This article serves as a primer to the NFL DFS Conference Championship slate starting Sunday at 3:05 ET. Since there are only two games to choose from, we’ll be organizing the DFS recommendations somewhat differently this time around. The following categories will include:
Core Plays – priority picks you’ll want to try and squeeze into a lineup.
Bargain Considerations – cheap plays to help you make room for the core foundation.
Additional Notes – Talking strategy, tournament approaches, and other players who didn’t fit into the first two categories.
With that, let’s go ahead and dive into the breakdowns!
Drew Brees – QB – New Orleans
There’s some weather concern in Kansas City with bitter cold temperatures and winds with even more of a chill. That’s enough to have me focus on Drew Brees over Patrick Mahomes as the preferred QB option in this DFS slate. Brees has a comfortable home matchup against a Rams’ defense that was generous to Dak Prescott last Saturday. We all know the Saints QB typically performs better at home, including a beautiful 31.44 FP outing (346 yards w/ 4 TD) vs. LAR in the Superdome earlier this season. Brees should enjoy another productive day while trying to lift his team to the Super Bowl.
Michael Thomas – WR – New Orleans
I’m high on Drew Brees this weekend, which means I’ll be looking towards his favorite receiver as well. Remember how I mentioned Brees’ crazy-good day against the Rams earlier this season? Well, Thomas was the vessel to make that happen with an unbelievable 12-211-1 line on 15 targets. Rams CB Aqib Talib was not active for that game, but there’s a chance Thomas will mostly avoid coverage from the veteran if he continues to see some looks in the slot. No matter how you slice it, Thomas has the best potential of any receiver in this slate.
Damien Williams – RB – Kansas City
Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara have been great this season, but Damien Williams checks in as the running back I’m most excited about this weekend. It appears that Spencer Ware will return from a hamstring injury, but Williams should still dominate carries in the Kansas City backfield. He has been unbelievably efficient through the air and ground while hitting 22+ fantasy points in three of his past four outings. Operating within this explosive Kansas City offense gives him that level of upside on a weekly basis, and I’m expecting him to deliver on Sunday.
Travis Kelce – TE – Kansas City
This recommendation is more about opportunity cost than anything else. Kelce is far and away the best tight end on this two-game slate, and you’d be wise to make room for him in your lineup. The Chiefs’ tight end has seen at least nine targets in each of his past seven games. He hasn’t caught a touchdown in four straight games, but you can almost feel a blowup spot coming at some point in time. Make no mistake about it, Kelce has a fantastic floor/ceiling combination at a position that doesn’t offer much in either of those categories.
Ted Ginn Jr. – WR – New Orleans
Ginn is probably my favorite value play of this slate. I already outlined my preference of Drew Brees at quarterback, so it’s only natural to view his WR2 as a solid bargain asset. Ginn almost hauled in a deep touchdown early in last week’s game, and he presents that type of upside yet again. It’s comforting that he saw 15 total targets in each of his past two games, and he’s facing a Rams’ defense that allowed Dallas WR Michael Gallup to a big game on the perimeter last Saturday.
Phillip Dorsett – WR – New England
Josh Gordon is out of the picture, and Phillip Dorsett has stepped up for 5-34-1 and 4-41-1 over the past two games in his absence. Dorsett is still cheap on DFS sites, making him an interesting bargain commodity through all formats for this two-game slate. His opponent, Kansas City, ranks 31st against the pass this season, and there could be plenty of throwing attempts in this potential shootout. Dorsett is certainly on my cash game shortlist.
Sammy Watkins – WR – Kansas City
Watkins returned to the lineup for a productive 6-62 line on eight targets last week. He posted some big games for the Chiefs before succumbing to a foot injury in mid-November. Watkins should be ready to play another fairly significant role in a potentially high-scoring draw with the Patriots – who rank 22nd against the pass this season. New England is famous for taking away the most dangerous player of opposing offenses. Leaning into that theory, the Pats could dedicate more resources to stopping speedy WR Tyreek Hill. That would leave more openings for Watkins put up solid fantasy numbers.
Rob Gronkowski – TE – New England
If you don’t have enough salary to make Travis Kelce work, Gronkowski is the next best thing for a fraction of the cost. However, Gronk has been a flat-out “fantasy bust” this season with the exception of two games. As a result, his salary is very low while heading into a promising matchup against a Kansas City team that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. While selecting Gronkowski, you are essentially hoping he can find the end-zone while Travis Kelce doesn’t.
For more NFL DFS Bargain ideas, I recommend checking out Renee Miller’s article dedicated to uncovering those value sleepers.
My initial lineup strategy revolves around taking WR Michael Thomas and then loading up on those bargain pass catchers. However, let’s not forget about Rams’ WR Robert Woods if you have the cap space to make him work. There’s a chance LAR will pass more in this game while trying to keep pace with Brees and the Saints. If that’s the case, Woods could step up with a big game as their top receiver. Teammate Josh Reynolds is a cheap red-zone threat who would benefit from that game flow as well.
I’ve read several previews for this Rams-Saints matchup this weekend. Almost all of them mention how Los Angeles won’t be able to execute the run-heavy approach that lifted them to a win in the Divisional Round. But what if they do? That offensive line is playing fantastic at the moment, and C.J. Anderson has benefitted with 23+ fantasy points in three straight games. That includes a tough matchup against a Dallas team that was seemingly on par with New Orleans in terms of rushing defense. Anticipating a flip in game flow by taking Anderson (then Brees-Thomas-Ginn on the other side) makes for an interesting tournament strategy.
Are you ready for another tournament longshot? Take a close look at New England WR Chris Hogan. Fellow pass catcher Phillip Dorsett has stepped up over the past two games (see above), but Hogan has out-snapped him in each contest. It’s not hard to think Hogan could have the better fantasy effort of those two, and he’ll likely check in with a much lower ownership rate.