Advice for StatHero NFL Picks for Super Bowl LV

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2021

Advice for StatHero NFL Picks for Super Bowl LV

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    Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes have developed into a more lethal pairing than their legendary opponents at the same positions.
    Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes have developed into a more lethal pairing than their legendary opponents at the same positions.Associated Press

    With the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers clashing for Super Bowl LV, StatHero offers fantasy players their own chance at head-to-head glory.

    Gamers have a $40,000 cap to create a six-player squad to oppose one of StatHero's four lineups. Choose one to compete against wisely, as entries can use no more than two of the same players.

    StatHero has altered the format for the Big Game. Rather than needing one quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end each, participants can fill five flex spots however they please. While this technically means a lineup can deploy both Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, it'd then be mathematically impossible to also select Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill.

    This is especially important since the quarterbacks remain ineligible for the pivotal MVP slot. The skill-position player occupying this seat will earn double the points. Since options are so limited, this will likely swing matchups against the house.

    In such a star-driven Super Bowl, it makes sense to utilize a star-heavy approach. This lineup also throws two darts on big names slumping or recovering from an injury. These risks pay off when making room for two all-world teammates seeking their second straight championship.

MVP: TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs: $11,400

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    Travis Kelce has scored 14 touchdowns in 17 games.
    Travis Kelce has scored 14 touchdowns in 17 games.Associated Press

    Travis Kelce has been as close as it gets to automatic.

    The 31-year-old enters Super Bowl LV on a tear. Since Week 8, he's caught 76 of 114 targets for 1,142 yards and nine touchdowns. Those numbers would represent a dominant full season from any other tight end, but he tallied them in a 10-game window.

    Kelce's consistency makes that run even more remarkable. He received at least 10 targets all but once and found the end zone in each of his last six games.

    He last fell short of both marks when facing Tampa Bay in Week 12. In that matchup, he merely hauled in all eight targets for 82 yards.

    StatHero awards 1.5 points for every reception made by a tight end, so even that substandard line from Kelce would earn 40.4 points when doubled in the MVP chair. Yet his ceiling is far higher after compiling 21 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns in two playoff contests.

    According to NFL.com, the Buccaneers allowed the seventh-most receptions to tight ends (86) during the regular season. They've already given up 74 yards to Logan Thomas on Super Wild Card Weekend and a touchdown to Robert Tonyan in the NFC Championship Game. Both are rising stars at the position, but nobody is in the same vicinity as Kelce.

    He is far more expensive than every wide receiver or running back and even costs $100 more than Brady. The way he's playing, though, start by paying the premium and find a way to make it work.

Flex: QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: $11,500

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    Patrick Mahomes should throw early and often to avoid Tampa Bay's stout rushing defense.
    Patrick Mahomes should throw early and often to avoid Tampa Bay's stout rushing defense.Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    When facing Tampa Bay in the regular season, Mahomes went 37-of-49 for a season-high 462 passing yards and three touchdowns. Although he's unlikely to match that number, he will have another busy evening in pursuit of his second Lombardi Trophy.

    Even though Kansas City jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, Mahomes handed off the ball just 16 times in a 27-24 victory over Tampa Bay. That's perhaps because the Buccaneers boasted the NFL's best rushing defense for the second straight season, allowing just 80.6 yards per game.

    That average has only risen slightly to 85.7 in three postseason victories.

    Mahomes, meanwhile, is averaging 312.9 passing yards on 38.6 attempts per game when including the playoffs. He's produced 45 total touchdowns in 17 games, offering multiple scores all but twice.

    DraftKings Sportsbook has set Mahomes' prop lines at 325.5 passing yards and 2.5 touchdown throws. The lofty yardage floor and ceiling is particularly key on StatHero, which awards .05 point for every one yard. That amounts to one point for 20 yards. 

    Splurging on Kelce and Mahomes leaves just $17,100 to spend on four flex players, but it's worth it because of the prolific duo's reliability.

Flex: RB Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,900)

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    Leonard Fournette has played a big role for Tampa Bay in the playoffs.
    Leonard Fournette has played a big role for Tampa Bay in the playoffs.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Given Tampa Bay's seesaw backfield distribution, it makes sense to save $1,400 by playing Ronald Jones II instead of Leonard Fournette. While the latter has handled a larger role in the playoffs, the former has played far better when given the spotlight.

    StatHero apparently agrees, as Jones is featured in every one of the house's lineups. But the extra money doesn't open many avenues for a notable upgrade when paired with Mahomes and Kelce since only four players are priced between $3,100 and $5,400.

    Taking both factors into account, let's zig where StatHero zagged and bet on the Buccaneers feeding Fournette one more time.

    Head coach Bruce Arians had phased Fournette out of the offense before Jones suffered a quad injury late in the season. Although Jones returned to action, Fournette has scored a touchdown in all three playoff contests.

    Fournette has handled 62 touches in the postseason compared to 23 from Jones in the last two games. While Jones hasn't secured a single catch since Week 14, his teammate has reeled in 14 of 17 postseason targets.

    That boost should justify the higher cost in StatHero's point-per-reception (PPR) format. Of course, it'd help if he also received around 15 carries and scored. Fournette has delivered 22.1 StatHero points per game during the playoffs, so let's see if he can ride the high volume to one more big game.

Flex: WR Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,000)

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    Antonio Brown was a full participant in Thursday's practice.
    Antonio Brown was a full participant in Thursday's practice.Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Injury statuses could affect each of the final three players selected. This uncertainty starts with Antonio Brown, who missed the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury that limited him in the divisional round. 

    As a full participant in Thursday's practice, however, he now appears to have a better chance of playing this Sunday. Priced all the way down to $4,000, the discount is too steep to ignore if he's back.

    Brown had tallied 315 receiving yards and five touchdowns in four games before settling for just 10 yards against the New Orleans Saints. Even including that injury-shortened dud, he's averaging 4.8 receptions for 54.2 yards per game with Tampa Bay.

    Brady has spread his attention fairly evenly when given a full assortment of wide receivers. In 10 games played together, Brown has seen 68 targets compared to 74 for Chris Godwin and 76 for Mike Evans. Godwin and Evans cost $7,500 and $7,300, respectively.

    The trio has taken turns delivering eye-popping lines, so picking the right one could make or break the slate. Perhaps StatHero rides Godwin or Evans to victory, but Brown offers a similar ceiling with an accessible price tag. While any one of them could bust, that downside hurts far less in a lineup led by Mahomes and Kelce.

    If Brown doesn't play, pivot to Scotty Miller at $3,000.

Flex: TE Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3,000)

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    Rob Gronkowski has been quiet in the playoffs, but his pass-catching role may expand if Cameron Brate sits.
    Rob Gronkowski has been quiet in the playoffs, but his pass-catching role may expand if Cameron Brate sits.Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Gamers don't need to play a single tight end, and yet this lineup deploys two.

    With only $6,200 left for the final two spots, you're not finding a reliable running back or wide receiver. In this range, everyone is better off taking the 1.5 PPR boost awarded to tight ends.

    This original plan was Cameron Brate, who went from an afterthought to a steady presence in the playoffs. After catching 28 of 34 targets during the regular season, he's caught 11 of 16 postseason targets for 149 yards and a touchdown.

    However, he got downgraded to a limited participant in Thursday's practice because of a back injury. Since Brown's status is trending in the opposite direction, Brown and Rob Gronkowski now make a better combination than Brate and Miller.

    Brate, who went four regular-season games without a reception and four more with single-digit yards, has suddenly recorded at least 11 StatHero points in three consecutive contests. Gronkowski, on the other hand, has two catches in the last three games.

    At the $3,000 minimum, Gronkowski is nevertheless an intriguing bounce-back option. He's certainly capable of snapping a four-game touchdown drought, and more targets could be on the horizon if Brate sits.

    Playing at least one Tampa Bay tight end is recommended against Kansas City, which allowed 117 combined yards and a touchdown to David Njoku, Austin Hooper and Dawson Knox in two playoff games. It's risky given his recent disappearance as a pass-catcher, but Gronkowski is a cheap end-zone threat who fits this lineup. 

Flex: WR Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs ($3,000)

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    A key performer in last year's Super Bowl, Sammy Watkins is aiming to return from a calf injury.
    A key performer in last year's Super Bowl, Sammy Watkins is aiming to return from a calf injury.Doug Benc/Associated Press

    Sammy Watkins hasn't played since Week 16 because of a calf injury, but he could return for the Super Bowl.

    The 27-year-old wide receiver was a limited participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, he sounded hopeful of his availability. 

    "Feeling great," Watkins told reporters. "Still working out with the training staff and [athletic trainer Rick Burkholder], just going over everything so I can have a chance and possibly go out there and feel 100 percent or 95 percent or 85 percent, wherever I get at by Sunday. Feeling pretty good, very optimistic. Been having good practices."

    A healthy Watkins was hardly the focal point of Kansas City's spectacular offense. The 2014 fourth overall pick has never quite lived up to sky-high expectations, and he posted just 42.1 receiving yards per game this season before getting sidelined.

    Caveats aside, he's a talented wide receiver with immense upside playing alongside Mahomes. More importantly for this lineup's sake, he's the cheapest price possible.

    As long as Mahomes and Kelce make magic together, three catches for 40 yards from Watkins would do just fine. However, there's room for more. Last year, he recorded five catches for 98 yards in Super Bowl LIV after posting 114 yards and a score in the AFC Championship Game.

    If he's playing without any announcement of a limited snap count, Watkins is an easy high-reward choice at $3,000. If he's out, remove Fournette for Jones and swap Watkins for Mecole Hardman ($4,000). Or, if Brown is also kept sidelined, play Miller and Hardman instead of Brown and Watkins.


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