The final chance to play daily fantasy for the 2023 NFL season is here, as the 49ers take on the Chiefs in Super Bowl 58. Like every season, this one has flown by, but with two weeks of analysis to devour, the final matchup is always fun to try to predict with as much knowledge as possible.
As usual, we will want to correctly predict which team will win/lose and how they will go about it. If we get that right, then we at least have an idea of which individual players will put up numbers. Of course, then we’ll need to consider how to fit the most points into a DK lineup, while also considering how players will be rostered in GPPs, head to heads, etc. . .
The Chiefs don’t dominate teams with their offense, but are methodical with shorter passes and the run game. Their defense keeps them from needing to play from big deficits, so despite throwing the ball more than your average team, they do so with non-explosive plays.
The 49ers have the offensive firepower to blow teams out of the water, but they do so with a run-heavy approach and efficient passing to players with great ability after the catch. Their defense has been easier to score against than the Chiefs, which can put them in tough positions if they don’t get out to big leads, but they often do get out to big leads.
Both of these teams looked a little different in the playoffs, as the Chiefs were more efficient on offense, while the 49ers were gashed by the run game and came very close to losing to the Packers and Lions.
I expect both teams try to run the ball, as that is the weakness of their opponent on paper. When the Chiefs run the ball, they still will throw more than the 49ers, but it can be an extension of their running game, as Mahomes accuracy on short passes is similar to handing the ball off.
I don’t think the game will get out of hand, forcing either team to abandon the run, so the ground game should be in play at least until late in the fourth quarter. And with more methodical drives, this game should be low scoring.
Methodical offense, low scoring game — Who benefits?
Running backs — You can’t get away from Christian McCaffrey, as he is a touchdown machine while also putting up big yardage and receptions, making him the safest player in the DK Showdown.
Isiah Pacheco is set up well too, as the 49ers gave up 182 rushing yards to the Lions in the Championship game. Pacheco had 28 looks (rushes/targets) against the Ravens and has 20+ in six of his last eight games. Even when Mahomes puts up a bunch of passes, Pacheco still gets his looks. I don’t see them going too far away from him in this game.
Tight ends — Both Travis Kelce and George Kittle set up well in a methodical, slow moving game, as they will be zone busters in mid-range shots. Noah Gray also sneaks in here as a value play, but with very little upside.
Wide receivers — Deebo Samuel and Rashee Rice appear much better suited for this type of game, as they see targets underneath and Samuel will likely have a handful of rushing attempts as well. Brandon Aiyuk is more of a deep threat and can of course get his just on a a few receptions, but the Chiefs pass defense, and L’Jarius Sneed, aren’t who I’d bet against here. The same is true for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but he’s also scored one touchdown and had just 21 receptions on the season, meaning his price to roster is much, much lower. He has also made some incredible receptions in the playoffs, showing that Mahomes could have more faith in him for this game. I like him as a value play despite the Chiefs probably not going deep all that often.
Kickers — Both kickers should get their chances in a close, lower scoring game and Harrison Butker has shown he’s better than Jake Moody. That doesn’t mean Moody can’t put up fantasy points though. Butker is who I’d want, but for variance Moody should get work.
Quarterbacks — If we look at this year’s production in fantasy, Brock Purdy averaged more fantasy points per game than Patrick Mahomes. In this matchup, I see them as being about even due to the Chiefs better pass defense. Neither is set up for big numbers and will likely need to get a rushing touchdown to truly have a strong fantasy day. Both are strong picks for Flex spots in this game though.
Christian McCaffrey, $18,000
When looking at consistent, high volume fantasy scores, you can’t start the conversation with anyone other than McCaffrey. He is one of the few players in the league who you can count on for 20+ touches per game, all the passing down work and all the goal line work. He gets all of that and is still efficient in every aspect. The Chiefs are also the weakest against the run and receiving running backs. Everything lines up perfectly for CMC and even if the Chiefs do slow him down, his floor is likely higher than your average score from any other player in this game.
Deebo Samuel, $13,800
Samuel is my second favorite pick for the Captain’s seat, as his fantasy upside is the second-highest of the game. Sure, Travis Kelce, Rashee Rice, Isiah Pacheco, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle all have high ceilings, but how they are used usually keeps them from putting up gaudy numbers. We’ve seen Samuel hit 22.1, 28.1, 22.4, 38.8, 37. 21.9 DK points this season and he has played through injuries.
His usage is what I like more than the previous scores, as he will see targets and rushing attempts, while getting a big percentage of those in the red zone, where he has 27 looks on the season. The Chiefs also lead the league in two high safety looks. That defense has pushed the 49ers to target Samuel 27.2% of the time to Brandon Aiyuk at 17.8% of the time. The Chiefs like to take away the deep pass and that sets up well for Samuel and his ability to break tackles on underneath routes.
Rashee Rice, $11,400
Since Week 12, Rice has led the team in targets per route run and is an explosive speedster with the ball in his hands. He hasn’t had a blow up game this season, but also hasn’t been the top target for that long. In the AFC Championship game, Rice didn’t put up big numbers against the Ravens, but did catch 8-of-9 targets and had a touchdown called back on a ticky-tack penalty that had no bearing on the touchdown. That was against the best defense in the playoffs. This could be his coming out party.
It is nearly impossible to find true upside value plays in this game. Both teams concentrate their targets and touches to their top players and leave scraps for the rest. Can those scraps turn into touchdowns sometimes? Of course, but picking the player to get two-three targets and a touchdown is extremely tough. That’s why I like to go with kickers and defenses when possible, over dart throws.
Noah Gray, $1,800
Tight end Noah Gray caught two of five targets against the Ravens, but only had 8 yards. He caught all three of his targets against the Bills, but ended up with just 18 yards. He didn’t score in either game. But, those eight targets are third on the team over the last two games and one was in the red zone. There is potential for a touchdown, but this is more of a punt play than a sneaky upside play.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, $3,000
MVS is probably my favorite value play other than Harrison Butker and he has more upside and is cheaper than Butker. We remember Valdes-Scantling for an egregious deep pass, game-losing drop this season, and we know he doesn’t have the hands of Larry Fitzgerald, but, he has looked great in his few targets during the last two playoff games. He made difficult, and key receptions against the Bills and Ravens, as he caught four passes for 100 yards in those two games. I don’t expect him to see enough targets to have a lot of upside, but for his price and his recent play, I think Mahomes will feel good about targeting him and giving him a chance to put up good stats.
Harrison Butker, $5,000
For some unknown reason Jake Moody cost 2k more to roster than Butker. That’s just incorrect pricing between the two, as Butker has been clutch and Moody, not so much. Moody has made 80 percent of his field goals and only three from 50+ on the season. Butker has made 95.2% of his field goals along with six over 50 yards, with his longest being a 60 yarder. Both teams will go for 4th and short instead of kicking field goals, but Butker will have a much better chance of being allowed to kick a long field goal or two in a game that should be close and low scoring.
Chiefs D/ST, $3,400
The Chiefs are one of the best teams at getting to the quarterback and we’ve seen Purdy have some trouble with tough pass defenses this season. I still wouldn’t put a lot of money down on Purdy having an awful game, but I do believe, of the two quarterbacks, Purdy is more apt to turn the ball over in this matchup and on this stage. He’s had the smallest percentage of drops on the season and had 3.4% of his plays dubbed “turnover worthy” by PFF. Bryce Young was better at 3.3% and only eight starters were worse.
I have the Chiefs winning a close one here. I see no reason to stack Chiefs players though, as this should be close enough that there isn’t a clear side that will rack up the majority of the receptions, yards and touchdowns. I have no problem picking McCaffrey or Samuel as my Captain, despite believing the Chiefs pull out the win.
I will fade Brandon Aiyuk for the most part, and I don’t see much value in rostering any of the Chiefs backup wide receivers. Mecole Hardman, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Richie James, and Justyn Ross are all off limits for me. Justin Watson has a decent chance of seeing targets, but he has just five total in their three playoff games, so he’s not as firmly on that list, but I also plan on avoiding him as much as I can.
Since I don’t love the ceiling for Mahomes or Purdy, it is hard to prioritize either, but we also know that somebody has to get these playmakers the ball and we can count on at least decent DK points from the QBs. I prefer Mahomes, but we know Purdy has the better overall offense on paper.
Isiah Pacheco is likely to see a big percentage of my Showdown teams, but with CMC, Rice and Deebo as staples on my teams, I will have trouble fitting him into some of them. Add in Travis Kelce, Mahomes, Purdy and some George Kittle, and I’m still going to have some diverse lineups for the big game.
This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 58, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.