FanDuel NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Conference Championship Round

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jan 17, 2019

Chris Conley is a decent punt play who plays a lot of snaps and gets enough red zone looks to potentially score a TD

The team with the highest team over/under total of the NFL Conference Championship Round will enjoy the temperature controlled environment of their home dome, and they’re well represented below with a maximum four-man stack. They’re joined by another four-man stack from the other favorite on the weekend. The second four-man stack is headlined by their uber-chalk tight end, do-it-all back with fresh legs, a speedy wideout, and their defense/special teams. The lone outlier from the two four-man favorite stacks is a field-stretching wideout.

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Quarterback

Drew Brees (NO): $8,800 vs. Rams
Brees has long been much better at home than on the road, and this year it has been more of the same. However, he’s been borderline unstoppable at home, as evidenced by his otherworldly 133.3 quarterback rating in seven home games in the regular season. He tossed 21 touchdowns compared to just one interception, completed 76.27% of his passes, posted an eye-popping 11.13 adjusted yards per attempt, and averaged a robust 321.6 passing yards per game.

His overall home numbers were certainly aided by torching the Rams in Week 9 for 346 passing yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. In fairness to them, those Rams were without Aqib Talib. Even with him back though, I’ll gladly back Brees at home. As I teased in the intro, the Saints have the highest team over/under total of the weekend at 30 points, per Pinnacle.

Running Back

Alvin Kamara (NO): $8,100 vs. Rams
Simply put, the gap in Kamara’s price and New England’s tandem of James White ($7,700) and Sony Michel ($7,500) made selecting New Orleans’ electric back an exceptionally easy choice. Kamara is game-script proof, but the same can’t be said of Michel and White — though, the latter is admittedly fully capable of getting short passing work with New England leading and milking clock.

As for Kamara, he averaged a hearty 106.13 yards from scrimmage with 18 rushing plus receiving touchdowns in the regular season while hauling in 5.4 receptions per game. He basically hit his yards from scrimmage average right on the nose in the Divisional Round with 106 yards from scrimmage on 16 carries and four receptions, but he failed to reach pay dirt. He had no problem reaching pay dirt against the Rams earlier in the year with three touchdowns, and he piled up 108 yards from scrimmage on 13 carries and one reception. The matchup is a plus, as Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Rams 28th defending the run in the regular season.

Damien Williams (KC): $7,200 vs. Patriots
Speaking of plus matchups, facing the Patriots outside of New England has been favorable this season. The Patriots allowed 24.0 points per game to opponents on the road this year and that average swells to 28.83 points per game allowed if you drop matchups in Buffalo against the Derek Anderson-led Bills and to the Meadowlands to face the Josh McCown-led Jets. If you once again lop off the outmatched Bills and Jets from New England’s road totals, they allowed an average of 149 rushing yards per game in the other six road contests. The Patriots were also rather giving to backs in the passing game overall this year, tying for the 11th-most receptions (90), allowing the ninth-most receiving yards (783), and tying for the eighth-most touchdown receptions (four) allowed to backs this year, according to Pro-Football-Reference.

Williams entered this year considered a pass-catching specialist, but he’s shown off a more well-rounded skill-set when pressed into feature duties down the stretch. In his last four games, Williams has per-game averages of 14.75 carries, 83.0 rushing yards, 5.0 targets, 4.75 receptions, 36.0 receiving yards, and 1.25 touchdowns. He’s been a beast, and he was at his best last week erupting for 129 yards and a score on 25 carries as well as 25 receiving yards on five receptions. Last week’s work was just enough to push him over the century mark for offensive touches this year, so he should have plenty left in the tank. I’m bullish on Kansas City’s chances of winning by a much wider margin than the three points they’re favored by, but Williams is game-script proof thanks to his pass-catching skills, anyway. Regardless, a big lead like last week’s would be favorable for him once again this week.

Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas (NO): $8,800 vs. Rams
Thomas is the top stack option with Brees, and he thumped the Rams in the Talib-less meeting for a blistering 12-211-1 line on 15 targets. Even cutting that line in half and keeping the touchdown would be plenty good enough, and it would actually not be a crazy expectation with Thomas averaging 8.5 receptions and 102.8 receiving yards per game with six receiving touchdowns in eight home games in the regular season. Last week, he pantsed the Eagles for a 12-171-1 line on 16 targets. Look for him to continue rolling this week.

Chris Hogan (NE): $5,200 at Chiefs
As I noted in Williams’ write-up above, I’m expecting the Chiefs to win by more than a field goal. With that being the case, I also believe New England is going to be forced to play catch up and air it out.

In last week’s win over the Chargers, Hogan’s 92% snap share was second at receiver to only Julian Edelman’s 96%. He didn’t parlay the playing time into a good line with only three receptions for 13 yards on five targets, but being on the field is a starting point. When the Patriots hosted the Chiefs back in Week 6, Hogan set his season-high in receiving yards with 78 on four receptions. Hogan’s topped 60 yards receiving in two of his last four games, and he should be the top field-stretching option in New England’s Josh Gordon-less offense.

Chris Conley (KC): $4,700 vs. Patriots
In order to squeeze the aforementioned top-flight options on this roster as well as a stud tight end and a high-upside flex, there had to be a punt somewhere. Conley is that punt. He was unable to corral either of his targets last week, and he didn’t catch any of his three targets in the regular season finale. The speedy wideout last made a positive box score contribution hauling in three of five targets for 54 yards in Week 16, and that was prior to the return of Sammy Watkins in last week’s playoff contest.

Even with Watkins back and leading the receivers by playing 93% of the offensive snaps, Conley still played a healthy 64% of the team’s offensive snaps. He’s down the pecking order for looks in the offense, so a high-volume day is always unlikely. However, he does have red zone rapport with Patrick Mahomes.

According to Lineups, Conley’s 11 red zone targets in the regular season were third on the Chiefs. He hauled in seven of those targets, and five went for touchdowns. New England ranked in the middle of the pack in touchdowns allowed to receivers, ranking tied for the 14th most allowed with 17. At nearly the minimum salary for a receiver, a touchdown would be good enough from Conley.

Tight End

Travis Kelce (KC): $7,400 vs. Patriots
I’m not going to waste much time discussing Kelce. His 15.2 FanDuel points per game is a pinch below double Rob Gronkowski’s average of 8.3 FanDuel points per game this season. All of the other tight ends averaged under 5.5 FanDuel points per game this year. Kelce is in the discussion for the game’s best tight end, and this two-game slate is bereft of talent at the position. Plug him in and make concessions elsewhere to accommodate his $7,400 price tag. I’ll have him on all of my FanDuel GPP rosters.

Flex

Ted Ginn (NO): $5,300 vs. Rams
Ginn rightfully received a bump from his hilarious minimum salary price tag last week. Since joining the Saints before the 2017 season, Ginn’s played in 10 home games (excluding last week’s playoff contest) and posted per-game averages of 5.4 targets, 3.9 receptions, 60.4 receiving yards, and 0.4 touchdowns, according to RotoViz’s Game Splits App. He’s a high-ceiling stack partner with Brees and doesn’t need much volume behind Thomas and Kamara in order to hit volume. Having said that, he has been targeted 15 times in his last two games, so he’s not necessarily a homer-or-bust option.

Defense/Special Teams

Kansas City Chiefs D/ST (KC): $4,400 vs. Patriots
Simply put, the Chiefs have been a different defense at home. Including last week’s game against the Colts, they’ve held opponents to 17.44 points per game in Kansas City. On the other side of the ball, the offense has been a high-flying machine at home averaging 32.22 points per game.

Those splits line up tantalizingly with New England’s home/road splits that greatly favor playing at home. New England’s averaged 33.78 points per game at home including last week’s game against the Chargers, but that total plummets to 21.63 points per game on the road. They exceeded 25 points in only three road contests. The Chiefs can really get after the passer and ranked tied for first in sacks (52) in the regular season, and they were a disruptive bunch tying for the eighth-most turnovers (27) forced. Their high-powered offense is fully capable of taking them to a big lead and putting Tom Brady and co. in predictable passing situations.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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