Was that the greatest round of football ever? I’m still dreaming about the wonderful wizardry littered throughout the weekend. Alas, four teams now remain, which makes my job much tougher, er, more fun.
Like last week, I’ll focus less on sneaky starts or shocking sits at each position. Instead, I’ll just break down my top targets for DFS or postseason best ball. Have any more fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter @ZachCohenFB!
Start: Patrick Mahomes vs. CIN
I know this is obvious. It’s not supposed to be bold. Mahomes is just clearly the best quarterback to start in the conference championships regardless of price. Could Joe Burrow continue to pop off? Of course he can, especially after what we just saw Josh Allen and the Bills do to the Chiefs’ defense. In the end, though, Mahomes seems to be the safer option.
Again, I’m not trying to be bold. My advice to you if you’re playing daily fantasy this weekend: Keep it simple. Mahomes has also thrown just two interceptions in his last six games and has tossed at least three touchdowns in four of his last six games—as if you needed another reason to slot him in your lineups.
Sit: Matthew Stafford vs. SF
Don’t get it twisted, Stafford has looked pretty darn good during the playoffs. While that may continue against San Francisco, there is still a chance Stafford bottoms out. Before the postseason, Stafford was not looking so hot. Look, I’m not predicting a bad game from Stafford. I’m simply pointing out the possibility of a bad game from him.
The 49ers’ defense has been red-hot this postseason. They held the Cowboys to 17 points in Dallas and held the Packers to 10 points in Green Bay. Who knows if they keep it up against the Rams in Los Angeles? After all, they did beat them in L.A. just under three weeks ago. If you won’t go with Mahomes, I’d advise Joe Burrow over Stafford. And anyone but Jimmy Garoppolo, please.
Start: Jerick McKinnon vs. CIN
Raise your hand if you had McKinnon’s re-emergence on your 2021 NFL playoffs bingo card? He’s seen at least 10 carries and six targets in each of the last two games. Now I know a big part of that is likely due to Darrel Williams’ absence. However, there’s no indication Andy Reid will shy away from McKinnon even if Williams returns.
The best strategy a team can do in the playoffs is to simply–you guessed it–ride the hot hand. That’s McKinnon. He’s also not going to be as expensive as Joe Mixon or Cam Akers, both of whom definitely deserve lineup consideration.
Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. CIN
Is it too obvious? Because Edwards-Helaire has played 30% of the snaps in each playoff game thus far. McKinnon is clearly the top running back right now, and who’s to say how the backfield shifts when Williams comes back.
Edwards-Helaire’s inclusion has more to do with the rest of the running backs. Joe Mixon clearly is the best running back playing this weekend. Cam Akers had some fumbling issues on Sunday, but he’s still playing well with a good chunk of carries. Elijah Mitchell has seen 20-plus carries in all seven of his latest games, excluding a snowy win in Green Bay. And he’s done a good job, too. I expect all three of those running backs to play fairly well this weekend. If Williams does come back, perhaps McKinnon sees a decline in usage. But he’s also been really good and wouldn’t cost you as much as the three top running backs. That kind of leaves Edwards-Helaire left remaining… unless you’re a big fan of Samaje Perine for some reason.
Start: Byron Pringle vs. CIN
Similar to last week, I’m opting for a lesser-owned player for running back and wide receiver. Although, three touchdowns in the last two games has rightfully put Pringle on the fantasy radar. We’ve seen what Pringle can do in this offense. He’s the Chiefs’ WR2 for the remainder of their season.
Not only is Pringle hot as heck right now, but he’ll cost less than receivers like Tee Higgins, Odell Beckham Jr., and Brandon Aiyuk, to name a few. Pringle is the ultimate start in DFS or postseason best ball this weekend, and not just because the Bengals have allowed the eighth-most points to wide receivers this season.
Sit: Tyler Boyd at KC
This is not an anti-Boyd section. Boyd has been playing very nicely. Prior to the divisional round, Boyd had scored a touchdown in four straight games. Unfortunately, Boyd followed up that impressive string with just two catches for 17 receiving yards. It’s even more concerning when you see he’s caught between 2-4 passes in each of the last four games. It’s definitely possible Cincinnati slings the rock a bunch against Kansas City, which would benefit Boyd. I just think there’s a good chance Boyd isn’t involved enough to make him a worthy start. You can even make the argument C.J. Uzomah has been playing better than Boyd lately.
If you roll with Boyd in your lineups, that’s totally fine. I’d prefer Beckham or Aiyuk at what should be a similar value. Or you can shoot for the stars with a cheaper option like Pringle or Van Jefferson.
Start: Travis Kelce vs. CIN
I’ll keep this simple because there’s no point in wasting too many words on why Kelce is a good start. He’s Travis freaking Kelce. I’m sorry for the lack of insight or analysis here, but you should spend whatever it takes to ensure a good tight end in your lineups. And as the cherry on top, the Bengals have allowed the second-most points to tight ends this season. Lock him in.
Sit: George Kittle at LAR
Let’s follow up that bland take with a spicy one. But first, can someone tell me where Kittle has been? In the last six games, he’s reached 30 receiving yards just twice while scoring the same number of touchdowns that you and I scored.
We saw a slight resurgence against Green Bay when he caught four passes for 63 receiving yards, but other than that, his last month of games has been very underwhelming. That includes a five-catch performance at the Rams, which amounted to just 10 yards. I’m not saying Kittle will replicate those horrid numbers, but it opens up the door for another dud.
If you don’t feel like coughing up some money for Kelce, then Tyler Higbee or even C.J. Uzomah may be the next best options. They’ve gained real momentum as of late, whereas Kittle has experienced the opposite. You shouldn’t take the risk at Kittle’s cost.