Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for the Conference Championships
numberFire has no shortage of tools -- lineup generators, fantasy projections, and more -- to help you round out your rosters, but some extra prep never hurt anyone. So, here are some notes to know about each and every game on FanDuel's main slate for the Conference Championships.
Core Plays: Players suited for all types of daily fantasy games -- cash games and tournaments -- and players to target when building a main lineup.
Secondary Plays: Players who have good matchups or situations but are overpriced. Or players who are affordable but have tough matchups.
Tournament Plays: Players with paths to production but who are either overpriced or have tough matchups and who rate out with low production floors. Not everybody is in play in DFS, but players without the best prices and matchups still deserve consideration in large-field tournaments.
Tennessee at Kansas City
|Over/Under | Spread||52.5||-7.5|
|Implied Team Total||22.5||30.0|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||68%||54%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||71%||58%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||22||11|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||14||5|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||6||28|
Despite the fact that the Tennessee Titans have let up 25 total points through two playoff games, the over/under is 52.5 points, and the Kansas City Chiefs' implied total is 30.0 points. The weather looks to be in the low 20s but with winds below 10 miles per hour.
Tennessee Offense Notes
- Derrick Henry ($9,800) is the priciest play on the slate. He has run 32, 34, and 30 times for 211, 182, and 195 yards over his past three games, all must-wins. Henry also has played 75.8%, 80.7%, and 81.8% of the snaps in them, adding to his season-high snap rate every week. The Chiefs rank 28th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play allowed, and they are 31st in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs and 23rd in yards before contact allowed to backs. The individual matchup is there for Henry to take advantage of his carries, but as an underdog, there are game script concerns if the Chiefs torch the Titans early. Henry has just three targets over the past three weeks and has not had more than three in a single game all season. Tennessee should ride Henry all they can, making him worth his price, but there are legitimate floor concerns in case Kansas City demolishes Tennessee from the start. If building one lineup, Henry isn't a must, but I can't fault you for jamming him in regardless.
- Ryan Tannehill ($7,700) has thrown 29 times for 260 yards through two playoff games. A rushing touchdown boosted his fantasy production last week (18.82 FanDuel points). He has been held below 280 passing yards in five straight games and below 200 yards in three straight. Tannehill has a tougher-than-expected matchup awaiting him, as the Chiefs are fifth in adjusted pass defense based on numberFire's metrics. Including the playoffs, Tannehill has averaged 158.3 passing yards and 1.8 passing touchdowns against top-12 pass defenses this season (six games). In four regular season games against such defenses, he has averaged 197.5 yards and 2.0 touchdowns. He's better than expected in terms of efficiency against tougher pass defenses, but he doesn't outperform the baseline enough to elevate the offense individually.
- Tannehill's biggest weakness has been taking sacks. The Chiefs ranked only 23rd in adjusted pressure rate this season but did generate pressure on a third of Deshaun Watson's drop backs and sacked him four times last weekend.
- Over the past five weeks, A.J. Brown ($6,800) has averaged 5.4 targets per game, good for a team-best 24.3% target share. Corey Davis ($5,000) is second at a 17.1% share (3.8 per game), followed by Tajae Sharpe ($4,700) at 13.5% (3.0) and Jonnu Smith ($5,600) at 12.6%. Smith had an impressive touchdown last week but saw merely two targets, though he did play 94.6% of the snaps. He's the third-best tight end option on the slate.
- Tannehill's downfield (16-plus yards) targets favor Brown and Davis, as each have eight in this span. Sharpe has four.
- Kansas City ranked fourth in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers this year and were seventh in per-attempt Passing NEP on downfield passes.
Kansas City Offense Notes
- Patrick Mahomes ($9,500) isn't overly easy to fit in, but he rates out as the best quarterback play of the weekend. That isn't surprising. The Titans' defense just forced Lamar Jackson to his second-worst game of the season in terms of Passing NEP per drop back (-0.09) and nearly 0.40 points per drop back below his full-season rate of 0.30.
- Mahomes has just been unaffected by opponents this season. In two games against top-four pass defenses, he averaged 328.5 passing yards and 2.0 touchdowns for a per-drop back Passing NEP of 0.31. All other passers averaged a -0.13 Passing NEP per drop back against top-four defenses. This isn't to imply the Titans won't affect Mahomes, but rather to suggest that we may not need to overreact to the Titans' recent turnaround.
- In six post-bye games, Mahomes' target distribution has been 30.0% for Travis Kelce ($7,800), 19.5% for Tyreek Hill ($7,400), and 12.6% for Sammy Watkins ($5,200). Per game, those target totals are 9.5 for Kelce, 6.2 for Hill, and 4.0 for Watkins. Hill does lead in downfield targets with 12 (a 36.4% share), and Kelce and Watkins each have 8 of their own (24.2%).
- Narrowing the focus to the three games in which Damien Williams ($7,600) has played, it's 28.9% for Kelce, 17.8% for Williams, 15.6% for Hill, and 10.0% for Watkins.
- Tennessee ranked 30th this season in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends. With his elite workload, Kelce is a priority target even though spending up at tight end is a risky play on a short slate (because of how it'll impact the rest of your lineup).
- The Titans rank 12th in Passing NEP per attempt allowed on downfield throws. Hill is very much a slate-changing option but should be considered second chair to Kelce.
- Williams played 96.9% of the team's snaps last week and has been given RB1 treatment. It may feel egregious to rank him over Henry outright, but given the anticipated game flow and price, Williams makes a lot of sense. Tennessee is a pass-funnel defense, ranking top-six against the run and only 23rd in Target Success Rate allowed to backs. Williams seems foolproof here.
Core Plays: Damien Williams, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Derrick Henry
Secondary Plays: Tyreek Hill, Jonnu Smith, A.J. Brown, Sammy Watkins
Tournament Plays: Ryan Tannehill, Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe
Green Bay at San Francisco
|Matchup||Green Bay||San Francisco|
|Over/Under | Spread||45.0||-7.5|
|Implied Team Total||18.75||26.25|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||75%||48%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||73%||48%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||18||14|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||8||2|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||31||8|
Another 7.5-point spread makes for another potentially lopsided game. The betting action is on the over, though, so maybe there will be more fireworks than we would expect at first glance.
Green Bay Offense Notes
- Aaron Rodgers ($8,000) rates as the worst projected quarterback on the slate, per my projections, though it's close enough that it doesn't really matter. He's more likely to bust than any other passer, yet the ceiling is still relevant (21.1 FanDuel points as a 75th-percentile outcomes).
- The San Francisco 49ers pose a tough test for Rodgers for sure. Rodgers has played to the expected level against four top-eight pass defenses this season (-0.05 Passing NEP per drop back) for an average of 208.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns in them. This includes a 104-yard, 33-attempt outing against the 49ers back in Week 12. Rodgers was sacked five times and had a Passing Success Rate of just 26.3% in that one. That was the fifth-lowest single-game success rate for any quarterback with at least 30 pass attempts this season.
- In that game, Bryan Bulaga left after nine snaps, so take the individual matchup with a grain of salt, but don't ignore Rodgers' splits against good defenses entirely.
- Davante Adams ($8,300) drew 12 targets against the Niners and had 43 yards with a touchdown but still had his least efficient per-target game of the season in that one. Via PFF, Adams' 12 targets came against 7 different defenders, and 4 came against Ahkello Witherspoon.
- Four games ago, Allen Lazard ($5,100) saw a surge in his role in terms of snaps and routes. In that four-game sample, Adams has a monstrous 36.8% target share (13.3 per game) and 3.3 downfield targets per game (31.7%). Lazard is second on the team with a 13.9% target share, though he was limited to only 31.3% of the snaps last week because of an ankle injury.
- Last week's route leaders were Adams (96.7%), Aaron Jones ($7,800; 66.7%), Jimmy Graham ($5,300; 53.3%), Jake Kumerow ($4,700; 50.0%), Lazard (40.0%), Geronimo Allison ($4,600; 40.0%), and Jace Sternberger ($4,000; 23.3%). Even with merely 12 routes from Lazard, no Packer had more than 4 targets aside from Adams (11). Opportunity will be there for somebody, but in terms of bankability, this isn't the team to be focusing on for secondary and tertiary receivers.
- Aaron Jones played 84.4% of the team's snaps last week despite the return of Jamaal Williams ($4,800), bucking a trend that featured split work between them when both were healthy. Jones does get to face the small culvert in the 49ers' defense: Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. San Francisco is 18th in that category despite ranking 8th in overall adjusted rushing efficiency. Big plays may not be there, but Jones could carve out consistent rushes while the receivers get blanketed.
San Francisco Offense Notes
- The backfield for the 49ers is a nightmare. Last week, Tevin Coleman ($6,500) received the featured role. He had 22 carries but no targets for 105 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. His snap rate was only 46.5%. By comparison, Raheem Mostert ($5,800) played 33.8% of the snaps, and Matt Breida ($5,000) played 16.9%. Mostert was dealing with a calf cramp because of an illness he had been experiencing. While he could be over it come Sunday, we can never feel fully confident in this backfield. For the price, Mostert is likely the best bet, as a committee should probably be the expectation here.
- Further, the Green Bay Packers are beatable on the ground, as they rank 31st in adjusted rushing defense overall and 30th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs. The game plan could be to limit Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,600) and ride the duo or trio of running backs to a victory.
- Garoppolo threw only 19 times in last weekend's win against the Minnesota Vikings, and that gives him three straight games with fewer than 30 pass attempts (27, 22, 19).
- In a pretty decent sample against top-eight pass defenses (five games), Garoppolo has averaged 23.8 attempts, 198.4 yards, and 1.2 passing touchdowns. His Passing NEP per drop back of 0.13 is miles better than the average in that split (-0.05). Garoppolo's concern is never efficiency but rather ceiling. He's my second-ranked quarterback of the weekend and is the cheapest of the four starters, as well.
- In nine games in which both George Kittle ($7,000) and Emmanuel Sanders ($5,500) played at least half the snaps together, the team's target distribution has been: 29.9% for Kittle, 19.7% for Sanders, 18.8% for Deebo Samuel ($6,300), and 9.0% for Kendrick Bourne ($5,400). The downfield targets favor Sanders (10), then Kittle (7) and Samuel (5).
- The Packers rank 16th against tight ends and 9th against receivers in Target Success Rate. Kittle isn't quite on par with Kelce, but both stand out as elite plays, given the opportunity cost of not having them: their 25th-percentile outcomes (11.0 for Kelce and 9.7 for Kittle) are higher than the 75th-percentile outcomes for any other tight end on the slate (9.2 for Jonnu Smith is the highest).
- Last week's route rates favored Sanders (95.2%), with Kittle and Samuel at 85.7% each. Bourne had 61.9%. No other 49er had a target last week. So, while the volume will probably be low, it has at least been concentrated on three players.
Core Plays: Aaron Jones, George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders
Secondary Plays: Davante Adams, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jimmy Garoppolo
Tournament Plays: Aaron Rodgers, Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Graham, Allen Lazard