Championship Prime Picks

Divisional Round Review

These small slates continue to be decided on small decisions, two bad choices can cause your lineup to bust. I had an awful week, losing on virtually every lineup (you and I both), despite having a decent mix of the top scorers. Unfortunately for me as a Ravens fan, I backed Lamar Jackson too heavily and it cost me. With that said, there were plenty of good verdicts in our preview and it hopefully helped some of you to profit. 

Amongst the plays I recommended were Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs, Devante Adams, Allen Lazard, Jarvis Landry, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Akers, Aaron Jones. A good mix of those players will have set you up fairly well. I’m particularly happy about the Lazard pick. I wrongly predicted Cole Beasley, Demarcus Robinson, Michael Thomas and Nick Chubb would be good plays. The Robinson one, in particular, I got very wrong after deep-diving into games where Watkins missed, I was highly confident in that play but it wasn’t to be. I was confident that Lev Bell wasn’t a good play, along with Kareem Hunt, Devin Singletary and Ram’s tight ends. I urged caution on Van Jefferson before Kupp was ruled out, and in hindsight, it might have been worth considering more. 

Enough good to outweigh the bad and more knowledge to build on for Conference Championship Weekend. 

Picks so far this season:

Great plays: 131 (47%)

Good plays: 86 (31%)

Bad plays: 64 (22%)

Conference Championship Weekend

We have a shorter column this week as we round out the end of the DFS NFL season. Give strong consideration to how much you want to play this weekend. The smaller the slate the tougher the wins. The games this weekend are rematches of week 6 games, so we have a little more than usual to draw upon, but this deep into the playoffs form and snap counts can be a little harder to rely upon. As ever, if you’re setting multiple lineups some of your positional decisions should be dictated by stacks. Don’t be afraid of leaving money on the table this weekend, to try and create a unique lineup. Given the running back options, don’t be surprised if four-wide receiver builds are common. If Chad Henne is the Chiefs starter, it’s a big downgrade for all the Chiefs pass catchers, he’s functional but not potentially slate breaking, like Mahomes.

fox13news.com

Tampa Bay @ Green Bay Packers (Kick-off 20:05 GMT)

Packers -3.0 favourites

51.5 over/under

Previous Matchup

The Week six matchup in Tampa represents a blip on Green Bay’s otherwise excellent campaign. By far the worst game of Rodgers’ season, Davante Adams was returning from injury and Allen Lazard missed out completely. You might not remember, but the 38-10 victory for the Buccs was such a weird game that even Brady didn’t rack up a big score finishing with just 14.6 DK points. Much of the damage was done by Ronald Jones, who went 23-113-2. Since then the Packers have been near perfect and it’s fair to expect a much closer matchup in Lambeau. 

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady ($6100), comes into the Conference games as the cheapest starter of the four, a week after finishing 2nd highest scorer at the position. He will face a Green Bay defence that has improved as the season has progressed and they finished the season as the 4th best team against quarterbacks. The Packers defence hasn’t allowed a quarterback to put up 19+ DK points since week 12. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is priced at $6500, the third-highest priced of the four starters. He faces a Buccs defence that started the season strong and faded slightly at times. They rank 15th against the position with the second-highest interception rate (1.06), in the league. As a strong run defence against running backs, they play into Rodgers preferred option of passing the ball heavily. Whilst the Buccs defend running backs rushing well, they have allowed the fourth-worst rushing average to quarterbacks (5.27 per attempt). Whilst Rodgers is no spring chicken, he’s still agile enough to average over 10 yards per game and I’d expect to see somewhere around 20 rushing yards in this game. 

Verdict: The AFC quarterbacks are slightly more attractive from fantasy purposes, but these two veterans are incredibly motivated to add to their legacies. Neither will go down without a fight and both can turn this game on its head. I prefer Aaron Rodgers, as the Buccs defence funnels passing so heavily, whereas Tampa might enjoy more success on the ground.

Running Backs

As mentioned previously, the Buccaneers boast an excellent run defence, ranking best in the league. Allowing by far the fewest rushing yards per game at 60.94, whilst no other team allows less than 70. Whilst the defence is great against the rushing attack, it’s woeful against pass-catching backs, allowing the 2nd most receptions per game (6.06) and the 11th most yards per game (39.78). Green Bay boasts two solid pass-catching backs in Aaron Jones ($6500) and Jamaal Williams ($4400), with either capable of catching the ball. The Buccs held Kamara to a reasonable 13.5 points last week and probably fancy their chances against the Green Bay backs. Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette ($5300), seems to be the hot hand for Tampa, out-snapping Ronald Jones 48-21. Questions remain over Jones’ fitness but he’s priced nicely at $4600 and would have had a strong day against the Saints if a 44-yard run wasn’t brought back for holding. I’m not sure it should surprise anyone if the snaps flip this week. The Packers rank 27th against the rush and gave up 18.6 points to Cam Akers last week, despite it being obvious the Rams would lean on him with an injured Jared Goff. The Packers also gave up a big game to David Montgomery in Wk17 (28.2). At times this year, Fournette was a healthy scratch. It’s hard to forget that.

Verdict: These running backs are slightly more attractive than the AFC game, but as detailed, there are reasons to ponder all of them. I’ll be very interested in Ronald Jones if we get good practice reports. Failing that I’ll play Fournette and Aaron Jones in different lineups, but I won’t have huge amounts of Aaron Jones. I’m not expecting to see much of A.J Dillon unless we hear anything to the contrary. 

Wide Receivers 

The Packers defence ranks 5th best in the league against the position and they’ll need to be on top of their game to contain the Buccaneers trio of excellent receivers. Green Bay allows just 12.06 receptions per game to receivers, which wouldn’t go too far around Mike Evans ($5800), Chris Godwin ($5400) and Antonio Brown ($4700). Meanwhile, Tampa ranks 19th and allows the fifth-most targets per game (21.67) and the fifth most receptions (14.61). Davante Adams ($8000) is the joint-highest priced player on the slate and averages 26.7 points per game over the last six games. Fading him will be a risky choice and you’ll have to consider if Adams is at risk of being shut-out, like Michael Thomas was last week. Whilst Thomas was shut-out, Tre’Quan Smith scored 23.5 points, which followed Cam Sims 20.4pts in the Wildcard round and Russell Gage’s 25.2 points in Wk17. I’m not sure this is enough data to turn into a narrative, but it says to me secondary or tertiary receivers can have joy against this defence. Allen Lazard ($4200), out-snapped Valdez-Scantling ($3900) by three routes, 29-26. Both receivers caught four receptions of their eight targets. The Packers defence let Van Jefferson have a career day last week, scoring 16.6 DK points, having allowed 20.3 to Darnell Mooney in Wk17 and 22.2 to D.J Moore in Wk15. The Buccs receivers are too good for them to be all held in check, it’s just tricky deciding which one will have the best potential. 

Verdict: Looking at receivers who’ve had success against the Packers lately I’m most tempted by Godwin on that side of the ball, followed by Evans and Brown last. Brown is struggling with a knee injury that just screams out off-season surgery – NOW OUT. I always like playing Scotty Miller ($3400), and if Antonio Brown is struggling – NOW OUT it’s easy to see a game where Miller sees increased snaps. Miller also has proven to be a deep-shot target, if the Buccs fall behind he could see the big-play potential. As for the Packers, play Adams in confidence. Lazard will catch higher ownership after last week’s touchdown, but Rodgers likes him and will continue to feed him. I have no problem with MVS, I’d just prefer to pay up for Lazard than watch MVS drop 60-yard receptions. If you’re deep bargain hunting, Equanimeous St. Brown at $3000 is one of the cheapest WR fliers I’d take.

Tight Ends

This slate isn’t blessed with tight end options outside of Travis Kelce. Robert Tonyan ($3600), hasn’t scored over 11 points since Week 14, despite continuing to see a steady trickle of targets. Tonyan has remained efficient on these, it just seems with all cylinders firing, he’s not as dominant as he could be. Last week against the Rams he scored 10 points, after catching all four targets for 60 yards. If you can’t afford Kelce, Tonyan is a solid bet. No other Green Bay tight end has seen over two targets since week 12. Tampa ranks 21st against the position, allowing the 8th most targets per game (7.67), and the 7th most receptions (5.44). In the last two weeks, Cameron Brate ($3000) has seen eight targets to Rob Gronkowski’s one. Gronk comes in slightly more expensive at $3200 and it would seem right for him to catch touchdowns from Brady in such a big game, but Gronk hasn’t scored since week 16 and the Packers haven’t allowed a tight end to have double-digit points since Week 14. The Green Bay defence ranks 4th best in the league against tight ends, allowing just 4.06 catches per game. 

Verdict: Tonyan provides obvious stacking potential with Rodgers, and if you can’t pay up for Kelce, he’s the best option on paper. Brate has out-snapped and out-targeted Gronk in recent weeks but if the Buccs get down, in a huge playoff game, I just can’t see past Gronkowski at $3200. I would expect Gronk to come in slightly higher owned than Brate though so if you’re looking for a tournament play consider both in different builds. 

Defence

I don’t normally dig too deep into defence in these columns, preferring to make my decisions as I build my lineups. All four teams have good defences, with strengths in different places. This weekend I’ll probably opt to play the defence that correlates best with the other pieces of my lineup. Or I’ll just pay down. I’m ranking them:

  1. Chiefs ($3100)
  2. Bills ($2800)
  3. Buccs ($2700)
  4. Packers ($3600)
usatoday.com

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (Kick-off 23:40 GMT)

Chiefs -3.0 favourites

53.5 over/under

Previous matchup – Hopefully Sunday’s game will be a little more electrical than the last time they faced each other. Josh Allen struggled to pass the ball, particularly in the first half, going 5/15 for 27 yards before the second quarter two-minute warning. The Bills, however, did have joy running the ball, including several designed runs for Josh Allen. The Chiefs featured Clyde Edwards-Helaire heavily, giving the rookie 26 carries which he took for 161 yards and saw his largest DK points haul of the season. Buffalo did a good job limiting Tyreek Hill, as Demarcus Robinson led the receivers in targets and catches. The Bills defence largely sat deep and let the Chiefs take the shallow passes. The weather was poor to start the game but picked up as it went on. 

Score: Chiefs 26 – 17 Buffalo.

Quarterbacks

So much of this hinges on Patrick Mahomes recovering from his concussion/neck injury that removed him from the Divisional round game against the Browns. Regardless of his status Draftkings have priced him as the highest of the quarterbacks, at $7600. Josh Allen is the second-highest on the slate, set at $6900. The Chiefs were a below-average defence against the position through the season, allowing the 19th most fantasy points per game. Despite this and with Chad Henne in the game against the Browns, they held Baker Mayfield to 12.46 DK points. The Chiefs defence has given up the third-most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks, 0.41, which is a noteworthy stat with Josh Allen being known to enjoy a RedZone run. On the other side of the ball, Mahomes will face the 13th best defence against the position and may have to rely on his arm to get the job done. The Bills have been poor against rushing quarterbacks most of the season until they faced Lamar Jackson last weekend. Regardless of that, Mahomes seems to be dealing with a turf toe and may opt to take on the defence through the air, with the Bills allowing the 9th most attempts per game. 

Verdict: If Mahomes is inactive Chad Henne ($5000) will become a popular dart throw to save salary and he showed last weekend he can be capable of running the team. As of Thursday, it’s trending in the direction Mahomes will play. I lean slightly towards Josh Allen. Allen is at full fitness and should see plenty of opportunities to both pass and run the ball. In Week 6 the Chiefs blitzed him constantly and forced him out of the pocket. If they come with a similar approach this time, expect the rushing floor to hold up as he escapes pressure. 

Running Backs

In Week 6 CEH ($5000) saw career highs in rush attempts (26), yardage (165 combined), longest run (31) and yards per carry (6.2). Since injuring himself against the Saints in Week 15 Edwards-Helaire hasn’t played. According to Adam Schefter, CEH is on track to play Sunday, and he recorded a limited practice on Wednesday and Thursday. When CEH has missed out, the backfield has been a mix of Darwin Thompson ($4000), Le’Veon Bell ($4100) and Darrel Williams ($4800). In Week 6 the Chiefs ran a lot of draw plays against the Bills to great success. The Bills 20th ranked defence against the position can be susceptible to the run but they did a good job shutting down the Ravens ground game in last weekend’s games. The Chiefs defence is the 7th worst in the league against the position, and struggled to stop the Bills running outside runs in week 6. The trouble with running on the Chiefs is you may find yourself down twenty points and having to throw the ball. Devin Singletary ($4500) has complete control of the Bills backfield with Zack Moss on IR. He saw only seven attempts against the Ravens with the Bills adopting a pass-heavy approach but he should fare better here. 

Verdict: It’ll be a lot easier to trust Williams if CEH is ruled out, but at $4800 there may be a path to playing him regardless. Even with CEH’s dominant performance in Week 6, Williams saw 6 attempts for 26 and a touchdown. On a small slate like this, plays like that could make a difference. If CEH returns I’ll fire him up in tournaments and aim to take advantage of anyone too scared to play him. I can’t believe the Chiefs have been saving Bell up to play him here, and it’s the boldest of bold plays to try and do so. Singletary is nicely priced at $4500 and I’m not too interested in T.J Yeldon at $4000. Antonio Williams is an interesting flyer at $4000, after his 21.3 DK points in week 17, but he didn’t see the field last weekend, so treat with caution and consider more for showdown slates.

Wide Receivers 

The wide receivers provide a far more attractive picture for this weekend than any other position group and it won’t be uncommon to see wide receivers put in the flex position over running backs. Both defences rank highly against receivers, with the Chiefs 2nd and the Bills 4th. In Week 6 the Bills held Tyreek Hill ($7200), to a season-low of 3-20 and no touchdowns, by largely sitting deep and stopping big plays. That opened up opportunities for Demarcus Robinson and Ben Pringle who both went over 45 yards. Hill is in great form coming off 8-110 against the Browns and is always a tough option to fade. Likewise, Stefon Diggs ($7000), who is averaging a huge 29.2 DK points per game over his last six games. Those games included tough defences like the Ravens, Miami and Pittsburgh so we have to trust the talent over matchup here. John Brown ($4300) made more of an impact in his second game back from injury, putting up 14.2 points against the Ravens, and both he and Cole Beasley ($4100), should experience better weeks. Gabriel Davis ($3500), picked up an ankle injury against the Ravens after failing to catch any of his four targets. As of Wednesday, he hasn’t returned to practice and until he does, it’s hard to predict too much for the impressive rookie. 

Verdict: Outside of the top two plays (Hill and Diggs), it’s quite tricky to differentiate. I find the price drops of Beasley (down by $800), to be attractive and perhaps ownership stays away from him after a zero against the Ravens. The question with Beasley is health-related and I’ll be watching the practice reports. The Chiefs have opted to use Robinson ($3700) over Hardman ($4000) at times this season, but last week that swung in Hardman’s favour slightly. Watkins ($3800) was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice and has a chance to play, but in his last five games only scored double-digit points in one game. If I had to rank them in terms of my favourites I’d go:

  1. Diggs
  2. Hill
  3. Brown
  4. Beasley
  5. Robinson
  6. Hardman
  7. Davis
  8. Pringle

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce is the joint-highest priced player on the slate, at $8000. Averaging 22.5 points a game and having just four games under twenty points all season he’s a near-impossible fade. In a tougher matchup, you could make the argument, but against the 6th worst defence against the position, it gets very tough. The Bills allow the most targets per game to tight ends (9.0), the most receptions (6.11) and the second-most yards per game (64.28). Kelce went 5-65 and two touchdowns in Week 6. The Bills did a good job keeping Mark Andrews in check last week, with him only putting up 6.8 points. With that said, he had two end zone targets that very nearly changed the story. The Chiefs defence is also susceptible to tight ends, ranking 28th in the league against the position. Against the Browns, the Chiefs gave up plays to both Njoku and Hooper but held them to a combined 13.6 points. Meanwhile, the only Bills TE to see a target was Dawson Knox ($2800), who went 2-18. 

Verdict: Knox is the cheapest tight end flier on the board, but it’s not an appealing play unless you’re stacking the Bills and Chiefs game heavily. If it’s the difference between jamming in all the top studs and not, then it’s worth the play. Kelce is just too good to fade and even if it means paying down elsewhere, I’ll have a high amount of Kelce in my lineups (providing Mahomes plays).

Defence

I don’t normally dig too deep into defence in these columns, preferring to make my decisions as I build my lineups. All four teams have good defences, with strengths in different places. This weekend I’ll probably opt to play the defence that correlates best with the other pieces of my lineup. Or I’ll just pay down. I’m ranking them:

  1. Chiefs ($3100)
  2. Bills ($2800)
  3. Buccs ($2700)
  4. Packers ($3600)

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