4 Things to Know About Pro Bowl Daily Fantasy Football
Just when you thought the Pro Bowl was irrelevant, you get hit in the face with some awesome Pro Bowl-Super Bowl contests on daily fantasy sites like FanDuel.
If you're unaware, fantasy football isn't over just yet. You can enter contests this weekend that include players from the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl, making for an insanely interesting two-game slate.
This isn't your traditional grouping, though. The Pro Bowl, as many of you know, sees players constantly cycled in and out of the game, meaning the assets you use in DFS may not end up with as much playing time as a guy participating in the Super Bowl. And with that notion brings a ton of strategy, despite the fact that some will think you're throwing Pro Bowl darts.
Trust me, you're not.
A couple of years ago, the Pro Bowl changed its format. I'm not just referring to the way players are drafted to teams, either. During the summer of 2013 -- so prior to the 2014 game -- it was announced that teams were allowed to play Cover 2 and press coverage, when the game traditionally saw only man coverage. That's changed the landscape of the game -- over the last two years, teams have scored 32, 28, 22 and 21 points. During the 2012 and 2011 season Pro Bowls, teams scored 62, 35, 59, and 41 points.
So instead of digging into numbers that date back three, four, or five years, it made sense -- to me, at least -- to just analyze the box scores from the last two Pro Bowls. Here are some findings that could help you build a successful DFS roster.
1. A random quarterback has thrown just 16.5 attempts.
The amount of passes a quarterback throws has very little correlation to how many fantasy points he ends up posting, simply because every quarterback in today's NFL is dropping back to pass 30 or more times. In fact, looking at only quarterbacks with 20 or more attempts over the last two years and correlating them to the number of points scored, we get about a 0.25 correlation, which isn't very strong.
The problem with the Pro Bowl, though, is that making the assumption that a quarterback will toss the rock 20 or more times is foolish. Only two passers have hit the 20 attempt mark over the last two years, while another two threw 13 or fewer. You're looking at roughly 17 attempts from your Pro Bowl quarterback, which isn't something you want to trust confidently outside of a large tournament.
Since the rule change, of the six quarterbacks who've thrown passes in the Pro Bowl, only one has scored more than 13 fantasy points: Matthew Stafford from a season ago, who posted 16.64. For some perspective, Cam Newton scored fewer than 16 fantasy points just three times this season.
2. One running back has seen more than seven rushing attempts.
Like quarterbacks, runners predictably don't see a ton of volume. Over the last two Pro Bowls, Mark Ingram is the only back to see more than seven carries, while the majority of rushers see fewer than five. Strictly from running -- not accounting for receiving -- no running back has scored more than Ingram's 7.2 fantasy points on the ground, as there have been zero running back rushing touchdowns during these two games.
3. One running back on each team has caught at least four passes.
The lack of rushing production doesn't mean you should fade Pro Bowl running backs, though. Of the four teams in our small sample, each squad had at least one back catch four or more passes. For comparison, Jonathan Stewart, who will more than likely be this year's most popular Super Bowl running back play, caught four passes in a single game just once this season. Ronnie Hillman did it just twice, while C.J. Anderson did it three times, never topping the mark.
In total, 35.5% of the receptions made in the Pro Bowl over the last two years have come from the running back position. That makes a pass-catching back like Devonta Freeman very attractive.
4. No wide receiver has topped 100 yards, but you still may want to use Pro Bowl wideouts.
It's true that no wideout has topped 100 receiving yards in the Pro Bowl since the defensive rule change, but let's not pretend the Super Bowl wide receivers are in great shape to accomplish the feat, either. During the regular season, only three wide receivers hit the 100-yard mark against both Denver and Carolina -- the matchup isn't necessarily there for an obvious play at wide receiver.
From a fantasy standpoint, the wide receiver position has actually done pretty well in the Pro Bowl. Each team has four pass-catchers (which is probably why there's a lot of running back use in the receiving game), and over the last two years, 10 of the 16 Pro Bowl wideouts scored double-digit half-point PPR fantasy points. That even includes a game where only 43 points were scored.
Strategically, it makes sense to load up on some of the Pro Bowl wide receivers.