Jeff Mans guides us through all things playoff fantasy football. Whether it be league play or DFS action for the Championship Round, be prepared to add to that bankroll!
As the field narrows week after week, the line between winning and losing becomes thinner and thinner. In the first week of the playoffs, we put the barrel of the bat directly dead center and hit it out of the park. Last week, we made solid contact but came up short in our trip around the bases. As I have said many times during DFS NFL in the postseason over the years, you need to be perfect in the playoffs, and unfortunately, I wasn’t perfect last week.
We made some real good calls in the Divisional Round. Identifying that Cooper Kupp, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Sammy Watkins were not going to play was pivotal. Knowing that Van Jefferson, Darrel Williams and Mecole Hardman would be the players to step into those roles was huge. But not knowing that Rams DE Aaron Donald would be limited or that Browns RB Kareem Hunt would play less than he has all season definitely hurt our chances.
Still, the core of our lineups was solid. Cam Akers posted the second-most fantasy points among RB’s and got us started hot on Saturday. JK Dobbins failed to get into the end zone for an eighth straight game but still posted the sixth-most fantasy points among RB’s. We were very well-positioned going into Sunday’s games, and even halfway through the Chiefs game, we were closing in on another big weekend. Then Patrick Mahomes left the game concussed, which really hurt Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman, too. Everything was still good though going into the final game of the weekend between the Buccaneers and Saints. We were in the money with Michael Thomas and my #1 play of the week Antonio Brown left to go. I felt great about our chances.
But then Brown left the game with a knee injury, Thomas had three catches called back, including a seven-yard TD, before posting a zero. Our main lineup missed cashing by an average of 2.6 points, including 0.9 in our most expensive contest. Welcome to the playoffs, huh?
Now, there are just four teams remaining and two games for us to breakdown. Thus, we have to get both of these game flows correct and make some real bold calls in order to gain an advantage over our opponents. This is what we train for, folks. By now, we know what the strengths and weaknesses of all four of these teams are. The Packers can’t stop the run, and neither can the Chiefs or the Bills. Tampa Bay has real trouble in the secondary, which presents a matchup advantage for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing offense.
As usual, this writeup is all about the full two-game slate for SuperDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings. I will continue to do both the game-by-game and position-by-position breakdowns since I am a creature of habit. But before we get to that, let’s first check-in on how we are doing in our Elite Sports Playoff league, two rounds in.
Elite Mafia Playoff League
Great job last week, everybody. We only had one team not set a lineup (again), an all-time record (sadly, I am serious). Remember that we are going all the way through Super Bowl 55, so be careful not to use too many players that will be in the final game, or you could have an illegal lineup.
PLEASE remember to set your lineup for the Championship Round and improve your chance at claiming one of our prizes. Also, please don’t let me win this thing, as that would be incredibly disappointing for all of us.
Scoring: Full point PPR
Lineup: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR,
1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE)
Standings: Total points scoring only
1) Ted’s Favorite Son – 310.36
2) Porkknockers – 299.30
3) LetsDoThis – 298.56
4) Fire Fangi-Old – 289.52
5) Mike Glenn – 287.30
6) Ju Tang Clan – 285.04
7) Jeff Mans (ME!) – 284.30
8) MOOF – 284.02
9) Deez Nutz – 283.84
10) NatesPost – 282.10
1st – $100
2nd – Full year VIP subscription to Fantasy Guru (MLB & NFL)
3rd – Full year VIP subscription to Fantasy Guru (MLB & NFL)
4th – 1 month VIP to Elite Fantasy or Elite Sports Betting
5th – 1 month VIP to Elite Fantasy or Elite Sports Betting
6th – $50
7th – $25
8th – Elite Mafia T-Shirt
9th – Elite Mafia T-Shirt
10th – Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (Fantasy Guru)
Here is the DFS NFL Postseason Writeup for the Championship Round:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers – 3:05pm ET
Spread: Packers -4
Point Total: 51.5
- BUCCANEERS – Antonio Brown, WR (knee) is OUT. Antoine Winfield, S (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE.
- PACKERS – Kingsley Keke, DE (concussion) is OUT. Kevin King, CB (back) is QUESTIONABLE.
Matchups To Exploit
- Buccaneers – When these two teams played week six in Tampa, the Packers stormed out to a 10-0 lead before the Tampa defense took over the game. Five sacks and two interceptions later, including a pick-six by Jamel Dean, the Bucs offense was able to sit on the ball and run it right over the Packers defense. While it is unlikely that Aaron Rodgers plays this poorly again, the Bucs will want to get out to an early lead and use their dual RB’s of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones to slay the dragon at Lambeau Field. Fournette and Jones combined for 28-155-2 last time out while Brady worked the middle of the field, targeting Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin a combined 15 times. Tom Brady is too savvy to attack Packers CB Jaire Alexander, who likely won’t shadow Mike Evans this time around. This makes it difficult to handicap which WR’s will have the softer coverage, but I think this is a great spot to get weird with a Tyler Johnson or Scotty Miller, both of whom are capable of a game-turning big play.
- Packers – The Packers just don’t want to utilize Aaron Jones nearly as much as they should, but this is the spot for him. The Bucs are tough against the run but do surrender 4.8 yards per attempt outside the tackles, which is where Jones is dangerous. Game flow will have a lot to do with Green Bay’s offense, but the certainty here is the connection between Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Adams received 10 targets the last time these two teams met but only caught six balls for 61 yards. At that point in time, Carlton Davis was playing at a super high level, but his play has deteriorated greatly down the stretch. The other thing to watch here is whether Buccaneers DT Vita Vea plays or not. Vea is a landmass in the middle of the Tampa defensive line and would force the Green Bay offense elsewhere.
Best Plays (SuperDraft/FD/DK)
- Davante Adams, WR, Packers (1x/$8900/$8000)
- Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers (1.25x/$5600/$4600)
- Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers (1.35x/$6800/$5400)
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (1.1x/$8700/$6500)
- Leonard Fournette, RB, Buccaneers (1.35x/$7200/$5300)
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs – 6:40pm ET
Spread: Chiefs -3
Point Total: 53.5
- BILLS – Vernon Butler, DT (quad) & Gabriel Davis, WR (ankle) are QUESTIONABLE.
- CHIEFS – Willie Gay, LB (ankle) is OUT. Bashaud Breeland, CB (concussion/shoulder), Rashad Fenton, CB (foot), Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (hip), Le’Veon Bell, RB (knee), Sammy Watkins WR (calf) are QUESTIONABLE.
Matchups To Exploit
- Bills – It has been a glorious season for the Bills coaching staff. They have completely transformed their offensive identity from a run-first team to the third-best passing team in the NFL. They helped QB Josh Allen find the right mix of deep ball throws to underneath check downs, transforming him into one of the best dual-threat QB’s in the NFL. But that offensive style isn’t a good gameplan for facing the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Bills try to get into a track meet with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs defense, they will almost definitely lose this game. You need to run the ball against the Chiefs defense. The Chiefs are the second-worst DVOA against the run this season. They gave up the 12th most rushing yards per attempt overall this season. Kansas City also surrendered the ninth-most rushing yards, third-most receptions, the most receiving yards and the 10th most fantasy points to RB’s this season. This fares well for Devin Singletary, who received 84.2% of the Bills RB snaps in the Divisional Round game against the Ravens but only 10 total touches. Singletary will have to run the ball more than Josh Allen if the Bills are going to win this game.
- Chiefs – You would think that whether Patrick Mahomes plays or not (he will), it would dramatically change the gameplan for the Chiefs. But I really don’t think that it does. When the Chiefs beat the Bills back in week six (same week the Bucs and Packers played by the way), they did so by punishing the Buffalo defense on the ground. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had his best game on the ground, rushing 26 times for 161 yards. As a team, the Chiefs ran the ball 46 times for 245 yards and a touchdown. They won the game 26-17. The Bills surrender the fifth-most rushing yards per attempt this season. Buffalo allowed the 13th most rushing yards, eighth-most rushing TD’s and 12th most fantasy points to RB’s this season. We don’t yet know if Edwards-Helaire will be able to play this week, so we will need to monitor this all weekend long. If CEH is out, Darrel Williams becomes the best RB play on the board this week. The Bills also struggle guarding TE’s, as they allowed the second-most targets, the most receptions, second-most receiving yards and eighth-most fantasy points to TE’s this season. In that week six matchup, Travis Kelce was targeted seven times out of the 26 pass attempts the Chiefs ran. He caught five of those targets, two of which went for TD’s.
- Darrel Williams, RB, Chiefs (1.85x/$6000/$4800)
- Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs (1x/$8600/$8000)
- Josh Allen, QB, Bills (1.1x/$8500/$6900)
- Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills (1.15x/$8300/$7000)
- Devin Singletary, RB, Bills (1.5x/$5800/$4500)
Championship Round Position-by-Position
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers (1.1x/$8700/$6500) – Please don’t read anything into the “Best, Contrarian, Super Contrarian” tags at the QB or TE positions this week. There really aren’t any contrarian plays at those positions. Rodgers is the best play for me because he has the best matchup, and Patrick Mahomes is recovering from a significant concussion. Rodgers was terrible against the Buccaneers back in week six, but I strongly believe that it had more to do with the Bucs defense than with Rodgers himself. CB Jamel Dean sat on a quick out to Davante Adams, picked it off, and took it to the house. Fellow CB Carlton Davis played a tremendous game that week as well, contesting pass after pass. This was great scouting and preparation by the Tampa Bay coaching staff. The Packers will be ready this time, and specifically Rodgers, who knows that his time at the top is winding down. The Rodgers to Davante Adams combination with only Carlton Davis standing in their way. Davis played real well early this season but has struggled down the stretch, surrendering the 14th most receptions and 10th most TD catches in football. This is a feast matchup and one that Rodgers is surely not to squander this time around.
- Josh Allen, Bills (1.1x/$8500/$6900) – We’ve identified that the Bills need to run the football to beat the Chiefs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean by a running back. Allen is just as dangerous for the Chiefs on the ground this week as he is through the air. The great thing about Allen is that the game flow really won’t impact his fantasy production, only the way that he may generate it. If the Bills get out to a lead and command it, it will certainly be due to Allen making big plays with his arm, likely to Stefon Diggs and/or John Brown. If the Bills get behind early, it will force Allen to throw and push the ball more aggressively downfield. He will be popular, of course, but it is starting to look like he could be the third-highest owned QB of the week, which would just be crazy good for us.
- Tom Brady, Buccaneers (1.2x/$7800/$6100) – Nobody is super contrarian this week, but Brady will definitely be the lowest owned QB of the week. The Bucs should run the hell out of the ball against Green Bay this week as that is their best path to victory. But if the game flow goes according to script, it will be up to Brady and his plethora of great receivers to bring them back. Even if the Bucs are running well, we know that Brady will take away those rushing TD’s at the goal line as he did last week with a three-yard TD pass to Mike Evans.
O-LINE/D-LINE MATCHUPS (Mans Model – Point System Scale of -100 – 100)
- Kansas City Chiefs → Buffalo Bills – 55
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers → Green Bay Packers – 23
- Green Bay Packers → Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 14
- Darrel Williams, Chiefs (1.85x/$6000/$4800) – You have to take major risks in a two-game DFS NFL slate, and I am choosing to do this at the RB position this week. That means fading the best RB of the four remaining teams left in the playoffs in Aaron Jones and finding another who is capable of outperforming him this week. I am all in on Darrel Williams this week, and that, of course, is a bit risky. As of this writing, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is looking like he will suit up for the first time since suffering a hip injury in Week 15. If CEH is somehow ruled out, that will make Williams even more popular, which is something I actually don’t want to see happen. My strong belief is that Andy Reid will not put his injured rookie RB in harm’s way in the AFC Championship Game. Reid has a long history of trusting the veteran RB, and more precisely, the RB who has been running well and who won’t disrupt the rest of the offense. That is definitely Darrel Williams this week. Remember, CEH was already kicked out of goal-line opportunities after failing at that job early in the season. CEH also caught just 36 passes this season despite playing 13 full games in 2020. Darrel Williams, who saw 30% or more of snaps just three times this season, caught 18 passes. Last week, Williams received 79.4% of snaps, which was the second-most of any of the remaining RB’s left in the playoffs. With Le’Veon Bell’s knee swelling up and Patrick Mahomes coming back from a real nasty concussion, we can safely assume that the Chiefs’ gameplan will consist of a heavy rushing attack on Sunday.
- Ronald Jones, Buccaneers (1.25x/$5600/$4600) – Yeah, here is another risky RB proposition, but again one that should be worth the payoff. Jones screwed over DFS players in the Wild Card Round, and some folks are still upset about that. But he is practicing in full and seems to be about 90% over that quad injury that kept him out of the first-round game. Anybody who actually watched last week’s game against the Saints knows that Jones got loose on three long runs, two of which totaling 62 yards that were called back due to penalties. Leonard Fournette will likely see more snaps again this week, but if Jones gets going early, he could really rack up numbers against a defense that struggles to stop the run. Back in week six against the Packers, Jones had one of his best games of the season, carrying the ball 23 times for 113 yards and two rushing TD’s. He racked up 26.1 fantasy points in the process. Fournette is projected to have slightly more ownership than RoJo this week, giving him that perfect same great matchup, at a cheaper and less owned price.
- Devin Singletary, Bills (1.5x/$5800/$4500) – The starting RB for the third-best offense in the NFL this season going up against the defense with the second-worst DVOA against the run. You would think that Singletary would be much more popular this week, but surprisingly he isn’t. I had been sniffing around newly signed Devonta Freeman and even old standby T.J. Yeldon to see if either might challenge Singletary for touches this week, but they won’t. This is his backfield, for better or worse, as evidenced by his 84.2% of snaps last week, most of any RB still left in the playoffs. If the Bills get out to a lead, they will run the ball more than usual. If they fall behind, they will throw, which provides Singletary with a tremendous opportunity as the check down option. The Chiefs gave up the fourth-most targets, third-most receptions, most receiving yards and third-most receiving TD’s to RB’s this season.
- Jamaal Williams, Packers (1.6x/$5000/$4400) – Well, if I am fading Aaron Jones, it makes sense then to use either Jamaal Williams or A.J. Dillon. Unfortunately, both of these guys are banged up, which blurs the lines a little bit. If both play, it will be Williams who plays that complementary role to Aaron Jones. Last week, Williams played 40% of snaps and received 12 carries, just two less than Aaron Jones. If the game flow is similar as Las Vegas seems to believe, we should see a heavy workload for Williams in the second half.
WORST COVERAGE CORNERBACKS – WR MATCHUP (Mans Model, By YOUR Request)
- Sean Murphy-Bunting, Buccaneers → Allen Lazard, Packers
- Taron Johnson, Bills → Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
- Chandon Sullivan, Packers → Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
- L’Jarius Sneed, Chiefs → Cole Beasley, Bills
- Charvarius Ward, Chiefs → Stefon Diggs, Bills
- Kevin King, Packers → Tyler Johnson, Buccaneers
- Davante Adams, Packers (1x/$8900/$8000) – The absolute best WR play of the week and thus is a hard one to fade. We all know that Adams is a target hawk and has been the primary weapon for Aaron Rodgers all season in what very likely will be an MVP year. Adams locked horns with Jalen Ramsey last week and still managed 10 targets, nine receptions, 66 receiving yards and a TD. With the Super Bowl on the line, this stat line is a baseline for Adams against the Bucs defense that gave up the second-most targets, the most receptions and the ninth-most receiving yards to RB’s this season. #SmashCity
- Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (1.35x/$6800/$5400) – So here is the deal. Antonio Brown is out with a knee injury. Mike Evans is expected to be shadowed by the second-best CB in football in Jaire Alexander. This leaves Godwin in the slot lined up against Chandon Sullivan most of the game, which is by far the most advantageous matchup for the Tampa Bay passing game. The game script is also quite favorable to more pass attempts for the Bucs, and Godwin has led the team in targets in each of their last two games. I am sure that he’ll be popular, but he’s not projected to be over 50%, which is a win in this tiny slate.
- John Brown, Bills (1.5x/$5600/$4300) – Stefon Diggs is a stud, and Gabriel Davis is a DFS darling, so we are hoping that he is active on Sunday night. That leaves John Brown as an overlooked WR option for us in a positive game script. Brown actually tied for the lead in targets and receptions last week (with Diggs) in the Bills victory against the Ravens. Brown will be facing a banged-up (and questionable) Bashaud Breeland, who already is at a disadvantage due to his lack of speed and Brown’s big-play ability.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers (1.75x/$5500/$3900) – We all know that Davante Adams will lead the Packers in targets and receptions, so we will need to identify which other receiver can make the splash play for this Green Bay offense. That guy for me is definitely MVS this week. We used MVS against the Rams last week, and he generated eight targets but only caught half of them for 33 yards. If he gets eight targets again this week, he will almost certainly connect on a big play and likely a TD. I love that Allen Lazard is being talked up as both the pivot and complement to Adams this week, so we can just take MVS and leave the chasers to Lazard.
- Tyler Johnson, Buccaneers (1.85x/$4600/$3000) – Antonio Brown is out, leaving the third receiver role for the Bucs to either Scotty Miller and/or Tyler Johnson. Johnson has been the guy coming on strong down the stretch and made one of the best catches of the season on a poorly thrown ball by Tom Brady last week. Johnson played 27 snaps last week against the Saints, most of which (24) came after Antonio Brown left the game. So, it will be him playing on the outside against Kevin King, which is a great matchup for Johnson. The rookie out of Minnesota has the best combination of skillset, opportunity, game script, price and ownership of any WR this week.
- Travis Kelce, Chiefs (1x/$8600/$8000) – The best there is, the best there was, and the best there will ever be at the TE position. The Bills’ one weakness against the pass is the TE position, where they have given up the second-most targets, the most receptions, second-most receiving yards and eighth-most fantasy points to TE’s this season. Kelce had a relatively quiet game against the Bills back in week six, “only” generating seven targets, five receptions, 65 yards and two touchdowns. Yeah, that is 23.5 fantasy points, a total that every other TE combined may not be able to touch this week.
- Robert Tonyan, Packers (1.4x/$5700/$3600) – The obvious second choice at TE this week. I am really unsure on just how highly owned he will be, as every single one of us should simply plug in Kelce and move along. But DFS players love nothing more than to get cute, and there is a real chance that 25% of players could do exactly that. My ceiling projection for Tonyan, even if I give him a full share of a TD against the Bucs, still only gets him to about 16.4 fantasy points. For me, that isn’t enough points, nor will it be contrarian enough to justify fading the big guy in Travis Kelce.
- Cameron Brate, Buccaneers (1.75x/$5000/$3000) – This is where I would go if fading Kelce this week. Tampa is using Rob Gronkowski as the blocking TE on the majority of snaps this postseason, while Brate has become a comfort blanky for QB Tom Brady. Brate has racked up 11 targets, eight receptions and 130 yards in the Bucs’ first two playoff games. He also had a TD called back two weeks ago against Washington thanks to a holding penalty on Tristan Wirfs. The bump in snaps, the large usage numbers, the super low price and low ownership projection are why Cameron Brate is my second-best TE play of the week.
- Green Bay Packers ($4400/$3600) – These are all good offenses left in the NFL playoffs, so there isn’t a slam dunk DST for us to cherry-pick this week. The right move is to use either one of the NFC Championship Game defenses as there is a much greater chance that either the Bucs or Packers offense falls off the rails. My choice would be the Packers since they are at home and have the better playmakers on defense overall.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3700/$2700) – The best game that the Tampa defense had all season was in week six against these Green Bay Packers. As I stated above, I would remain in the NFC for my DST no matter how many lineups I am doing. The Bucs DST put up 19 fantasy points in that first meeting, aided by a 32-yard interception return for a TD by Jamel Dean. In that game, the Bucs really beat-up Aaron Rodgers, sacking him five times, hitting him 13 times, and intercepting him twice. Sometimes, a defense just knows what an opponent is doing, and it certainly appeared that way in this first matchup.
Championship Round Lineup Builds
Since this is a GPP (tournament) slate, that means it is time to build multiple lineups. With that in mind, there are no players who are just completely off-limits to us here. It’s all about reading all three game scripts, interpreting them, and using the players who will most execute those scripts best.
In keeping with my usual Core 4 theme, let’s go over two lineup builds that I will be using. I’m planning on playing about four to eight total lineups in this slate. Here is a little bonus for those who actually READ this paragraph instead of just jumping to the core four. I am using Davante Adams in every single lineup that I build this week.
Core Four #1 (From the SXM Show)
- QB – Aaron Rodgers, Packers (1.1x/$8700/$6500)
- RB – Darrel Williams, Chiefs (1.85x/$6000/$4800)
- WR – Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (1.35x/$6800/$5400)
- TE – Travis Kelce, Chiefs (1x/$8600/$8000)
Core Four #2
- QB – Josh Allen, Bills (1.1x/$8500/$6900)
- RB – Darrel Williams, Chiefs (1.85x/$6000/$4800)
- WR – Tyler Johnson, Buccaneers (1.85x/$4600/$3000)
- TE – Travis Kelce, Chiefs (1x/$8600/$8000)
Don’t miss our DFS NFL Cheat Sheet to finalize your Championship Round lineups!