As much as I love the divisional round for DFS, it was in the NFC Championship game that I had my biggest win in a DFS Tournament back in 2015 and honestly it was that win that has kept me hooked on DFS since. Blessing? Curse? Maybe a little of both …
What is amazing about the Conference Championships here is that they are both on one day, which makes for an incredible feeling when you are playing a DFS Tournament. Two general scenarios prove this point. First is the even flow lineup with pieces of each team and each game locked in. If you picked correctly in the first game and are in a position to cash, you anxiously await the remaining studs in your lineup to take the field in the second game and to take you home and send you home happy. The second scenario is that you build your lineup extremely heavy on one game or the other (most likely the game that you think will deliver the most fantasy points) and so you are really on edge watching the game you largely ignored hoping that what you built will be enough to cash.
While the advantages of the second way are in play if game two on Sunday is a dud, the likelihood of that happening is low. Why I prefer to have more of an even flow build is for the ability to late swap. With the Packers and Bucs on first this comes into play particularly if your lineup contains a lot of chalk – which we will get into who that is fully later – but for this example let’s use Aaron Jones who is potentially looking to be the highest rostered player on the slate. Jones has great opportunity to hit averaging 3.5 goal line opportunities per game but he has every probability to not hit a ceiling playing the leagues #1 ranked defense. If you use Aaron Jones as an RB1 and keep you flex play in the Bills/Chiefs game, you will know how you fare with Jones by the end of the first game and if he does falter you an late swap your team around to try and make up for it with plays from the second game. Late swap on a 2 game slate can be your best friend, so build your lineup in a way that you have the ability to use it…
If you are in favor or one game over the other or you just are having trouble building a lineup with pieces for each without having some FoMo on a player, later in the weekend I will release my showdown articles for both games so PLEASE stay tuned for those as a compendium to my article today.
It is also important to know as you build, what Las Vegas is saying. Who is Vegas favoring? What is the total points expected? Why does this matter? 9 times out of 10, Las Vegas has it right and keeping this information in the back of your head as you build will be handy. Should you go heavier on the team favored or the team that Vegas thinks will be playing catch up ball? If Vegas thinks that one game will have 20 more points scored than the other, should I maximize exposure on that game or should I buck the trend and max my exposure to the other assuming most people won’t. These are things to consider…
Las Vegas has the Kansas City Chiefs favored by 3 and the Green Bay Packers favored by 3.5.
Las Vegas has the AFC Championship’s projected point total at 53
Las Vegas has the NFC Championship’s projected point total at 50.5
As of Saturday morning Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are collectively being rostered by 70% of the field on Draft Kings. That is pretty incredible if you consider that the two quarterbacks in the second game are the two active quarterbacks most referenced as “The GOAT”. The other thing that I want to point out is pricing on the QBs. Neither on Draft Kings or FanDuel is there a QB priced over $9,000. On DK the price ceiling for QBs is $7,600. I find this to be intriguing because of all of the marketing of these games – the QBs are the stars and you would think that the major sites would price “the stars” up the way they do in NBA or NHL. If you combine the projected ownership and the aggressive pricing, you can really do a lot with any quarterback that you want … so here is how I am seeing things:
Patrick Mahomes practiced in full on Friday and carries no injury distinction going into Sunday’s AFC Championship Matchup agains the Bills. In my mind I had little doubt that Mahomes was going to miss this game, which is an opportunity to repeat as AFC Champion and have a repeat trip to the Superbowl on the line. In Mahomes’ last meeting with Buffalo he threw for 225 yards and 2 scores and ran for 36 more yards. At $7,600 on DK and $9,000 on FD he is the highest priced QB on the slate and frankly if I am rostering Mahomes (even at a fair price) I need more than the 20.6 Fantasy Points he scored in week 6. Now I think we can all agree that the Buffalo team he will see on Sunday has grown up a lot since Week 6 and in fact that week 6 game had a final point total of 43. As we know Vegas has the total of this game at 53 or 10 more points. If we are to assume that 10 extra points comes from a stronger Buffalo Bill’s offensive attack than Mahomes will need to be, well, Mahomesin’ to keep pace. So on the one hand, he seems like an excellent play. BUT It may be striking to hear that Patrick Mahomes has thrown for over 300 yards in only 8 of 14 games played this season, including Week 6 against the Bills. In fact he has not thrown for over 300 yards in any of his last 3 games… this includes a tight 17-14 finish against Atlanta. So while I will have some shares of Mahomes in my lineups, he doesn’t present himself as the priority to me the way his close to 40% ownership seems to imply that he is…
Josh Allen on the other side of the ball is the second highest priced and second highest owned Quarterback on the slate, but the thing is … I think that ownership is something to note. I would not be surprised to see Allen end up as the chalkiest of chalk plays by the time kickoff rolls around. Both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are tied on the season with 34 Touchdown Passes. Both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have thrown for roughly 5,000 yards this season. However where Allen pulls away from Mahomes is with his legs. Josh Allen has 100 more rushing yards than Mahomes on the sesason thus far and perhaps most importantly Allen has 9 Rushing touchdowns on the season to Mahomes’ 3. Now you are saying – yeah it’s because Mahomes just throws bombs to Tyreek Hill for scores but I counter that with the fact that as shown above, Mahomes hasn’t really lit up the screen in every game in fact close to half of them he has had fairly run of the mill numbers. Meanwhile Josh Allen has had only one less 300+ yard passing game than Mahomes’ this season but his legs have made a difference… If we are to assume that Vegas is giving the Bills more points than they scored in Week 6, than you have to assume that Josh Allen will be the catalyst and while he isn’t my favorite play on Sunday I actually prefer him to Mahomes in DFS.
I see one of two things playing out in the AFC Championship. Either we see an offensive explosion from one or both of these teams or that one of these defenses shock the world. In the latter scenario, one of these teams dominates offensively. The Bill’s Defense has been coming on strong in the back half of this year while the Chiefs’ strong secondary has shown some holes. I don’t see this as a forgone conclusion that the Chiefs win in other words. If I am stacking this game I am looking heavily at the matchups for each team and building from there. The Bills for instance rank 4th against Wide Receiver and 28th against Tight End. The logic says that Travis Kelce should be a lock to stack with Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs rank 2nd against Wide Receiver and 30th against Tight End. So Dawson Knox is the lock to stack with Allen? That is how the field will play this game. When I say I am looking at the matchup I am looking against the grain. Tyreek Hill is in a tough matchup on paper but what happens when Mahomes feeds Kelce down the field and it’s Hill that scores the TD? How much did that 4th against Wide Receiver mean there? As we get into skill player ownership, perhaps you will see where I am going with this. Think differently in your lineup builds.
Aaron Rogers is my favorite Quarterback Play of the Weekend. It may come as a surprise to some to hear me say that. Am I a Tom Brady Truther? Yes – I live in Boston after all. But facts are the facts. Aaron Rogers has played 8 Playoff Games at home in his career and won 6 of them. He hasn’t lost a playoff game at home since 2013. Does that matter? Well a similar stat mattered a lot last week in Brady’s Matchup with the Saints – Tom Brady has never lost to a team 3 times in a season – remember that? 7 Years since Rogers has lost a home playoff game … c’mon now. Is he due to lose one? I mean is it going to be warm at Lambeau in January? NO! It is interesting to me that the AFC Championship is predicted to outscore the NFC Championship when you have two offenses have combined for 213 Points over their last 3 games. But the big reason why Rogers is my favorite play is the Buccaneers’ rush defense. If you read my stuff you know, I don’t play running backs against Todd Bowles and his rush defense. All it means to me is that I think Rogers will be throwing and throwing often. Over that same span of 3 games the Bucs defense has allowed 76 points and if it hasn’t been on the ground – well… I also like that Rogers is the 3rd highest owned QB play and at only 16.7% ownership I think he is firmly in play. Additionally under priced at only $6,500 on Draft Kings and $8,700 on FanDuel I like the price. He will be my highest owned QB on the slate on Sunday.
Tom Brady comes into this game on a hot streak. There is no doubt. Since the bye he has thrown only 1 interception in 6 games and has thrown 2 or more touchdowns in each of those games for a total of 20. Brady is also chasing his own history. Can he win the big one with out Bill Belichick? Can he continue to show that he is the greatest Playoff Quarterback in history? Plus – Can he overcome Aaron Rogers and his own Goatness? Can he play the Superbowl – at home? Can he win a Superbowl at home? There is a lot to that kind of pressure, but Brady has had pressure on him before. That is how the Packers need to beat Brady – apply pressure. Interestingly the Packers are the 2nd Best Team against Quarterbacks in the league, so at least the stats say that is what they will try to do to Tom Brady – pressure him. But Brady has a lot to counter that. First has he played in Cold Weather before – yes of course. Has he played in Hostile environments before, more than he can probably count. But has he played in either of those environments with as talented a receiving corp that he has now to throw to? No sir he hasn’t. I think it is crazy that Tom Brady is not only the least expensive of the four but he is also the least owned too … 13% ownership in a game that has a projected 50 point total? The only reason why I prefer Rogers to Brady is Rogers is at home. But make no mistake, I will have plenty of Tom Brady in my lineups.
If I had to pick the dog fight game of the weekend, it will be the NFC Championship. You have two all time greats battling for supremacy and one offense (the Packers) who have been every bit of definition of efficiency going against an offense (the Buccaneers) who have been every bit of the definition of explosive over the second half of the season. Which is why I am stunned at the lack of ownership on Rogers and Brady and I will be taking advantage of that lack of ownership in my builds.
Your top 3 Priced Wide Receivers and top 3 owned Wide Receivers should come as no surprise. Tyreek Hill at 42% ownership, Davante Adams at 42% ownership, Stefon Diggs at 39% ownership. Of the 3 Adams is the priciest. If you need me to tell you who to play here, good luck. Each of these men are averaging 9.5 Targets per game. Each of these men have put up 100 yards or a touchdown or both in their playoff games so far in 2020. Each of these men are the #1 Wide Receiver Target for their quarterbacks. Each of these men can be argued for or against by many. For me though if I had to play only one … it’s Diggs.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Davante Adams on Sunday against a Bucs secondary that has allowed a lot of yardage this season. But where Diggs separates from the pack for me is in 5 of his last 6 games he has not only gone for 100 yards or more, but he also has 6 Touchdown catches to his credit. He has seen no less than 9 targets in each of these games as well including 4 of the last 6 games having 11 or more targets. That is beyond the #1 Receiver to me. That is a dependency and a security blanket for his quarterback that leads me to Diggs. In fact since the Bill’s bye in week 11, Diggs has gone for less than 27 Fantasy Points only twice. Let that sink in. Yes he is a chalky play but of the big 3 he may have the most upside and it will be tough for me not to just set the lock button on Diggs on Sunday.
If you compare Mahomes and Allen’s ownership to that of Hill and Diggs, to me it screams that the stack of QB and Receiver with these two tandems will be the most popular stack in lineups. To me what Adam’s massive ownership shows when compared to Roger’s sub 20% ownership is that Adam’s will be a very popular “one off” play at Wide Receiver. So I will go against the grain and stack Rogers – Adam’s and play one of Hill or Diggs (mostly Diggs) in lineups. The slight leverage here is avoiding the chalk of Mahomes and Josh Allen in that build.
Please don’t mistake the above for me saying don’t play Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill. What I am saying here is that I prefer Diggs and come at using Adam’s and Hill differently to gain a manner of leverage on the field. I hope that makes sense.
The 4th and 5th Most Popular and Most Expensive Wide Receivers on the slate is Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. I have to be honest, I love these guys too and I love that their Quarterback is the least expensive and least owned on the slate. The question is who to play and can you play both. Statistically over the back third of the season Godwin has been the more productive player with 7 or more targets over the last 5 weeks and 5 Touchdown catches to Evans seeing 7 or more targets only 3 times in that span and also only having 3 touchdowns. But we can’t discount that Evans has been playing hurt for the majority of games since the Buc’s bye week and that to start the season it did appear that Evans was becoming a favorite target of Brady’s. I think if I was going to lean on one of these guys it would be Godwin only due to the recent production, which to me makes him a solid cash play, where Evans has much more volatility and makes him a preferred pick for GPP Tournaments. Honestly I am fine playing either of these guys and the double stack will definitely be contrarian. The interesting thing to me is when you compare their ownership to Brady’s, the Bucs stack in general seems to be a contrarian approach. The added benefit to both Godwin and Evans is that Antonio Brown is out and somehow that hasn’t pushed either man to near the ownership of Hill and Adams. Keep that in mind as you are constructing your lineup.
Another interesting Wide Receiver Ownership matter is between John Brown and Cole Beasley who surprisingly (especially for Brown) are extremely close in ownership at 33 and 32% respectively. It strikes me because by the eye test, Beasley has easily usurped Brown as the #2 wide receiver on the Bills and in fact guys like Gabriel Davis and Isiah McKenzie are seeing 5% or less ownership where in both cases I’d much rather play them over John Brown. Particularly with Gabriel Davis who has consistently seen 4 or more targets since the bye week and has 4 touchdowns in that span. Davis will be a game time decision due to injury but at a cheap price and no ownership I will have plenty of shots on him if he plays. If he doesn’t I think a flier on McKenzie is definitely worth a look but even if Davis is out, McKenzie isn’t a must start for me. It’s not that I don’t think Cole Beasley is a good play or that John Brown isn’t capable of turning back the clock but if you are going to eat 30% or more ownership in your lineup I’d prefer to just go with Diggs and one of either Davis or McKenzie as a double stack and get the leverage…
In that same game when you get past Hill and Kelce it is always a crapshoot on the Chiefs. I think the big decider is Sammy Watkins. Watkins is questionable to play and like Davis above could be a game time decision. If Watkins plays, I think you have to take a look. With Watkins out for the divisional round you have Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle seeing a combined 10 targets and so I have to think if Watkins is back on the field, he will have a strong role in the offense. I don’t like playing Demarcus Robinson ever but if Watkins misses again he could be looking at over 70% of snaps. Hardman saw 4 Targets in Watkins’ absence and was the most productive, so I don’t mind him in Tournaments if Watkins is out – with Hardman’s speed he is only a deep go route away from double digit fantasy points and a threat to run a ball back on a kick return. I prefer both Robinson and Hardman to Pringle – again if Watkins misses. If Watkins is in though, I will have very little of the other three.
The last Wide Receiver seeing 20% or more ownership is Alan Lazard. Lazard finally made truthers of the Lazard-Rogers relationship happy taking 8 targets for 96 yards and a really nice touchdown last week against the Rams. I prefer Lazard to any of the secondary wide outs in the AFC Championship. I don’t like Chasing performances like Lazard’s last week normally, but at home in a juicy matchup with the Bucs I will have some shots on the Lizard King. I will also have have at least one shot on Marques Valdez-Scantling. I think anyone who says Rogers doesn’t trust MVS needs to rethink their thoughts. He also saw 8 targets from Rogers last week and like Hardman he is only one deep catch and run away from Double Digit Fantasy Points. MVS is currently projected at 5% ownership and I think he has a lot of sneaky play appeal on Sunday.
With AB Out I think you have to keep Scotty Miller in your player pool has had 1 or more catch since the Bye week which isn’t anything to get excited about but keep in mind AB played in each of those games. If you are looking for a cheap low owned dart throw, Miller is one to keep in mind – especially in Showdowns. However the guy on the Bucs that I am most intrigued with is Tyler Johnson. Ty’s overall stats aren’t anything to get excited about but it was his catch last week that stole the show. Johnson really seemed to be the guy who took AB’s spot (not from a production standpoint, but from a snap standpoint) and with a week of practice with the first team, he could open some eyes up on Sunday. He is cheap and no one is playing him but I’ll take some shots in a double stack with either Evans or Godwin in tournaments.
It is actually fairly astounding the ownership that Aaron Jones is seeing. Nearly 70% of DFS lineups are projecting to contain Aaron Jones and to me that is just a big red flag. Do I like Aaron Jones the player, of course. Do I like the offense he plays for, I dare say love is a better word. But Jones is playing the #1 Ranked Rushing Defense who in week 6 held him to 15 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 26 receiving yards. 13.1 points. And that was before America fell in love with AJ Dillon’s thighs. Now perhaps it was because Green Bay had a comfortable lead against the Rams but what I saw in that game was a committee which Aaron Jones yes but Jamaal Williams had 9 touches and AJ Dillon’s Thighs made multiple appearances… why on earth are we thinking that game plan changed? Look I am not saying fade Aaron Jones but pump the breaks – 70% ownership? I will be WAY underweight on Aaron Jones in my lineups. Now I will say I don’t mind his price on DK at $6,500, but $8,000 on FD is too steep for me. I don’t know guys, I just don’t see Aaron Jones hitting a ceiling in this game … unless he takes advantage of his 3.5 goal line opportunities per game and to be honest, that is the only reason I’ll have some shares of Jones for… Could the cold weather break the Bucs and Aaron Jones runs wild on them like the Ultimate Warrior on broken Andre The Giant? Sure… but at 70% ownership and climbing… you NEED that to happen and I don’t know if I can do it…
On the other side of the ball you have the second highest owned running back Leonard Fournette. At over 50% ownership and a very attractive $5,300 price tag on DK, I can understand why. First the Green Bay rushing defense has been a play we have been targeting running backs against all season and Fournette has seen 19 and 17 attempts in each game of the playoffs so far – and delivered. 21+ Fantasy points in both games aided by roughly 40 yards receiving and a touchdown in each game. Last week Ronald Jones returned which should have slowed Fournette down but no sir – it didn’t. Do I think two weeks removed from injury does Ronald Jones return to leading this backfield? I don’t know … I do know that RoJo took the Packers to town in week 6 to the tune of 113 yards and two scores. Have the Packers gotten better against the run? No they have not. The only question here is how long the Bucs are able to run on first and third down before Brady needs to throw to keep pace. Due to this, I think Fournette has the edge here especially with AB out. RoJo saw only one target last week, his first since week 14 where Fournette saw 6. So that to me is why Fournette’s ownership is so high and Ronald Jones’ hovers at around 20%. I will be honest I do prefer Fournette here myself and against the 70% owned Aaron Jones I can stomach Fournette’s ownership especially on Draft Kings at $5,300. FanDuel has Fournette at $7,200 and with RoJo hanging around that is a little pricey for me. I’d prefer to play Jones on FD at nearly $2,000 less. I do think you will want to have a piece of the Tampa Bay backfield in your lineup. The matchup is too good to pass up regardless of game script.
I’ll tell you though, if Clyde Edwards-Helaire is able to play he may be one of my favorite RB plays on the weekend. CEH is currently questionable, as is Lev’eon Bell by the way. If neither man can go Darrel Williams is firmly in play for me after the performance we saw against Cleveland (13 for 78 and 4 catches). Williams is cheap and currently projects at 5% ownership. But back to CEH, I have to wonder if the running back position in KC has been minimized simply because it wasn’t Clyde in the backfield all of these weeks. This is purely gut talking here but in this matchup, at home against a Bill’s defense ranked 21st against running backs and allowing over 120 yards per game if Clyde is active, I am going to be on him like tires to the road. Interestingly the field is with me it seems as CEH is the 3rd highest owned RB on the slate at 30%. If we get news he will not play I do expect Darrell Williams’ ownership to rise considerably. I’d also expect to see Lev Bell’s ownership rise should he be active and Clyde not. To be fair Lev Bell would have as much of a solid matchup as Williams against Buffalo but of the two I do prefer Williams. But back to Clyde… never forget it was Patrick Mahomes who strongly urged for Coach Andy Reid to draft Clyde. IF CEH is active, he’s my guy to offset the heavy ownership on Jones and Fournette…. The problem is with a running back in a Patrick Mahomes led offense you do have to worry about usage – but if the Chiefs jump out to an early lead, you could see the RB usage rise considerably and if it does I want to know I took advantage.
Another curious case of Ownership is Devin Singletary. This has been a tough year for Singletary on a whole but with Zack Moss on IR, this is really Singletary’s backfield and honestly he has looked good when given the opportunity over the last three weeks. Here’s the thing though since week 16 Singletary has failed to break 10 Fantasy Points. Like his high during that stretch has been 7.4 fantasy points to be exact. To be fair over the last 3 weeks he has played Baltimore, Indianapolis and Miami three of the better rush defenses in the league, but to me it just comes down to usage. Over those last 6 games Singletary has carried the ball on average 7.5 times while being targeted 3.5 times. Those aren’t stats you need for a 40% owned running back… to be fair he finally gets a decent matchup to ply his trade against as the Chiefs also in the bottom third of the league against running backs and allowing over 120 yards on the ground. I think his high ownership comes from the idea that the Bills will try and grind the run game to simply control the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines. Could that be the case – sure. But with the way Josh Allen plays football I think the answer to how do we beat Mahomes isn’t keep him on the sideline, it is score more points then him and in this offense if that is the philosophy I don’t see 20 touches for Singletary in the cards. So yes he is cheap but I’ll have little interest in Singletary on Sunday for that reason. I much prefer nearly every other running back to him. But if you are Devin Singletary truther, more power to ya.
It will be tough to get around Travis Kelce on Sunday. Only once since the Chiefs’ week 11 bye has Kelce failed to see 10 or more targets. 5 times in that span he has gone for 98 or more yards, three of those over 120 yards. He also has had a touchdown in every game except 1, since the bye. He gets a team that has struggled against the tight end all season long and ranks 29th in the league against the position. Like I said it will be tough to get around Travis Kelce on Sunday. He is the most expensive and highest owned tight end literally by a mile. Honestly the stack of Mahomes – Kelce will be as popular as Mahomes – Hill, if not more. It will be tough to get around Travis Kelce on Sunday.
But should you decide to, at least on DK, you have a TON of Value to Consider. The first of which is Robert Tonyon. Only $3,600 on DK coming off a 60 yard performance against LA, Tonyon closed the regular season with 6 Touchdowns in 7 games and has become a favorite target of Aaron Rogers’. The Buccaneers are middle of the road against Tight Ends and with their secondary likely busy trying to stop Davante Adams I think Tonyon is a strong play. His ownership is literally half of Kelce’s by the way.
And how about Big Gronk? Seriously though with no AB on the field, I think Rob Gronkowski is criminally underpriced on DK at only $3,200 and right below him Cameron Brate at $3,000. Both of these guys will see targets from Brady and had Tom not over thrown Rob Gronkowski in the endzone last week he would have had yet another Touchdown. Brate is more of a showdown play for me, but at less than 10% ownership and CHEAP pricing, I will have shares of Gronk on Sunday in Brady stacks.
The last tight end I’ll mention here is Dawson Knox. $2,800 on DK, $4,700 on FD and in a game against the 30th ranked team against his position. I think the Josh Allen flip pass to Knox over the goal line in the wild card round will be replayed for years. Always a target on 2nd and 3rd and long as well as in the Red Zone the cheap price tag on Knox has him the 3rd highest owned Tight End at a whopping 11%…. that is literally how vast Travis Kelce is from an ownership perspective to the rest of the field. But Knox is in play, perhaps more of a showdown play than the main slate but at $2,800 on DK you can do some wild and wholly things with the rest of your lineup.
Speaking of Lineups – how about we build one! Let’s start with Draft Kings!
QB: Aaron Rogers
RB: Leonard Fournette
RB: Darrel Williams
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Chris Godwin
WR: Stefon Diggs
TE: Dawson Knox
FL: Tyreek Hill
Salary Remaining: $200
DK Projected*: 144.20
*Adding the projected scores based on DK Projections
How about FanDuel?
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Ronald Jones
RB: Darrel Williams
WR: Stefon Diggs
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Mike Evans
TE: Travis Kelce
FL: Dawson Knox
Good Luck in your Contests!
Keep an eye out for my Showdown Picks coming tomorrow!