Super Bowl LVIII Single-Game NFL DFS: Top FanDuel & DraftKings Plays

Feb 06, 2024
Super Bowl Single-Game DFS: 49ers at Chiefs

We made it. Super Bowl LVIII. We’ve covered every single island game this season and now it’s time for the showdown breakdown for what looks like an epic Super Bowl in the making, a thrilling rematch of Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and Chiefs.

The 49ers—still led by a dazzling array of skill position talent and an excellent defense—now have a signal-caller who is absolutely capable of leading them to football’s promised land. The Chiefs still have Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce to lean on but the team’s stellar all-around defense has this Kansas City squad on the brink of back-to-back Lombardi trophies.

Two championship-level defenses and two All-Pro-level quarterbacks tend to produce the most exciting games, which means there’s all the more reason to dig into the likely game environment, analyze the quarterbacks, and parse out the myriad core players who make up this star-studded Super Bowl.

Game Environment

This chart represents the general offensive strategies for each team when the game outcome is still in question (win probability between 20% and 80%). The final two minutes of each half are also excluded. We’ll include last year’s statistics through Week 4 of the regular season. Teams in the upper-right quadrant pass more often and play faster than the average NFL team in neutral game scripts, and conversely, teams in the lower-left quadrant play slower and run more often than the average NFL team.

49ers (24.75) vs. Chiefs (22.75); Over/Under 47.5

Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV (Dome)

San Francisco is widely considered the most complete team in the NFL and has the potential to enforce their will on opposing teams via both their defense and the firepower of their offense. Kyle Shanahan has an embarrassment of talent on the offensive side of the ball but it all begins with all-world running back Chrisitan McCaffrey, who had the most weighted opportunities, the most red zone touches, the highest target share, and the most touchdowns of any back this season.

Unsurprisingly, the 49ers were among the slowest teams in the NFL in play rate and highest in run rate, especially in neutral game scripts. When the team wants (or needs) to pass, however, the 49ers have arguably the best trio of top targets in the NFL and a quarterback capable of executing the Shanahan offense to near perfection. San Francisco ranked dead last in pass players per game, but top three in pass touchdowns (and total offensive touchdowns) per game.

The only weakness is their offensive line, which ranks bottom five in pass block grade according to PFF, but still has elite talents such as OT Trent Williams and FB Kyle Jusczcyk leading the way. Even facing a much improved Kansas City defense, the 49ers' explosive offense has proven themselves capable of winning games even when the defense plays at a subpar level—and is likely the reason the 49ers are the slight favorites in this game. While the passing matchup appears to be strength versus strength (a top-five DVOA offense facing a top-five DVOA defense), San Francisco looks to have a clear advantage in the run game, with the team ranking second in rush DVOA, while Kansas City ranks bottom five in rush defense DVOA.

The Chiefs' offense continues to be centered around the versatility, athleticism, and talent of Patrick Mahomes. They play at one of the fastest paces in the league and pass at a top-five rate in neutral game scripts. During the regular season, the team averaged just over 37 pass attempts per game—second highest in the NFL—and they’ve topped that number of pass attempts in two of their three playoff games. The Chiefs continue to pass deep at a below-average rate, especially considering their deep pass rates in past seasons, but this is more likely due to personnel limitations than anything else.

In both games in the postseason where he’s thrown 39 or more times, Mahomes has failed to top 300 air yards, averaging just 6.7 air yards per attempt. But that aDOT is exactly in line with his season-long averages, where he ranked 18th. If the 49ers can take away the short-area passing game, it will force Mahomes to take more deep shots and hold the ball longer, potentially allowing the 49ers strong pass rush to get home.

The Chiefs’ offense also utilizes their running backs, particularly standout second-year back Isiah Pacheco, much more effectively than years past, finishing the season 11th in rush offense DVOA. This could be a potential advantage area for Kansas City, as the 49ers rank just 15th in rush defense DVOA. The San Francisco pass defense ranked 4th-best in the league and gave up the third-fewest yards per pass attempt in the NFL this season.

Quarterback Analysis

While there may be 22 people on the field for every play, each play and game is heavily dictated by the performance of each team’s quarterback. While efficiency isn’t everything for quarterbacks, it is the best indicator of future performance, so we use a trio of metrics to suss out top performers at the position compared to lackluster ones. xDrive Success %, or True Drive Success Rate, is a measurement of a QB’s ability to turn drives into scores weighted by sample size. EPA or Expected Points Added, is a measurement of the QB’s contribution, both running and throwing, to the team’s scoring and production vs. the average NFL team. Completion % over Expected (CPOE)represents the accuracy and efficiency of a QB’s passes compared to league expectations.

Naysayers have plenty of ammunition when it comes to explaining away Brock Purdy’s phenomenal 2023 season, but the stats are clear—Purdy played at a top-five level at his position this season, and deserves to be an MVP finalist, even if he shares the honor with the rest of his stellar offensive squad. Purdy ranked fourth in the NFL in true drive success rate and was by far the best in the NFL in EPA earned per game this season.

His 9.6 yards per attempt was not just the best in the NFL it’s among the best per-attempt averages of any starting quarterback in NFL history. Purdy ranked best in the NFL in true passer rating, QBR, and was top five in completion percentage in a clean pocket, when pressured, when throwing deep, and within the red zone. He ranked third in fantasy points per dropback during the regular season despite averaging less than three rushes per game. And he’s stepped up his play even more of late—he’s averaged at least 8.0 yards per attempt in six of his last seven games, and even rushed for 48 yards last week, the second-most rushing yards he’s had in a game in his career. Including the playoffs, Purdy is a remarkable 22-4 in games he’s started and finished.

The quarterback on the other side no longer needs any introduction. Mahomes’ Chiefs have now represented the AFC in four of the last five Super Bowls, and last Sunday marked an incredible sixth-straight season in the AFC championship game. While the results have been largely the same thus far, this season has been a bit different for Kanas City’s star signal-caller.

Without a reliable deep passing game, Mahomes took time to adjust to the team’s new offensive reality this season. The team went through the worst slump of Mahomes’ career in 2023, going 2–4 from Weeks 8–14. The team didn’t really break through until they began to rely more on youngsters Isiah Pacheco and Rashee Rice in the rushing and short-passing game while doubling down on the mind-meld between Mahomes and Travis Kelce, allowing the veteran tight end to play off-script with more regularity than arguably any other player in the league.

The result was a mixed bag. Mahomes finished top 10 in true drive success rate, but league average in EPA per game. That aligned with the team’s 16th-best offensive touchdown per game rate. In the playoffs, the team still has not put up the type of “Mahomesian” numbers we’re used to, with the team averaging just 1.6 offensive touchdowns per game since Week 17. Mahomes has not scored 20 fantasy points since Week 12 and hasn’t scored more than 25 since Week 7, and now faces a San Francisco defense that ranks fourth in pass-defense DVOA and seventh in aFPA to quarterbacks.

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