Lock Davante Adams and Travis Kelce into your DFS lineups and build out the rest of your Championship Sunday lineup from there
We are going to switch up the format a little bit for my NFL Championship Sunday daily fantasy (DFS) picks. Frequent readers of this column know that we usually go position by position, highlighting one "safe" pick and one "high risk/high reward" pick. However, with only two games to choose from, the recommendable options are a bit more limited.
However, that doesn't mean we can't put together a roster to help you win a few greenbacks. The Chiefs will host the Bills in a game in which Patrick Mahomes was just recently cleared to play. I did like Chad Henne, but let's just say we all know that Mahomes playing causes us to like Kansas City's chances to win a whole lot more. Either way, expect the members of Bills Mafia to be on the edge of their seats.
Over on the NFC side, we have No. 1 seed Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers hosting Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Talk about a made-for-TV special! Mother Nature of course might have her own interest in that game. Temperatures are supposed to be below freezing and there's a chance there could be some snow mixed in. The hype will be about the quarterbacks, but it could be about which defense has the best game and that will need to be weighed when considering our DFS lineups.
I have tried to include players from all four teams for both your FanDuel and DraftKings lineups this week. I might even include a Yahoo! option or two. But let's dive into these Championship Sunday DFS picks.
NFC Championship Game
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at Green Bay Packers (51.5 O/U), 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX
You really can't talk about this game without discussing your league MVP, Aaron Rodgers. (Sorry Chiefs fans). So we might as well start there.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Tampa Bay (DK $6500, FD $8700)
Perhaps the Pack should have bypassed a WR and picked Rodgers' potential replacement a few years ago! Rodgers is a man on a mission, and I'm not sure he's going to let any defense stand in his way, especially one that gave up the 11th-most fantasy points to QBs this year. Rodgers does not bring the same scrambling ability to the table that Josh Allen does, but there's a reason he's the favorite to win his third MVP award. Actually, there are 48 of them, which also is the number of touchdown passes he had in the regular season compared to just FIVE interceptions. That's three touchdowns a game. He actually matched that last week against the Rams thanks to a rushing touchdown to go with his two through the air, and keep in mind that was against the Rams, the No. 1 defense in the league. He may not have lit up Los Angeles' defense yardage-wise (296 passing), but consider his performance the approximate floor of what to expect on Sunday. He is on a mission.
Should Rodgers have the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, there are obviously a few other sets of hands that will help him get there.
Davante Adams vs. Tampa Bay (DK $8000, FD $8900)
Adams has been matchup-proof all season. Adams has been the filet mignon of wide receivers this year. He was not the No. 1 fantasy scorer at his position, but that was because he missed a couple of games that some of his peers like Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs did not. On a per-game basis, no WR was better this year. Adams is, of course, priced to match that studliness. But he also has the best matchup by far of any other WR playing on Sunday. Kansas City, Buffalo, and Green Bay were all among the stingiest defenses when it came to giving up fantasy points to WRs. Then there's Tampa Bay, who didn't even crack the top 20 as only 10 other teams gave up more fantasy points to WRs this year. Adams is a lock at WR.
However, this is not going to be a 51-0 game. So, yes, there are few other players I like on the other sideline.
Rob Gronkowski at Green Bay (DK $3200, FD $5200)
Gronk has one more catch during these playoffs than Darren Waller, George Kittle, and T.J. Hockenson combined. I'll remind you that the teams of those three are not in the playoffs. However, Gronk does still have six targets the last couple of weeks, including what would have been a touchdown if the pass hadn't gone off his fingertips. Recall that from Week 6 to Week 16, he had seven touchdowns. Given the natural connection that Gronk has with Tom Brady, I think it's fair to say that Gronk is due. Of all the TEs left in the playoffs not named Travis Kelce (more on him in a bit), you are just hoping for a touchdown. I'll take the one with 86 in his career, please.
I might have left things there as far as Tampa Bay players go, but then the internet exploded with this news:
Bucs’ Antonio Brown to miss NFC Championship Game with knee injury https://t.co/dmhVc3jgTq— Sports by Tampa Bay Times (@TBTimes_Sports) January 22, 2021
Scotty Miller at Green Bay (DK $3400, FD $4900)
With Antonio Brown out, every Bucs WR becomes a little more valuable. Miller would have likely seen just a couple of targets, but likely will now get the half a dozen or so targets he saw before Brown came to town. And if sees more than a half-dozen targets, I'd expect him to score as well. Not saying there's causation there, but both times he saw more than half a dozen targets, he scored. He has also scored when he sees less too. But if you're looking for a real punt play, see if Justin Watson is active for this game. He's a Hail Mary shot, but at one point head coach Bruce Arians said that Watson could be the Bucs' WR3 this year. Don't be surprised if Arians incorporates Watson into a few plays.
One last suggestion for this game before we head to the night game.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Can we agree that all four of these offenses are pretty good? There is no such thing as a good DST play this week. Most would usually spend down in that situation. At least those who are prudent would. But I'm not a prude! I live for the thrill; nothing ventured, nothing gained, or YOLO for younger folks. So I'm gonna spend up and grab Green Bay (DK $3600, FD $4400). Yet this is not some reckless whim. If I had to bet on one offense to do poorly, it would be one team that didn't win its division. Yes, a team from Florida, playing in freezing Green Bay, with a California boy behind center whom I know some of you forgot that he has trouble counting to four...
Tom Brady didn’t know he’d just thrown a game-ending incompletion on fourth down ð±ð¤¦âï¸ pic.twitter.com/4Kzv8dykGd— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) October 9, 2020
Okay, that was a cheap shot. But the point is of the four teams playing Sunday, the Bucs are the one whose offense I trust the least. Therefore, I'm taking the opposing defense.
AFC Championship Game
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (53.5 O/U), 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS
Josh Allen vs. Kansas City (DK $6900, FD $8500)
It was the Confucious-like Ric Flair who said, "To be the man you gotta beat the man." Well, if Allen is going to be the man, he will have to do so by knocking off the defending champs. And it's cliche, but one way to do it is "not settle for field goals." And Josh Allen's red-zone numbers are even better than I suspected:
Josh Allen 2020 Red Zone Stats
- 45 completions, 60 percent completion rate
- 268 yards, 20 TDs, 0 INT
- 23 rushing attempts, 45 yards, 7 TDs
- 27 total TDs, 313 total yards
For comparison purposes, Patrick Mahomes had 23 TD passes in the red zone to go along with two INTs. Besides Allen compiling better cumulative numbers, he also had a better completion rate. And I'll try not to give you a heart attack, but you might be surprised to find out that there is a very high correlation between red-zone success and fantasy scoring. And given that we can get Allen cheaper than both Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, I'll gladly take the guy who is more likely to run it in for six. Rodgers and Mahomes might be better passers than Allen currently is. But Allen is not far behind, and his rushing makes him the more far more valuable fantasy asset.
Devin Singletary at Kansas City (DK $4500, FD $5800)
If Davante Adams is filet mignon, Singletary is whole wheat bread. I try to avoid it. I'll take a good rye every time, perhaps a nice sourdough, even a simple ciabatta. But the truth is if I was starving and the only thing available was wheat bread, yes, I'd be scarfing down a whole wheat bread sandwich. Because the options at running back in this game are quite limited. You feel good about anyone in Kansas City's backfield getting meaningful carries? I don't. Suddenly, Singletary looks like a very tasty option.
Zack Moss isn't playing. T.J. Yeldon had two rushes (for all of four yards) last week. This backfield is all Singletary's. Unlike any other backfield situation this weekend, this lead back should get at least 90 percent of the carries, possibly 100 percent. And I suspect that the Bills are going to try and keep the Chief's high-powered offense off the field as much as possible. And the best way to do that is to run the ball. I would not be surprised to see Singletary get close to 20 carries. And this is a great matchup. The Chiefs are 16th in pass DVOA, but 31st in rush DVOA! They might be the first Super Bowl winner to have a rush DVOA that low. Throw in the fact that we can roster Singletary for less than $5K and $6K respectively this week, and he should definitely help us make some bread!
While we are talking about Singletary, let's talk about some of the RB options this week...
Other RB options?
If you have the salary space, spend up and grab Aaron Jones for eight grand. But knowing in advance that I won't have the salary space to squeeze in Jones in my primary lineup, I will have to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, as of submission, there was still too much that is unknown about the other backfields. If Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out, I'll likely grab Darrel Williams. But the current situation is clear as mud:
Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire limited in practice and another running back sits out https://t.co/I6YRhlbroi— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) January 21, 2021
Limited practice = limited suggestions. And the Tampa Bay situation is not much better. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II have nearly equal snap counts this year. Even Green Bay's Jones has seen his snap count percentages ebb and flow. Should the Packers find themselves leading by a sizeable margin, I don't think we will see Aaron Jones toting the rock much late in the game. The sneaky GPP play might be to punt the second RB slot and pray that a Jamaal Williams or AJ Dillon or Ke'Shawn Vaughn makes a surprise house call. We will know more on Sunday. But at this moment, I'm basically bypassing the RB position and spending up on my receiving options.
Okay, back to the options I like in this game.
Mecole Hardman vs. Buffalo (DK $4000, FD $5300)
Let me count. One, two, three... nine, ten, eleven. There are 11 wide receivers more expensive than Hardman on FanDuel this week and 10 more on DraftKings. Ya think there might be some profit opportunity here perhaps? I am positive there is some doubting Thomas out there who thinks that Hardman ever gets the ball. Really? Yes, we know Tyreek Hill is the clear No. 1 receiver on the Chiefs. But you know which Kansas City wideout had the second-most targets this year? Hardman. Do you know which WR had the second-most receiving yards? Hardman. Second-most WR touchdowns behind Hill? Hardman. Second-highest yards per catch? Wait for it... that's right, Hardman again. Do I think Hardman is going to outproduce WR1s like Stefon Diggs and Mike Evans? Heck no. But he's a whole lot cheaper. And do I think Hardman can outproduce some of the slightly more expensive options like teammate Sammy Watkins and the absurdly priced Allen Lazard? Yes. Yes, I do.
Travis Kelce vs. Buffalo (DK $8000, FD $8600)
Yes, it's the obvious play. But that doesn't mean it is the wrong one. In fact, I feel stupid telling you all the reasons why Kelce is a great play. I think we all know them. Ok, fine, perhaps you didn't know the Buffalo gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs this year. But did you really need another reason to play Kelce?
Good luck with your Championship Sunday DFS picks!
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.