We are down to four teams and two games. This is when things start to get more and more cutthroat. Remember to maximize your combinations this week. Also, this is a reminder that there will not be a Dominator during the Pro Bowl – even I’m not degen enough to break that one down (doesn’t mean I won’t be playing though). We will however return for Super Bowl week for a Showdown/Captain contest breakdown.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Joe Burrow managed to have a huge passing day last week without throwing a TD. There was zero way to predict that. The touchdowns will be here this week as this projects to be a shootout. Burrow will be my QB2 overall this week.
Patrick Mahomes has to experience a bit of a letdown after last week’s craziness. Of course, he also gets to upgrade from the Bills secondary to the Bengals secondary in terms of the easier defensive matchup. I’m expecting Mahomes to finish with 380-4 here in the top-scoring spot on the docket.
Joe Mixon is the only sure thing as an every-down back on the slate this week. The matchup is reasonable. KC is decent against rushing RBs, but they are rotten against pass-catching backs. Mixon is capable of doing both. I have him as the RB1 on this slate based on volume alone. My biggest concern with him is if Cincy falls behind too much too early, the rushing portion of his splits will vanish. Samaje Perine is back to a reserve role, and he can be ignored in all formats.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked very solid last week in his first action since returning from injury. Cincy is truly middle of the pack against RBs. In a likely split backfield situation again, CEH is my RB4 here. I was also impressed with Jerick McKinnon’s work. I’ll place him at RB5 and consider both as an RB2 or FLEX. The biggest concern here is if Darrel Williams returns. He could steal touches from both of them. If Williams is active, I’ll probably avoid this backfield completely.
Ja’Marr Chase went nuclear in the prior meeting between these two teams. He has also been unstoppable most of the season. KC did hold Stefon Diggs in check last week, but Gabriel Davis went off. I don’t expect Chase to finish as huge as in the last meeting, but I still think he finishes as a top-three WR this week. Tee Higgins is my WR5. His discounted price from Chase makes him a nice pivot to get exposure to this game. That said, the best pivot play may be to use Tyler Boyd. Boyd will be running the route tree Davis used last week. Do I need to remind you what Davis did? If Tyrann Mathieu ends up missing this game, Boyd is a must-start at WR2/3. Even if Honey Badger plays, I still will have a hard time fading Boyd. I’m not going to look any lower here.
Tyreek Hill will challenge Chase for that WR1 role this week. It will be hard to fit both of them and consider Travis Kelce, so you will need to make a hard decision on one of the three. Cincy was humiliated by A.J. Brown last week, and they have been schooled by WR1s all year. You want exposure to this game, so you have to at least consider Hill here. If you do opt for Kelce instead of Hill, I still recommend choosing either Byron Pringle or Mecole Hardman as a WR3 here. Both should have a great chance to score. I could even see throwing Demarcus Robinson into a random lineup as a punt-FLEX. Pringle also should be considered a favorite for the Showdown Captain role.
C.J. Uzomah has had back-to-back solid games in the playoffs. This matchup is okay, but I feel most of the action will go to the WRs making him the TE4 on this slate. At his price, I will have some exposure. I just won’t race to get him into my lineup. Drew Sample hasn’t done much this season, but I could see throwing him into a Showdown lineup.
Travis Kelce is the best remaining TE. Cincinnati is the worst remaining defense against the position. You do the math. The price is high enough to make this one tricky, but there isn’t a safer play at the thinnest position. Blake Bell and Noah Grey back up Kelce. They really aren’t in play, outside of Showdown dart throws.
Kansas City’s defense should definitely be considered after watching Burrow get shellacked last week. The FD price for KC makes them an optimal play here on DK not so much. Do not consider Cincy on either site.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles is doing everything legally (and perhaps illegally) possible to keep this a home game. I still expect enough Niners faithfully to be in attendance. This should help Jimmy Garoppolo remain able to hear his coach in his ear when he tells him each play to hand the ball off. Yes, there is no upside at all to playing Jimmy G. here. His ceiling is 200-2. That isn’t going to get it done, especially when his floor is also two turnovers. He is the QB4 on this board and it isn’t particularly close.
Matthew Stafford had two mediocre starts against San Fran this season. Obviously, the three scores in Week 18 saved that week but neither start featured more than 245 yards passing. If the ticket sales go as planned, Stafford ought to get a home-team reception this time, which should help him. That said, I still cannot confidently expect more than 250-2 here. That leaves him at QB3.
Eli Mitchell is technically the starting RB for San Francisco. Unfortunately, he has shared touches backfield mate with WR Deebo Samuel over the second half of the season. With so few sure things at RB, he still gets the RB3 nod here since LA can be run through and because the Niners cannot win by throwing the ball. If they are forced to throw the ball, Mitchell could lose most of his value as I’d expect Samuel and JaMycal Hasty to split those looks. This could open up Hasty to a sneaky punt-FLEX role. If Deebo is limited or out this week, Mitchell would see a volume bump. Jeff Wilson exited last week’s game with an ankle injury. His status is shaky, at best, for this week. If he plays, he might be usable in Showdown but that is all. Kyle Juszczyk is always in play as a punt-RB2 or FLEX. He is also a great Showdown play because of his price.
Cam Akers had some fumbling issues last week, but it didn’t keep him from out-touching Sony Michel 27-3. This volume is why Akers is my RB2 overall this week. He is also the better pass catcher of the two, and that is one of the easiest ways to succeed with your running backs against the SF defense. Michel will get the nominal RB6 assignment, but his value will only return if Akers is benched due to his fumbles.
Deebo Samuel will likely see a lot of Jalen Ramsey this week. LA has lost this matchup so far this year, allowing a total of 273 yards and three total scores to Samuel. Now, obviously, not all of those yards came against Ramsey as much was had on the ground as well. Just know that Samuel has gotten it done this year against LA. With so much talent on this slate, Samuel gets the WR4 assignment – but if he were to qualify at running back, he would be the RB2. Just make sure to follow his practice status this week as he did suffer an injury last week. Brandon Aiyuk has looked solid as a WR2 for San Fran since Week 9. Then he went out and laid a goose egg last week on one single target. There is a contrarian argument towards throwing him into a lineup or two at WR3. I just don’t feel comfortable doing it unless Deebo is ruled out. I almost feel better about taking a chance on Jauan Jennings. He has five or more targets in five of his last seven games, and he clowned the Rams in Week 18. One player that could eat into Jennings’s action is Mohamed Sanu. Sanu was just activated off IR this week, so there isn’t even a guarantee that he will suit up. Of course, if he does, he may be the most accurate QB on their roster Sunday. I have a hard time trusting the San Fran depth WRs since this offense is going to struggle to score a lot of points.
Cooper Kupp is no worse than WR3 overall this week. The matchup is average, but he is absurdly talented. My largest concern with Kupp is that his price is too damn high. He will be nearly impossible to fit in your lineup, unless you go digging for scraps at other positions. He has topped 115 receiving yards in both games this year, so consider that his floor. The guy who I am the most concerned with here is Odell Beckham. In the two earlier meetings, he had exactly 2-18 and 2-18. Maybe SF just has that something special to frustrate the combustible receiver. He will get the WR8 tag here, but he falls behind the other options at WR2/3 in my personal preference. Van Jefferson has only 14 catches over the last seven games. He has really fallen in the pecking order with Beckham picking up the slack. If OBJ struggles this week, Jefferson might see a slight uptick in usage. That said, I wouldn’t count on it. He is the WR11 overall this week but can be left for a punt-FLEX role or Showdown. Ben Skowronek just doesn’t receive enough snaps to consider seriously. His only value would come if one of the top three were to get hurt.
George Kittle has gone from a consensus top-three dynasty TE this offseason to a great blocker who occasionally is targeted in the passing game. That is frustrating as he is impossible to bring down with the ball in his hands. Kittle did have two solid games against LA earlier this year, but he also has a total of only 13-141 over his last five games. His innate talent keeps him as the TE2 overall here, but I don’t think I will have a lot of exposure to him.
Beckham’s struggles against SF have benefitted Tyler Higbee so far this year. In the two earlier games, Higbee posted 9-75-3 against the Niners. At his price, I like Higbee as a pivot from Kelce if you decide to stack WRs in the early game. He is the TE3 this week and he could even be in FLEX play if you go double-TE. Kendall Blanton scored last week. It was his first career TD. He doesn’t see much usage, but he could be a dart throw in Showdown contests.
These teams will be the most popular choices for the defense position. I will have a fair amount of exposure to each, leaning slightly towards the Rams since Garoppolo is mistake-prone. That said, I still feel the smart play is to use KC and face a smaller ownership rate.
Here are my recommended lineups:
At DK: $7.4k for Patrick Mahomes. $5.9k for Eli Mitchell. $5k for Cam Akers. $7k for Tyreek Hill. $4.3k for Byron Pringle. $4.2k for Tyler Boyd. $6.5k for Travis Kelce. $6.7k for Ja’Marr Chase at FLEX. $3k for the Kansas City Chiefs defense.
At FD: $7.5k for Joe Burrow. $7k for Mitchell. $6.2k for Akers. $8.1k for Hill. $5.8k for Boyd. $5.7k for Pringle. $7.7k for Kelce. $8k for Chase at FLEX. $3.7k for the Chiefs defense.
At Fanball (featuring SuperFlex): Mahomes, Joe Burrow at SF, Akers and Clyde Edwards-Helaire at RB, Cooper Kupp, Hill, and Boyd at WR, Pringle at FLEX, and Kelce at TE.
Really the only QB that is not usable is Jimmy Garoppolo. I don’t mind Matthew Stafford but will probably use mainly Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow.
Pay to Play
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. CIN ($7,400 DK, $8,800 FD)
Last week, Mahomes had an epic, career-defining game against one of the best pass defenses in the league, in a thriller some consider the greatest contest in the history of the sport. This week, Mahomes faces a much worse defense and is at home with the Big Dance on the line. Anything less than 350-3 would be disappointing. I’d be shocked if he didn’t hit 400-4.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers @ LAR ($5,400 DK, $6,200 FD) Do you like a ceiling of 200-2? That is what you face every week with Garoppolo. He has had a modicum of success against LA this season, but if SF has any aspirations of winning this game, they will win it by keeping the ball out of his hands. Really, the only reason to consider him is to be purely contrarian. Even then you are simply shooting yourself in the foot.
Joe Burrow, Bengals @ KC ($6,600 DK, $7,500 FD)
Burrow showed moxie beyond his years in upsetting Tennessee last week. That should come as no surprise as he has been playing outside of his skin over the last month-plus. Amazingly, Burrow didn’t even throw for a TD in last week’s game. He still finished with a strong yardage line. KC did an okay job of holding Stefon Diggs in check last week, but they were decimated by Gabriel Davis. This makes the hookup with Tyler Boyd a must-start.
It will be interesting to see if Deebo Samuel gets as many carries this week while nursing his knee issue. If Samuel does less on the ground, it could swing Eli Mitchell into RB1 consideration. Otherwise, Joe Mixon is the only sure-thing, every-down back on the board this week. Cam Akers could also fall into the every-down back consideration after last week’s outing as long as he isn’t penalized for his fumbles. Whoever gets the most carries for KC will be an RB2 consideration. Unfortunately, we don’t know who that will be. My money is on Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Both Kyle Juszczyk and JaMycal Hasty could be sneaky punt plays if SF is forced to go pass-heavy.
Pay to Play
Joe Mixon, Bengals @ KC ($6,800 DK, $8,200 FD)
Kansas City is just average against RBs. They are also beatable by both rushing and receiving backs. Mixon is the only true workhorse on the board, and the Bengals would be smart to at least attempt to establish the run to keep the KC offense off the field. Mixon had a decent final line in their earlier meeting, and I expect him to finish with roughly 115 total yards and a score.
Eli Mitchell, 49ers @ LAR ($5,900 DK, $7,000 FD)
You can run the ball against the Rams, and arguably the Niners should do just that. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much volume Mitchell will have and how much he will share with Deebo Samuel. If Deebo concentrates more on WR room this week, and Mitchell gets a full complement of carries, the DK price is great. If they split work, the DK price is fair, and the FD price is awful. I’ll have some exposure to him in hopes that he gets the lion’s share of the touches, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m particularly concerned about the Niners being forced to throw more than they want. This could mean more snaps for Kyle Juszczyk and JaMycal Hasty.
Cam Akers, Rams vs. SF ($5,000 DK, $6,200 FD)
Akers out-touched Sony Michel 27-3 last week. He is also the better overall athlete and the better performer in the passing game. Unfortunately, he also fumbled the ball a couple of times last week. If he isn’t locked in the doghouse over these, then he becomes one of the only true workhorses on this slate. It isn’t a great matchup, but volume alone should make him a must-start at RB2.
This feels like the week where you need at least two of the high-priced options (Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Tyreek Hill, and Ja’Marr Chase). I lean Chase and Hill do to their matchup. Tee Higgins could be a pivot at WR2 (if you don’t use Chase). WR3 should be Tyler Boyd. I also don’t mind using him at WR2, if you want to use Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, or Van Jefferson at WR3. The only obvious punt WR3 option would be Jauan Jennings.
Pay to Play
Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals @ KC ($6,700 DK, $8,000 FD)
Chase went bonkers against KC earlier this year as the team had no answer for Burrow’s favorite toy. Even if he ends up with only half of his output from that earlier game, he still would approach 3x value. KC did slow down Stefon Diggs last week, but don’t let that dissuade you from using Ja’Marr here.
Odell Beckham, Rams vs. SF ($5,100 DK, $6,300 FD) Beckham posted a pair of duds against SF earlier this season. He also struggled in his one game against the Niners when he was with Cleveland. You have to go all the way back to his time with the New York Giants to find a quality output against this defense. Some teams just have some people’s numbers. The DK price is fine for consideration at WR3, but there are so many in the same range that I prefer this week. The FD price is just too high for this level of inconsistency.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals @ KC ($4,200 DK, $5,800 FD)
Apparently, the site algorithm failed to take the hint from what WR3 Gabriel Davis did to this defense last week. Much of that output may have been because of the absence of Tyrann Mathieu, but he cannot be the only failure in their coverage. Yes, I am recommending that you start both Chase and Boyd. I would use both of them at WR1 and WR3 and then run it back with Tyreek Hill at WR2 and Byron Pringle at FLEX.
Fitting both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce under the cap is tough. That said, I will make it work. Kelce is the best play on the slate. I don’t hate George Kittle. I just hate his recent usage. Both Tyler Higbee and C.J. Uzomah could be discount pivots. I could also see using one of those two at FLEX in a double-TE lineup.
Pay to Play
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. CIN ($6,500 DK, $7,700 FD)
You could argue that Kelce fell from the top overall TE spot this season due to the production of Mark Andrews. Kelce still finished in the glorified air of the elite at the position. He is also still alive in the playoffs while Andrews is prepping for the Pro Bowl. Cincy, meanwhile, is the worst remaining team against the position. Kelce proved last week that he didn’t even have to run a play the way it was designed to make amazing dreams happen. He just has to rely on the trust of his otherworldly QB. This makes Kelce the only TE who is a certainty to top the century yardage mark and the only one guaranteed to score.
George Kittle, 49ers @ LAR ($5,000 DK, $5,800 FD)
Kittle finally showed some life last week. Perhaps the injury to Deebo Samuel forced San Fran’s hand. Even though his coach doesn’t want his QB to throw the ball, Kittle has the physical tools to erupt with the right opportunities. I just don’t see those opportunities coming here. They probably should, but I don’t think that they will. Your best hope is probably 6-60-1, which would equate to 3x value. Unfortunately, you may also see the 3-36-0 floor.
Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. SF ($3,700 DK, $5,500 FD)
So, you don’t want to pay up for Travis Kelce. I understand. There are a lot of great WRs to spend big bucks on this week. If you choose to go that route, use Higbee here as he has a nose for the end zone against the Niners. In two games this year, Higbee has scored three times. This is half of the six TE scores that SF allowed this year. The price also puts him in play at FLEX if you choose to use double-TE paired with Kelce.