DraftKings NFL: Conference Championship Tournament Strategy

DraftKings NFL: Conference Championship Tournament Strategy

This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.

With only two games to choose from this weekend, tournament strategy starts to look more like showdown mode, where we need to be conscious of creating a lineup that doesn't have dozens of duplicates. Leaving some salary unused is one way to differentiate, and we can also consider other unconventional tactics — e.g. using a D/ST that's facing your QB, or two RBs from the same team — that wouldn't be wise on a regular-season slate.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers — 3:05 ET

Odds: Packers -3.5, O/U 51.5

Forecast: 27° F, with a 6% chance of snow, and wind around 10 mph.

TB injuries:  WR Antonio Brown (O - knee), S Antoine Winfield (Q - ankle)

GB injuries: CB Kevin King (Q - back)

     

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady ($6,100) is the cheapest QB on the slate, facing a Packers defense that's given up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. However, Green Bay's pass defense isn't quite as good as the DvP stats suggest, ranking 15th in DVOA and 10th in NY/A (6.1). No defense was on the field for fewer plays in the regular season, as Aaron Rodgers and Co. had tendency to win the possession battle.

One exception was in Week 6, when the Bucs needed just 27 passes from Brady in a 38-10 rout of the Packers. The veteran QB threw for 166 yards and two TDs, while Ronald Jones ($4,600) put the offense on his shoulders with a 23-113-2 rushing line. Leonard Fournette ($5,300) missed the game with an ankle injury, but he should play a big role in the rematch after leading Tampa in carries the past two weeks.

Of course, Jones typically got most of the carries when both backs were healthy during the regular season, and it's possible he returns to that lead role now that his quad and finger both seem to be doing better.

In terms of the pass catchers, Mike Evans ($5,800) and Chris Godwin ($5,400) figure to lead the way, as Brown has already been ruled out. Scotty Miller ($3,400), Tyler Johnson ($3,000) and TE Cameron Brate ($3,000) are all candidates to pick up some of Brown's vacated snaps, so there isn't a single, clear-cut beneficiary. Here's what the usage looked like in the second half of last week's game when Brown was barely able to play:

   

You might notice that Rob Gronkowski ($3,200) got the most post-halftime snaps among Tampa's skill-position players, though he only drew targets. He hasn't caught more than three passes in a game since late November, averaging just 3.5 targets over his last six games (including playoffs).

      

Top plays: WR Chris Godwin

Secondary plays: WR Mike Evans, RB Leonard Fournette, RB Ronald Jones, TE Rob Gronkowski

Usable in a stack: QB Tom Brady, TE Cameron Brate, WR Tyler Johnson   

         

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers ($6,500) played each of his last three games against a playoff team and topped 25 fantasy points each time, including a three-TD effort last weekend against arguably the best defense in the NFL. The Bucs aren't quite as tough as the Rams, but they still have one of the better defenses around.

Run-stuffing is Tampa's specialty, but the Packers happen to be pretty darn good at blocking, and Aaron Jones ($6,500) is the only standout running back in action on conference championship weekend. Despite losing some carries to Jamaal Williams ($4,400) and AJ Dillon ($4,000) last week, Jones finished with 14/99/1 and 1/14/0 on 63 percent snap share. Jones may not get extra touches in the playoffs, but even his normal workload might be the best we can find on this slate.

Davante Adams ($8,000) is the other guy sure to be at the center of things, and the loose pricing on DK this week makes it easy enough to roster him. Adams had his third-worst fantasy game of the year Week 6 at Tampa, but even then he caught six passes for 61 yards on 10 targets, accounting for 38.1 percent of Green Bay's receiving yards.

Allen Lazard ($4,200), Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,900) and Robert Tonyan ($3,600) round out the pass-catching corps, with Tonyan enjoying the best season but Lazard coming off the big game last week. Here's what the usage looked like in the divisional round:

   

Top plays: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, WR Davante Adams

Secondary plays: WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan

Usable in a stack: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, RB Jamaal Williams

    

Favorite TB-GB Stack: QB Rodgers + RB Jones + WR Adams + WR Godwin

      

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs — 6:40 ET

Odds: Chiefs -3, O/U 54

Forecast: 34° F with a 1% chance of rain and wind around 10 mph.

BUF injuries: WR Gabriel Davis (Q - ankle), DT Vernon Butler (Q - quad)

KC injuries: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Q - ankle), RB Le'Veon Bell (Q - knee), WR Sammy Watkins (Q - calf), LB Willie Gay (O - ankle)    

   

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have a clean injury report for this time of year, with the only question marks being their No. 4 receiver and a two-down DT. And, as so many members of #BillsMafia have been quick to mention, the Bills will have two starters in the lineup (LG Jon Feliciano, LB Matt Milano) who were out with injuries when they lost to the Chiefs in Week 6.

Long story short, we should expect a much better showing from Josh Allen ($6,900), who managed only 122 passing yards and 16.1 DK points in the Week 6 loss. Allen struggled against Baltimore in the wind last week, but he's otherwise been a tour de force since midseason (and, really, for all of the year). He has the same DK scoring average as Patrick Mahomes, who is $700 more expensive.

Stefon Diggs ($7,000) has been out of his mind recently, and he finished the regular season ranked third in the league with 29 percent target share. His dominant share of an efficient, pass-first offense should mostly outweigh concerns about facing Kansas City's solid secondary. Plus, the Chiefs don't have a great front seven, so Diggs can do damage over the middle of the field or on broken plays even if he's struggling to gain initial separation from CBs Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward and L'Jarius Sneed.

John Brown ($4,300) and Cole Beasley ($4,100) are also strong plays, if only because their prices have dropped so low after a quiet start to the playoffs. None has a great individual matchup, but the combination of price and volume expectations is appealing. Plus, there's some chance Beasley gets a few more routes this week, with Davis listed as questionable.

WR Isaiah McKenzie ($3,100) and TE Dawson Knox ($2,800) could also pick up some of the vacated snaps, and the latter is in play as a DFS option even if Davis suits up.

Last but not least, RB Devin Singletary ($4,500) get a good matchup after playing 84 percent of snaps in the divisional round, so he's one of our better backfield options this weekend even though the Bills aren't much for running the ball. Kansas City often dares opponents to run, but that could mean Allen more so than Singletary.

Here's the usage breakdown from last week:

    

Top plays: QB Josh Allen, RB Devin Singletary, WR Stefon Diggs, WR Cole Beasley

Secondary plays: WR John Brown, TE Dawson Knox

Usable in a stack: WR Gabriel Davis or Isaiah McKenzie

   

Kansas City Chiefs

The Bills have defended the pass better than the run, and that was certainly their focus back in Week 6, when they had six or fewer players in the box for 31 of Kansas City's 46 run plays, per The Athletic. The Bills seemingly wanted to play a slower game with fewer possessions, and while they succeeded on some level, they still gave up 3.25 points per drive.

Patrick Mahomes ($7,600) had only five incompletions in that first matchup, and he'll likely get far more than 26 pass attempts in the rematch. The price tag feels hefty on a slate with three other star QBs below $7,000, but there's always a solid chance Mahomes will be the high scorer of the group.

Apart from No. 15, we know Travis Kelce ($8,000) and Tyreek Hill ($7,200) will be huge pieces of the Kansas City offense. The rest is far more difficult to figure out, with the secondary options depending on the health of Watkins, Edwards-Helaire and Bell. Darrel Williams ($4,800) will be an A+ play if CEH is out again, but things get dicey if the rookie returns.

Anyway, here's the usage breakdown from last week, including the running backs:

    

Top plays: TE Travis Kelce

Secondary plays: WR Tyreek Hill, QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (maybe), RB Darrel Williams, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Mecole Hardman (maybe)

Usable in a stack: WR Demarcus Robinson, WR Byron Pringle (maybe)

     

Favorite BUF-KC stack: QB Allen + WR Diggs + WR Beasley + TE Kelce

     

Position-by-Position

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes ($7,600)

Josh Allen ($6,900)

Aaron Rodgers ($6,500)

Tom Brady ($6,100)

    

Running Backs

Aaron Jones ($6,500)

Leonard Fournette ($5,300)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5,000)

Darrel Williams ($4,800)

Ronald Jones ($4,600)

Devin Singletary ($4,500)

Jamaal Williams ($4,400)

    

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams ($8,000)

Tyreek Hill ($7,200)

Stefon Diggs ($7,000)

Mike Evans ($5,800)

Chris Godwin ($5,400)

John Brown ($4,300)

Allen Lazard ($4,200)

Cole Beasley ($4,100)

Mecole Hardman ($4,000)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,900)

Sammy Watkins ($3,800)

Demarcus Robinson ($3,700)

Scotty Miller ($3,400)

Byron Pringle ($3,200)

Isaiah McKenzie ($3,100)

Tyler Johnson ($3,000)

    

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce ($8,000)

Robert Tonyan ($3,600)

Rob Gronkowski ($3,200)

Cameron Brate ($3,000)

Dawson Knox ($2,800)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jerry Donabedian plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: jd0505, DraftKings: jd0505.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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