10 Things to Know About Pro Bowl NFL DFS
It's time for a moment of soul-cleansing honesty: if you're watching the Pro Bowl, there had better be some monetary factor involved. Otherwise, you gotta get yourself a hobby. Make a puzzle. Go bowling. Do literally anything else.
Thankfully, if you need to fill that void in your life until we get to the Super Bowl, you've got easy access to a fix. You can play daily fantasy, and at least on FanDuel, that means a single-game slate focusing just on this crown jewel of juiciness. On both FanDuel and other sites, you get to twiddle around with multiple superflex spots where you can use any player at any position, which adds a new wrinkle to the game we don't get during the regular season.
However, it's pretty clear that the Pro Bowl ain't your average cookie. They've got different rules for this game than any other in the league, and it alters the way offenses operate. We need to take these variations into account when trying to fill out our rosters.
As such, it can be helpful to go back through previous Pro Bowls to see what patterns emerge that we can latch onto for the 2018 rendition. If we notice certain positions consistently scoring more than others, we can take advantage of the flexiness of these formats and try to get a leg up on the rest of the field.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at the past five Pro Bowls and see what we can learn. Here are 10 key takeaways from that data.
1. Quarterbacks are wholly dependent on touchdowns
Over the past five years, the 30 quarterbacks involved have combined to score 272.46 FanDuel points; 79.28% of those points came from passing touchdowns alone. Those 30 quarterbacks have combined for just one rushing touchdown, and the highest rushing total from a quarterback is 15 yards.
On top of that, you're not going to find much in the passing-yardage department. Just two quarterbacks have thrown for at least 200 yards, and only one topped 300. The average quarterback throws 14.87 times for 116.80 yards. If they don't get touchdowns, the floor at this position is fully unsavory.
2. Running backs need to get work in the passing game
We already mentioned that rushing yardage is in short supply at quarterback. It should come as no surprise that the same is true at running back.
In our five-year sample, only one running back -- Mark Ingram in 2015 -- had double-digit carries, and he is the only guy to get at least 50 yards on the ground in a single game. Of 40 running backs or fullbacks to log at least one carry, 12 failed to top 10 rushing yards. There have also been just three rushing touchdowns from this group, meaning it's receptions or bust for these guys.
Of these 40 running backs, seven were able to notch double-digit points, and four of them got there thanks to a receiving touchdown. If you're going to use a running back, you had better hope he's going to get work through the air. Alternatively, you could just not use a running back at all, which leads into our next point.
3. Wide receivers and tight ends are the golden tickets
We were dancing around this in the sections above, but quarterbacks and running backs leave plenty to be desired. The pass catchers are a bit different.
Here's a breakdown of how players to record a stat have performed at the past five Pro Bowls. In total, there have been 30 quarterbacks, 40 running backs, 40 wide receivers, and 20 tight ends. The tight ends appear to be money.
|Past 5 Pro Bowls||Average FanDuel Points|
Hot dang. Tight ends are the pariahs of the fantasy world during all other games, but they're gems during the Pro Bowl. Let's expand on why here.
4. Tight ends are good bets to score a touchdown
Our sample of 40 running backs over the past five Pro Bowls has combined to score eight total touchdowns (rushing and receiving). Even though we have half as many tight ends, they've still out-paced the backs with 12 touchdowns in this window.
Of the 20 tight ends to record at least one reception, nine scored at least one touchdown, and three guys had multi-touchdown days. This is pretty big for both the floor and the ceiling at the position. More on that in a second.
5. Wide receivers get the most yardage
Over the past five years, eight wide receivers have notched at least 80 receiving yards in the Pro Bowl. Running backs have hit 80 yards from scrimmage just three times in the same window, and none of those instances have come in the past two years. If we're comparing the two positions, there's no question about which holds the edge.
So, if wide receivers get the yardage, and tight ends get the tuddies, which should we be favoring? I'm glad you asked.
6. Tight Ends are the best bets for a big day
Over the past five years, there have been 17 total players -- from any position -- to score at least 15 FanDuel points in the Pro Bowl. Here's the positional distribution of those players. In the right-hand column is the percentage of relevant players at that position to hit the 15-point barrier, essentially showing a "hit rate" for that group.
|Scoring 15+ FanDuel Points||Total||Percentage at Position|
If we lower that threshold to 10 or more FanDuel points, here's what the distribution looks like.
|Scoring 10+ FanDuel Points||Total||Percentage at Position|
If you pick a tight end at random, there's a 45.00% shot that he scored double-digit points in the Pro Bowl. A full quarter of them hit 15 points on FanDuel. Considering you've got four tight ends from which to choose this year (Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph, Delanie Walker, and Jack Doyle), the odds seem decent that at least one of them will have a decent day.
7. If you want to shoot for the moon, pick a wide receiver
On FanDuel, you can select one player whose score will be doubled. If you're looking to go all out at that position, it should likely be with a wide receiver.
In our five-year sample, just six players have been able to top 20 FanDuel points; four of them were wide receivers, and the other two were tight ends. That maximum output for a quarterback is 19.64 points, and the most for a running back is 15.1. They're really not in the discussion if you're focusing on ceiling.
Additionally, the only player to top the 25-point barrier in this time was a wide receiver, A.J. Green in 2013. He torpedoed that mark with 7 receptions for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns, a decent performance. If you're focusing on ceiling here, wide receiver is your best option.
8. If you want a steady floor, then quarterbacks are still a good option
Let's say, instead, that your strategy is to obtain a high floor. Then quarterbacks should likely be your focus.
Even though their ceilings have been low, not many quarterbacks have been complete duds. Just four quarterbacks have scored five or fewer FanDuel points, accounting for 13.3% of the position. That's compared to 47.5% of running backs, 45.0% of wide receivers, and 35.0% of tight ends.
That said, you truly are capping your ceiling by doing this. As mentioned, not a single quarterback has topped 20 FanDuel points, and only 13.3% have topped 15. Even in lineups where you're prioritizing floor, that may be enough to get you to gravitate toward the wide receivers and tight ends.
9. You should be open to rostering multiple tight ends
On FanDuel, you're filling five slots of any position. This means you could -- in theory -- roster the five highest-scoring players in the game. If that's our goal, which positions should we use?
Below is a breakdown of the top-five scorers by position at the past five Pro Bowls. "Position 1" refers to the position of the player who scored the most FanDuel points in the game that year and so on.
|Year||Position 1||Position 2||Position 3||Position 4||Position 5|
As you can see, the highest-scoring player has been a wide receiver in four of those five years. That backs up the theory pedaled above that we should be favoring them in the position where we get double the points.
But on top of that, tight ends have occupied two of those top-five slots in each of the past four years, and they've had one guy crack the top five in each contest. It may not feel super comfortable relying on multiple tight ends (especially when none of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, or Zach Ertz will be there), but it has been a profitable strategy in the past.
10. Be willing to leave salary on the table
As mentioned above, we want tight ends. The most expensive tight end on FanDuel at our disposal is Rudolph, who clocks in at $10,000. The average salary of players in a lineup is $12,000 if you use the full salary allotment. You can bet we're going to leave money on the table.
On top of that, the only wide receiver priced above the average price is Antonio Brown, who is $14,000. Next is Adam Thielen at $11,500. If you're rolling out a roster that's heavy on pass catchers, you're not going to come close to maxing things out.
The priciest assets that don't come out looking trashy based on past data (outside of Brown) are the quarterbacks. If we go back to that chart above, a quarterback was among the top five in scoring in just three of the five years. So while it's fine to get one of those puppies in, adding more than that would likely put a dent in your team's ceiling.
If you would like to instead focus on the floor, then it's fine to roll with two quarterbacks. However, it's important that they be on opposing teams. Only once have the two highest-scoring quarterbacks from a game been members of the same team.