The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs square off on Sunday in Super Bowl 54. The point total has climbed to 54.5 in a game the vast majority of bettors expect to go over. Patrick Mahomes is on fire and Kyle Shanahan’s ground game has been dominant, which might not bode well for either defense.
DraftKings is offering their Showdown contests for the 2020 Super Bowl, which means your roster will consist of a captain spot and five flex positions. Generally quarterbacks and pass catchers are the big value, but both defenses are cheap options. If you want to go against the grain and think either defense could turn out well, there might be some value in your daily fantasy football lineups.
Fantasy Football Advice: 49ers DST ($5,400 captain; $3,600 flex)
Widely regarded as the best or second-best defense this season, it’ll be hard for fantasy managers to construct a showdown lineup without at least considering the 49ers DST. They’ve put up 14 and 10 DKFP in their first two playoff appearances, playing a major role in getting the 49ers past two dangerous top-10 offenses. They gave up just 10 points to the Vikings, and held the Packers to just seven points through three quarters before taking their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. They recorded nine sacks over the past two games, and were sixth in league in sacks during the regular season. There’s a lot to like here.
There’s also a lot to be worried about. The biggest drivers of DST scoring are usually turnovers and sacks. The Chiefs were sacked just 25 times and committed just 15 turnovers, both of which were third-fewest in the league. And it’s actually worse than that – eight of those sacks came in the two games without Patrick Mahomes, and three of those turnovers were LeSean McCoy fumbles (McCoy has played just one snap since Week 15). The Chiefs have scored at least 23 points in all but one game this season, so it’s unlikely that the 49ers DST gets any meaningful DKFP from points allowed (DSTs score 10 DFKP for a shutout, seven DKFP for allowing one to six points, four DKFP for allowing seven to 13 points, and one or fewer DKFP for allowing 14 or more).
The over/under for this game is high: 54 points. Mahomes rarely gets sacked, and the Chiefs rarely turn the ball over, even against great defenses. Unless the 49ers DST scores a touchdown, it’s hard to map a path for them to score more than a tiny handful of DKFP. If, after looking at this information, you still think the 49ers DST is a good play, you should strongly consider betting the under.
Fantasy Football Advice: Chiefs DST ($4,500 captain; $3,000 flex)
The Chiefs DST is getting mostly overlooked in the build-up to the Super Bowl. That’s understandable, but probably a bad idea. Popular perception is that this unit is a massive weakness, but that perception is mostly outdated. The Chiefs’ defensive DVOA was up to 14th by the end of the season, and their pass defense DVOA finished at sixth. Though they haven’t been great DFS plays so far during the playoffs, they scored at least eight DKFP in each of their last six regular season games. They have multiple sacks in every game since Week 9 – and eight through two playoff games. From Weeks 10 to 16, they ranked sixth in takeaways.
The biggest concern for the Chiefs defense is that they are weakest where the 49ers offense is strongest: the run game. The Chiefs’ ranked a horrendous 29th in rushing DVOA and allowed the seventh-most rushing yards despite that they were usually playing with a lead – every team that gave up more rushing yards will be drafting inside the top-10 this April. But while their run defense is certainly a concern, it has improved throughout the season. After allowing 145 rushing yards per game through the first half of the season, they allowed just 111 over the second half, an improvement from 30th to 17th.
When it comes to the primary drivers of DFS scoring, the 49ers are an ok opponent. They get sacked at almost a league-average rate, and they commit an above-average amount of turnovers. It’s a risky play, especially since it’s possible to just avoid DSTs entirely when building a showdown lineup, but there is value here and it’s a pick that will probably help to differentiate a lineup.
Take the savings. Take the differentiation. Start the Chiefs’ DST in a flex spot and avoid the 49ers DST.
I am an avid fan and user (my username is arikleen) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.