3 NFL FanDuel Stacks for the Conference Championships
With only three games left in the NFL postseason, this weekend marks our final opportunity to play a multi-game DFS slate for the 2018-19 campaign.
Lucky for us, it should be a good one as both the Rams-Saints and Patriots-Chiefs are boasting some hefty totals at 56.5 and 56.0 points, respectively. Frankly, all four offenses are on the table in these potential shootouts, so we shouldn't hesitate to toss out multiple combinations of our favorite plays in tournaments. With that in mind, let's check out some stacks to consider in Sunday's conference championships.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last week, Patrick Mahomes surprisingly failed to hit 20 FanDuel points for the third time in the last four games, and it was the first time since Week 5 that he was held to zero passing touchdowns. He still salvaged his fantasy day with a rushing score, getting him to 17.92 FanDuel points, but it wasn't exactly the output you would've expected in a 31-13 blowout over the Colts.
Of course, this is Mahomes we're talking about, and his 26.8 FanDuel points per game easily leads the slate. The last time he faced the Patriots, which was in Week 6, he threw for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the road on his way to 28.98 FanDuel points.
New England's defense actually finished the regular season ranked a respectable 12th against the pass in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, but as Mahomes showed in their prior meeting, we're rarely concerned about matchups when it comes to him. Kansas City's 29.50-point implied total ranks behind only the Saints (30.00), and just like last weekend, numberFire's models projects Mahomes as the highest-scoring overall player on the board.
In the Divisional Round, Tyreek Hill ($8,400) and Travis Kelce ($7,400) both put forth big efforts against the Colts as expected. Hill caught 8-of-13 targets for 72 yards and ran for a 36-yard score to compile 20.8 FanDuel points, while Kelce caught 7-of-10 targets for 108 yards and 14.3 FanDuel points. You don't need me to tell you that both are once again top plays with immense ceilings to pair with Mahomes. Kelce figures to draw particularly high ownership with both Zach Ertz and Eric Ebron now out of the playoffs and Rob Gronkowski ($5,600) failing to hit even four FanDuel points in any of the last four games.
But you can also opt to stack Mahomes with Sammy Watkins, who can provide much cheaper access to this spot. Watkins didn't light up the box score last week (7.0 FanDuel points), but his usage was very encouraging in his first action since Week 11. Watkins played 93% of the snaps against the Colts and caught 6-of-8 targets for 62 yards.
It's worth remembering that Watkins put up two 100-yard games (including a two-score performance) when he was healthy the first half of the season, so the upside remains there in this offense, although he was also held to 18 yards in the first go-round against the Pats, reminding us of the low floor. Still, Watkins didn't suffer any setbacks and practiced on Wednesday, so at this low cost, he makes for a solid stack alternative (or addition) to Hill or Kelce.
You can naturally also look to the Pats' side of this game, and with Gronk looking like a shell of himself and Josh Gordon gone, it's become fairly straightforward to figure out who to pair with Tom Brady ($8,400). Last week's beatdown over the Chargers was a quick reminder that the Brady Bunch can still put up points, and Julian Edelman ($7,900) and James White ($7,700) led the way with 13 and 17 targets, respectively, with no other player seeing more than 5.
Stacking Brady with Sony Michel ($7,500) is another possibility, with the hopes that you can capture all of the Pats' touchdowns between the two. While Michel is rarely involved in the passing game (one target last week), he remains New England's top red-zone threat (three rushing touchdowns last week), and during the regular season, the Chiefs ranked last against the run, per our metrics.
One thing to keep in mind is that it's expected to be very cold in Kansas City, which could potentially affect scoring. Depending on how things look on Sunday, this could either sway you to lower your exposure or perhaps instead raise it, with the hopes that the weather lowers ownership and the game still shoots out.
New Orleans Saints
On the other hand, there are no weather concerns when you're playing in the Superdome, and we have to like Drew Brees again at home again this week.
As we noted last week, over his seven regular season games at home, Brees threw 21 of his 32 touchdowns and averaged 9.5 yards per pass attempt. He generally lived up to those expectations in the Divisional Round, throwing for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interceptions against the Eagles. Even more encouraging, the last time the Rams and Saints faced off at the Superdome, they combined for 80 points, and Brees was naturally a huge part of that, tossing 346 yards and 4 scores on his way to 31.44 FanDuel points.
Pairing Brees with Michael Thomas ($8,800) is the natural go-to move as Thomas absolutely thrashed the Eagles for 29.1 FanDuel points, catching 12-of-16 targets for 171 yards and a touchdown. If that wasn't enough, in that Week 9 matchup against the Rams, Thomas grabbed 12-of-15 targets for 211 yards and a score for a season-high 33.1 FanDuel points.
The Rams finished the year as the 10th-ranked passing defense by numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, and Aqib Talib was still out in Week 9, so it should theoretically be tougher sledding for Thomas this time around. Still, there's no denying the upside here, and he's our highest-projected wideout in the conference championships.
But let's not forget about Ted Ginn, as well, who is no longer priced at the minimum but remains a great source of value. Ginn ultimately disappointed for 5.9 FanDuel points last weekend, but he still saw 7 targets, giving him 15 -- for a 20.0% target market share -- over his two games since returning from injury. The volume is encouraging, and we know all it takes is one deep ball for Ginn to turn into fantasy gold.
Los Angeles Rams
Between Jared Goff coming off an 8.64-point FanDuel performance and the slate having three high-upside alternatives at quarterback, Goff will almost certainly be the lowest-owned option on Sunday. Goff is also going on the road, where he performed far worse during the regular season, throwing only 10 of his 32 touchdowns away from home. And excluding a four-touchdown performance in Week 17, Goff has thrown only two other touchdowns in the last six games. Over that span, he's exceeded 220 yards in a game just once (339 in Week 15).
All of this is to say that Goff is easily the riskiest quarterback on the board, but from a game-theory perspective, this could also be a low-owned stacking opportunity in GPPs. As we mentioned earlier, the last time the Rams faced the Saints, the two teams combined for 80 points, so as you might expect, Goff was also in on the fun, throwing for 391 yards, 3 scores, and 1 interception for 30.34 FanDuel points. The Saints are 3.5-point home favorites, and they ranked fourth against the run this season by our marks, so Goff figures to do far more than hand off to Todd Gurley ($8,500) and C.J. Anderson ($6,500) like last week.
The Saints' secondary improved over the course of the season, but they still finished as our 18th-ranked pass defense. As recently as Week 16, they allowed Ben Roethlisberger to throw for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns at the Superdome. Particularly with questionable weather in the AFC championship, you can certainly weave a story that has Goff outscoring his peers, and he's also the cheapest of the four.
Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks ($6,900), and perhaps Josh Reynolds ($5,400) are the logical pairings with Goff, with Woods looking like the safest bet of the three. Since Cooper Kupp went down, Woods has primarily played out of the slot and leads the team with a 24.3% target market share. Over that span, he's posted at least 60 yards in six of seven games while averaging 13.4 FanDuel points, including a 25.4-point outing in Week 16.
Kenyatta Storin is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Kenyatta Storin also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username yatters. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.