FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Pro Bowl
This is nearly it.
The Pro Bowl marks the second-to-last daily fantasy football slate we have for the 2018-19 NFL season on FanDuel. We've got the Super Bowl next week, sure, but what's more fun than the Pro Bowl? (Don't answer that.)
While it may seem at first like the Pro Bowl is nothing more than a guessing game, that's not totally true. We can dig into past trends and usage to see how the games generally play out. And that can give us an edge while building our FanDuel lineups for the big exhibition game.
The format for the Pro Bowl slate is unlike what you've grown accustomed to on FanDuel throughout the season, and that includes the Superflex setup. For the Pro Bowl, you roster five players, regardless of position, and one of them -- your MVP -- has his points multiplied by 1.5.
You have the usual $60,000 salary cap for your five flex spots, and you have to roster at least one player from each conference. Scoring is the same as usual, aside from the player you choose to flex in the multiplier slot.
The Pro Bowl, obviously, isn't your typical football game. For example, quarterbacks will divvy up a third of the game with two other passers, and that means little chance of a huge game from a quarterback. No quarterback has topped 9.0 FanDuel points in the past two seasons (though this year's crop is pretty talented and could easily outperform some of the recent Pro Bowl quarterbacks).
Also, running backs will see very few carries as -- over the past five years -- the pass rate in the Pro Bowl has been 70.7%. Contrary to the regular season, the scoring flows through wide receivers and tight ends. You can take a deeper dive into relevant trends and information in Jim Sannes' Pro Bowl breakdown.
Using these general principles, let's break down some of the players with the best shot to produce for your lineups. Just keep in mind that with such tight rosters, every option is realistically playable.
Players to Consider
Andrew Luck ($13,500) - No disrespect to the Colts, but Luck will see a big boost in wide receiver talent over a hobbled T.Y. Hilton and Dontrelle Inman this week. It's just a guess, but Patrick Mahomes may not see deep run after two playoff games, and that could yield added opportunity for Luck, who ranked bottom five in percentage of his yardage coming after the catch this season among qualified passers. The talent upgrade could let Luck shine.
Deshaun Watson ($13,000) - Another AFC passer, Watson will be without DeAndre Hopkins in this game but will have Tyreek Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Keenan Allen, and Jarvis Landry to target. Watson, despite 29 sacks taken in this span, closed the season strong with 0.18 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back after Week 11 (excluding his playoff game). He'll surely stay upright in this one, and that could lead to an efficient outing.
Russell Wilson ($13,000) - Wilson will be without the shackles of a run-first offense. Russ threw for 16 touchdowns and 1 pick on deep attempts this season, good for 18.1 adjusted yards per attempt. That ranked him first among 31 passers with at least 50 deep balls, and no other quarterback posted an adjusted yards per attempt rate better than 14.3. He can sling it and should get the chance to do so this weekend.
Saquon Barkley ($12,000) - Running backs are generally poor investments in the Pro Bowl, given how heavy the pass-to-run ratio is (again, 70.7% pass over the past five years). However, Barkley didn't play in the playoffs and should be rested up for his first Pro Bowl. He averaged 8.65 yards after the catch per reception this season, via ProFootballFocus, ranking him third among backs with at least half of their team's snaps played (coincidentally James Conner, at 10.05, ranked first and is also in the Pro Bowl). Barkley's big-play ability should make him the top running back option this week. Of course, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott are capable of taking receiving work from him (and so could even the NFC return specialist, Tarik Cohen), yet Barkley should be the freshest and could see the most work as a result.
Lamar Miller ($9,000) - A possibly sneaky option, Miller could lead the game in carries (for whatever that's worth), as the other AFC backs include James Conner and Melvin Gordon, the latter of whom was hampered with a laundry list of injuries down the stretch. Miller should carry virtually no ownership in a star-studded game and could see extra passes from his quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Either way, going heavy on running backs isn't the ideal strategy for the Pro Bowl, and some other big names -- such as Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott -- have played through the playoffs, too. A dart on Miller could pay off from an ownership leverage standpoint.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ($11,500) - JuJu is replacing Antonio Brown in the Pro Bowl, which is priceless, but this is his first Pro Bowl, and he has the ability to break big plays for the AFC. He ranked fifth in yards after the catch per reception among qualified receivers this year. His teammates are Tyreek Hill, who ranked third in that category, and slot receivers Jarvis Landry and Keenan Allen. With Hill having played two playoff games, Smith-Schuster looks like the best bet for voluminous deep looks for the AFC -- and he ranked fourth in red zone targets this season, too.
Tyreek Hill ($11,500) - As mentioned already, Hill obviously has run-after-the-catch potential and really needs only one splash play to come through for our lineups. He led all players with eight catches of 40-plus yards this season. Hill ranked eighth in average depth of target among qualified receivers this year and third in yards after the catch per reception. Mahomes, Luck, and Watson were all top-13 in deep-ball attempts this season, another reason to like Hill and Smith-Schuster for the AFC.
Mike Evans ($11,000) - Evans lacks consistent run-after-catch potential but ranked fifth in average depth of target among qualified receivers this year and has the frame to convert on red zone and end zone targets. Over the past five Pro Bowls, there have been 34 red zone rushes compared to 72 red zone passes. Of his possible quarterbacks, Wilson ranked first in adjusted yards per attempt on deep throws, Dak Prescott ranked fourth, and Mitchell Trubisky ranked 18th among 31 qualified passers. Evans accounted for six plays of 40-plus yards.
Amari Cooper ($10,000) - Cooper has the playing-with-his-own-quarterback narrative here, and so he could see extra looks from Prescott. After his trade to Dallas, Cooper ranked 12th in yards after catch per reception and accounted for 31.4% of the Cowboys' deep targets. That's a great profile for a game like this.
Adam Thielen ($10,000) - Thielen had a second half to forget this year but should draw the start, as starters Michael Thomas and Julio Jones backed out of this game. He ranked third in air yards (82) in last year's Pro Bowl behind Keenan Allen (111) and Antonio Brown (97) but did score. Given his lack of production down the stretch, Thielen could go overlooked in this game.
George Kittle ($9,000) - Kittle gets the tight end Pro Bowl boost and averaged 2.01 more yards after the catch per reception (9.92) than the second-closest player with at least 50 targets this year (D.J. Moore; 7.91). We also can lean on the fact that Kittle isn't taking the opportunity for granted. Not that we needed any extra incentive to rank him at the top of his position.
Jared Cook ($8,000) - Cook is appearing in his first Pro Bowl, serving as a replacement for Travis Kelce. Cook accounted for 31.6% of the Oakland Raiders' deep targets after the bye (just 12, however) and is now playing with three quarterbacks who sling it deep far more frequently than Derek Carr did this season.
Eric Ebron ($9,000) - Ebron's injuries limited him down the stretch, but he's still a tight end in the Pro Bowl. He also will see some reps with Andrew Luck under center and cashed in on 12 red zone touchdowns this season. The numbers suggest that tight ends get a heavy percentage of looks near the goal line in this game, so Ebron is also in play this week.
Austin Hooper ($7,000) - Hooper replaced Zach Ertz, and he hauled in 9 of 13 red zone targets for 4 touchdowns this season (a 17.6% red zone share). At 6'4" and 254 pounds with good athleticism, Hooper can do enough to put up a solid box score at a bargain price, making all four tight ends viable for the Pro Bowl.
As far as kickers go, we have Jason Myers and Aldrick Rosas at $9,000. We did see Graham Gano attempt three field goals and two extra points last year, and the year prior, Justin Tucker and Matt Prater attempted two field goals apiece. Each of the past two Pro Bowls featured lower-than-generally-expected combined point totals (47 and 33), so if you think the games continue to play with low totals, the kickers are at least in play. Just be mindful that the quarterback talent looks to be better than what we've had in the past two Pro Bowls.