DraftKings NFL Cash Game Lineup Advice: Conference Championship Round
The Saints have the highest team over/under total of the weekend at 30 points, per Pinnacle. They also won’t be tasked with playing in the cold weather expected in Kansas City. Those factors helped make it easy to pick four members of the Saints for this week’s cash games piece. Because there are only two games this week, I’ve eliminated the “other notables” sections at a few positions.
Drew Brees (NO): $5,900 vs. Rams
Even if you’re unconcerned with the difference between playing in extreme cold and playing in a dome, the $700 discount spinning down from Patrick Mahomes to Brees makes this an easy call. Furthermore, there’s only a $100 discount to spin down from Brees to Brady and a $500 savings dropping down to Jared Goff. The savings on the non-Mahomes options aren’t nearly enough to drop from Brees and his world-beater home splits to Brady or Goff. In seven home games this year (excluding his postseason start last week), Brees completed 76.27% of his passes, tossed 21 touchdowns, one interception, totaled a 133.3 quarterback rating, posted 11.13 adjusted yards per attempt, and averaged 321.6 passing yards per game.
He began last week’s game with a pick on an underthrow to an open Ted Ginn, but he ultimately finished with a strong passing line of 301 yards and two touchdowns. He laid the wood to the Rams’ behinds in their Week 9 meeting — albeit without Aqib Talib. Brees should once again play well even with Talib back in the fold for the rematch.
Alvin Kamara (NO): $6,500 vs. Rams
Kamara built on his strong rookie season with a better follow-up sophomore campaign. He averaged 106.13 yards from scrimmage and 5.4 receptions per game while scoring a whopping 18 rushing plus receiving touchdowns. He didn’t skip a beat after Mark Ingram rejoined him in the backfield starting in Week 5. In fact, he scored 12 of his touchdowns in 11 games with Ingram. He’s very clearly New Orleans’ No. 1 back, and he’s completely game-script proof should the Saints fall behind again this week and be tasked with playing from behind.
Damien Williams (KC): $6,400 vs. Patriots
I actually like Williams a bit better than Kamara, and he’s underpriced relative to his late-season workhorse emergence. He used his fresh legs last week to cream the Colts for 129 yards and a score on 25 carries and added five grabs for 25 yards, too. He’s bested 125 yards from scrimmage and caught five or more passes in three of his last four games, and he’s riding a five-game streak of reaching paydirt. The matchup is favorable as well. The Patriots were no great shakes in any capacity on the road this year, and if you toss out road tilts against the hapless Derek Anderson-led Bills and Josh McCown-led Jets, they were thumped for an average of 149 rushing yards per game in the other six contests.
Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Patriots just 19th defending the run in the regular season and 22nd defending backs in the passing game. Game script should also be favorable for Williams with the Chiefs favored by three. James White is listed as the only other notable running back, and he’s my favorite flex option. Though, there is a wideout who’s a few hundred dollars more included in the other notable receivers below who’s a close second choice to White for the flex position.
- James White (NE): $5,400 at Chiefs
Michael Thomas (NO): $8,200 vs. Rams
Ted Ginn (NO): $4,300 vs. Rams
Remember Brees’ otherworldly home splits noted above? Of course you do. The veteran signal caller’s home dominance bodes well for his aforementioned do-it-all back and his No. 1 and No. 2 receivers. While Brees’ ability to raise the level of play for little known ancillary pieces in New Orleans’ offense gets attention, the heavy lifting is tightly consolidated at the top. Kamara and Thomas are the heavy lifters.
Thomas led the NFL in receptions (125) and receptions per game (7.8), ranked eighth in receiving yards per game (87.8), and tied for 10th in touchdown receptions (nine). As impressive as his overall numbers are, he was at his best at home. In eight home starts, he averaged 8.5 receptions and 102.8 receiving yards per game with six touchdowns.
Those number were actually suppressed a bit by a 5-29-0 line in the meaningless regular season finale Brees didn’t play in, too. Last week, he flamed the Eagles for a 12-171-1 line on 16 targets, and in Week 9 against the Talib-less Rams, he exploded for a 12-211-1 line on 15 targets. Thomas gets the nod over Tyreek Hill as the top receiver, and since it’s unreasonable to squeeze Hill in with the previously touted backs and the forthcoming big-ticket tight end, I didn’t include him among the other notable receivers.
In two games back from injured reserve, Ginn has been targeted 15 times. He’s turned those targets into a ho-hum eight receptions for 118 yards. The volume is promising, though, and lost in the box score scanning is that Brees underthrew Ginn on what could have been a long touchdown on New Orleans’ first play from scrimmage last week. In two seasons with the Saints, Ginn has thrived at home, averaging 5.4 targets, 3.9 receptions, 60.4 receiving yards, and 0.4 touchdowns per game in 10 home games, per RotoViz’s Game Splits App. Those numbers will certainly play at Ginn’s value salary. As I alluded to above, White is my preferred flex, but Woods is narrowly edged out behind him.
- Robert Woods (LAR): $5,700 at Saints
- Josh Reynolds (LAR): $4,200 at Saints
- Sammy Watkins (KC): $4,000 vs. Patriots
- Phillip Dorsett (NE): $3,900 at Chiefs
- Chris Hogan (NE): $3,700 at Chiefs
Travis Kelce (KC): $7,100 vs. Patriots
This pick doesn’t really need much analysis. Think of the tight end landscape on this weekend’s two-game slate like a desert and Kelce as a glass of water. Kansas City’s super-stud tight end briefly held the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end after amassing 1,336 in 16 games. If you doubled the receiving yardage total of the next closest tight end, Rob Gronkowski (682 yards), playing on this week’s slate, that total would fall a mere 28 yards shy of Kelce’s season total. Ben Watson’s 400 receiving yards were the third-highest total at the position among this week’s options. To really put a bow on the futility of this week’s collection of tight end options, all of the non-Kelce tight ends combined totaled 2,220 receiving yards. Yikes. There’s no reason to overthink this selection.
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST (KC): $2,500 vs. Patriots
As opposed to rehashing why Kansas City’s defense/special teams is a good play, let me direct you to what I wrote about them for my suggested FanDuel GPP lineup. In short, the Chiefs are much better on defense at home, tied for the NFL lead in sacks, tied for eighth in turnovers forced, and New England’s offense sputtered on the road. The salary relief gained by spinning down to the Rams ($2,300) or Patriots ($2,100) doesn’t do much for upgrading elsewhere, and Kansas City’s defense actually has intriguing upside as well.
- Saints (NO): $2,700 vs. Rams