The Hot Route – NFL DFS Picks – Conference Championships

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This weekend yields two conference championship games, as the Bucs travel to Green Bay to take on the top seeded Packers, and the surging Buffalo Bills travel to Kansas City to take on the reigning champs. The four teams duking it out on this weekend will have the opportunity to play their way into Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, so it’s safe to say, the stakes have never been higher!

If this is the first time you’ve joined us for NFL coverage, my name is Alex Krall (follow me on twitter at @AlexKrallDFS) and I am DPA’s resident NFL DFS analyst. Today, I’m going to breakdown what my player pool looks like for tournament play on DraftKings and FanDuel for the AFC/NFC Championship Games. I hope you enjoy the content!

Since this is the playoffs, and we are dealing with short slates, don’t be afraid to take some chances that you may not usually take in an effort to make your lineups look different than the field. In this article, we will go position by position, highlighting important notes on each team’s usage of their skill position players, and their corresponding matchup for the Sunday 3 game slate. For more information, COREs on each site, and 1v1 lineup editing and Q+A support, you can register for one of DPA’s premium packages here, which includes Optimizer access on the Playmaker Platinum package, and has helped generate thousands of dollars for our subscribers since the beginning of the NFL and NBA seasons!

But enough about us, let’s dive into the slate!

Quarterbacks

Note: All QBs on this slate are viable in my eyes, my top two options are Allen and Mahomes, but I definitely won’t ignore Rodgers and Brady if building lineups centered around Packers or Bucs stacks.

Josh Allen | BUF – Allen’s price has dipped below 7k for the first time in a very long time, and I have no hesitation in dialing him up here as the Bills look to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. While Allen struggled against Baltimore last week, the Chiefs defense are not as cohesive of a unit, as two of their top corners Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton logged limited practices this week. This unit as a whole ranked 25th against opposing QBs on the season, and they face a lot more pass attempts than the average defense due to the nature of how the Chiefs generate big leads with their offense, which then forces their opponents into negative game script. Allen is a current favorite for over 305.5 yards passing and a slight underdog at +145 for 2.5+ passing TDs. The stack to Diggs will obviously be very popular, but don’t be afraid to mix in a mispriced John Brown or Cole Beasley, as all three have paths to fantasy goodness in this game environment.

Patrick Mahomes | KC – Mahomes is a top QB on this slate assuming he’s been cleared to play on Sunday. The 2019 MVP finished his 2020 campaign with 38 TDs to just 6 INTs, and will tee off on a Buffalo defense allowing the 6th most passing yards per game over their last three games (294). This game is at Arrowhead and the Chiefs have the highest total on the slate at 28.5 points. With Josh Allen and the red hot Bills offense pushing up the tempo on the other side, Mahomes vs. Allen will likely turn into a memorable playoff shootout that will benefit both players from a fantasy perspective.

Also Consider: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady

Running Backs

Aaron Jones | GB – I’m honestly not very high on Jones this week, but he’s really the only legit RB option on this slate with any sort of upside. Jones is projected for 59.5 rushing yards, and is +115 to find the end zone on Sunday. The Bucs have one of the most stout front 7’s in the NFL, allowing only 82 yards rushing per game (the #1 ranked run defense in the NFL). Having said that, the Packers are playing at home, and this Tampa Bay defense isn’t used to getting pounded over and over again in cold weather, so having exposure to Jones is something you’ll likely need to have given his near 60% projected ownership on this slate.

Ronald Jones Jr. | TB – Jones has claimed to “feel better than last week” heading into Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Packers, after being dealt quad/finger injuries late in the regular season. Yes, I know Leonard Fournette is technically “the starter” now, but we’ve seen Jones excel against teams that struggle to stop the run, and Green Bay is very much a run funnel defense, while sporting one of the best secondaries in football. Bruce Arians has shuffled through his RBs throughout the year, generally reverting to the hot hand, and Jones can simply do things running the football that Leonard Fournette is not capable of, as a shifty and more explosive running back. Green Bay yielded the third most receiving yards in the NFL to running backs, so its likely that either Jones or Fournette will hit value this week. Having said that, Jones is currently projecting for about a third of the ownership of his teammate, so I’m willing to leverage him here in hopes that he can ball out against GB’s subpar run defense at reduced ownership.

Also Consider: Leonard Fournette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire/Darrel Williams

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs | BUF – Allen to Diggs is my favorite stack of the week all things considered, and due to the amount of studs available on this slate, I don’t think they’ll be as owned as they probably should be. The Bills’ alpha receiver has scored no less than 27 DK points in 5 of his last 6 games – absolutely ridiculous numbers. Despite the massive production, he’s priced as the 3rd highest receiver on the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The matchup here is decent, as KC has done well at limiting opposing receivers, but at this point I think it’s easy to see that Diggs is about as matchup proof as receivers come in today’s NFL. I plan on loading up on Diggs with Josh Allen while sprinkling in the tertiary pass catching options in this Bills offense.

Davante Adams | GB – Adams is our top projected receiver from a raw points standpoint as the league’s top targeted receiver (9.3 targets per game). The Buccaneers are a pass funnel defense, that has ranked 24th against opposing QBs and 20th against opposing WRs, giving up 245 passing yards per game (21st in the NFL). Adams has been a safety blanket for Aaron Rodgers all season, and I expect him to be very active in the short areas of the field as the Packers will look to distribute the ball quickly against a fast and fierce Bucs front seven. Despite the ownership that Adams and Diggs are projected for, both feel like can’t miss chalk on this two game slate.

Chris Godwin | TB – All three starting Bucs receivers have Q tags heading into Sunday’s 30 degree slugfest at Lambeau. We know how good Green Bay has been at limiting production on the perimeter, due in large part to stellar play from stud All-Pro CB Jaire Alexander. With Jaire occupying Mike Evans on the outside, Godwin will have room to roam in the slot against an inferior cornerback in Chandon Sullivan (63.7 PFF Grade, allowing a 67% completion %). With Antonio Brown pretty banged up and perhaps even set to miss this game, and with the awful matchup for Evans on the perimeter against Alexander, Godwin feels like the most natural go-to option in this Bucs passing attack that is implied for a healthy 24 point total.

John Brown | BUF – After posting a goose egg in the Bills Wild Card win over the Titans, Brown redeemed himself by hitting value against Baltimore (14.2 DKP) via an 8-62 stat line on 11 targets. I believe that Cole Beasley is not truly 100% at this point as he continues to play through a knee injury and was only targeted twice against Baltimore. Beasley was a limited participant in practice this week, which indicates that Brown and Diggs are likely to consume a healthy portion of the target market share this week against KC. Given that he’s only 4.3k on DK and 5.6k on FD, he stands out as the top value option at receiver on the slate (likely the most popular too).

Sammy Watkins | KC – Watkins is set to return after having logged practices on Wednesday and Thursday. The Chiefs third option through the air has been inconsistent at best when healthy in 2020, having reached double digit fantasy points just four times this season. Having said that, we know that Watkins still possesses slate breaking speed, and brings terrific upside to the table at a sub 4k price tag on DraftKings and just $5,400 on FanDuel. With the questionable tag next to his name, I think he will go overlooked as he has often disappointed his fantasy owners this season. The Chiefs possess the highest total on the slate, so getting access to a cheap Sammy Watkins doesn’t sound like the worst idea in tournaments if looking to get some leverage.

Also Consider: Cole Beasley, Allen Lazard

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce | KC – The most dominant Tight End in recent memory will take the field against a Buffalo defense ranking 19th against opposing TEs, after having had scored no less than 23 DKP or logging 10 targets in 9 of his last 10 games. Even at $8,000 (DK) / $8,600 (FD), I don’t think I really need to explain why Kelce should be a priority for you in a must win game for a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kelce is a CORE option in all formats, especially given the lack of other solid TE options available on this slate.

Cameron Brate | TB – Despite playing only 40% of the snaps to Rob Gronkowski’s 76% last week against the Saints, Brate led the Bucs receiving core with 4 catches for 50 yards. With all three Bucs WRs questionable going into this game, and with Antonio Brown close to being ruled out, we will continue to see the Bucs will continue to deploy two TE sets at a high rate. I have been on board the Brate train for a few weeks now, and at his price point and ownership discount, I’ll look to him again in this spot against Green Bay’s 21st ranked DST vs TEs.

Also Consider: Robert Tonyan

Defenses

Note: I don’t have a preference on any defenses on this slate. I know this sounds obvious, but play the defense that fits your lineup best. Since its a two game slate, you don’t have to worry about playing a QB against your DST. It’s not optimal on larger slates, but sometimes paying down for a defense can unlock lineup combinations with high ceilings, so I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on an uncorrelated DST with that thought in mind. To this point, my preferences have been the Chiefs DST or paying down for the Bucs DST, but I’m not committed to either unit whatsoever with all four teams possessing potential to put up big point totals on their opponents.

Please keep in mind that @AlexKrallDFS will be available from 2:00PM-3:00PM on Sunday to answer roster questions LIVE for all Playmaker Gold and Playmaker Premium subscribers ahead of the NFL Conference Championship Games. If you haven’t yet done so already, make sure to follow our twitter accounts at @dailyplayaction and @AlexKrallDFS where you can find the most updated player news and analysis on the NFL Playoffs, and subscribe to the DPA YouTube Channel for loads of free DFS content!