DraftKings NFL: Conference Championship Breakdown

DraftKings NFL: Conference Championship Breakdown

This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.

After some incredible games last weekend, the NFL playoffs are down to four teams. Cincinnati travels to Kansas City for a 3 p.m. EST kickoff that's followed by San Francisco at Los Angeles at 6:30. The Chiefs are 7.5-point favorites in a game that features a rather large 54.5-point total. The Rams are 3.5-point favorites and that matchup has a 45.5-point total. Considering the nine-point disparity in totals, the Chiefs-Bengals game will be the more popular target. The Chiefs will be especially chalky with their 31-point implied team total and their stars coming off massive performances against the Bills last week. My plan is to stack that game with a one-off or two from the Rams or 49ers. Doing the opposite would be an easy way to be contrarian and get some leverage. 

QUARTERBACK

Patrick Mahomes ($7,400) has looked back to his best as he's put up massive DK scores of 43 and 41 points in consecutive games. It's also encouraging that he rushed for for a season-high 69 yards last week. He's averaged 30-plus rushing yards and has ran for five TDs in 10 postseason games. He'll be the most popular QB on the slate, and rightly so. Despite being sacked nine times and not throwing a TD pass, Joe Burrow ($6,600) was impressive again last week as he threw for 348 yards. He's thrown for at least that amount in four of his last six games for the rapidly improving Bengals. The KC-CIN matchup is far more appealing than LAR-SF, in my opinion. The total is much higher and so is the likelihood of a shootout. While there are reasons to roster all four QBs, it's only Mahomes and Burrow for me. 

If I was going to roster a QB from the Rams-49ers game, it'd be Matthew Stafford ($6,300). Fresh off torching the Bucs for 32 fantasy points, he looks more like the player who was midseason favorite for MVP than the one who struggled at times down the stretch. He threw three TDs against the 49ers when the two teams met in Week 18. Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,400) led an improbable comeback in that game to secure a playoff birth. His salary is cheap and he'll be the least popular at the position. Those are legitimate reasons to take a chance on him, but I won't. He's scored more than 20 fantasy points just once in his last 10 games. 

WIDE RECEIVER + TIGHT END

There isn't much else to say about Cooper Kupp ($8,800) except that he's consistently been the best player in DFS this season. He's coming off nine catches for 183 yards and a TD against the Bucs last week. His salary was all the way up to $9,700 when the Rams played the 49ers in Week 18. Kupp had 118 yards in that game and 122 yards in the Week 10 game. He feels like a bargain for anything less than $9K. Tyreek Hill ($7,000) is also a bargain as we saw him priced higher than $8K for most the season. He busted out of a mini slump last week with 11 catches for 150 yards and a TD. I prefer him over Deebo Samuel ($7,200) in that range as I prefer targeting the Chiefs. Samuel is still a worthy option, however. He has 10 carries in consecutive games and eight rushing TDs in his last 10. That dual-threat ability and touchdown equity gives him ceiling potential in any matchup. It's hard not to like Ja'Marr Chase ($6,700). He's topped 100 yards receiving in four of his last five games and his salary has dropped to less than $7K for the first time in that span. He crushed the Chiefs for a whopping 266 yards and three scores when the Bengals beat them in Week 17. I'll be rostering him and Hill most in this range.

Looking cheaper, Tee Higgins ($5,700) had seven catches for 96 yards last week. While somewhat inconsistent, he's shown a ceiling this season and could stand to benefit if Kansas City's defense puts an emphasis on limiting Chase. This should be a great spot for the Bengals passing game and I plan on having at least one of their WRs on every lineup. Odell Beckham ($5,100) continues to trend in the right direction. He caught six of eight targets last week and has a TD in six of his last nine games. He makes a lot of sense as a pivot off Cooper Kupp. On the other hand, he's cheap enough to be paired with Kupp and Stafford in Rams stacks. I prefer rostering him as a one-off, with most of my exposure coming from the Chiefs-Bengals game. 

The cheapest WRs that I have somewhat of an interest in are Byron Pringle ($4,300) and Tyler Boyd ($4,200). Pringle has clearly established himself as the No. 2 WR. He's drawn at least seven targets in three consecutive games and has three TDs in that span. Boyd has caught a TD in four of his last five games. Although he hasn't topped 36 yards in any of his last three, the game script sets up favorably. If the Bengals' offensive line struggles again and Burrow is under pressure, Boyd could see a few extra targets in the slot. 

Moving to tight end, Travis Kelce ($6,500) is still priced at a bargain. His $6,500 salary is the cheapest that he's been all season. He's caught six TDs in his last five games and has put up 20-plus fantasy points in both playoff games. George Kittle ($5,000) continues to see his salary fall, likely because he's gone six games without a TD and has only put up double digit DK points once in his last five. The cheap price tag has me interest but I still prefer the TEs in the more appealing KC-CIN matchup. Tyler Higbee ($3,700) has drawn at least seven targets in three of his last four games and  his salary has also fallen to a season low. The 49ers have been good against TEs, but nevertheless Higbee has three TDs in two games against them this season. I prefer the Rams side of that matchup from a DFS perspective, and it's nice that Higbee is so cheap. C.J. Uzomah ($3,400) is arguably an even better bargain. He's drawn at least six targets in six of his last seven games and yet DraftKings refuses to raise his price. He was one of Burrow's favorite targets last week as he caught seven passes for 71 yards. He'd provide a useful safety valve if the Bengals can't handle the pass rush and he has decent touchdown equity as well. 

RUNNING BACKS

Joe Mixon ($6,800) continues to be more involved in the passing attack as he's caught at least six passes in three of the last four games. Based on that expected volume and the high total in the Bengals-Chiefs game, he's the top projected RB from a raw points perspective. Elijah Mitchell ($5,900) has seen 20-plus touches in seven consecutive games. The Rams defense has been stingy against the run, especially in the playoffs. The volume makes him a viable a viable option but the matchup has me looking elsewhere. Cam Akers ($5,000) is expected to be the most popular player at the position because he's cheap and had 27 touches last week. The matchup against San Francisco isn't great and it's concerning that Akers lost two fumbles last week. It's at least possible Sony Michel ($4,600) sees a bit more work as a result. It might make sense to take a chance on Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5,300). He'll be considerably less popular and arguably has more touchdown equity considering that the Chiefs have a 31-point implied total. He had seven carries for 60 yards and caught one of two targets last week in his return from a shoulder injury. Expect him to be slightly more involved this week. Jerick McKinnon ($5,100) is probably the safer option. He played the majority of snaps and caught at least five passes for the second straight game. He also has decent touchdown upside, as would any RB playing in such a potent offense. I have the most interest in Mixon and the Chiefs, followed by Akers. 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

The Chiefs ($3,000) have the highest projection and are expected to be the most popular, likely because they're the biggest favorite and Joe Burrow was sacked nine times last week. The Chiefs sacked him four times in the Week 17 matchup. I'd rather roster the Rams ($3,200) or 49ers ($2,800). Both teams have great defensive lines and both Stafford and Garoppolo have been mistake-prone at times. Stafford notably threw pick-sixes in three consecutive games earlier in the season. Garoppolo isn't fully healthy and he hasn't thrown a TD or topped 200 passing yards in either of two playoff games. If forced to chose one, give me Nick Bosa and company plus the $400 salary savings. I have no interest in the Bengals ($2,600) against Patrick Mahomes

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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Belongia
Ryan has a background in accounting, finance and poker. He's been playing DFS full-time since 2018. A multiple-time King of the Pitch finalist, Ryan's been ranked inside the Top 5 on the RG Soccer Leaderboard for three years running. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved to London in 2019 for the futbol.
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