Well, folks, we made it. One last game before a whole off-season of hot takes and hyperbole begins. I can’t say thank you enough for reading and interacting with me throughout the season. It’s been a real joy in a difficult year. If for any reason you’re not already, follow me on Twitter at @BestBallUKNFL – Once the season is over, it’s Best Ball time and I’m going to be bringing you so much content centred around that and draft strategy in general.
With just one game to play, we only have a showdown slate, so things shake out differently to normal. I’ll try and talk about Showdown theory and break down some popular ways to attack these games, along with contrarian theory. It’s important to consider the type of contest you’re playing, as the differences between a twenty man tournament and a six hundred thousand entry GPP can be as large as you’d imagine. I’ll start position by position and finish up with the theory.
Bucs +3 vs. Chiefs: 56.5
The narratives run easily here with Tom Brady ($15000 captain/$10000 flex), taking on Patrick Mahomes ($18000/$12000 flex). Both quarterbacks face good defences, but you’d expect no less in the Superbowl. The obvious path to Mahomes struggling lies in his offensive line, which is severely banged up. Out of the five starters from the beginning of the season, just one remains (C Austin Reiter). The Buccs defensive line has done well against quarterbacks this season, ranking inside the top four in both sacks and QB hits. Vita Vea is now another two weeks healthier and will continue to make his presence known, after missing time with a broken leg. Mahomes should also be healthier from his turf toe injury, so I’m not overly worried about the o-line weaknesses. I would expect him to get the ball out quickly, or extend plays well enough with his mobility. Mahomes will be a popular captain choice at a reasonable price, and having scored over 20DK points in 16/17 games this season it’s easy to see why. When the teams met in week 12, Mahomes posted impressive stats of 462 yards and three touchdowns, for 35.3DK points. Meanwhile, Brady didn’t have quite as impressive a day, but still put up 26.7DK points, with 345 yards and two touchdowns. He did, however, have an uncharacteristic two-interception day. Brady’s ceiling maybe a little lower than Mahomes, but he still typically covers enough fantasy ground to pay off. Having only failed to clear 20DK points in one of his last seven games, all the way back in week 14. Since the Buccs week 13 bye, Brady has looked even more comfortable in this system, with a better QB rating than Mahomes in that spell, and I don’t believe either QB will have a poor day.
Scores in the playoffs so far:
Mahomes – 21.6, 28.5.
Brady – 26.0, 22.2, 20.1
Chiefs Defence Points allowed to QB’s – 12.46, 27.28.
Buccs Defence Points allowed to QB’s – 28.84, 12.90, 27.84.
Less straightforward than the Quarterbacks position, the running back rooms feature a couple of players we can largely disregard. LeSean McCoy ($600), has had 25 snaps for 132 yards and zero touchdowns all season. Unless somebody is injured, he has a tough path to relevance or revenge against a team who healthy scratched him for last years Superbowl. Ke’Shawn Vaughn ($200), has also been less than relevant, only gaining more than 5 attempts in one game this season, which was the Week 16 game when RoJo missed out and the Buccs were so heavily beating on the Lions it made no sense to keep Fournette in. On the Chiefs side, Darwin Thompson ($200), has only had one relevant game all year, when injuries meant he needed to be featured. His game log includes eleven 0.0 games for the year.
Unfortunately, the top of the running back rooms isn’t an area we’ll be desperate to play either. ‘Playoff Lenny’ ($7800), has been in fine form over the three games, dating back to the wildcard round, scoring a total of 63.3DK points. Part of this can be attributed to Ronald Jones ($2200) lingering injury issues, but with two full weeks since his last game, he could be in line for a larger workload again. It wasn’t that long ago that Fournette was being healthy scratched for Jones. What is clear though, is that Jones is not going to be involved in the passing game in the same way that Fournette is. Jones has just five targets since the last time these teams met in Wk12. Meanwhile, Fournette has seen targets of four, six and seven in the playoffs. The Chiefs run defence, which ranks 21st overall, allows the fifth-most targets to RB’s per game (7.61), whilst allowing a league-worst average of 50.39 yards per game to running back receptions. It’s easy to construct a narrative where Fournette stays in a game script as the Buccs try to come back from a deficit and Jones misses out on snaps.
The Buccs defence also struggles to contain pass-catching backs, despite leading the league in run defence, they allow the most receptions to backs at 6.21. This didn’t count for much the last time the teams met, as Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($7000) scored a season-low 4.9DK points. In the Conference game against the Bills, CEH still looked banged up and didn’t return after a hospital ball from Mahomes. Still, we’ve had a two-week break and he’s practised without limitations since then. I would expect more ownership to head towards Darrel Williams ($5200) after Williams has put up back to back 13+ point games. Williams does seem to have the edge in pass protection and third downs, which whilst it matters less to the Chiefs than some teams, may matter more with Todd Bowles blitz heavy defence attacking them. Lastly, Le’Veon Bell ($800), it’s been a far quieter season for Bell than some expected. It wasn’t long ago when the Chiefs signed him and segments of fantasy twitter declared it over for CEH. That wasn’t to be. He has two games with more than ten attempts and zero games with more than three targets since he joined the Chiefs. He has struggled to practice since the win over Cleveland, suffering from a knee injury. Against a tough run defence, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bell healthy scratched. I’ll take my punts elsewhere. All in all, I prefer the Buccs backs to the Chiefs backs.
Scores in the playoffs so far (X= missed game):
D. Williams – 13.4, 13.1
C. Edwards-Helaire – X, 7.7.
L. Bell – 0.6, X.
Leonard Fournette – 23.2, 21.7, 18.4
Ronald Jones – X, 6.2, 1.6.
Chiefs defence points allowed to RB’s – 19.7, 14.2.
Buccs defence points allowed to RB’s – 14.8, 13.5, 18.9.
This is where things get interesting in my opinion. Both teams boast elite pass catchers and deciding which players to squeeze into your lineups will be the trickiest part. The Chiefs defence ranks 2nd best in the league against receivers, allowing just 138.28 yards per game on average. All the more impressive considering how often they put teams in come from behind situations where they would have to try and force the ball. The Buccs however do have a fine set of receivers to spread out and test the defence with. Draftkings has finally settled on Chris Godwin as the highest priced option on the Buccs side, coming in at $8800. Mike Evans ($8400), Antonio Brown ($6200) and Scotty Miller ($3400) fall in behind Godwin, it seems a fair ordering. Mike Evans seems to be over his knee issues he struggled through and will look for a similar performance to last time the teams met when he scored 20 points, despite only managing to catch three of nine targets. Chris Godwin was the only other Buccs pass-catcher to enjoy a good game that day, putting up 17.7 points. Those stats remind us that it’s not worth worrying too much about the ranking of the Chiefs defence in the passing game. Elite players find ways to score points, more often than not. Mike Evans leads the team in Red Zone targets with 18 targets for 11 receptions and nine touchdowns. Simply put it’s likely we see Godwin see higher volume, but Evans see higher scoring opportunities. I’ll not be looking at Tyler Johnson ($1200) unless Antonio Brown struggles to shake off the knee injury that has held him back over the last couple of weeks. Brown was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice.
On the Chiefs side of the ball, there’s nowhere else to start but Tyreek Hill ($10400). When the teams met in Wk12 Tyreek went 13-269 and three touchdowns. Scoring an otherworldly 60.9 Draftkings points and helping me to have my most profitable week of the season, thanks Tyreek. No longer just a big-play receiver Tyreek has a 27.3% target share as well as leading the team in end zone targets (14). Behind Hill, we have Mecole Hardman ($5600), the rarely seen Sammy Watkins ($4200), Byron Pringle ($1800) and Demarcus Robinson ($1400). Robinson is currently on the Covid 19, close contact, reserve list but stands a good chance of being cleared in time for the game. There’s a possibility people shy away from him because of this and he could prove a solid differential play. Sammy Watkins has a decent history of showing up in the playoffs for the Chiefs. Since he signed for the team he has five playoff appearances and has gone 24-464 and a touchdown. An average of 4.8 receptions and 92.8 yards. With his reputation, it’s fair to expect plenty of ownership to head to the exciting Mecole Hardman instead, who despite games in the regular season where Robinson would out target him, seems to have established himself behind Tyreek. Watkins was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday’s practice report. It’s worth noting that in games Watkins has played, Byron Pringle has averaged just 7.4% of offensive snaps, as opposed to 47.4% in games Watkins has missed.
Scores in the playoffs so far (X= missed game):
Chris Godwin – 18.9, 7.4, 19.6.
Mike Evans – 20.9, 7.3, 14.1.
Antonio Brown – 15.1, 2.0, X.
Scotty Miller – 3.3, 3.9, 11.6.
Tyler Johnson – 0, 2.5, 2.6.
Tyreek Hill – 22.9, 29.2
Mecole Hardman – 10.2, 12.4.
Sammy Watkins – X, X
Byron Pringle – 3.4, 5.2
Demarcus Robinson – 2.4, 0.
Chiefs defence points allowed to WR’s – 38.3, 42.4
Buccs defence points allowed to WR’s – 46.6, 35.2, 57.4
I’m currently drafting my first best ball league of the off-season and Travis Kelce ($11000) was taken at the 1.06. In TE premium, that’s no longer a reach. The man has ascended to God-like status after this season. He’s kept his red hot form going into the playoffs, scoring a ridiculous 67.7 points in two games. Kelce is dominant in both the open field and the red zone, with the 3rd most red-zone targets in the league (20), and the 3rd most red-zone touchdowns (9). The Buccs defence ranks 22nd in the league against the position and has allowed the 12th most touchdowns per game to tight ends (0.56). The Buccs also allow the sixth most receptions per game to TE’s with 5.53.
The Chiefs defence doesn’t shape up any better against Tight Ends, ranking 24th overall and allowing the sixth-most yards per game (59.5), and the eight most receptions per game (5.33). Fortunately for the Chiefs, the Buccs tight ends aren’t quite as dominant as Travis Kelce. Recency bias will push people towards Cameron Brate ($4800), over Rob Gronkowski ($3000), but there are reasons to believe the game may swing in Gronk’s favour. Aside from the narratives and history of Brady counting on Gronk in big spots, Brate has run fewer routes in the last two weeks than Gronk (28-42). Gronkowski has also out-snapped Brate 113-52. Whilst Gronkowski hasn’t been as reliable a target as he used to be, Brady still targeted him the second most on the Buccs when they were in the Red Zone, resulting in 14-6 and five touchdowns. When you’re making your lineups, you face the choice of recent form or years of a reliable relationship. It’s not an easy choice.
Scores in the playoffs so far (X= missed game):
Travis Kelce – 27.9, 39.8.
(No others with a catch)
Rob Gronkowski – 0, 2.4, 3.9.
Cameron Brate – 12.0, 9.0, 10.9.
Chiefs defence points allowed to TE’s – 13.5, 16.2
Buccs defence points allowed to TE’s – 14.2, 7.5, 12.2.
I don’t particularly enjoy writing about defence but in a showdown, it’s worth touching on quickly. Tampa Bay ($2800) are priced slightly higher than Kansas ($2600), with the expectation their solid pass rush can rack up several sacks against a depleted Chiefs offensive line. The key stats are that the Buccs have a whopping 55 sacks on the season compared to the Chiefs 37. Meanwhile, both teams have similar INT totals, 20-17, in the Buccs favour. Whilst the Chiefs have four defensive touchdowns compared to the Buccs singular score, which came back in week six. The main reason to play either defence will be dependent on the game script you project, more of which we get into further below.
Scores in the playoffs so far:
Chiefs DST – 6, 6.
Buccs DST – 4, 9, 9.
Honestly, if you hate kickers, you need to give your head a wobble. There could be nothing more glorious than a team’s victory hinging on a 55-yard field goal. I say that from a safe and secure place as a Ravens fan who has barely sweated a field goal in years, thanks to Justin Tucker. It wasn’t too long ago Harrison Butker ($4000), was being touted as good as Tucker, but this season he finished as the fantasy K14, missing three field goals and a whopping seven extra points. Butker has managed five FG’s of 50+ yards so far this season, normally in better range thanks to his highly efficient offence. A lesser talked about the narrative is Ryan Succop ($3800) getting a chance for a revenge game against the team who he spent five seasons with at the start of his career. Succop has only missed three FG’s all year, but his leg isn’t as strong as Butker’s, only managing one 50+ yard kick this season. Ultimately, the only reason to play either of the kickers comes down to narratives, which we’ll get into below.
I won’t go too deep into this, as there are plenty of articles out there that can provide more data-driven points than I can. I enjoy showdown and play it regularly, but not high stakes. Typically I’ll enter one to three lineups per primetime slate in the cheaper tournaments. If it’s a game I’m particularly interested in I’ll enter up to twenty lineups in the tournaments priced between 25c-$1. I don’t typically play the cash or 50/50 games in this setting. If you’re playing $10 Millionaire contest remember that people are playing up to 150 lineups, and a total of 653594 tickets available for the contest. To win it not only will your lineup need to be perfect, but you’ll also need to be contrarian. You can find better payout structures in smaller contests. My favourite types of tournaments are the small(ish) field tournaments with 15-20 players, like the great Season Long DFS contest that concludes this week. Shoutout to them for another great year and be sure to check them out on Twitter if you haven’t already.
When constructing your lineup, try to have a narrative in mind. Here are a few examples.
Mecole Hardman + Chiefs D – Hardman returns a punt/kick for a touchdown. In this scenario, both Hardman and the D get points (very rare).
Running back from one team and corresponding defence, without their QB. – If the Buccs are running the ball well it will drain the clock, reducing the scoring and if it’s become a run-heavy game, we wouldn’t want Brady.
If you’re playing a defence plus a kicker, you’re assuming a team will be dominant, meaning their pass catchers probably aren’t going to go off.
Similarly, try not to worry about having an even split of players from each team. Data shows often playing 5-1 from one team, or 4-2 can be more productive.
Who you pick at Captain will have a huge bearing on your team, as their salary will cost 1.5x but they’ll also score 1.5x the points. Many people will be drawn to quarterbacks, but thanks to Draftkings PPR format, pass-catchers can often prove more optimal in this spot. Typically priced lower than QB’s, a good pass catchers game could result in 6+ reception points along with the 3pt 100+ yard bonus along with touchdowns scored. Generally speaking, RB’s are sub-optimal in the captain spot.
My two most owned captains this week will be Tyreek Hill ($15600) and Travis Kelce ($16500).
Ronald Jones ($2200) has been aggressively priced down and it won’t take much for him to outscore a typical projection. Scotty Miller ($3400) offers a type of speed and route running that none of the other Buccs receivers can, whilst also having Brady’s trust. Demarcus Robinson ($1400) is a boom or bust option, but due to his time spent on the Covid reserve list this week, he’ll probably catch very low ownership and has double-digit games in almost one-third of his games played this year.
Andy Reid has had an extra week and we all know how good he is coming off those extra weeks. Would it be surprising to see a trick play with a tackle catching a ball in the end zone, or Travis Kelce lining up in the wild cat? Probably not. There’s very little to choose from in the $200 range, but I do like Nick Keizer (TE – $200), as a complete dart throw. At times this season in broadcasts his name has been brought up as someone Andy Reid thinks highly of. Anthony Sherman ($400) is the Chiefs fullback and despite not seeing many snaps, would it be insane to see a 242lb guy brought in to try and counteract the might of Vita Vea in a goal-line situation? On the Tampa side, Ke’Shawn Vaughn at $200 could score enough on one play to reward you for taking a punt on him, but there’s little evidence to support that claim.
Any questions about the format, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @BestBallUKNFL – stay tuned for Best Ball and Draft Strategy content throughout the off-season ready to come back strong for another year of DFS in September.