Welcome back for my annual piece on wagers for the Super Bowl both for regular bets and, more interestingly, prop bets. I'll start with the disclaimer I do every year: these are for fun – don't go and bet the next three months mortgage on any of these. However, they do add some fun to the game if you play them legally and they make the game more interesting if you don't have a dog in the fight.
For the record, my best bet of the game last year was Malcolm Mitchell over 29.5 receiving yards. While it was in limbo until the fourth quarter, it hit as Mitchell had 70 receiving yards. That (and, ahem some losers) from last year can be found here.
This year, both FanDuel and DraftKings are offering huge one-day contests with big GPPs prize pools that don't cost a lot to get into and a more expensive contest if you're feeling lucky. We'll discuss those below.
Finally, big thanks to oddshark.com, Westgate Las Vegas and BetDSI.com for the odds.
Let's get to it.
WAGERS TO CONSIDER
Philadelphia Eagles +4.5
When the teams were finalized for this game I assumed the line would be Patriots by 7, maybe 6.5 to make bettors wonder. It's a little surprising the line has moved down, and there's word that someone dropped a lot in Vegas on the Eagles. That means zero to how to pick this game, but it's still an interesting tidbit. While there have been many Super Bowl blowouts, the seven times Brady/Belichick have been there they've only covered this spread once – last year in OT, nonetheless. I'm not ready to go nuts on Nick Foles, but I think Philadelphia – a complete team – will give the Patriots a game. Doug Pederson and the way he handled the NFC championship game (pedal to the metal all game) also helps.
Chris Hogan OVER 35.5 receiving yards, -110
This might be my favorite bet this year. Hogan should see softer coverage with the Eagles more worried about Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks. When Hogan was healthy in the first half of the this season, he had at least 60 receiving in six of eight games.
Tom Brady will NOT throw a touchdown pass in the first quarter, -200 (Yes +170)
While the other side of the bet offers pretty good odds for the greatest quarterback ever, a couple key stats are steering us in the "No" direction. Incredibly, in seven Super Bowl starts, Brady has never thrown a first-quarter touchdown. This is in part due to lack of opportunities. The Patriots averaged two first-quarter possessions in those seven Super Bowls, receiving the opening kickoff just twice (the last two games.) Meanwhile, the Eagles were great in the first quarter this season defensively, allowing 3.2 points per game, fifth fewest in the league. Doubling down and taking the Eagles +.5 in the first quarter would make sense too for the same reasons.
Russell Westbrook will have MORE points+rebounds+assists than the longest FG made -3.5 yards, -110
For those not paying attention, Westbrook is half a rebound per game from averaging a triple-double this season. Unless he gets hurt, Westbrook will total 45 points+rebounds+assists if he just hits his averages. Using my Euclid-like math skills, that means Stephen Gostkowski or Jake Elliott has to hit from at least 49 yards to lose this. Sure, Westbrook's game vs. the Lakers could go south if it's a blowout. But the Lakers play up-tempo, and there's another important factor to consider: Entering Thursday's game, Westbrook has scored 60, 55, 50, 44 and 52 points (P+R+A) in his last four games. He could make it more or less impossible for a kicker to beat him if he gets to 60-plus.
Justin Timberlake WILL cover a Prince song, -140 (No +100)
This seems pretty easy as Prince performed at a Super Bowl halftime, passed away within the last two years and famously hailed from Minnesota. It's tough to come up with a good cover of any of Prince's songs, but there are a number of his popular ones Timberlake could choose ("Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy," etc.). It's now a coin flip as to which bet I like better between this and the Hogan prop.
Pink will NOT be airborne at any point during the national anthem, -200 (Yes +150)
I seem to remember watching a few award shows where Pink was up in the air spinning around like she's a member of Cirque de Soleil, which is probably fueling this prop. However, she wasn't singing the national anthem in those performances, and a stunt like that could be seen as disrespectful for a league that has been criticized for allowing players to kneel during the anthem. My only worry is she comes spinning down something before a note is played and that counts. Also, if forced to pick, I like "under" two minutes for her to sing the anthem. She doesn't strike me as one to drag this out too long. I scoured YouTube and did not find any recorded performances of her singing it.
INTERESTING PROPS WORTH MENTIONING BUT NOT BETTING
Will "Nipplegate" be mentioned during the broadcast? Yes +500, No -900
I highly doubt this is mentioned during the broadcast, but just thought it's funny. That said, the odds are too high to take the "no" side.
How many times will "dilly, dilly" be said during the broadcast? Over/Under 12.5 (taken down, cannot be wagered)
Long story short, BetDSI put up the wager with the 12.5 and immediately bettors jumped all over it. The site had to take it off the board and figure out whether to bring it back with a higher number. But the number would be significantly higher, creating a good chance the site could be "middled" and lose both sides if the initial "over" bets then took the "under" on the new higher number. You can read more here.
FanDuel is offering a free Bingo contest. All a player needs to do is watch the game and when five spots in a row light up on your card, click on "call for Bingo." Click here for more details about how to win a share of $25K for free.
Let's get to the DFS slate, the first of its kind. Both FanDuel and DraftKings will offer single-game contests with a twist from their usual formats: roster construction. To ensure a greater variety of lineups, each site changed its roster formats. FanDuel will use five utility spots, including kickers, with one of those spots being a 2x spot. This means whoever is in that spot will receive double the fantasy points. DraftKings tweaked its roster with four utility offensive starters and two defensive starters as well.
Now let's look at some strategy and players to consider.
Take Both Tight Ends
This was a doable strategy throughout the season on DraftKings, and for the first time all season it is possible on FanDuel. It wouldn't be too surprising if both tight ends, who are great red-zone targets, end up being the top receivers on their respective teams. For some reason, it seems like playing two tight ends is hardly used, making this a contrarian play. Taking players from both sides for any position is a viable option.
QB Strategy on FanDuel
Use Tom Brady in cash, in the 2x spot on FanDuel. Yes, this should be chalky and limit your options at the other spots. But we've seen what he's done as recently as last season, and if you don't use him there it might not matter who your other four are in your lineup. Obviously, Foles is in play in GPPs. He would have had a much higher score than Brady than last week and is $3,500 less this week. It's hard to envision a scenario where the winning teams on this slate don't use one or both of these options.
Don't be Afraid to Use a Kicker (or Both) on FanDuel
Both of teams boast good kickers and each averaged about 10 fantasy points per game during the regular season. At $8,500 for Jake Elliott, Brady, who averaged 19 FPP per game, would have to score 20 to match him dollar for dollar. If this ends up being a defensive struggle, odds are taking both kickers at a reduced price would be better value than the quarterbacks.
Defensive Duos will be Key to Winning GPPs on DraftKings
DraftKings rolled out defensive spots last week, and in what turned out to be a conservative fantasy game, the defensive players made the difference. Here is the scoring for defensive players:
Solo Tackle - 1 point
Assisted Tackle - 0.5
8+ Tackle Bonus* - 3
Interception - 6
Forced Fumble - 3
Opponent Fumble Recovery - 3
Sack - 5
Pass Defensed - 1.5
Safety - 10
Interception Return TD - 6
Fumble Return TD - 6
Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD - 6
Blocked Kick Return TD - 6
Blocked Kick - 10
2 Point Conversion Return - 2
*assists count as half a tackle
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to score and it would be smart to evaluate every player as to both their floor and ceiling. Based on the scoring system, here are the players to targets from each team:
Kyle Van Noy
Those are the best players who should account for a solid number of tackles along with having the best shots for an interception or sack.
That'll do it for this season. Is there any disagreement out there with my picks? Any props or wagers you liked that I didn't hit on? Hit me up in the comments. Oh, and enjoy the game Sunday.