FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Conference Championships
The NFL Conference Championship DFS slate on FanDuel has two matchups on Sunday. The AFC Championship between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs kicks off at 3:05 p.m. EST, and the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers meet up at 6:40 p.m. EST in the NFC Championship. Both the Chiefs and 49ers are 7.5-point home favorites.
Our NFL DFS matchup heat map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.
Here's how you should attack this short postseason slate.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs ($9,500)
After finding themselves down 24-0 against the Houston Texans, Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense exploded last week. That was pretty much the first time we saw a fully healthy Kansas City offense in catchup mode, and it did not disappoint. They rattled off 28 points in the second quarter and took the lead in the blink of an eye.
Patrick Mahomes After Game With 4+ Passing TDs
Career, Ensuing Game:
Comp Pct 69.2
Pass YPG 340.3
Passer Rating 124.5
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 16, 2020
Mahomes was stellar, averaging 0.60 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, and there is no reason to think he can't put on a similar show this week against the Titans. When these teams squared off in Week 10, Mahomes threw for 446 yards and three scores in his first game back from his knee injury. Tennessee's defense has improved over the last two weeks, allowing just 12 and 13 points in their two playoff games, but Mahomes also has his mobility back. He ran for 53 yards last week and averaged 22.7 rushing yards over his last six games.
He's easily the most reliable quarterback on this slate. Stacking the Chiefs won everyone money last week, and there's no reason to not expect that to happen again.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans ($7,700)
If you're looking to pay down at quarterback, Ryan Tannehill is set up nicely for a big game. The Chiefs just flashed the ability to score a week's worth of points in about 10 minutes, so the Titans could find themselves down early. That game script would lead to extra pass attempts from Tannehill, and he has been very profitable in that scenario this year.
In games in which he's thrown the ball more than 22 times, he's averaging 296 passing yards, 2.3 touchdowns, and 23.67 fantasy points. He hasn't been able to do that in his two playoff starts as his defense has allowed just 25 combined points, but this week should be different as a 7.5-point underdog with a 52.5-point game total.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans ($9,800)
In the context of this slate, Derrick Henry is likely the safest running back option. The Titans' defense has been outstanding, allowing -0.06 NEP per play in the playoffs, which allows them to feed Henry at least 30 carries per game. He's been great, posting 377 rushing yards and a score in two playoff games at 0.14 Rushing NEP per carry. That would have ranked second among high-volume running backs in the regular season.
Titans’ scored a TD on 78% of their red-zone trips this season, highest rate in NFL. Checked back through 2003 and no one has even come close to 78%. https://t.co/mIrmkM6oJi
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) January 16, 2020
The Chiefs' defense also suits what the Titans want to do offensively. KC ranked fifth in schedule-adjusted pass defense in the regular season but just 28th against the run. Their top run-stuffer, Chris Jones, missed last week with a calf injury and could struggle to find the field this week. Henry should find plenty of success on the ground.
He's projected to be our highest-scoring running back on the slate.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers ($7,800)
The Packers wisened up and used Aaron Jones as a bell-cow back last week, playing him for 84 percent of snaps and giving him 22 touches to Jamaal Williams' two. Jones responded by finding the end zone twice and scoring 19.1 fantasy points. Hopefully that trend will continue this week as Jones is clearly the superior back.
The matchup is far from easy as the 49ers rank second in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They also shut down Dalvin Cook last week, allowing -0.39 Rushing NEP per carry and a 22.22 percent Success Rate. Jones can expect to see poor efficiency here, but with the lack of running back options on the slate, he's still a good play given his projected workload.
Jones had multiple receptions in 10 games during the regular season, so he should be involved in the passing game if the Packers find themselves trailing against this tough Niners team. Our projections have him as the best point-per-dollar value among running backs.
Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,600)
Damien Williams played 96.88 percent of the offensive snaps and received all but one backfield touch last week. So much for keeping LeSean McCoy fresh for the playoffs.
Any time we can roster a running back who will get nearly all the work, we just have to do it. Williams is essentially the playoffs version of Christian McCaffrey and is on an even more explosive offense. The Chiefs are favored by more than a touchdown in this game, so Williams could get more rush attempts to ice this game in the fourth quarter. With his 95th-percentile speed score, per PlayerProfiler, he's a good bet to rip off a massive play on one of those late-game carries.
Given the week-to-week volatility of the 49ers' backfield, the chalky lineup this week likely includes all three of these running backs -- Williams, Henry and Jones -- with some value plays elsewhere.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers ($8,300)
As 7.5-point underdogs, the Packers should be passing early and often. That would greatly benefit Davante Adams, who put on a clinic last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers looked for his big receiver on nearly every passing play as Adams accounted for 67.89 percent of the team's air yards. That was 21 percent higher than any other player last week, according to Next Gen Stats.
Davante Adams with the shimmy pic.twitter.com/rp1lDqTfIm
— Joe Kipp (@JuhKipp) January 12, 2020
Our projections have Adams pegged for the most targets, receptions, and receiving yards on this slate. If you want to fade any of the big running backs in cash lineups, Adams is about the safest receiver you can find based on his target volume and ability to find the end zone.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans ($6,800)
We haven't seen a massive week from A.J. Brown since the regular season, but we know the talent is there. If anything, we should be thankful as Brown is finally affordable in a spot where he can put up 100 yards and a score.
The Chiefs are stout against the pass -- ranking fifth in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and second in fantasy points allowed to receivers -- but Brown has been one of the most efficient receivers in football. During the regular season, he finished in the top three among receivers in yards per target, passer rating when targeted, yards per pass route, and fantasy points per target. His volume should also rise this week as the Titans play catch-up in Arrowhead.
When you give the most efficient receiver more volume, that usually leads to a spike week. Our projections have him scoring the third-most fantasy points among wideouts, and he is priced in a spot where you can easily afford him in most builds.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, San Francisco 49ers ($5,500)
Emmanuel Sanders has had a volatile season with the 49ers. He broke the slate against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 but has been held under 8.0 FanDuel points in eight of his other 10 games with the team. Predicting spike weeks for receivers is tough, especially in a 49ers offense that passes at the second-lowest rate in the league, but I'm willing to take a chance on Manny this week.
One thing we know about Sanders is that he's a route-running technician capable of torching aggressive defensive backs. We also know that the Packers have some of the most aggressive cornerbacks in the NFL in Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. According to PlayerProfiler, those two corners finished in the top four in pass breakups, and they jump short routes all day. That creates a great opportunity for Sanders to work them on double-moves.
Sanders isn't the safest play, but really nobody is on a two-game slate.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,800)
Travis Kelce dominated the Texans poor coverage and broke the slate last week for 36.4 fantasy points. Hopefully you played him when he was horribly underpriced in that matchup, because he's now priced back up where he belongs.
He is still a great value in this game environment as this matchup has a total of 52.5 points, but it would be unwise to assume a similar ceiling in this one. Nearly everything broke right for Kelce in the Houston game -- the Chiefs fell behind by 24 points, Tyreek Hill dropped some balls and muffed a punt, the Texans tried to cover him man-to-man.
Here’s every player in postseason history to tally 10+ catches, 130+ yards and 3+ touchdowns in a single game:
— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) January 13, 2020
Most of that won't happen again, meaning Kelce is unlikely to put up 100 yards and three scores. He's still a good bet to lead the Chiefs in receiving and has plenty of touchdown equity, but his elevated price, likely sky-high ownership, and wide range of outcomes makes him a good fade in tournaments.
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers ($7,000)
If you're looking for a pivot off Kelce, George Kittle is the guy to pay up for. He posted a dud last week while Tevin Coleman ran all over the Minnesota Vikings, but Kittle still played 96.77 percent of snaps and accounted for a 26 percent target share.
The Packers are talented on the perimeter but far weaker in the interior of their defense. Kittle exploited this in the regular season, catching all six of his targets for 129 yards and a score. He is the go-to guy for Jimmy Garoppolo and should be heavily involved in the game plan given his success in their last matchup.
Kittle has just as much upside as Kelce does and will likely come in at lower ownership this week. Our projections have him around seven catches for 90 yards with a good chance at finding the end zone.
Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.