Ah, conference championship weekend. There's nothing like this slate on the football DFS calendar. Two games, multiple ways to play, high-octane offenses and even higher over/unders.
This should be a really entertaining Sunday of DFS, mostly because there are so many conceivable routes to take in your lineup building. The field likely won't be zeroing in on one team.
The NFC championship between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints opened at a 56.5 over/under, with the Saints favored by three at home. The AFC championship opened with a 57 over/under with the Chiefs favored by three at home. Given the Vegas standard that the home team is worth about three points, the bookmakers see these teams as even, which make sense considering they are the top four seeds.
With the addition of the single-game showdown slates this year, there are also multiple ways to play on Sunday.
• With high over/unders, I'm avoiding taking kickers or defenses. A kicker is likely going to max out at about 15-17 points, and that's if just about everything goes right for them. I don't want to put that kind of ceiling on anybody on my roster. Same goes for defenses in what is expected to be a shootout in both games.
• You'll have to find a low-priced skill position player or two to balance the studs you'll want to play. My suggestion is to look at red-zone targets in offenses that spread the ball out more than others. The Saints and Patriots are generally good for a player you've barely heard of finding the end zone.
• Two early stats that stood out to me above others: 1) Tom Brady has three career starts at Arrowhead Stadium. He has three touchdowns and six interceptions in those three starts. 2) Per Rotoworld's Evan Silva, the Chiefs have not allowed more than 30 points in 34 straight games at Arrowhead.
A couple of notes if you're playing the two-game slate:
• Don't get cute with the Kansas City offense. It's nice to think that the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes can spread the ball around and hit anybody at anytime. They narrowed their passing game significantly against the Colts. Of Mahomes' 41 attempts, 37 of them went to Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Damien Williams.
If you're playing any Chiefs, you're going to have to pay for them to get any sort of expected value.
At $6,600 on DraftKings, Mahomes is his cheapest price since Week 6. Even though he's $9,000 on FanDuel as the most expensive player on the slate, he's worth the price.
Damien Williams ($6,400 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) is going to find his way into a lot of my lineups. Per analyst Warren Sharp, the Patriots entered the playoffs having allowed 7 yards per play on runs out of "11" personnel (one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers). In the final six weeks of the regular season, per Sharp, the Chiefs ran 63 percent of the time out of "11." And, although the Chiefs and Patriots played back in October, the Chiefs still had Kareem Hunt rushing for them, not Williams.
In the NFC game, let's start with a simple one: Play Michael Thomas (price? who cares). He went for 12-211-1 on the Rams in Week 9, got 16 targets against the Eagles and has three scores in three career playoff games.
The Rams are tougher to figure out, because all of a sudden, they are a historically great rushing team. The Dallas team the Rams just destroyed with two 100-yard rushers in one game was a top-five rushing defense.
The one place the Saints have been consistently vulnerable — at least compared to the rest of their defense — is against boundary receivers. Brandin Cooks ($5,300 DraftKings/$6,900 FanDuel) is back in the Superdome, where he thrived with Drew Brees, and given potential recency bias on the Rams' rushing attack, he might be available at lower ownership.