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The A List at DFS Academy: Super Bowl NFL DFS

Super Bowl NFL DFS

Welcome to the final edition of The A List for the 2022-23 season. We have successfully made it through all 22 slates and hopefully made some money along the way. Before getting into the week, I just want to say thank you to anyone who has read this article throughout the season. I appreciate every one of you and hope I helped you have fun and win some cash throughout the season.

Throughout the playoffs, we have been dabbling more into tournament thinking. In short, smaller slates have increased variance, which makes it harder to win in Cash settings and presents new opportunities in tournaments. And this week, we are 100% focused on tournament settings, aiming to win it all in our last week.

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Contest Selection

I will primarily focus my lineups on 20-max contests this week. And yes, I will be placing all 20 lineups in these contests. That said, I recommend waiting to enter these contests until some smaller contests open. More on why later.

I will enter a bunch of free lineups when employing this strategy to construct my 20 favorite lineups. Then, you can enter a seemingly endless number of free head-to-head, so it’s easy to place these lineups. Then, when you find the contest you want to enter, you can easily enter all 20 lineups at once.

Okay, but how do I keep track of which players I’ve placed in each lineup? 

Simple, I use a spreadsheet where I color code players to see whom I’m over or underweight. From there, I can pick my favorite three or four lineups to enter in single-entry or triple-entry contests.

Lastly, when entering 20-max contests, I plan to build around three different captains and six lineups per captain. That leaves two additional lineups where I will get wildly contrarian in case my favorite plays fail. But how do we win?

Roster Construction

As much as possible, I aim to play in smaller contests. Of course, it’s easy to look at the smaller prize pool and think the smaller contests are not worth it. But the key to this is that smaller contests increase the likelihood you can build a unique lineup. 

To explain why, do you remember learning about combinations in grade school? As much as I love math, I always hated combinations because I could never keep them straight with permutations.

Single-game contests are effectively a combination math problem. You get 51 players (for this slate), and you have to pick six of them. The order does not matter (except for your captain, but we’re going to ignore that for simplicity’s sake).

In that scenario, there are 18,008,460 total combinations. Yes, I did not round to emphasize the point. 

With 18 million possibilities, you may think, “oh, I can find a unique lineup.” But here’s the problem. 

There are at least three injured players and five backup quarterbacks you can technically start. If you remove those players, you’re down to 6.1 million options. That’s still a lot, but from my perspective, there is a maximum of 27 players you can reasonably start on Sunday. With that, there are 296,010 unique lineups. Do the math; that’s less than the contest size of the DraftKings Millionaire contest.

Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll drop several nuggets to help you get different and gain an advantage over the field, but here are three keys to get us started.

Keys to Success

First, pick the right captain (obviously). You can gain significant leverage by having the highest-scoring player in your captain slot. 

Second, do not worry about using all the salary space these contests allow. By not maxing out your budget, you will more easily get unique over people that focus on maximizing their lineup.

And last, lean into having an unbalanced lineup. Players will lean towards having three players from each team or having a balance of positions. Get different by taking four or five players from one team. Maybe start three running backs. Start only one quarterback. If you feel uncomfortable, you’re probably doing something most people won’t. Just know your boundaries and don’t take it too far, such as starting Greg Ward, who I forgot was an NFL player, before checking this week’s slate.

With that, I’ve gone on enough about the contest. Let’s get into these players. Stick around to the end for my optimal lineup. Also, please read the descriptions of the players. This week isn’t as simple as “pick this guy.” I’ve included a lot of nuances as to how often I’ll roster different players, and if you miss that nuance, it could lead you astray. 

As always, my DMs are open for feedback and questions, both on Twitter and Instagram.

Cash is in session (sort of).

Super Bowl NFL DFS


Super Bowl NFL DFS

Teacher’s Pet

DeVonta Smith (DraftKings: $8,600 / FanDuel: $11,500)

First, let’s be clear – I also love Travis Kelce this weekend. More on that later. But outside of Kelce, DeVonta Smith is my favorite player to target. He will be one of my captains I build around this week. 

According to Matthew Betz of The Fantasy Footballers, the WR2 on any given team is typically rostered in the captain slot in less than 5% of lineups. But wide receiver twos have just as much ceiling potential as the number one receiver, particularly when your number one and two are A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Riding with Smith in your captain slot is a great way to win easy leverage if he ends up being the highest-scoring player on the slate, and he has that potential.

When predicting this game, I expect Kansas City to put L’Jarius Sneed on A.J. Brown and the play zone coverage around Sneed to give him help. According to PFF, DeVonta Smith leads the Eagles versus zone coverage, with 60 catches, 15 more than Brown. Smith has come on strong down the stretch, and I expect that to continue this weekend.

Also, if you have Smith in the captain slot, you should play Jalen Hurts in your flex more times than not. Again, I’m not going to discuss the quarterbacks in-depth, but just know that, in general, if you play their pass-catchers in the captain slot, you should start them as well.

Super Bowl NFL DFS

Honor Roll

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (DraftKings: $6,200 / FanDuel: $8,000)

This pick is a mixture of game theory and telling myself a story. On the game theory front, my perception is that people see Valdes-Scantling as a boom-or-bust player. He had a great game last week, so people may avoid him thinking he will fail. Because of that, I want to be in on him one last time.

Why? Here’s the story I’m telling myself. If I’m the Eagles, I’m playing man coverage this week. So much has been made of the seeming lack of talent in the Kansas City receiver room. If we play into that narrative, the Eagles should simply dare the receivers to beat them in man coverage. In this scenario, they likely double-cover Travis Kelce to avoid him and Patrick Mahomes eating them up in zone coverage.

So who are Kansas City’s man-coverage beaters? First off, Travis Kelce leads the team in receiving yards versus man coverage (PFF). But the second is MVS, who becomes a downfield threat against man. That’s precisely why I want to start him this week. If he gets two chunk plays and a touchdown, we’re sitting pretty. I likely won’t have him in my captain slot but will be in several lineups.

Jerick McKinnon (DraftKings: $6,800 / FanDuel: $9,500)

Like MVS, Jerick McKinnon has demonstrated success against man coverage, catching 18 passes for three touchdowns versus man (PFF). Simply put, McKinnon becomes a great dump-off option when Kansas City faces man coverage.

Further, I hate the feeling of placing McKinnon in my lineup this week. I expect most people do as well. He has seen decreased workload throughout the playoffs as Isiah Pacheco has taken over the running back role, which is reflected in his price. But since this is likely to be a close game, Kansas City is going to need all their stars coming to play, and I expect McKinnon to play a crucial role in their success.

Lastly, I will have some rosters that are running-back-heavy for the situation where both teams want to slow the game down, keep the opposing pass games off the field, and are able to run the ball successfully. For that reason, I think playing both Pacheco and McKinnon is a viable contrarian strategy. Just make sure you think about what else needs to go right for that story to play out (prominent defensive play, higher rate of field goals, etc.)

Miles Sanders (DraftKings: $7,800 / FanDuel: $12,000)

Including Miles Sanders is more to discuss how to construct optimal and diverse rosters and less about me thinking he is the best play. I want to have a few lineups with Sanders because if the Eagles get down to the five-yard line, there’s a great chance Sanders consistently plays cleanup with Hurts not at 100%.

But overall, I’ll be underweight on Sanders. The dominant narrative is that the Eagles run game is going to eat up Kansas City. And it might, which is why I want Sanders in some lineups. But also, they’ve been much better against the run down the stretch than they’ve gotten credit for. They’ve given up 30, 62, 50, 56, and 107 yards in their past five games to the lead opposing rusher. Two of those players were quarterbacks. And the 107-yard game? That was against Kenneth Walker.

All this to say, I’m hedging my bets with Sanders. I want a few lineups with him for the touchdown upside, but I think people are going to be in on him more than they should. So I will focus about 60% of my builds more on the receivers and tight ends. But for the rest, Sanders has likely the best opportunity for a huge game of any of the running backs.

Check the Chalkboard

Travis Kelce (DraftKings: $10,600 / FanDuel: $14,000)

Look, we’re starting 20 lineups to give us more dart throws. But if I had one dart to throw, it would be Travis Kelce 10 times out of 10. There are countless reasons why, including the fact that he is one of the best tight ends of all time. 

First, he dominates zone coverage. And while I think the Eagles would be smart to test Kansas City with man coverage, they have primarily been a zone coverage team throughout the season.

But even if they do play man, Kelce is still Kansas City’s number one receiver against man, bringing in 45 catches, 476 yards, and nine (!!) touchdowns, per PFF. 

Furthermore, he is a playoff beast. If there’s anyone outside a quarterback who could win the Superbowl MVP, it’s Travis Kelce.

I will have him as one of my captains, and he will likely be a staple of over half my rosters. And believe it or not, that’s a way to gain an advantage. During the Conference Championship games, he was only 30%-40% rostered, which is absolutely shocking given his talent. 

Sure, I’ll have some lineups without Kelce in case he fails, but I have yet to find a compelling narrative where he isn’t one of the best three players on the slate.

Play Travis Kelce.

Participation Grade

Skyy Moore (DraftKings: $3,800 / FanDuel: $6,000)

As mentioned in the intro, we have to get different somewhere. Reminder, there are some easy ways to get different: start four to five players from the same team, don’t play both quarterbacks, or play multiple running backs from the same team. But at some point, you likely need to take a couple of dart throws.

Skyy Moore is an interesting name this week, as he will likely be further down the priority list for the Eagles’ defense. But, more importantly, he’s a sneaky solid option against man coverage, where he is a downfield threat similar to MVS. According to PFF, he has the third highest average depth of target (ADOT) against man coverage of any Kansas City receiver, behind only Justin Watson (who may not play) and MVS, at 13.6 yards. 

With that ADOT, if he simply gets three catches and a touchdown, he’s outperforming most players on the slate, helping you get leverage on the field. To that end, if Justin Watson is healthy, I like him as well. So essentially, I’ll pick and choose between these players in my lineups to get as many bites of the apple as possible.

Super Bowl NFL DFS

Back of the Classroom Studs for Super Bowl NFL DFS

Dallas Goedert (DraftKings: $6,400 / FanDuel: $10,000)

Dallas Goedert is one of the sneakiest players in this slate. With Kansas City likely to focus most of its attention on stopping the run and covering A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, Goedert could go unnoticed and quietly have a great game. 

Specifically, going back to the idea that Kansas City plays zone, Goedert is second on the eagles in yards per route run against zone coverage, only behind A.J. Brown. So while I am not putting Goedert in my captain slot (tight ends are rarely the highest scoring player unless they’re Travis Kelce), he is a prominent way to gain leverage on players who will focus on Brown and Smith. He can also get there without Jalen Hurts having a ceiling game so you can use him in lineups with or without Hurts.

Kenneth Gainwell (DraftKings: $5,000 / FanDuel: $8,500)

I can tell you right now I will have a lineup with Kenneth Gainwell, Miles Sanders, and at least one Kansas City running back. I may even have one lineup with both the Eagles and both Kansas City running backs. This is a great way to get different and have a lineup that accounts for a slower game script.

But be cautious with Gainwell. Yes, there are game scripts that will favor him, particularly in the passing game, as he often receives screen passes and dump-offs. We want him in some lineups in case these go for huge gains. 

But Kansas City has played better against pass-catching running backs in recent weeks. In particular, I was in on Samaje Perine in the Conference Championship game because Kansas City has struggled against pass-catching running backs throughout the season. But they essentially shut down Perine, who only had four receiving yards against Kansas City. 

All this to say, start a few lineups with Gainwell for the ceiling, but I’m going to be underweight on him, assuming other people will buy into the Gainwell hype. 

Noah Gray (DraftKings: $1,200 / FanDuel: $5,500)

Kansas City stepped into the world of heavy personnel formations this season, often using two or three tight ends at a time. With that, the likes of Noah Gray have gotten opportunities to shine, as he finds himself wide open at times with teams focused on Travis Kelce. Gray fits a specific narrative this weekend. 

Let’s say the Eagles slow down Kelce but still give up three passing touchdowns. There’s a good chance Gray scores one of those touchdowns. Then let’s say this game smashed the under and finished 21 to 17. There aren’t a lot of points going around in that scenario, and picking the players who scored the touchdowns could be all you need to win big.

I also like pairing him in a lineup with Kelce, as people may avoid multiple tight ends from the same team in their lineup. If there’s a team that can make multiple tight ends fantasy viable, it’s the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs. 

Either way, Noah Gray is a solid contrarian play this weekend. 

My Optimal Lineup

Captain: Travis Kelce (DraftKings: $15,900 / FanDuel: $14,000)

Patrick Mahomes (DraftKings: $11,000 / FanDuel: $17,500)

Dallas Goedert (DraftKings: $6,400 / FanDuel: $10,000)

Skyy Moore (DraftKings: $3,800 / FanDuel: $6,000)

Noah Gray (DraftKings: $1,200 / FanDuel: $5,500)

Devonta Smith (DraftKings: $8,600 / FanDuel: $11,500)

Report Card

Scoring System

  • A: Scored over three times their price
  • B: Scored over two times their price
  • C: Matched their price
  • F: Scored lower than their price


Player Price Points Grade
Ja’Marr Chase $7,600 13.5 C
Joe Burrow $6,800 15.8 B
Brandon Aiyuk $4,400 2 F
Travis Kelce $7,800 20.8 B
Christian McCaffrey $8,000 20.6 B
Kadarius Toney* $3,700 1.9 F
Isiah Pacheco $5,300 13.5 B
Tyler Boyd* $3,800 6 C
Patrick Mahomes $7,600 23.84 A
Samaje Perine $4,500 11.6 B
Miles Sanders $5,200 17.5 A
Dallas Goedert $4,100 7.3 C
San Francisco 49ers $3,000 0 F
Kansas City Chiefs $2,500 10 A
Overall $74,300 164.34 B
Season Long $1,627,900 4,201.32 B

*Exited early due to injury


Player Price Points Grade
Ja’Marr Chase $8,600 10.5 C
Joe Burrow $8,300 15.8 C
Brandon Aiyuk $6,000 1.5 F
Travis Kelce $8,500 17.3 B
Christian McCaffrey $9,000 18.6 B
Kadarius Toney* $5,600 1.4 F
Isiah Pacheco $6,300 11 C
Tyler Boyd* $5,300 5 F
Patrick Mahomes $8,500 19.84 B
Samaje Perine $5,300 10.1 C
Miles Sanders $6,200 17 B
Dallas Goedert $6,400 4.8 F
San Francisco 49ers $4,100 0 F
Kansas City Chiefs $4,200 10 B
Overall $92,300 142.84 C
Season Long $1,985,600 3,652.02 C

*Exited early due to injury

While our content slows down in the postseason, keep an eye out for our weekly betting and DFS articles here.

We’re also working on a new series called How To Fix, where we create a plan to fix some of the teams that missed the playoffs this year. Check out our first few entries here!