DraftKings NFL Conference Championship Round Top Plays, Game Stacks + Optimal DFS Lineups

The Divisional Round was a fun one full of exciting games, close games, and stellar performances by our star quarterbacks heading into this weekend. Both Conference Championship games are characterized by the presence of an MVP-caliber quarterback. In the AFC, it’s Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen. In the NFC, it’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. Fireworks should ensue, and both games have massive over/under totals – 52 points for Buccaneers-Packers and 56 points for Bills-Chiefs. With so many points on the table and a small slate of games to choose from, where can we find value this week? Without further ado, let’s dive into my top plays at each position.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom BradyTom Brady ($6,100) is likely to have the lowest ownership at quarterback, and with the lowest price at the position, he carries a ton of contrarian value for larger tournaments. Brady fared much better than Rodgers did in their previous outing, as he threw for 2 touchdowns and no picks, but he threw for just 166 yards in that game. I have concerns about Brady’s upside in this game without Antonio Brown as Mike Evans was locked up by Jaire Alexander in their previous meeting. Chris Godwin will be peppered with targets, but there may not be enough for Brady to reach the 300-yard bonus – he’s the least likely of all four players to hit that mark this week. Still, he’s been playing very well as of late, and Green Bay’s defense is beatable. He’s not my favorite target, but there is upside in larger tournaments.

Leonard Fournette ($5,300) has been the Buccaneers’ top rusher during the playoffs and has runLeonard Fournette for 156 yards, the fourth-most among all playoff participants. He has also caught 9 balls for 83 yards and scored two touchdowns over that span. However, Ronald Jones ($4,600) is getting further removed from his injury and could encroach on Fournette’s touches this week. The Packers are a strong matchup for opposing RBs as they allowed the 6th-most fantasy points to the position during the regular season, and we can be sure Tampa will be looking to establish the ground game to play keep-away from Aaron Rodgers. However, it’s unclear which of these rushers will get the bulk of the work. Fournette has had the hot hand, and he’ll be massively owned in DFS tournaments, but Jones is an awesome pivot with how unreliable Bruce Arians has been in terms of running back usage. Jones looked like the more explosive player last week, as well.

Mike EvansThe pass-catchers for Tampa Bay are tough to figure out this week. Antonio Brown has already been ruled out for this game, and he would have been the guy I’d wanted this week. Mike Evans ($5,800) had just 1 catch for 10 yards – 2 PPR points – the last time he faced the Packers. Jaire Alexander is one of the premier lockdown cornerbacks in the NFL, and with Brown out, I’d expect Alexander to shadow Evans for much of the game. Evans has 7 catches for 122 yards so far in the playoffs, but the matchup is concerning. Chris Godwin ($5,400) leads the wide receiver room with 19 catches this postseason and also scored a touchdown last week against the Saints. He has the easiest matchup this week for Tampa against Green Bay slot corner Chandon Sullivan, a player he should eat alive. Godwin provides an awesome ceiling and strong floor, especially with Brown’s absence, likely meaning more targets coming his way.

We could see Tampa run more two-tight end sets, though, with Brown absent, which wouldCameron Brate benefit both Cameron Brate ($3,000) and Rob Gronkowski ($3,000). Brate leads the team with 8 catches for 130 yards in the postseason, and he’s been much more involved in the passing game than Gronkowski, although Gronk has outsnapped him in the last two games. Both players could provide some upside, but based on recent results, Brate seems like the player to own. Scotty Miller ($3,400) is an awesome high-upside, low-price play with Brown not playing. He surpassed 10 PPR points in four of eight games before Antonio Brown joined the team, and he will likely see easier coverage against Kevin King, assuming the Packers opt to use Alexander as a shadow. Justin Watson ($3,000) and Tyler Johnson ($3,000) represent interesting dart throws.

Green Bay Packers

aaron rodgersAaron Rodgers ($6,500) is the likely MVP winner at quarterback as he threw for 48 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions over the regular season. The Buccaneers were a beatable pass defense during the regular season as they allowed the 12th-most passing yards per game and 29 passing touchdowns (the 11th-most). Rodgers has been on an incredible tear since Week 6 with 35 passing touchdowns to just 3 interceptions since that game. However, that ugly Week 6 outing came against Tampa as he threw for 2 interceptions and no touchdowns, easily his worst output of the season. Still, Rodgers has gone 5-2 at home in the playoffs and is out for blood in search of a second Super Bowl. I’m confident in his ability to overcome past difficulties against Tampa and have a strong game.

Of all running backs on the remaining four teams, Aaron Jones ($6,500) was the only one to rushAaron Jones for over 1,000 yards during the regular season. To be precise, he finished with 1,104 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 starts. However, the Buccaneers allowed the fewest rushing yards, fewest YPC, and fewest rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Aaron Jones finished with just 20 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches in these teams’ prior meeting, although he did run for a touchdown to salvage his fantasy day. Tampa gets Vita Vea, their stud nose tackle, back from Injured Reserve this week, so their run defense is likely going to dominate. Jones is likely to have a ton of ownership, but with so few other options at the position, it’s hard to recommend fading him even in such a tough matchup.

davante adamsDavante Adams ($8,000) is the obvious guy to stack with Rodgers this week – in fact, if you’re playing Rodgers, you have to play Adams as well with their correlation so strong. Adams should be able to take advantage of Tampa’s cornerbacks. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis are solid players in their right, but Adams succeeded against a much better player in Jalen Ramsey last week with 9 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Robert Tonyan ($3,600) is a strong play at the tight end spot this week. After scoring 11 touchdowns during the regular season and finishing as the TE4 in fantasy, he caught four passes for 60 yards last week against the Rams. Tonyan was a great safety valve for Rodgers last week and produced several yards after the catch. He’s a dynamic player who has touchdown upside and guaranteed targets – that’s an awesome package at his price.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,900) is one of my favorite targets this week, as well. He caught fourallen lazard passes for 33 yards against the Rams last week and caught 3 balls for 32 yards against the Buccaneers earlier this season. Those aren’t phenomenal numbers, but MVS has strong touchdown upside – he scored six times during the regular season, and the Bucs gave up 17 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the regular season. Allen Lazard ($4,200) is also a compelling option after registering 4 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown last week. He should have higher ownership than MVS, but both players had eight targets last week, so I like MVS as a nice pivot.

Buffalo Bills

Josh AllenJosh Allen ($6,900) is the guy I have my eye on this week. Only Mahomes scored more fantasy points per game among quarterbacks during the regular season, and the Chiefs surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to QBs during the regular season. Josh Allen has continued his success into the playoffs as he has completed 68.1% of his passes for 530 yards and 3 touchdowns to zero interceptions over that span. Allen has also run for 57 yards and a touchdown, and his rushing ability boosts his fantasy ceiling. The Chiefs’ defense was solid during the regular season, but Allen is emerging as an elite passer and should have plenty of success in this matchup.

Devin Singletary ($4,500) is expected to see high ownership as the top back for Buffalo, but I’mdevin singletary pretty uninterested in him this week. The Chiefs’ run defense has been beatable – they allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs during the regular season – but Singletary’s inefficiency is concerning. He has run for 46 yards on 10 carries during the playoffs and hasn’t done much more as a receiver with just 6 catches for 35 yards. He should get the bulk of the team’s backfield touches, but the Bills don’t seem terribly concerned about establishing a ground game, and Singletary ran for just 4.4 YPC during the regular season, so I don’t see a ton of upside here.

diggsAlong with Josh Allen, who I have projected as the highest-scoring wide receiver this week, Stefon Diggs ($7,000) is my favorite wide receiver play. Diggs has continued his stellar regular season in which he led the NFL in catches and receiving yards into the playoffs – he has 14 catches for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns in two playoff contests. The Chiefs’ secondary was strong during the regular season in allowing the 4th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but Diggs has excelled against arguably tougher opponents in the Ravens and Colts so far in the playoffs. He has a great chance to be the #1 scoring player at his position this week.

Cole Beasley ($4,100) faces a tough matchup against either L’Jarius Sneed or Tyrann Mathieu injohn brown the slot this week, and I have doubts about his ability to produce a high-end line. However, he wouldn’t need to do much to provide value on that price. John Brown ($4,300) hasn’t done much in the playoffs – he has just 8 catches for 62 yards in two games – but Gabriel Davis ($4,000) may not be able to play this week. Davis is the more favorable target if he’s healthy, but his limited status makes me more interested in Brown as a double-stack option with Diggs and Allen. Dawson Knox ($2,800) has some intrigue as a minimum play with a weak, tight end slate beyond Travis Kelce.

Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick MahomesPatrick Mahomes ($7,600) is the highest-priced quarterback on this week’s slate, and for a good reason, as he was the leading per-game scorer at the position during the regular season. As usual, Mahomes is likely to be the highest owned quarterback of the week, but there are a handful of reasons to consider fading him. For one, Sammy Watkins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Le’Veon Bell are all questionable for this game. Obviously, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are still there, but the limited skill position players could hold back the offense a bit. Additionally, Mahomes dealt with a weird injury situation with a pinched nerve in his neck that landed him in the concussion protocol this week. It’s hard to know what to expect from him this week, but it would not shock me if he’s not at 100%.

The last option for running back this week is the Chiefs’ top rusher, hopefully, Clyde Edwards-Clyde Edwards HelaireHelaire ($5,000) if he’s able to play through his hip and ankle injuries. CEH has missed the team’s last three games dating back to Week 15, and his status is very much up-in-the-air. If he’s unable to go, we will likely see a lot of Darrel Williams ($4,000). He accumulated 94 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches against the Browns last week and likely would have seen more work if not for Patrick Mahomes’s late injury crushing the team’s offensive output. Williams has 20-touch potential if CEH doesn’t play, and the Bills gave up the 12th-most fantasy points to RBs during the regular season. If CEH is cleared to play, he automatically becomes one of the top running back plays with likely a strong workload. However, Williams would still have contrarian upside as a minimum play with massive potential if CEH gets hurt again or is limited.

tyreek hillDuring the regular season, Tyreek Hill ($7,200) and Travis Kelce ($8,000) were the best WR-TE duo in the league. Hill scored the second-most fantasy points among wide receivers while Kelce far outpaced most other tight ends – Kelce had 20.9 PPR points per game, and only one other player surpassed 11 PPR points per game. The Bills’ secondary is strong, but Hill benefits from playing out of the slot, and he may not see a lot of former All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White this week. The Bills feature two top-notch safeties in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, but they surrendered the 8th-most fantasy points to tight ends during the regular season, so this is a strong matchup for him.

Mecole Hardman ($4,000) has a fair bit of upside with Sammy Watkins’s status questionable, butmecole hardman Hardman hasn’t delivered much in his sophomore season. He hit 4+ receptions just three times during the regular season and didn’t have any of the big blow-up games I expected from him this year. Demarcus Robinson ($3,700) is my preferred low-cost Chiefs receiver if Sammy Watkins doesn’t play, and you can roll with Watkins ($3,800) if he is active. None of these ancillary options are high-end value picks, but that’s reflected in their price. If Mahomes goes supernova like we know he can do, it’s likely one of these players is a smash play for DFS.

DST

This week is an absolute crapshoot for the DST position. Mahomes, Allen, Rodgers, and Brady are four of the six QBs in the NFL in my eyes (Wilson and Watson), and during the regular season, I always strongly advise against deploying a DST against one of these guys. These teams were all in the bottom seven in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs – they all allowed fewer than 3 fantasy points per game. Tampa Bay exploded for 19 fantasy points when they faced the Packers earlier in the year, but that was Green Bay’s worst offensive performance of the year, and I don’t expect that to be repeated. The Bucs allowed the most fantasy points to DSTs among this group, so the Packers are the highest-priced outfit, but they scored just 5.9 fantasy points per game during the regular season, just the 18th-most. The Bills scored 7.4 fantasy points per game during the regular season, the most among this group, but playing a DST against Mahomes is never fun. Ultimately, you’re going to have to take a chance on one of these teams, and I would recommend focusing on correlative factors when doing so. If you’re rolling with the Mahomes-Hill-Kelce triple stack, you obviously don’t want to counter with the Bills defense. Both of these games should be high-scoring affairs, and I doubt any of these DSTs have massive fantasy production.

Sample Lineups

Lineup #1

QB: Josh Allen $6,900
RB: Ronald Jones $4,600
RB: Darrell Williams $4,800
WR: Stefon Diggs $7,000
WR: Tyreek Hill $7,200
WR: Davante Adams $8,000
TE: Robert Tonyan $3,600
FLEX: John Brown $4,300
DST: Packers $3,600

Lineup #2

QB: Aaron Rodgers $6,500
RB: Aaron Jones $6,500
RB: Darrell Williams $4,800
WR: Davante Adams $8,000
WR: Stefon Diggs $7,000
WR: Marquez Valdes-Scantling $3,900
TE: Cameron Brate $3,000
FLEX: Tyreek Hill $7,200
DST: Chiefs $3,100

Lineup #3

QB: Patrick Mahomes $7,600
RB: Darrell Williams $4,800
RB: Ronald Jones $4,600
WR: Davante Adams $8,000
WR: Tyreek Hill $7,200
WR: Marquez Valdes-Scantling $3,900
TE: Travis Kelce $8,000
FLEX: Tyler Johnson $3,000
DST: Buccaneers $2,700

  
For as long as I've been watching sports, I've been gambling on them too. I used to place $1 bets on several NBA games throughout the week with a buddy in high school with the winner rarely getting more than a few dollars for their trouble. It didn't matter - the rush of landing a winning bet and the ensuing bragging rights were enough. Now I've graduated to full-blown degenerate status, placing copious futures bets for every sport and designing elaborate parlays for maximum payoff. I've experienced my fair share of blown chances but there's no better feeling than using my sports research and knowledge to pull off a win.

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