Joe Burrow, Bengals Hard to Avoid for Championship DFS

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Conference Championship - For one final time this year, we have multiple games to cover, but with only four teams left, it does get a little thin on the ground. Use the game schedules to your advantage and be sure to swap late if more than one player busts in the early game. Likewise, if your low-rostered players hit in the early game, you can swap to more chalky players for the afternoon. For anyone wishing to play Showdown contests, I have included some suggestions at the bottom of this article on how to attack those games.


Joe Burrow $6800 at Kansas City Chiefs

At quarterback this week, there is one clear standout candidate who will likely be very chalky. Joe Burrow has scored over 20 points in five of his last seven appearances, and now faces a Kansas City Chiefs defense that ranks 20th against the pass in DVOA. Every other remaining defense ranks inside the top 12, and while the Chiefs have come along as the seasons progressed, that defense can still give up points to quarterbacks.

Usage Suggestions: Burrow is a fine play for cash games (double-ups and 50/50s), but in tournaments, we have to be very wary of how we roster him with many sites projecting him to be by far the highest rostered quarterback. If you're rostering Burrow in tournaments, you have to find some way to get different or your lineup won't stand a chance of climbing the leaderboard.

Jalen Hurts $7200 vs. San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers defense is second in weighted DVOA and as tough a matchup as the Eagles will have faced all season, but on the flip side of that the Eagles have the sixth-best offense in weighted DVOA and the Niners have rarely faced a dual-threat quarterback this year. In Week 1, San Francisco faced Justin Fields, but Week 1 Justin Fields was a far cry from the fantasy hero that he turned into from Week 6 onwards. Jalen Hurts has scored over 24 points in 10 of his 16 appearances this season and if the Eagles stay in this game, he'll likely be at the center of what works for them.

Usage Suggestions: Hurts makes for a fine tournament play and heavily stacking him with his pass-catchers is unlikely to be popular, but we have seen it be explosive at times this season and on such a small slate a decision like that might pay off.

Running Back

The two-game slate lends itself to paying down at running back and trying to cram in as many elite pass-catchers as possible. This will likely keep the rostership levels of Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon down somewhat. Because of that, lineups with both of those players might be uncommon and could provide leverage if you can find budget wide receivers to support it.

Jerick McKinnon $5400 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Chiefs spent much of the contest against Jacksonville playing with a lead of seven points or more and because of this Jerick McKinnon wasn't utilized quite as much as he had been in recent weeks. With the Bengals providing explosive opposition, this game looks set up for McKinnon to be involved more, and his targets should regress to the mean from the zero he had last week. When these two teams met in last year's playoffs, McKinnon played 78% of the snaps, and it won't be surprising if he sees a large workload this week.

Usage Suggestions: McKinnon is viable in all formats and can be considered for Showdown captain usage as well.

Samaje Perine $4500 at Kansas City Chiefs

In the two playoff games the Bengals have played so far, Samaje Perine is averaging 48.5% of snaps and had 12 total touches, including a perfect five catches on five targets. Joe Mixon is clearly the RB1, but on a small slate we're looking for leverage, and it could be that Perine provides that if he can find his way into the end zone. His case will be helped by the fact that the Chiefs rank 28th against running backs as receivers, and with the offensive line banged, up Cincinnati should be looking to get the ball out quickly often.

Usage Suggestions: this isn't a very secure play, but it's the kind that might win a tournament on a small slate. Sometimes we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Wide Receiver

As mentioned previously, this position is going to attract a lot of attention this week, and for good reason. Be mindful of the combinations you put together. If it feels easy to get three players you like in a roster, that's likely a very chalky combination and is fine for cash games but not tournaments.

Ja'Marr Chase $7600 at Kansas City Chiefs

The snow-affected game in Buffalo was the first time Ja'Marr Chase had less than 10 targets since Week 13, when he also had eight. This dip was the second time since Week 4 that Chase has had single-digit targets, and now the unquestioned WR1 of the Bengals faces a Chiefs defense that ranks 31st against WR1s, allowing the third-most yards to the position (81.2). Chase has scored nine touchdowns in his last nine games and has three postseason touchdowns through two years in the league. It's hard to find a stronger play this weekend.

Usage Suggestions: Chase will be popular and will also be a popular stacking option with Joe Burrow. Try to build out that stack with more unique options such as Samaje Perine or Hayden Hurst.

DeVonta Smith $6800 vs. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco ranks fourth in DVOA against WR1s but 18th against WR2s, and DeVonta Smith is a very talented WR2 who just finished the fantasy season as a WR1. Against the Giants, Smith led the team in targets with 10, which was four more than A.J. Brown had that day. Since Week 10, Smith has averaged 18.9 points, performing at a truly elite level.

Usage Suggestions: Smith can be used as an individual play or stacked with Jalen Hurts in what will be a less popular pairing compared to Ja'Marr Chase and Jue Burrow, but has just as high a ceiling.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling $3600 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Unless you have a league scoring system that rewards routes run, then Marquez Valdes-Scantling likely hasn't helped your fantasy team this season, but like it or not, the Chiefs keep him on the field often and seem to trust him out there more often than Kadarius Toney or Skyy Moore. Against the Jaguars, with Patrick Mahomes unable to get into a rhythm, Valdes-Scantling saw only two targets, but in his previous two games had 13 targets combined. With Valdes-Scantling playing as a deep threat, we only need one connection to potentially change the slate, and whilst it doesn't feel great, we shouldn't be averse to it.

Usage Suggestions: Tournaments only.

Tight End

Travis Kelce $7800 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

It shouldn't really need to be said that Travis Kelce is a good play, because week in and week out he delivers, including in the playoffs, where he has 12 touchdowns in his last 10 appearances dating back to 2020. When these two teams met in Week 13, Kelce was kept relatively quiet with four catches for 19 yards, but the Bengals did struggle against Kelce in the playoffs last year, allowing him to catch 10 of his 11 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. The No. 1 tight end in fantasy points, DYAR, and effective yards is always on the edge of breaking a slate.

Usage Suggestions: Kelce will more often be used as a bring-back on Bengals stacks than with Patrick Mahomes, whose injury issues will subdue his rostership. For those who are feeling brave, stacking them together could pay off handsomely.

Dallas Goedert $4100 vs. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers rank well against tight ends in fantasy points allowed, allowing the eighth-fewest this season, but what that fails to take into account is that the Niners have had an incredibly easy schedule against tight ends, playing Tyler Higbee and Noah Fant in their division and only facing tough opposition from Travis Kelce all season. The way the Eagles scheme Dallas Goedert into the game with screen passes should bode well for him.

Usage Suggestions: Goedert can be used for all formats, and while he doesn't have the same ceiling as Travis Kelce, the savings are significant.

Showdown Suggestions

With this slate giving us only four teams and two games to build from, it's worth considering playing some showdown contests. These are single-game contests where you choose a captain that scores 1.5 times the number of points they normally would, but you typically pay around 50% more than their normal salary for this luxury.

Generally speaking, wide receivers make for better captains than quarterbacks because if a quarterback is blowing up, it's likely that a wide receiver will be able to capture some of those points. Below are a few of my favorite showdown selections for this week, along with a few matchup details.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

DeVonta Smith is the clear favorite outside of Jalen Hurts for all the reasons detailed above. Using Smith in the captain spot with Hurts and Dallas Goedert in regular flex positions leaves $19,000 left of your salary.

Christian McCaffrey faces an Eagles team that is 24th against pass-catching running backs in DVOA and has as high a ceiling as any player on the slate. People tend to stay away from expensive choices as it forces them into unbalanced lineups where they have to spend down, but in doing that it's often easier to get more unique with your rosters.

Robbie Gould has scored 67 points in his last five games and only missed one kick in that period. People tend to underestimate the value of kickers in this format, but at only $4,400 Gould is a worthwhile option.

San Francisco ranks 30th against "other" wide receivers in DVOA, which makes Quez Watkins ($1,800) and Zach Pascal ($800) interesting fliers in this format.

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

Ja'Marr Chase and Travis Kelce should be the most popular captains here and for good reason, but paying down for another option might allow you to fit both of those players into a lineup.

Joe Mixon still remains the RB1 for the Bengals, and whilst his workload isn't as strong as possible, betting on him to pick up two touchdowns would result in him likely paying off in the captain spot.

Jerick McKinnon as captain, with Travis Kelce in the flex, allows you to capture a potential haul of Chiefs points whilst still having plenty of salary left over for whichever Bengals players take your fancy.


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