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Daily Games

Starting Points NFL DFS Conference Round

by Renee Miller
Updated On: January 14, 2020, 7:06 pm ET

You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.  

 

Tennessee at Kansas City, Total 52

Chiefs -7

This is my favorite day of football, because it’s usually as good as the Superbowl, but there’s twice as much of it. This year promises to be especially good as the Chiefs’ dominating offense takes on the won’t-go-away Titans. This is the highest point total we’ve seen in the playoffs, which makes sense as the Chiefs scored more points than anyone last week, and over two games, the Titans have scored the fifth-most points. Give a nod to Tennessee’s defense, which has allowed the second-fewest points in the playoffs so far. The two offenses profile as opposites: Kansas City succeeds through the air with Patrick Mahomes, while the Titans have been getting it done with Derrick Henry on the ground. Interestingly enough, the Chiefs excelled in pass defense this season, while allowing the third-most rushing yards per game and fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Meanwhile, the Titans were tough to run on – eighth-best rushing defense – but easier on opposing passers (they ranked 24th in passing yards allowed in the regular season). So the offensive strengths and defensive weaknesses of both teams are perfect matches. If everyone just does what they’re good at, we could have a high-scoring fantasy fiesta.

It’s no surprise that I have Mahomes as my favorite QB of the day, nor that both sites have him as the highest priced by a wide margin. Tennessee has been much better defensively in the playoffs, and a lot of people will be afraid to roster Mahomes after what Tennessee did to shut down the Ravens. BUT, Lamar Jackson still had a fantastic fantasy day, and he doesn’t have nearly the weapons that Mahomes does. Mahomes is easily the safest play here. I still like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, who was a beast through clear pain last Sunday, and you can expect to find Sammy Watkins in the bargain options again this week. I love what Mecole Hardman did Sunday and will probably do again, but unless you’re playing on a site that awards individual special teams efforts, he’s not getting enough action on offense to be useful. Damien Williams was a favorite bargain in the Divisional Round but his salary is no longer so easy to fit in. In fact, it’s downright difficult. Running back will be the sticking point of this small slate, for sure. 

If you’re a regular DFS player, you’re not rostering offensive players against your defense. Let’s detour for a moment to talk about your D/ST this Sunday. That strategy gets hard on a two game slate. Tennessee has the lowest team total, and the Chiefs and 49ers are at home, both around seven-point favorites. The Chiefs are most expensive, and Titans are least expensive on DraftKings, but on FanDuel, the teams are ordered according to their average fantasy points with San Francisco most expensive and Green Bay cheapest. I don’t feel very strongly about one team this week, so I’ll probably go with KC on FanDuel and San Francisco on DraftKings. Some exposure to all four defenses is smart if you’re making multiple lineups.

Even when I roster the Chiefs D/ST, can I fade Henry? No, I don’t think so. We don’t really have the luxury of fading a whole team in this round; they all have advantages or they wouldn’t be in this spot. The other Titan I’d consider is my crush, Jonnu Smith. He scored last week, which is something he could do a lot more if the Titans threw him the ball more often. In Weeks 14-16, where he saw just 4-5 targets per game, he managed double-digit half-PPR fantasy points each game. He’s a decent player to save on in the flex. As much as I like A.J. Brown, I’m down on the idea of Ryan Tannehill having a huge passing game for reasons indicated above. Plus at his third-fourth highest salary, I’m doing what I can to get Hill, Kelce or Davante Adams in ahead of him.

 

Green Bay at San Francisco, Total 45

49ers -7.5

Game two of this great double-header is a bit harder to read. Both teams have looked positively unstoppable and both teams have looked very beatable at times this season. The 49ers were the league’s second highest scoring team, while allowing opponents the eighth-fewest points per game. They are the best defense of the playoffs, after their one game. They are a team that likes to run the ball, but Jimmy Garoppolo can make the plays when needed. He’s the cheapest option this weekend, with a good team total backing him, but he’ll need to throw at least 2-3 TDs to make the savings worthwhile. The Packers were tough on opposing QBs this season, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position and ranking better against the pass than the run as well. As was the case in the AFC title game, we have to expect the 49ers to do what they do best against a more generous Packers run defense. So, my enthusiasm for saving on Garoppolo is limited. 

That unfortunately extends somewhat to George Kittle, who was clearly a target of Minnesota’s defensive plans, as he caught three dinky passes for just 16 yards total in the win. Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne were the leading receivers with about 40 yards apiece, and Emmanuel Sanders had only two targets, though he did catch both. If you’re wanting to roster a cheap piece of the 49ers offense, I don’t hate Bourne as the red-zone threat. He has six touchdowns on eight red zone targets this season. It’s crazy, but when defenses are guarding against the run and Kittle, he’s been more open than you’d think. I’d love to see a big game from Samuel or Sanders, I just don’t think the high-volume opportunity will be there. 

I’m going with the same strategy this week as last week: Either fade all three Niners running backs or hedge with all three. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Matt Breida was the big gainer this week, while Tevin Coleman is the guy with four meaningless touches. Or maybe it’s Raheem Mostert again; he was dealing with cramps in the win over Minnesota, which gave Coleman the green light after he proved effective on his first couple of carries. This team will ride the hot hand/legs. They just will…and everyone will get a shot at it. In fact, you could roster two of the three backs in a GPP lineup, since the hot hand there has been very, very hot this season and their combined low salaries allow you to pay up at QB and at least one other skill position. 

If you roster the Chiefs (or Titans) D/ST, you may want to anchor your lineup with Davante Adams. He’s the Packers’ best chance to move the ball against San Fran, after seeing how they quashed Dalvin Cook last week. Aaron Jones was great against the Seahawks, but we have to have reduced expectations of him coming into San Francisco. At least Jamaal Williams didn’t interfere with his work load…Williams saw just four touches total and didn’t do anything exciting with them. If you want to be a bit contrarian, Aaron Rodgers is my next favorite QB after Mahomes. Yes, it’s a bad situation, but his experience and innate ability override that. He’s likely to be pressed into reasonably high volume and he’s no stranger to it; in fact his lowest volume game came just this past Sunday (27 attempts). Twice in 2019 he was above 50 passes in a game, and he notched over 400 passing yards twice. Overall, the 300-yard game was a rarity for Rodgers this season, as he made his fantasy value on the basis of a high TD: INT ratio (28:4). The Packers had the second-fewest turnovers in the league this year, though that will be tested against this defense. Bottom line: the only Packers to trust this weekend are Adams and Rodgers. You can take your cheap TE chances on Jimmy Graham again if needed, but with Allen Lazard, Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Marquez Valdes-Scantling combining for three targets and one carry last week…I can’t recommend using any of the secondary receiving options.