The playoffs are coming to a close, but there is still ample opportunity to squeeze in everything from fantasy football to game squares and betting props. Fortunately, the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the Big Game with a win. This is an add-on of the previous betting pieces the team has cranked out throughout the week, including Renee Miller’s Early Lines, Rich Hribar’s Super Bowl Player Rankings, Raymond Summerlin’s Super Bowl Betting Preview, and Evan Silva’s award-winning Super Bowl 53 Matchups column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy players and bettors heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet last-minute lineup and betting thoughts at @notJDaigle.
Patriots (-2.5) at Rams — Total 56.5 points
Key Injuries: Patriots DT Malcom Brown (calf) and Rams K Greg Zuerlein (foot) were both limited mid-week but got in a full session Friday morning and should ultimately play without limitations. The key injury in this game is actually one that isn’t an injury at all. Sean McVay has arguably been the league’s most transparent coach when openly responding to the media this season and he’s already made his intentions abundantly clear for Todd Gurley’s usage in this one, outright confirming Gurley would “be a big part of this game” at Super Bowl Media Day. Gurley himself said he was taken off the field in the Conference Championship against the Saints simply because he performed “sorry as hell” in his four-carry, two-drop dud.
It comes with slight risk, but Gurley’s MVP prop bet juice (+1400) could be worse since the risk of splitting time (and in turn not being named Most Valuable) is obviously baked into the price. It’s additionally a prime opportunity to correlate the lingering Gurley Touchdown at Any Time (-150), Over 12.5 Rushing Attempts (-126) and Over 30.5 Receiving Yards (-121) props if you believe he’ll take down that award.
Betting/DFS Outlook: Jared Goff lost his most reliable receiver in Cooper Kupp in Week 9 and looked lost in his next four contests, averaging a mere 6.3 yards per attempt through the air and completing just 57.5% of his passes. Following the team’s shocking 30-23 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night in Week 15, McVay came right out and said Los Angeles needs to “figure it out fast.” Rather than continuing to rely on Goff’s poor decision-making and shoddy performance sans Kupp, the Rams pivoted to an entirely different offensive approach.
Prior to their Week 16 matchup against the Cardinals, the Rams utilized what was far and away the highest rate of 11 personnel (95%) in the league. The Dolphins were the next closest during that stretch with a 76% 11 personnel rate. Come to find out, “figuring it out” meant a new dependability on the running game and, in particular, fewer three-wide sets and more two-tight end looks. In their last four games, for example, the Rams increased their 12 personnel usage to a 27% clip, the seventh-highest rate in that span. They’ve been extremely effective from it, too, exploiting opposing defenses for a 67% success rate through the air and 63% on the ground — a successful play being one that gains at least 40% of yards-to-go on first down, 60% of yards-to-go on second down, and 100% of yards-to-go on third/fourth down. Josh Reynolds has been the odd man out in that approach, playing 77.3% of offensive snaps since Week 16 compared to 98.3% in the initial four games Kupp was lost for the year. Reynolds can still be an important piece in any winning DFS Showdown lineup since he’s garnered three red zone touches despite limited usage of late.
The Patriots ran man coverage on 58% of pass plays this season, the highest rate of any team. That actually suits Goff’s strengths as 12 of his 13 interceptions this year came against zone coverage. Having said that, it still makes more sense for the Rams to capitalize on the ground since the Pats suffocated Philip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes to the tune of 6.7 YPA and a 33% success rate through the air from 11 personnel in the playoffs but were pulverized in the trenches for a 62% rushing success rate. And if Los Angeles seemingly schemes their way to an early lead, James White is arguably more valuable on DraftKings (where players get points for receptions) than Sony Michel — even though the latter will probably out-touch White handsomely — given the rookie’s empty passing game usage. The Patriots targeted their running backs at a league-high rate (31%) throughout the year in neutral game script, so White Over 6.5 Receptions (+100) seems enticing in this narrative we’ve created, too.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Rams 26
Last Week: 2-2
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