Fantasy Football: Starts and DFS picks based on high-value opportunities ahead of Super Bowl 55

Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) before the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to fantasy football, volume has always been king. We want the players who generate the most targets and touches — more opportunities lead to more fantasy points. But not all opportunities are created equal.

Last summer, I wrote about money opportunities — the most high-value touches and targets players can receive, including end-zone targets, deep targets (20 yards or more), air yards, carries inside the 10-yard line and carries inside the 5-yard line.

It's time to take a look at players whose stocks are up based on the high-value opportunities they saw in the divisional round. Whether these opportunities resulted in fantasy production is irrelevant — if these players keep seeing high-value opportunities, fantasy points will follow.

We can use this information to help us identify under-the-radar and pay-up DFS options for Super Bowl LV.


Most end-zone targets | conference championship round (including plays negated by penalties)
Player End-zone Targets
Davante Adams 5
Stefon Diggs 2
Gabriel Davis 2
Travis Kelce 1
Mike Evans 1
Cameron Brate 1
Tyreek Hill 1
Isaiah McKenzie 1
Robert Tonyan 1
Mecole Hardman 1
Scotty Miller 1

Aaron Rodgers was dead-set on attacking the end-zone in the NFC Championship game. His go-to red-zone wide receiver, Davante Adams, commanded a whopping five end-zone targets but was only able to haul in one for a touchdown.

I would anticipate that Patrick Mahomes and company will follow a similar approach against the pass-funnel Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. That means plenty of top end-zone target Travis Kelce.

The Buccaneers have allowed the league’s third-highest passer rating (125.4), second-highest completion percentage (80%) and most completions to tight ends targeted in the end zone this season.

The Chiefs tight end leads the team in end-zone target share (31%) since Week 15, almost ensuring he hits his anytime touchdown Super Bowl prop.

Last week we also saw two Buffalo Bills receivers command two end-zone targets apiece, which bodes well for the Tampa Bay offense. Tom Brady leads the NFL in pass attempts to the end zone, and all of his receivers have benefitted from seeing those high-value targets.

Chris Godwin has the most end-zone targets since Week 15, but several other Bucs pass-catchers are on his tail. On the season, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski have each totaled 19 end-zone targets — fourth-most among all receivers.

Most end-zone targets since Week 15 (including plays negated by penalties)
Player End-zone targets
Chris Godwin 6
Rob Gronkowski 5
Antonio Brown 5
Travis Kelce 4
Mike Evans 4
Cameron Brate 4
Tyreek Hill 3
Demarcus Robinson 2
Mecole Hardman 2
Scotty Miller 2

Gronk ran more routes than Cameron Brate for the second straight game last week (23 versus 13), so I’d be going against my brand if I didn’t at least suggest chasing the routes run in a favorable matchup.

Kansas City ranks 31st in passer rating allowed (125.9) on end-zone targets to tight ends. Gronkowski is finally priced below Brate ($4,800 versus $3,000), so he could be the perfect option to provide salary relief with so many other studs available on the slate.

Highest percentage of team’s end-zone targets since Week 15
Player End-zone target share
Travis Kelce 31%
Chris Godwin 23%
Tyreek Hill 23%
Rob Gronkowski 19%
Antonio Brown 19%
Mike Evans 15%
Cameron Brate 15%
Demarcus Robinson 15%
Mecole Hardman 15%
Scotty Miller 6%


Most carries inside the 10-yard line | conference championship round
Player Attempts
Darrel Williams 3
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 1

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was clearly the starting running back in the AFC Championship game. CEH played a 70% snap share through the first three quarters and out-carried Williams six to three. He also ran 19 pass routes to Williams’ eight.

Williams got all the work in the fourth quarter, which inflated his final stat line. Edwards-Helaire didn’t play at all in the final quarter of the game.

Still, of the three carries Williams handled while playing with Edwards-Helaire, two came within the 10-yard line.

The fact that he also converted one of his carries into a touchdown will almost certainly boost his ownership, but I don’t think that’s worth chasing. Remember that the Buccaneers have an elite run defense and have allowed the fewest percentage of red-zone touchdowns on the ground (30%) this season.

We want to target the running back that is going to see the most work in the passing game. CEH appeared to be that guy last week. The rookie running back is shaping up to be a great option in DFS. Give me the over on CEH’s receiving prop of 2.5 receptions at plus money.

Most carries inside the 10-yard line since Week 15
Player Attempts
Leonard Fournette 6
Darrel Williams 4
Ronald Jones 3
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 3
Tom Brady 2
Le'Veon Bell 2
Patrick Mahomes 2

Ronald Jones has taken a back seat to “Playoff Lenny” the past several weeks, but that’s not to say he has been eliminated from the offense. He has 23 carries over the past two weeks and at times is still siphoning touches near the goal-line.

Expecting RoJo to catch another 37-yard touchdown like he did the last time he played the Chiefs is probably a pipe dream, but a rushing touchdown or two is well within his range of outcomes. We can never be too careful crowning an RB as a lead back in a Bruce Arians-led offense.


Most deep targets | conference championship round
Player Deep targets
Mike Evans 5
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4
Stefon Diggs 3
Chris Godwin 2
Cameron Brate 1
Tyreek Hill 1
Scotty Miller 1
Tyler Johnson 1
Allen Lazard 1

Mike Evans saw five deep targets in the NFC Championship game but was only able to catch one. Nevertheless, we will continue to chase his 169 air yards into the Super Bowl. The Chiefs defense continually gets attacked downfield.

Just last week, we saw Stefon Diggs lead all players in total air yards (173) when he faced Kansas City.

The Buccaneers’ No. 1 wide receiver leads all players in team air yards share (30%) since Week 15.

Chris Godwin isn’t far behind Evans with a 27% team air yards share in addition to a team-leading 22% target share over the same time span. As is the case with the Chiefs pass-catchers, the K.C. defense will have to make a decision between focusing on Evans or Godwin. 

My lean is to play Evans in DFS because he sees just a bit more action on the perimeter. Since Week 15, the Chiefs rank 25th in explosive passing plays (31%) to wide receivers aligned on the outside.

They rank fourth (9%) against the slot.

Most air yards | conference championship round
Player Air yards
Stefon Diggs 173
Mike Evans 169
Chris Godwin 145
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 132
Tyreek Hill 105
Davante Adams 75
Travis Kelce 74
Allen Lazard 73
Cole Beasley 61
Cameron Brate 59
Most air yards since Week 15
Player Air yards
Mike Evans 776
Chris Godwin 714
Tyreek Hill 354
Travis Kelce 325
Antonio Brown 320
Cameron Brate 271
Rob Gronkowski 240
Mecole Hardman 233
Scotty Miller 162
Tyler Johnson 123
Sammy Watkins 119

The Buccaneers defense is the reversal of the Chiefs' tendencies — Tampa ranks 29th in explosive pass play percentage allowed to slot WRs (29%) and eighth allowed to boundary receivers (14%).

This bodes well for some of the ancillary Chiefs receivers, like Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman who have each seen a 50% snap share from the slot this season.

Hardman saw two deep targets from the slot the last time he faced Tampa but caught neither pass. On the season, he has 10 deep targets from the slot with only one catch.

Last season, he caught five of his eight deep targets from the slot.

Highest percentage of team’s air yards since Week 15
Player Air yards share
Mike Evans 30%
Tyreek Hill 29%
Chris Godwin 27%
Travis Kelce 26%
Mecole Hardman 19%
Antonio Brown 12%
Cameron Brate 10%
Sammy Watkins 10%

There’s no denying that Hardman presents great upside, but he also comes with a massive amount of risk. After seeing such heavy involvement in the Divisional Round, Hardman ran fewer routes (16) than CEH (19), Demarcus Robinson (29) and Byron Pringle (31) in the AFC Championship game.

Watkins re-entering the lineup also presents a risk for any investment in Hardman. The last time we saw Watkins return from an injury (Week 12), he played a relatively full snap share (43 routes run).

In that matchup, his usage came at the expense of Hardman, who ran only 19 routes. Before Watkins’ next injury, Hardman’s role decreased dramatically from Weeks 13-16.

Highest team target share since Week 15
Player Target share
Travis Kelce 30%
Tyreek Hill 24%
Chris Godwin 22%
Mike Evans 19%
Mecole Hardman 16%
Antonio Brown 15%
Leonard Fournette 12%
Cameron Brate 11%
Rob Gronkowski 9%

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