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Figuring out DFS strategy for the oddities of the Pro Bowl

Playing DFS in the Pro Bowl is a great way to give the exhibition game a little more excitement. We break down some unique strategy options as you figure out your picks.

General overall view of Pro Bowl 20 sign at ESPN Wide World of Sports entrance. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Bowl gets knocked for being boring and unwatchable and, if you aren’t 12-year old me, you probably don’t pay all that much attention to it. However, and let me be clear here, we can make it more entertaining through DFS.

DraftKings is offering numerous Showdown style contests for the Pro Bowl. Do you want to invest much time and money into the endeavor? Probably not. Trying to project a Pro Bowl is like trying to understand why your toddler liked lentils yesterday and now wants them burned and unceremoniously buried.

But, as with any organized event, there are similarities that stay somewhat consistent, which can help us make our best-educated guess as to which players might lead our fake teams to victory. We’ll go through a few of those tendencies to make things a little easier when putting together your team.

1. Running backs don’t matter (on the ground)

The Pro Bowl is all about passing, so the running back rotations end up spreading what rushing attempts there are, out too thin. Last year, no running back had over six carries or topped 33 yards, and touchdowns are random across the board. You have five or more backs on each team competing for touches and a strong chance they won’t score a touchdown. Their floor is just too low.

2. If you do choose a running back, make sure he is a good receiver.

Last season Anthony Sherman and James Conner had three receptions. Two seasons ago, Alvin Kamara had four receptions, and Kareem Hunt, Le’Veon Bell each had three. The year before, Kyle Juszczyk and Jay Ajayi had five receptions while Darren Sproles had four. There a bit of a pattern that non-receiving backs will randomly get a bunch of catches like Ajayi, but it appears that the better a pass catching running back you are, the better chance you have at catching passes in the Pro Bowl.

3. Quarterbacks average just over 100 yards passing and one touchdown.

The good thing about quarterbacks is that they are consistent. There’s a good chance you’ll get close to those 100 yards and a touchdown before they are subbed out, but they are usually subbed out before they go much higher than that. Once in a while, you’ll see a breakout game like Russell Wilson three Pro Bowls ago, when “Michael Irvin’s team” went crazy with passing touchdowns, but that isn’t the norm.

4. Wide receivers have the most upside.

It makes sense that in a game where passing is king that wide receivers have the best chance of putting up yards. And this is also the spot where you can feel justified going with a stud receiver. Last season Keenan Allen led with 95 yards on four receptions, and two years ago, T.Y. Hilton caught four passes for 98 yards. And the season before, Odell Beckham Jr. caught six for 93 yards. As far as floor goes, receivers are the most likely to top 50 yards than any other position. There are more of them to choose from, so the player pool is big enough that your odds of picking the highest-scoring receiver are tough, but their floor keeps you from duds most of the time.

5. Fullbacks often get special treatment.

Last season Anthony Sherman probably should have won the Pro Bowl MVP, as he rushed four times for 11 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 92 receiving yards. The two seasons prior, Kyle Juszczyk saw five and eight touches, and no matter the fullback, he will get a touch or two in the Pro Bowl, as coaches and teammates like getting their unsung position some glory if they can.

6. Tight ends are the golden ticket.

The Pro Bowl has a rule that you must have a tight end on the field at all times, and on average, they have the best chance to score touchdowns. Wide receivers have the most upside due to their higher yardage ceilings and the chance they’ll put a touchdown or two with that yardage, but the odds of scoring are on the tight ends’ side.

Last season, Austin Hooper and Eric Ebron scored two of the four total touchdowns. The year before that, Delanie Walker scored two touchdowns, making up half the touchdowns. And the year before that, Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker scored two of the three total touchdowns. And before that, Kelce had two and Walker another one in a game with a crazy 11 touchdowns scored.

We also don’t have as many tight ends playing in the Pro Bowl as the other positions with just four this season, so they get extra time on the field. That narrows our odds down to where playing two tight ends is probably one of your best strategies.