With only four teams remaining in the NFL postseason, I probably can't get this week's rankings too terribly wrong. I'm sure faithful Rotoworld readers will let me know what I've missed though.
Below are my ranks, along with some thoughts on how one might stack the conference championship games in DraftKings and FanDuel contests. More than ever, DFS players should consider what the field might do before going in on certain players, team stacks, or game stacks.
Championship Week Rankings
1. Stefon Diggs
2. Davante Adams
3. Tyreek Hill
4. Chris Godwin
5. Mike Evans
6. John Brown
7. Allen Lazard
8. Antonio Brown
9. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
10. Sammy Watkins
11. Cole Beasley
12. Gabriel Davis
13. Mecole Hardman
Championship Week DFS Stacking Options
Bills (+3) @ Chiefs
Everything in this game, of course, hinges on Patrick Mahomes clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol this week. If he somehow can’t, Chad Henne will start for KC and turn Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce into risky contrarian options. For the sake of making my job a little easier, we’re going to assume Mahomes gets through the protocols and plays against Buffalo, bum toe and all.
Vegas seems confident Mahomes will suit up, as KC -- a three-point favorite -- has a 28-point implied total. The Mahomes-Hill-Kelce stack is obviously in play (again) against Buffalo, though you’ll likely have to roll with a low-cost run-back option. Using Stefon Diggs alongside the KC megastack leaves you with just enough salary to fill out a usable -- if volatile -- DFS roster. Hill and Kelce, by the bye, accounted for 49 percent of the Chiefs’ targets this season. KC’s target tree is wonderfully (or terribly) narrow.
Darrel Williams should be considered as part of a big, old-fashioned KC stack if Clyde Edwards-Helaire is once again sidelined. Williams has out-snapped Le’Veon Bell 101-31 in two meaningful games with CEH on the shelf. The short slate and the outing of the secret that Williams is the preferred option over Bell means Williams should have plenty of usage in DFS lineups this week. He could correlate well with Mahomes after he ran 30 pass routes to Bell’s seven routes last week against the Browns.
Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis are the two most prominent non-Diggs run-back options with a KC stack. Both guys are dealing with nagging ailments -- Beasley with a knee injury and Davis with some kind of ankle issue -- so keep an eye on practice reports late in the week. Beasley, who’s far more appealing on DraftKings with its full PPR scoring, has run far more pass routes than Davis (61 to 37) over the team’s two postseason contests, with both receivers drawing eight targets.
Davis saw decent usage heading into the postseason, commanding at least five targets in each of the Bill’s final four games. A shootout in the AFC title game would give Davis a shot to see solid opportunity if the Bills continue to deploy four wideout sets. Beasley, meanwhile, only saw two targets last week against the Ravens, playing at something well under 100 percent. It was a down game for the entire Buffalo passing attack, but it’s hard to imagine Beasley getting back to full health this postseason. Beasley caught four balls for 45 yards and a score when these teams faced off in October.
Devin Singletary is still the best per-touch value on this week’s DFS slate. I’m not sure that matters much even though he’s the only running back left in the pass-heavy Buffalo offense. When the Bills played KC in October, Singletary saw ten carries and Zack Moss had six totes -- workloads that constitute a run-heavy approach for the Bills Offense. Singletary’s value is probably best found in the screen game: he ran 33 pass routes last week -- the most among all running backs in the divisional round -- and caught all three of his targets. That makes Singletary stackable with Josh Allen, if you go with a Buffalo-heavy stack.
A Buffalo mega-stack might look something like this: Allen paired with Diggs, one of Beasley or Davis, and Dawson Knox. Why Knox, who had a meager two grabs last week? Because KC is a sneaky decent matchup for tight ends, allowing the eighth most tight end receptions this season on 7.38 tight end targets per game. Knox could see a target bump if Davis is sidelined. You could do worse.
Bucs (+3.5) @ Packers
There’s not a whole lot to take away from Tampa’s Week 6 drubbing of the Packers. Green Bay’s offense collapsed after taking a 10-0 lead against the Bucs in Tampa. That same Packers Offense has looked razor sharp of late, most recently slicing and dicing an elite Rams Defense that looked like a nightmare matchup for Aaron Rodgers and company. Not so much.
Expect a pass-heavy game plan for Green Bay, which sports the ninth highest pass rate in neutral situations and (likely) won’t run into the teeth of the league’s most dominant run defense. Look for Rodgers to have plenty of run-pass options as he did last week against LA. If the Bucs defend against Green Bay the same way they did in October, they’ll maintain a heavy box and look to pressure Rodgers, who faltered against the Bucs’ blitz in Week 6, completing five of 16 throws for 48 yards and two picks when Tampa blitzed. The Packers can -- and should -- make adjustments this week just as they did in the Divisional Round, when Rodgers faced pressure on just 24 percent of his drop backs. The Bucs’ pass rush isn’t quite as fierce as it was in the first half of the season, seeing a 10 percent drop in pressure rate in the second half of 2020.
Rodgers could very easily have his way with an exploitable Tampa secondary if he doesn’t succumb to pressure from the Bucs front seven. Tampa’s defense was the ultimate pass funnel unit during the regular season. Almost 75 percent of yards gained against Tampa’s defense came through the air, the highest rate in the league. That should make pairing Rodgers with two (or three) wideouts a viable strategy in lineups centered on the NFL Championship Game. Matquez Valdes-Scantling, as per usual, is the best, lowest cost, high-volatility receiver option who profiles as a massive difference maker if Green Bay leans on their aerial attack.
Aaron Jones could always save his fantasy day with another long run or a goal line carry or two, but he remains a risky, high-priced proposition who saw just 43 percent of the team’s rushing attempts last week. That prevailing thought could make Jones an ideal contrarian option, so maybe disregard that analysis. Or don’t. It’s hard to say. Jamaal Williams would become a no-brainer punt play at running back if AJ Dillon -- hampered by a quad injury he suffered in the Divisional Round -- is out against Tampa. Williams is just a week removed from seeing a dozen carries against the Rams.
Another option -- maybe a better one -- would be stacking Tonyan with Rodgers and a Green Bay receiver. Tonyan in Week 6 against the Bucs caught three of four targets and ran a healthy 26 pass routes while Marcedes Lewis ran 10 routes. The Bucs, who allowed the seventh most receptions to tight ends in the regular season, saw tight ends average 7.5 targets per game against them this year. No one can replace Kelce’s production, but Tonyan is the highest-ceiling Kelce fade if you can’t fit in the dominant KC tight end.
It’s not like Ronald Jones was relegated to emergency backup last week against LA. Jones had 13 carries, just four fewer than lead back Leonard Fournette. If Jones is over his quad injury headed into the NFC title game, no one would be stunned to see him lead the Tampa backfield in rushing attempts against a Packers Defense that gave up the eighth most fantasy points to running backs in 2020. And that could make him a screaming value since Fournette is priced $1,600 higher on FanDuel and $700 higher on DraftKings. I think Jones -- assuming he plays -- is the most mispriced player of the week on FanDuel.
Yes, Brate has had superior usage and results over Tampa’s past two games, but that has plunged Gronk’s DFS price point to an almost ridiculous level (he’s $4,800 less than Kelce on DraftKings and $3,400 less on FanDuel). One of Gronkowski and Brate, who take on a Packers Defense that was decidedly tough against tight ends in 2020, could be in for plenty of looks if the Bucs’ Week 6 demolition of the Packers is any indication. Gronk in that contest caught five of eight targets for 78 yards and a touchdown, running 22 routes to Brate’s 11. Their roles have certainly changed, meaning Brate will probably have double -- maybe triple -- the ownership Gronk will have in DFS contests this week. The idea that Gronkowski could outproduce Brate this week is hardly absurd. We're a week removed from Gronk running three more pass routes than Brate and dominating tight end snaps -- 76 percent to 40 percent for Brate.
Chris Godwin is likely the best stacking option alongside Tom Brady in this game. Assuming the Packers continue to play two-deep coverages like Cover-4, Godwin -- who caught five of seven targets in Week 6 against the Pack -- should lead all Bucs pass catchers in targets against Green Bay, running his highly effective option routes in the middle of the field. The hope is Godwin finds a cure for his case of stone hands in time for the NFC Championship Game. Starting a DFS lineup with Brady, Godwin, a Bucs tight end, Adams, and Lazard or MVS could have legs.