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DraftKings NFL $3M Championship Millionaire Lineup Advice

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Feb 1, 2019

DraftKings is offering a $1 MILLION prize for the top finisher in their NFL $3M Championship Millionaire contest. That’s a lot of coin. It’s a Showdown style contest, thus, the lineup format is different than the standard multi-game slate guaranteed prize contest. There’s more roster flexibility than the standard lineup with six flex spots. One of those flex spots, however, rewards 1.5 times the points at an elevated salary (1.5 times the player’s standard flex spot salary). Below, I’ve offered my favorite captain play as well as some flex options to surround him with.

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Todd Gurley (RB – LAR): $13,500 vs. Patriots
If this was a larger slate than a single-gamer, it’s possible — if not probable — Gurley’s five touches for 13-yards performance (with a touchdown) in the NFC Championship game would result in some recency bias taking a bite out of his ownership rate. That’s simply unlikely to be the case in this scenario, though, and that’s fine. Consider it gravy if his ownership rate is reduced even a pinch.

You don’t have to look back very far to see an explosive performance from Gurley. In the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Gurley rumbled for 115 yards and a score on 16 carries and hauled in two receptions for three yards. So, why the lack of touches in the NFC Championship game? Well, it doesn’t appear to be injury related as you can read here and here. It looks like it truly was a matchup-based decision. Regardless, the week off between the Conference Championship Round and The Big Game isn’t a bad thing for Gurley. More importantly, however, is that this matchup is more favorable for the Rams do-it-all back than for their bruiser.

Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Patriots 19th defending the run and 22nd defending backs in the passing game in the regular season. The Patriots tied for the 11th most receptions allowed to running backs, coughed up the ninth most receiving yards to the position, and tied for the eighth most touchdown receptions yielded to backs, per Pro-Football-Reference. Gurley’s a far superior receiver to C.J. Anderson.

Additionally, Gurley’s the more explosive runner. Gurley’s speed and explosion should cause fits for the Patriots. According to the stats available at Sharp Football, New England coughed up a 64% success rate and 6.4 yards per carry off left tackle. They held backs to just 3.7 yards per carry and a 49% success rate running behind the center. The Patriots did hold backs to just a 40% success rate off of the right tackle, but they also ceded 4.7 yards per carry in that direction, so there’s some home-run potential off of the right side as well. New England’s susceptibility to getting whooped off left tackle lines up perfectly with Gurley’s work. Gurley’s highest success rate (63%) is running behind left tackle, and his second highest success rate this season (58%) is running off left tackle. To put those numbers in perspective, the league average for success rate behind left tackle was 45% and off left tackle was 50%.  I expect the Rams to heavily utilize Gurley behind and off of veteran stud left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and he should also be used often in the passing attack, too.

Building Blocks

Tom Brady (QB – NE): $10,600 at Rams
Brady hasn’t been a total world beater this season, and he’s even thrown as many interceptions (two) as touchdowns (two) in this postseason. He’s also passed for more than 340 yards in his two postseason contests, and he wasn’t exactly a bum in the regular season. The G.O.A.T. and the Patriots are 2.5-point favorites, and he’s been a monster with an extra week off in recent years. By earning a bye and reaching The Big Game in each season since 2016, he’s played three games off of a regular season bye, three Divisional Round games after having a bye during the Wild Card Round, and this will be his third straight appearance in The Big Game with the Pro Bowl serving as a bye week after the Championship Round. In his eight games with an extra week off since 2016, he’s averaged 350.38 passing yards per game, completed 66% of his passes, and thrown 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He’s been even sharper if you drop his three games in 2016 and look at only his last five games with the extra week of rest since 2017. In those give games, he’ averaged 346.8 passing yards per game, completed 67.6% of his passes, tossed 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Brady’s a must-use player.

C.J. Anderson (RB – LAR): $5,200 vs. Patriots
Not mentioned in Gurley’s write-up is that FO ranked the Rams’ offensive line first in Adjusted Line Yards, 13th in Power rank, second in Stuffed rank, and first in Second Level rank. They helped power the Rams to FO’s top ranked rushing offense. There’s room for Gurley and Anderson to eat, and it would behoove the Rams to lean on their backfield duo en lieu of asking Jared Goff to do all of the heavy lifting. With the game’s spread at less than a field goal, if things go accordingly, the Rams should stay close enough to run the ball from start to finish. However, the optimal scenario for this particular team build featuring Gurley and Anderson would be the Rams operating with a lead and the aforementioned Brady being tasked with rallying. That’s within the range of possible outcomes, and with the Patriots serving as the betting favorites, there’s a decent chance a Gurley/Anderson won’t be super popular and over owned — at least relatively speaking in Showdown contest terms.

Value Play

Chris Hogan (WR – NE): $3,800 at Rams
Hogan ties this roster together as a bargain play. Hogan’s caught three or more balls in each of his last three games, and he’s reached or exceeded 45 yards in two of those three contests. He’s also tallied 23 targets in that time frame. Those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers, but they’re respectable at his minimal salary commitment. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s been on the field a lot in the playoffs, as that’s half the battle. He played 92% of New England’s offensive snaps in the Divisional Round and 74% of the offensive snaps in the AFC Championship game. Both of those percentages were the second highest among New England’s receivers and a far cry ahead of Phillip Dorsett’s percentages in third. In fact, Hogan played exactly twice as many snaps as Dorsett in both playoff games. Finally, the Rams were stingy defending tight ends and running backs, ranking fifth and fourth, respectively, defending those positions in the passing attack, per FO. Conversely, they were more giving to receivers ranking 28th defending No. 1 receivers, ninth defending No. 2 receivers, and 24th defending “other” receivers. The Patriots don’t continue to succeed year after year by choosing the path of most resistance, so it stands to reason Hogan could see some extra looks as a result of the Rams’ defensive strengths and weaknesses.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is JoshShep50) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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