Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Final Week - Bowl Challenge

Some of you may be playing in the final DFS NFL Contest on DraftKings this week, which is being called the "Bowl Challenge".  Last year it was the "Desert Bowl", as both the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl were in Arizona, but basically this year's version is the same.  Some DFS players commonly call this contest the "Degenerate Bowl", as only crazy people play.  But is there any rhyme or reason to picking players for this contest?

First of all, this is a nutty contest for sure, and you have to nail the players that score touchdowns.  With two very different games to think about, let's look at the past two Pro Bowls for some indicators of who to pick from the group.  In 2014, the Pro Bowl adopted new rules that reduced the game time, and as a result the scoreboard no longer approached 90+ points.  Even so, passing is the preferred mode of moving the ball, so if you want to pick any particular offensive players, wide receivers or tight ends are your best bet.

In the first year of the new format, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21.  All six touchdowns came from the hands (or feet) of quarterbacks, as Cam Newton ran in for a score and five other quarterbacks threw for a touchdown - but none of them went to the same receiver twice.  No receiver topped 70 yards or six catches, but they still did much better than running backs, where only two of them even gained over 25 yards - but failed both at scoring and breaking the 45 yard mark.

Last year (2015), Michael Irvin's team outscored Cris Carter's squad, 32-28, but those 60 points still favored the passing attacks for both sides.  Four QBs had two touchdown passes each, and Matthew Stafford dominated with 300+ yards passing as well.  His playing nearly half of the contest really helped him to rack up the stats, as Tony Romo only had six passing attempts.  As for the receivers, two of them had 98 yards (Antonio Brown and Golden Tate) but neither found the end zone.  Five pass catchers did, including three that scored twice - tight ends Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen as well as Denver's Emmanuel Sanders.  Graham was helped by Drew Brees being the quarterback, and that highlights something to look for - a possible teammate connection.  Rushing was still not part of the game, although Mark Ingram had 72 yards with 11 carries and added a respectable 2-17 receiving.

So what about this year's contest?  I would recommend targeting receivers, but probably not quarterbacks as even a QB getting two touchdown passes in 50% of the game will likely not rival a Super Bowl starter who plays 60 minutes.  The same can be said for running backs, although a starter who catches the ball out of the backfield like Devonta Freeman is an interesting punt play.  I would target Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. and also Derek Carr to Amari Cooper as possible touchdown connections, and also consider the tight ends from this game who want to show off how they really belong like Tyler Eifert and Travis Kelce.

As for the rest of your roster - take your team defense from the Super Bowl along with your starting quarterback (either Cam Newton or Peyton Manning) and round out your roster with as many Super Bowl 50 players as you can squeeze in.  Also keep in mind the late swap option for DraftKings and set a few lineups that you can toy with before next Sunday if you strike touchdown paydirt in the Pro Bowl

Good luck, and play just for fun!

See you next season!

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