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Conference Championship Round Showdown DFS Primer (Bengals at Chiefs)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jan 27, 2022
Joe Mixon

The Bengals and Chiefs are playing to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Interestingly, this is a rematch from Week 17. The Bengals were down 14-0 and later 21-7 before storming back for a 34-31 win in Cincinnati. It was a highly entertaining shootout, showcasing the Bengals could keep up with Kansas City’s high-powered offense. Nonetheless, the rematch is in Kansas City, and the Chiefs are 7.0-point favorites. Still, it’s projected to shoot out again, boasting a high over/under. The offense should rule the roost in this game. Below, I sift through my favorite options from both teams.

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Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

Spread: KC -7.0 Points

Over/Under: 54.5 Points

Bengals Analysis

Perhaps the quick negative game script forced Zac Taylor to crank up the passing attack. Regardless, Joe Burrow was great, passing for 446 yards and four touchdowns on 39 passes. Therefore, Taylor would be a buffoon to ignore Burrow's performance, especially against Kansas City's stacked offense. Thankfully, Burrow's blow-up showing against the Chiefs wasn't an outlier. When cut loose, Burrow was great. He had five games with more than 300 passing yards and multiple touchdowns.

Remarkably, Burrow wasn't the star of the game. Instead, Ja'Marr Chase stole the show. He torched the Chiefs for 11 receptions, 266 receiving yards, and three touchdowns on 12 targets. The rookie's receiving yardage was the highest mark in a game this year. Chase had an outstanding rookie season, and he's been elite down the stretch. Excluding a meaningless Week 18 game in which he barely played, according to Pro Football Focus, in his last four games, Chase has been first on the Bengals in routes (173), targets (39), receptions (32), receiving yards (616), and tied for first in touchdowns (three).

Tee Higgins has comfortably been the team's No. 2 passing-game option in that same stretch. He has been tied for second in receptions (23), second in routes (166), targets (31), and receiving yards (362), and third in touchdowns (two). In the first meeting with the Chiefs, he had three receptions for 62 scoreless yards on five targets. Nevertheless, he's a decent option.

My favorite ancillary pass-catcher is C.J. Uzomah. He's overtaken Tyler Boyd as the third option. He has had 26 targets, 22 receptions, 203 receiving yards, and one touchdown in his last four games. Additionally, he's caught three or more passes in eight straight games.

Joe Mixon is a bell-cow back for the Bengals. He ceded a lot of passing-down work to Samaje Perine throughout most of the season. However, he's run 48 routes to only 17 for Perine in the postseason. In Mixon's last four games, he has had 26 targets, 23 receptions, 189 receiving yards, and one touchdown. The do-it-all back's receiving ability should make him game-script proof, good for his floor and ceiling if the game goes according to the betting line. In addition, if the Bengals shock the world and race out to a big lead, Mixon might be busy as a runner in a good matchup. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs are 20th in rush defense Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).

Finally, Chris Evans is a galaxy-brain pick. The rookie running back is a passing-game whiz. Still, that has amounted to four routes in two playoff games. However, he had 2.19 yards per route run (Y/RR) for the year in his limited workload. Also, the Bengals were willing to use him wide (13 routes) and in the slot (19 routes) on his 69 routes. So if the Bengals are in a big enough hole, maybe Evans will get some extra work in the passing game. I also won't handwave away the idea Taylor could use him as a new wrinkle the Chiefs haven't seen.

Chiefs Analysis

The Chiefs offense is on fire. Contrary to hot-take artists earlier this year, Patrick Mahomes hasn't been solved. He's completed more than three-quarters of his passes for 782 yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception in the playoffs, adding 98 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Bengals are easier to beat through the air than on the ground, ranking 13th in rush defense DVOA and 24th in pass defense DVOA. As a result, Mahomes is my favorite option on this single-game slate on the favored Chiefs.

The one-two punch of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce has been his go-to duo, staying true to form in the postseason. Hill has had 17 targets, 16 receptions, 207 receiving yards, and two touchdowns through the air in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Kelce has had 16 targets, 13 receptions, 204 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Kelce has the less challenging fantasy matchup of the two. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Bengals have tied for the fifth-most DraftKings points per game and allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends. But, of course, Hill's speed makes him a matchup-proof player that can score from anywhere on the field. They're both elite options.

However, don't discount ancillary players from stepping up. Jerick McKinnon has been a postseason revelation. Jet has rushed for 85 yards on 22 carries, hauling in 11 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. The veteran running back has been third on the team in routes (73), receptions (11), and receiving yards (135) in the playoffs. Still, it's important to note Clyde Edwards-Helaire was out in the Wild Card Round and Darrel Williams was out in the Divisional Round, and both players appear poised to suit up this week. Regardless, McKinnon has shown more juice than CEH and Williams. So, I'm willing to use him on DraftKings at his modest salary.

Byron Pringle is my favorite cheap receiver in this game. He's cemented himself as the No. 2 receiver behind Hill. He's fourth on the team in routes (72) in the playoffs, catching 10 of 14 targets for 76 yards and three touchdowns. Finally, Mecole Hardman's settled into a gimmick role. He has touched the ball nine times for 106 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in the playoffs, even in his unique role. The speedster is capable of breaking off big plays in his limited role.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.

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

DFS, DraftKings, FanDuel, Featured, Featured Link, NFL