News & Analysis

Jeff Ratcliffe's Conference Championship fantasy football focus: Facts, predictions, and tips

Jan 11, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) catches a touchdown pass over Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during the first quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

And then there were four. Just the Titans, Chiefs, Packers, and 49ers remain standing in the NFL as we head into Conference Championship weekend. While fantasy football isn’t quite the same during the playoffs as it is in the regular season, there’s still plenty of opportunity to play in DFS contests and one-and-done leagues. Regardless of which format you’re in, we have you covered here at PFF. Like we do every week on the Focus, we’re breaking down every game from all fantasy angles below. And for the playoffs, we included a special section on the best one-and-done plays for each game.

Don’t forget that you can also check out our Conference Championship fantasy football rankings, Conference Championship fantasy football projections, and Conference Championship fantasy football matchup charts.

Tennessee @ Kansas City

Greenline: KC -7.2, O/U 54

Matchup upgrade: Despite a favorable matchup, Tyreek Hill didn’t get in on the scoring outburst in last week’s win over the Texans. The wideout finished with just three catches for 41 yards. But we know all too well that you can never fully discount Hill thanks to his enormous ceiling. He’s a good bet to bounce back this week and should have no problem against the Titans secondary. Hill will see his share of Tramaine Brock in coverage. The veteran corner has been targeted a whopping 17 times over the first two weeks of the playoffs.

Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) and running back Damien Williams (26) and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) celebrate a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Other than Patrick Mahomes, it was all Damien Williams and Travis Kelce for the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. The two combined for six touchdowns on the day. Expect to see a ton of both players again this week. While the Titans aren’t a home run of a matchup, they did allow the 11th-most fantasy points per game to running backs with an average of 0.8 rushing scores per game allowed to the position. Tennessee is an even better matchup for tight ends. In the regular season, only the Cardinals, Raiders, and Browns allowed more touchdowns to the position. Kelce is a good bet to go off again this week.

Derrick Henry has been perhaps the biggest star of the playoffs so far. Over the last two weeks, the Titans back has notched the 10th- and 16th-best single-game rushing performances in playoff history. He has topped 30 carries in each of his last three weeks with a massive 96 carries over that span. While we can never guarantee anything in football, another healthy workload is as close to a lock as we have this weekend. Henry has massive fantasy potential yet again this week, especially given Kansas City’s struggles against the run — opposing running backs averaged a healthy 4.87 yards per carry against the Chiefs this season.

While the Titans haven’t thrown the ball very often in the playoffs, we have seen some impressive plays from the Tennessee passing game. One of those plays came from Jonnu Smith last week on his impressive first-quarter receiving touchdown. Smith is clearly behind Kelce and George Kittle this week, but he’s an intriguing pivot given the matchup. Kansas City allowed the third-most receptions to tight ends in the regular season.

Matchup downgrade: After an electric stretch run in the regular season, A.J. Brown has pulled a Houdini act and almost completely disappeared from the box score. The rookie wideout caught just one ball in each of the Titans’ playoff victories with a measly four combined targets in those two contests. Unfortunately for Brown, it doesn’t look like his fortunes will change this week. Brown will see a majority of his coverage from Bashaud Breeland. The veteran corner posted a career-low 45.5% catch rate allowed in the regular season.

Key injuries: Kelce managed to suit up last week after being limited all week in practice. It looks like we could be heading down the same path this week, as Kelce was limited Wednesday. It’s extremely unlikely that he sits this week.

Best one-and-done plays: Picking against the Titans hasn’t worked over the last two weeks. If you’re one of the many who did so, you likely don’t have Henry, Brown, or Ryan Tannehill at your disposal this week. Of course, if you do, all three are intriguing plays. That said, it’s important to consider not only who you’re playing this week, but also who you will have at your disposal in the Super Bowl with all potential outcomes in mind. For example, if you still have the ability to use Kelce, Smith, and Kittle at tight end, then Kittle is the obvious play this week. You’ll have an AFC tight end to use in the Super Bowl regardless of the outcome of this game. However, if you already used Kelce, Smith is the better play given the 49ers’ better odds of making it to the Super Bowl.

Green Bay @ San Francisco

Greenline: SF -7, O/U 46.5

Oct 27, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) reacts after a touchdown by running back Tevin Coleman (26) against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup upgrade: Unlike the AFC championship game, the NFC contest doesn’t come with a bunch of upgrades. In fact, the only noteworthy upgrade goes to the 49ers’ run game. Green Bay allowed 4.86 yards per carry and 0.9 rushing scores per game to running backs in the regular season. A week ago, the San Francisco backfield seemed fairly straightforward following Raheem Mostert’s impressive finish to the season. Of course, that isn’t the case now after Tevin Coleman went out and had himself a day in the Divisional Round. We could certainly see another big game from him, but that’s tough to project as the 49ers will again ride the hot hand. For DFS purposes, it makes sense to have some exposure to both San Francisco backs.

Matchup downgrade: There’s no way around it for Davante Adams. This is a bad matchup. San Francisco’s impressive secondary shut down opposing wideouts in the regular season. Only three defenses allowed fewer receiving yards per game to the position. But Adams isn’t an ordinary receiver. He ranked second among wideouts in PPR scoring from Week 9 on and has seen double-digit targets in nine of his last 10 games. Despite the matchup, Adams still has appeal this week given his potential for another big workload.

Along with Adams, the Packers leaned heavily on Aaron Jones last week, and the back responded with two rushing scores. In the regular season, only the Patriots allowed fewer fantasy points per game to running backs, and that’s obviously not a good thing for Jones. But like Adams, he does see key opportunities. Jones saw a massive five goal-line carries last week. That work in the red zone keeps Jones in play for DFS purposes despite the matchup.

As we predicted in this column last week, the Packers did a good job of holding Russell Wilson in check. Green Bay was the sixth-worst matchup for quarterbacks in the regular season, so it’s tough to get too excited about Jimmy Garoppolo this week. Likewise, Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders are coming off quiet performances in the Divisional Round and could be in store for a similar outcome here. All three players are worth some exposure this week, but don’t be surprised if we see a lot of the San Francisco run game and very little of the passing game.

Key injuries: George Kittle missed Wednesday’s practice session due to an ankle injury, but all reports out of San Francisco suggest it isn’t a major injury. Likewise, Allen Lazard is nursing an ankle injury, but isn’t in danger of not playing.

Best one-and-done plays: This is the week to load up on Packers skill position players. With Green Bay entering this contest as heavy dogs, Aaron Rodgers is the best one-and-done quarterback on the board and an Adams stack is a must. Likewise, Jones is locked into one-and-done lineups this week.

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