The Conference Championship games are finally here. We have two evenly matched games that both have respectable totals. No one should be surprised by any of these four teams winning as all four are worthy of not only winning this week, but the Super Bowl as well. With that said, I want to remind everyone the DFS breakdown is for GPP’s specifically and is a contrarian take on the DFS side of the slate. You can make a solid case for nearly every QB or DST on this slate but decisions need to be made. I consider all factors, including price tag, ceiling, and projected ownership, among other things.
Also, I will be playing light this Sunday. Like I mentioned with both of these teams being evenly matched, we can more or less throw some previous data out of the window. This is a big stage and players perform differently in this atmosphere. Some crumble, some step up to the plate and have the game of their life. I am going to go with the glaring numbers and players I have the most confidence in and with the belief both of these games will be well played, close games. At the same time, no one will be surprised if a 7th round rookie QB crumbles under the big lights. No one will be surprised if Joe Burrow gets sacked 8 times and can’t pull out a win. No one is shocked if Patrick Mahomes can’t run and is too hobbled to keep the game close. Lastly, no one is surprised if Jalen Hurts completely implodes if the run game gets stuffed and has the worst game of the season on Sunday. Play smart and keep it tight to the chest, anything can happen in these games.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles PHI -2.5 , O/U 45.5
The Philadelphia Eagles will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Championship Sunday, eight days after ripping the New York Giants apart in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This is going to be a matchup of the two best remaining rosters left in competition, in my opinion. The 49ers have a more talented skill position group while the Eagles bring the better QB and Offensive Line to the table. The Eagles have a solid defense but the 49ers have one of, if not the best in the NFL. I’m going to give the coaching nod to Kyle Shanahan schematically but in game decision making goes to Nick Siriani. I’m excited to watch these two powerhouses clash, now let’s dive in.
Brock Purdy put together another solid performance against a very good Dallas Cowboys defense last week. He completed 19 of his 29 passes for 214 yards with no scores or turnovers. No turnovers is the key for Purdy as his job is to just distribute the ball to his playmakers and not make any mistakes. If he can continue that in this game, the 49ers will have no issues. The Eagles have leaped to the top spot of Pass DVOA after smoking the New York Giants in the divisional round. However, since Week 12, including last week where Daniel Jones scored 5.8 points against them, the Eagles have given up 18.9 PPG to opposing QBs which would slide in as the 12th most in the NFL over that span. The Eagles defense is getting healthier but I fully expect them to have their hands full with the 49ers playmaking group. The Eagles are more vulnerable to the slot than perimeter WRs. Getting CJ Gardner-Johnson back from injury will certainly help this defense but I don’t think he will make as big of an impact when it comes to the production of Deebo Samuel as people will think. Deebo is a special talent and CJ Gardner-Johnson is more of a playmaker who preys on mistakes rather than a blanket cover safety. The Eagles slot corner, Avonte Maddox, has a chance to return in this game but that is up in the air at the moment. Even if he does, Maddox isn’t very good so it wouldn’t change anything for the 49ers. On the outside, the Eagles have two corners who are playing great football in Darius Slay and James Bradberry. I wouldn’t be shocked if Kyle Shanahan has found a flaw in their game to expose but I’m not banking on that, I’ll be shying away from Brandon Aiyuk and Juwan Jennings. George Kittle is always in play on small slates as his pure talent can break through at any moment. He had a stellar game against the Dallas Cowboys last week, catching all five of his targets for 95 yards, including two massive snags in pivotal moments to help the 49ers take down the Cowboys. If you decide to go with Purdy as your QB in DFS, I would pair him with both Deebo and either Kittle or McCaffrey but my main focus is on Deebo Samuel from this passing game on Sunday.
The Eagles are going to have a tough time on Sunday stopping the 49ers ground game. They rank 21st in Rush DVOA and gave up the 17th (21.3) most PPR points per game to the RB position since Week 12. Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell are both hobbled with lower body injuries according to the injury report but I’m not putting too much weight into that. I think both will be fine and we won’t see any difference in their production. Last week against the Cowboys, CMC ran the ball 10 times for 35 yards and a score while adding six receptions on eight targets for 22 yards. Mitchell ran the ball 14 times for 51 yards but didn’t see a target. Mitchell caught fire late and showed some serious burst to help put the game away for the 49ers in the 4th quarter. It is clear that the 49ers are going to get CMC involved early and often both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield. They will mix in Deebo Samuel running the ball too, a player who ran the ball four times for 11 yards against the Cowboys. I’m most interested in CMC’s 1+ TD prop and Deebo’s Rushing/Receiving line of 75.5 out of this backfield.
Jalen Hurts played a solid game last week against the New York Giants. Luckily he wasn’t asked to do much since they were up 28-0 at halftime and cruised to a 38-7 victory because he clearly didn’t look 100% to me. He only ran the ball for 34 yards on nine carries and routinely avoided contact. He completed 16 passes on 24 attempts for 154 yards and two scores. After an extremely soft schedule this season Hurts is going to have to bring his A game in this matchup, which will be his toughest to date. His performance is going to largely depend on the players around him. This offense is a schematically based system where it needs to stay in the system or else it will break down. I think the Eagles will neutralize this a little bit by coming out firing in this matchup, attacking the edges trying to create big plays to open up their run game rather than coming out and trying to jam it down the 49ers throats on the ground. This will bode well for both AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. Given the Eagles elite offensive line, they should be able to delay this pass rush enough for Hurts to get the ball to the edges where they should find success. Dallas Goedert doesn’t have anything special here in the matchup and would be a bet on talent and hope he gets in the endzone for DFS purposes. I’d rather play Kelce or Kittle or save the money with Hurst.
If the Eagles can’t run the ball, they’re in trouble. As good as the San Francisco 49ers pass defense is, their rush defense is even better. They enter this matchup as the 2nd best rush DVOA on the season behind only the Titans. Going back to the Eagles, the Eagles have the best rush DVOA offense in the NFL and just hammer opposing defenses relentlessly on the ground with their three headed RB attack and elite rushing QB. The winner of this game could come down to who wins in the trenches on this side of the ball. If the Eagles can get Miles Sanders going, the 49ers could be in some trouble. However, if they hold the ground game in check, Jalen Hurts could be in trouble. The last two times the Eagles faced elite rush defenses were Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys where Miles Sanders gutted out 65 yards on 21 carries, averaging only 3.1 YPC without a score. Next to that, they faced the Titans in Week 13 where Miles ran the ball 10 times for 24 yards and a score. Against the Titans, the Eagles blew them out 35-10 and Jalen Hurts was dominating their poor pass defense and against the Cowboys, Gardner Minshew was the QB so it wasn’t exactly the same scenario as what they’ll face on Sunday. However, in that game, the Eagles game planned above expectations on passing plays in neutral situations. So in that sense, I do expect the game plan to be passing the ball out of the gate, as I mentioned. I think the 49ers’ rush defense prevails here and Miles Sanders falls under his 50.5 rushing line and I would not play any of his props, rushing or receiving.
This is going to come down to the Eagles passing offense against the 49ers passing defense. If the Eagles can have their way in the air and rip off chunk plays consistently, they have a good chance to win this game. If they are struggling to maintain drives and have any costly turnovers, the 49ers will walk away with this win. Points will be scored and the final will be within one score. My favorite angle for this game is to tease SF to double digits and to play the over.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs KC CIN -1.5 , O/U 47.5
The Cincinnati Bengals are going into Kansas City with Vegas saying they are a better team than Kansas City. I am going to go against the grain with this game and I think the Chiefs pull off the victory. The Bengals have a good matchup on offense but the offensive line is going to pose more issues in this game than it did last week against the Bills. The Chiefs have an elite front four and pass rush. They are going to try and take away the short, rhythm plays from the Bengals offense and get after Joe Burrow. If they do that, it is unlikely Burrow is able to escape to extend plays like he did against Buffalo. On the flip side, Patrick Mahomes isn’t even limping. I think he is going to surprise a lot of people and go out there playing normal, unaltered football.
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals passing offense has left a lot to be desired from a fantasy production standpoint recently outside of Ja’Marr Chase and Hayden Hurst. Burrow hasn’t topped 250 yards since Week 16 and hasn’t thrown more than 2 TDs since that week either. He has scored 11.6, 21.3, and 20.8 over those three games and has been largely saved by his rushing contributions. This is fine because it is the playoffs, I fully expect Burrow to try and run in this game against the Chiefs. The last two weeks Burrow has run the ball 11 times for 40 yards and a score, good for 6.9 fantasy points in the Wild Card round and 3.1 against the Bills in the Divisional. Expect Burrow to get 30+ rushing yards against the Chiefs, a number that presents one of my favorite prop plays this weekend with his line currently sitting at 15.5. The Kansas City Chiefs have given up the 4th most rushing yards to opposing QBs since Week 12 on a per game basis with an average of 36 per game. Back when these two teams played in Week 13, Burrow ran the ball 11 times for 46 yards and a score, which is one of his best rushing performances of his career. In the air, I fully expect Burrow to have success in this one and get closer to 300 yards passing. His passing prop right now is 274.5 and I think there’s a better chance that he hits the over here than the under. Since Week 12, the Chiefs have given up the 5th most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs at 19.7 per game so I fully expect Burrow to outkick this and score 22+ for fantasy and have a ceiling well into the 30s. When these two teams played in Week 13, on top of the rushing line I just mentioned, Burrow threw the ball 31 times, completing 25 of them for 286 passing yards and two scores. Per usual, in that matchup Ja’Marr Chase was the go to WR for Burrow. Chase led the team with eight targets, catching seven of them for 97 yards. No other WR had a game worth mentioning except Boyd who went 4/60 on five targets but his reliable 3rd down back did have himself a nice game. Samaje Perine caught six of his seven targets for 49 yards. If I am stacking Joe Burrow, I am going with Chase over Higgins and mixing in either Hurst or Perine to compliment him.
Keeping pace with what the Bengals offense was able to accomplish in Week 13, Samaje Perine ran the ball 21 times for 106 scoreless yards while also seeing the receiving production I just mentioned above. I expect this production to basically be split down the middle with Joe Mixon getting 15-20 carries in this one, depending how long Cincinnati can sustain drives, with Perine seeing another 5+ targets. Last week I was on Joe Mixon having four plus receptions but all of the receiving work went to Perine who caught all five of his targets for 31 yards. It will be Perine who I go to here with as Perine has almost all of the third down work and he has all of the hurry up offense snaps. I envision this meaning a lot of dump off passes to Perine as Burrow evades the pass rush of the Chiefs and the Chiefs scheme to take away the chunk plays from Burrow. Of this backfield, I prefer Perine’s receptions line of 2.5 the most.
The talk of the week is Patrick Mahomes’ ankle. I’m in the camp that it won’t hinder his performance at all and if it does, it will be slight and unnoticeable. Since the talk of the town is the Bengals having a 3-0 record against Mahomes since Burrow came to town so let’s look at those three games. In the last three games against the Bengals, Mahomes has accumulated 757 passing yards on 68/101 passing with six TDs and two interceptions. In those games, he ran for 53 yards on seven carries with one rushing score. Mahome’s worst game against the Bengals came in this year’s matchup in Week 13 where he went 16/27 passing for 223 yards and a score with only nine rushing yards on two carries but that is where he got the rushing TD. In all three of these games, the Chiefs have had a fourth quarter lead, some larger than others, and the Bengals were forced to come back on offense while playing great defense at the same time. Mahomes doesn’t have a single second half passing touchdown in any of these three games. In the first matchup where the Bengals won 34-31, the Chiefs were up 28-17 at half, eventually only scoring six second half points. In the 2nd game, which was last year’s AFC Championship, the Chiefs were up 21-3 before Perine ripped off a 41 yard TD reception right before half to go into halftime 21-10. The Chiefs had a chance at a TD in this game as time expired at half, completing a pass to Jerick McKinnon with 3 seconds left for him to be tackled at the 2 yard line as time ran off the clock. They were 2 yards away from the score being 28-10 at halftime in this game. Ultimately, in the 2nd half and OT, the Bengals outscored the Chiefs 17-3 with Mahomes yet again unable to get in the endzone. Lastly, and the game that they played this year in Week 13, The Chiefs actually scored two second half TDs but one was a Pacheco 8-yard TD run on the opening 2nd half drive and the other was a Mahomes 3-yard TD run later on in the 3rd quarter, leaving the Chiefs with yet again no TD in the 4th quarter and Mahomes unable to throw any 2nd half TDs. The Chiefs were up again in this one 24-17 before the Bengals put up 10 4th quarter points to win. Mahomes’ passing yards prop of 273.5 looks about right to me and the edge I think I’m going to keep an eye on are his rushing props. As I mentioned, I don’t think he is going to be limited with his ankle injury but as of right now, the books are keeping it close to the chest and haven’t released his rushing line. What they have released is his rushing TD line of +800. In Mahomes’ 12 playoff games in his career, he has five rushing TDs and averaged 27.58 rushing yards per game even including his hobbled game last week. I think they shoot him up and wrap the shit out of his ankle and he won’t have any issues running the ball or navigating the pocket.
On the receiving end for the Chiefs, Travis Kelce is once again an elite play. Looping back to why we were on Kelce last week, he just simply gets peppered in high importance games. In last year’s AFC title game against the Bengals, Kelce was targeted 11 times, catching 10 of them for 95 yards and a score. I expect more of the same in this one. No WR spots for this Chiefs offense there is no one who sticks out matchup wise. The best bet I would make would be Marquez Valdes-Scantling to get over the top and burn Bengals CB, Eli Apple, on a double move, ripping off a reception over 18 yards. They are going to take a shot or two with him so he is going to have an opportunity and it only takes one to hit. Another off the wall dart would be Justin Watson. I’ll be keeping an eye on his receiving yards line but he has had at least one target every game this year, pulling in at least one reception in each of the last three games for gains of 27, 67, and 12. Watson is an oversized burner at 6’4” and can take the top off of the ball.
On the ground, the Bengals play consistent and tough defense stopping opposing RBs. Since Week 12, they have only given up 3.6 YPC which is the 3rd lowest in the NFL, followed by giving up the 8th fewest (18.6) PPR PPG to opposing backs and only 4 receptions to backs per game which was 9th fewest in the NFL over that stretch. If you bet on this backfield, it would have to be the rushing aspect from Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco has proved over the last half of the season he isn’t going to be just a flash in the pan. He looks like he is shot out of a cannon everytime he touches the ball and his production has backed it up. He has run for at least 58 yards in every game except one (Week 17) since becoming the starter in Week 10. His running mate, Jerick McKinnon was essentially nonexistent against the Jaguars last weekend. McKinnon ran the ball 11 times for only 25 yards and didn’t see a single target. Last week I was on McKinnon because of the matchup mixed with target counts of 9, 8, 3, 6, and 3 the previous five games. However, the matchup this week isn’t a good one so if you bet on McKinnon, you are betting purely on talent and Andy Reid scheming plays for McKinnon. I’m likely going to stay away from McKinnon in this matchup.
I think the Chiefs win in a high scoring, back and forth game. The best edge in this one would be to see who jumps out in front first and then bet the losing team at the time for the juiced spread and plus moneyline. I think this will be the Chiefs getting out to an early lead so teasing the Chiefs points up to double digits and then looping back to the Bengals with a live bet to middle it is a path I probably go. The Chiefs defensive front is exponentially more talented than the front the Bills tossed out there last week and I think it will be a different maker towards the end of the game.
NFL Rank in PPR PPG Allowed Per Position (Weeks 12-20):
- KC (19.7)
- PHI (18.9)
- CIN (16.4)
- SF (15.5)
- PHI (21.3)
- KC (20.1)
- CIN (18.6)
- SF (15.2)
- SF (18.1)
- CIN (12.9)
- KC (12.3)
- PHI (8.3)
- SF (21.1)
- PHI (19.3)
- CIN (16.9)
- KC (15.4)
- CIN (14.3)
- PHI (12.1)
- KC (12.1)
- SF (11.1)
NFL Rank in PPR PPG Allowed Per Position (Weeks 1-20):
- KC (19.8)
- SF (14.8)
- CIN (14.7)
- PHI (14.4)
- KC (22.9)
- PHI (22.3)
- CIN (20.3)
- SF (16)
- SF (15.1)
- KC (12.8)
- CIN (10.3)
- PHI (9.4)
- SF (21.2)
- KC (20.6)
- CIN (18.8)
- PHI (18.6)
- CIN (12.8)
- KC (12.1)
- PHI (10.8)
- SF (10.2)
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals – $6,800/8,300)
Brock Purdy (San Francisco 49ers – $5,300/6,900)
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs – $/$8,500)
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles – $7,200/$9,200)
Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers – $8,000/$9,000)
Samaje Perine (Cincinnati Bengals – $4,500/$5,300)
Isaiah Pacheco (Kansas City Chiefs – $5,300/$6,300)
Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals – $6,500/$8,100)
Jerick McKinnon (Kansas City Chiefs – $5,400/$6,500)
Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals – $7,600/$8,600)
AJ Brown (Philadelphia Eagles – $7,000/$8,000)
Deebo Samuel (San Francisco 49ers – $5,700/$7,000)
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati Bengals – $3,800/$5,300)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Kansas City Chiefs – $3,600/$5,100)
Trenton Irwin (Cincinnati Bengals – $3,000/$4,700) *Draftkings
Justin Watson (Kansas City Chiefs – $3,000/$4,600) *Fanduel
Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs – $7,800/$8,500)
Hayden Hurst (Cincinnati Bengals – $3,000/$5,400)
George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers – $5,200/$6,800)
Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia Eagles – $4,100/$6,400)
San Francisco 49ers ($3,000/$4,100)
Philadelphia Eagles ($2,800/$4,600)
Kansas City Chiefs ($2,500/$4,200)
Cincinnati Bengals ($2,300/$4,000)