tight ends. Both teams are carrying two tight ends, and given the lack of defense and a willingness by quarterbacks to just dump off passes, tight ends will be your friend here. The softer style of defense also bodes well for tight ends. So honestly, all of Mark Andrews, Jack Doyle, Jared Cook and Austin Hooper are strong plays here. I personally don’t have a ranking of these four because I’d just be guessing, but I have no problem stacking multiple tight ends on a lineup or even jamming all four (maybe that’s overkill, but that’s how much I like the position.
Take a look at what tight ends have done over the last three years in the Pro Bowl:
2019 – George Kittle (5-39-0, with 5 receptions leading the team), Austin Hooper (1-20-1), Jared Cook (3-71-0), Eric Ebron (1-18-1)
2018 – Delanie Walker (4-29-2), Jack Doyle (2-17-2), Kyle Rudolph (7-70-0, with 7 receptions and 70 receiving yards leading the team), Jason Witten (2-16-0)
2017 – Jimmy Graham (5-29-0), Greg Olsen (2-26-0), Travis Kelce (3-36-1), Delanie Walker (2-35-1)
In the past three Pro Bowls, tight ends have accounted for eight touchdowns. This is the position to target.
This is a really volatile position because we did see Keenan Allen go off for 4-95-0 last Pro Bowl, and in the prior Pro Bowl we did see Adam Thielen catch a touchdown. Doug Baldwin also had a solid 3-67-1 line in 2017 while teammate Odell Beckham had a 6-93-0 line that year, which is a massive number for the Pro Bowl. So yes, wide receivers are in play, but I personally wouldn’t have more than one per team in my lineups and I still think tight ends are the better plays over the wide receivers. You’ll likely want to avoid the special team wide receivers like Roberts, Slater, Patterson and Harris as we typically don’t see much in the special teams aspect during the Pro Bowl. I don’t have any special lean towards a specific wide receiver here so this is more of just taking shots on one of them and hoping they put up a good line, but I think you should use some kind of logic in your lineup building process where you have two receivers maximum per team.
We’ve been so used to stacking our receivers with quarterbacks but here’s the problem – every quarterback is likely going to play, so it’s a guessing game who throws the touchdown (if they even throw one). In the last three Pro Bowls, each team has used all three quarterbacks, and we’ve even seen some trick plays with wide receivers and punters also throwing. In other words, all six quarterbacks are in play here, and there’s no guarantee one sees more run than the other. This is just a complete guess, but considering this is the first Pro Bowl by Ryan Tannehill and the second Pro Bowl for Kirk Cousins, it’s possible these two see the most run out of all the quarterbacks since this is more special for them. If I had to target a quarterback from either team it would be these two, but this is strictly based on the narrative maybe they get extra run as a reward and not based on anything else.
The running back position is the one I hate the most. Last Pro Bowl, James Conner led all running backs with six carries, and the only running back who found the end zone was fullback Anthony Sherman. Sherman also had a 3-92-0 receiving line as he went for a big play on a dump off pass. If you review LineupHQ, we saw some Sherman teams actually win some big contests, so don’t be afraid to get crazy with your lineups.
In 2018, we saw more of the same where nobody had more than the five carries by Mark Ingram, and the only running back to find the end zone was LeSean McCoy. And in 2017, the same scenario happened where no running back found the end zone (although fullback Kyle Juszczyk did have a 5-43-0 receiving line. So you get the point. I have no interest in any of the running backs and if they somehow find the end zone, then so be it and I’ll take my L. In fact I’d rather get different and play the fullbacks for their ability to be used as a dump off option over the stud running backs.
This means if you want to YOLO, C.J. Ham and Patrick Ricard aren’t crazy options. This is the first Pro Bowl for both of them and I especially think Ham is interesting given he did have a receiving touchdown this regular season and did catch 17 of his 26 targets. Richard also caught eight of his 11 targets and had a touchdown as well, but had no rushing attempts at all this season.
I’m torn on the kicking position because it’s been incredibly hit-or-miss in the Pro Bowl. In 2019, there were a total of three field goal attempts. In 2018, there were four. And in 2017, there were four. In other words there is a very low floor and not much of a ceiling with the kickers, but the floor might be useful. It’s a complete crapshoot as to which kicker gets chances and how much the team even prioritizes kicking. I’m not going to say to avoid kickers because honestly I can see them outscoring most of the running backs and the floor can be valuable, so I have no problem sprinkling in Wil Lutz and Justin Tucker into your lineups, especially in mass multi-entering. Just don’t expect too much.
Thanks for reading, and good luck on Sunday. May variance be on your side.