FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: NFC Championship (49ers at Eagles)
The top two NFC seeds will meet in Philadelphia to kick off Sunday's championship games at 3:00 pm ET, and it should be a good one. The Philadelphia Eagles are 2.5-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers, and the matchup has a 46.5-point over/under.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to main slates. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5 times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and we have projections for the single-game slate if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both of those things before you make your lineups.
Despite some injury concerns surrounding Jalen Hurts ($17,000) prior to last week's Divisional Round, Hurts and the Eagles quickly put those to rest by dismantling the Giants 38-7 in a game that was pretty much over by halftime. Hurts coasted to 23.6 FanDuel points behind two passing touchdowns and a rushing score, and he probably would've had an even bigger fantasy performance in a closer contest.
This will be a far tougher matchup against San Francisco's dominant defense, but it might not matter for one of fantasy's elite quarterbacks. According to numberFire's model, Hurts is the slate's only player projected for over 20 FanDuel points, and he leads the next-highest option, Christian McCaffrey ($15,500), by over 6 points. His MVP roster percentage will be high, but that's about the only reason to consider fading him as your multiplier.
Speaking of McCaffrey, he should be right there with Hurts in MVP popularity. Across 11 full games with the 49ers, CMC has averaged 27.8 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) and a 73.6% snap rate. While Elijah Mitchell ($8,000) has effectively been the fourth quarter "closer" in both playoff games, that's likely had more to do with the lopsided score in their wild card game and CMC's calf discomfort last week.
McCaffrey isn't practicing early in the week -- something to keep tabs on -- but he's expected to be good to go for Sunday, and his upside has been on display all season.
After posting a season-high fantasy score on Wild Card Weekend, Brock Purdy ($14,000) came crashing down to earth against the Cowboys, scoring single-digit FanDuel points for the first time in his eight games playing the majority of snaps. For as efficient as he's been this season, this is still an offense that's just 24th in pass rate over expectation, and he doesn't have the rushing upside of someone like Hurts to consistently overcome that lack of volume.
While Purdy's probably better left as a FLEX against a strong defense like Philadelphia, his MVP roster percentage should be extremely low for a quarterback.
Three pass-catchers are projected for about a dozen fantasy points: A.J. Brown ($13,500), DeVonta Smith ($12,500), and Deebo Samuel ($12,000).
As Hurts' top-two wideouts, the merits for rostering Brown or Smith as non-chalky MVPs are readily apparent. Both players have averaged over 8 targets a game, with Brown logging a 28.8% target share and 41.7% air yards share and Smith posting a 27.7% target share and 32.1% air yards share. Brown has produced the more tantalizing box score results, cracking 20 FanDuel points four times versus just twice for Smith, but the latter wide receiver will see less attention at MVP.
Furthermore, despite possessing an elite overall defense, San Francisco has allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to wideouts, and they're 25th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to them.
After missing roughly a month toward the end of the season, Samuel has predictably played a prominent role in these playoffs, averaging 8.0 targets (30.2% share) and 3.5 carries over the last two weeks. Given his multiple paths to fantasy points, Samuel is arguably the best 49ers player outside of CMC to slot in as your multiplier, and his MVP roster percentage could be in the single digits.
This next group encompasses fringe MVP candidates, but they're guys who will need to have a lot to go their way to exceed everyone above. Miles Sanders ($11,000) is the one other player projected for 10-plus FanDuel points in our model, and he's followed closely by Dallas Goedert ($10,000), George Kittle ($11,500), and Brandon Aiyuk ($9,500).
Other than McCaffrey, Sanders is the only other running back projected for double-digit carries, but he sees sporadic work in the passing game and is stuck in a fantasy-upside-killing committee with Kenneth Gainwell ($8,000) and Boston Scott ($7,000). Further complicating things is that all of these backs get red zone touches, and that's not even including Hurts getting a good chunk of those, as well. The final possible nail in the coffin is that the 49ers have allowed the fewest FanDuel points per game to running backs this season.
All of this sours me on the idea of utilizing Sanders as an MVP, but he can still be considered as a reasonable FLEX. Sanders tallied 17 carries in last week's blowout against the Giants, and most of those rushes came in the first half, suggesting that he would've amassed a hefty workload had the game been more competitive. And despite the committee, Sanders did lead the team in red zone rush share (38.3%) this year, giving him a decent shot of finding paydirt.
As for the other two Philly backs, Gainwell ended up being the big winner in garbage time against the Giants (18.6 FanDuel points), and Boston notched a touchdown, as well. Both will probably only get a handful of opportunities if this stays close, though, putting them closer to dart-throw territory.
Goedert is third in target share on the Eagles (19.3%) this season, and he caught 5-of-5 targets for 58 yards and a touchdown in last week's victory (14.3 FanDuel points). He's projected for around six targets, and he could find his way onto the optimal lineup with a touchdown but is unlikely to rack enough yardage to contend as an MVP.
On the 49ers, Kittle and Aiyuk remain the other top pass-catchers alongside McCaffrey and Samuel. Both players are expected to see around six targets, which coincides with their usage this year. Between all the talent on this offense and the lack of passing volume in most weeks, they're more susceptible to low-floor games, but both players averaged double-digit points this year.
I don't mind Kittle as a contrarian MVP; he leads the team with a massive 44.0% end zone target share and has four games with multiple touchdowns this season.
Rounding out the rest on both sides, Elijah Mitchell, Jauan Jennings ($7,500), and Quez Watkins ($6,500) are the other skill players to note.
Mitchell has averaged a viable 14.5 adjusted opportunities in the postseason, though as previously stated, other circumstances may have contributed to those chances. Still, his $8,000 salary is appealing, and if McCaffrey's recent calf issue flares up again, then it could result in more touches for Mitchell. Like CMC, he missed practice on Wednesday but is expected to be fine.
San Francisco's Jennings has scored double-digit FanDuel points just once all year, and he's played fewer than half the snaps in the playoffs. He's projected for 3-4 targets and is a touchdown-or-bust play.
Similarly, Watkins hasn't moved the needle very often for Philadelphia, and given his limited role as the fourth option behind Brown, Smith, and Goedert, he likely needs to catch a long touchdown pass to have any hopes of cracking the optimal lineup. While the run-heavy game script in a blowout was partially to blame, he played under a third of the snaps last week and didn't see a single target. He's still pegged for around three targets in our model, though.
With strong defenses on both sides, the kickers could be relevant this weekend. Robbie Gould ($8,500) has scored double-digit FanDuel points in four of the last five games and could be a solid value at this salary. Playing for the favored side, Jake Elliott ($9,000) naturally has the higher projection of the two.
Despite the strength of these defenses, they feel like secondary plays against offenses that like to run the ball. If you're going to choose one, the Philadelphia D/ST ($9,000) feels like the preferred choice in case the Eagles get out to an early lead and can force the rookie quarterback to pass more than expected.