Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for the Pro Bowl
Usually when prepping for a daily fantasy football slate, we have some data to dig into. For the Pro Bowl, it's not quite the same case.
We can, will, and should rely on past data in the Pro Bowls because, well, they're their own type of football game. So let's dig into some relevant trends and see how that applies to each roster.
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.
Recent Trends and Notes
Over the past five Pro Bowls:
- The pass-to-run ratio has been 2.40, so there are a lot of passes and very few rushes.
- Despite that, only seven quarterbacks reached double-digit FanDuel points, and none have had more than 18.76.
- Quarterbacks average 14.8 pass attempts per game, and none have had more than 25.
- Only Matthew Stafford in the 2015 Pro Bowl topped 198 passing yards; he had 310.
- No quarterback has accounted for more than two carries or 15 rushing yards.
- Mark Ingram ran 11 times for 72 yards in the 2015 Pro Bowl. Excluding him, single-game running back maxes have been 7 carries and 42 rushing yards.
- Running backs are not a good investment.
- Positional receiving workload breakdowns have been (Jalen Ramsey caught an end zone target last year, so not every value adds up to 100%):
AFC Offense Notes
- Lamar Jackson ($14,500), Deshaun Watson ($13,500), and Ryan Tannehill ($12,000) all have rushing potential, but quarterbacks have not run often in the Pro Bowl. Again, none have more than two carries over the past five Pro Bowls. Quarterbacks are viable for any of the flex spots, but they shouldn't be MVP candidates often.
- Mark Andrews ($9,000) is $3,000 below the average starting salary for players, we know tight ends are hyper relevant in this format, and he has his own quarterback in this game. Andrews actually ranked 49th among pass-catchers with at least 50 targets in average target depth (aDOT) at 10.5, via FantasyADHD. He was second among 26 tight ends with at least 50 targets. Andrews' 24 downfield targets (16-plus yards downfield) were second-most among tight ends. For context, only 10 tight ends had even 15 downfield targets this regular season.
- Jack Doyle ($7,000) is the cheapest non-special teams pass-catcher in the game. He had merely 5 downfield targets and a lowly 6.9-yard average target depth this season (18th among 26 qualified tight ends). He projects more as a touchdown-or-bust play.
- Keenan Allen ($11,500) was named a starter, and Jarvis Landry ($10,500) was a reserve for the AFC but moves up to starter status with DeAndre Hopkins out. Last year, Allen led the game with 95 receiving yards on 6 targets but had a single-digit average target depth of 9.2 yards. Landry had -- astoundingly -- 7 empty targets but the second-most air yards (146) of any player over the past five years. Landry also had two end zone targets last season. Both are very affordable and make sense as core-level plays.
- Courtland Sutton ($10,000), and D.J. Chark ($10,000) are replacing Hopkins and Tyreek Hill, respectively. Both were top-36 in average target depth (11.4 for both) this season among qualified pass catchers, so they're no strangers to downfield work.
- Sutton (35) and Landry (35) tied for 10th in the NFL in downfield targets (16-plus yards downfield).
- We know rushing attempts are scarce in the Pro Bowl, and the AFC's running backs -- Derrick Henry ($12,000), Mark Ingram ($10,000), and Nick Chubb ($10,000) -- combined for 2.1 targets, 0.9 receptions, and 8.50 yards per game. They can still steal a touchdown, but they're afterthoughts.
Core Plays: Mark Andrews, Courtland Sutton, D.J. Chark, Jarvis Landry
Secondary Plays: Keenan Allen, Jack Doyle
Tournament Plays: Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill
NFC Offense Notes
- The NFC's quarterbacks are Drew Brees ($14,000), Russell Wilson ($13,000), and Kirk Cousins ($12,500). Brees and Wilson have played three times each in the Pro Bowl over the past five years. Cousins played the 2017 game. Of these seven total games, only Wilson in 2016 (18.76) and Brees in 2015 (12.52) surpassed 6.5 FanDuel points. Again, quarterbacks just don't see enough work to post big games reliably.
- Jared Cook ($9,000) and Austin Hooper ($8,000) are the NFC's tight ends. Cook ranked third among 26 tight ends with at least 50 targets in average target depth this year (10.3). Hooper was 21st (6.6). Cook will be playing some with his quarterback, Brees, and is my preferred target to Hooper.
- Michael Thomas ($12,500) is the only NFC receiver left from the initial vote. Davante Adams ($12,000) is replacing Julio Jones, a starter. Amari Cooper ($11,000) is replacing Mike Evans, and Kenny Golladay ($10,500) is replacing Chris Godwin.
- Last year, Thomas had a single empty target and now has six yards on two targets over the past two Pro Bowls. He ranked 68th among 80 receivers with at least 50 targets in average target depth this season and won't exactly have a 35% target share in the Pro Bowl. Despite being a target monster this season, Thomas had just 22 downfield targets, ranking him 42nd in the NFL. It's just not his game.
- Golladay (15.1) ranked eighth in aDOT among 80 qualified receivers and ranked second in the NFL in downfield targets (47) behind only Julio Jones (52). Cooper (12.2) was 32nd in aDOT and 14th in downfield targets (33). Adams (10.0) was 52nd in aDOT but 27th in downfield looks with 28.
- The NFC's running backs are Ezekiel Elliott ($12,000), Alvin Kamara ($11,000), and Dalvin Cook ($11,000). Elliott last year had 3 carries, 33 yards, 2 targets, and 14 receiving yards. In 2017, he put up 20 yards on 8 carries with 2 yards on 2 targets. Kamara followed up a seven-target 2018 Pro Bowl with two targets last year (for zero yards and only two carries for two yards on the ground). Cook's late-season injuries all but guarantee he won't see significant work.
- Running backs can be useful, but they're not players to build around in the Pro Bowl format.
Core Plays: Kenny Golladay, Jared Cook, Amari Cooper, Austin Hooper
Secondary Plays: Davante Adams, Michael Thomas
Tournament Plays: Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees