In sitcoms, there’s a joke that “bad” standup comedians always tend to tell to illustrate to the viewing audience that they are, in fact, bad. It goes something like this: “I just flew in from [insert city] and boy are my arms tired!” You see, the joke is that the comedian, a human, physically propelled themselves through the air instead of sitting coach in a Boeing. Hilarious. Anyway, I bring this up because Derrick Henry ($12,000) is now a mode of transportation. He, as a plane would, delivered the likes of Ryan Tannehill ($8,400), Mike Vrabel and 51 other Titans to the AFC Championship Game. It looked like hard work, yet, at the same time, Henry does not look tired. He is clearly not a bad sitcom joke-teller.
It’s Kansas City. It’s Tennessee. There’s a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Let’s get into it.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices
BETS TO CONSIDER
BETTING TRENDS— The Chiefs have won 14 of their last 15 Sunday day games at Arrowhead Stadium.
— The road team has covered the spread in each of the Titans’ last seven games.
— Nine of the Titans’ last 10 day games have gone OVER the total points line.
— Jonnu Smith has scored the first touchdowns in two of the Titans’ last three games as underdogs.
— Travis Kelce has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Chiefs’ last four games following a home win.
— A.J. Brown has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Titans’ last four day games.
— Derrick Henry has scored two or more touchdowns in three of the Titans’ last four Sunday road games.
— Damien Williams has scored two or more touchdowns in each of the Chiefs’ last two games.
Kansas City ChiefsThe most difficult aspect of this week’s Showdown slate is trying to find ways to save money. The Chiefs are the biggest reason for this need. After throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns in last Sunday’s victory over the Texans, Patrick Mahomes ($13,200) is now $400 more expensive than he was seven days ago and he was already pretty pricey. Still, it’s difficult to ignore a player with the reigning MVP’s ceiling. Kansas City finished the season averaging 3.6 red-zone scoring drives per home game and 2.7 points per drive – the second-highest mark in the entire league. The Chiefs are going to score points, it’s generally just a matter of how. Well, it’s usually a passing touchdown, as 61.4% of Kansas City’s trips to the end zone came through the air. If you’re looking to fade the highest salary on the board, the matchup doesn’t really help your cause, either. The Titans exited Week 17 with the league’s 10th best rushing defense according to DVOA, but only its 21st passing defense. This is also conveyed by the fact that Tennessee surrendered multiple touchdown passes to 10 of the 16 quarterbacks they faced in 2019 prior to the playoffs; including a 32.8 DKFP performance from Mahomes himself. It’s nearly impossible to make the QB your Captain’s Pick, but I’ll be sure to have exposure.
So, who can you use in the Captain’s slot? On the Chiefs’ side of things, there are two players that tend to stick out. First, Damien Williams ($9,400) is still pretty reasonably priced after a three-touchdown game in the Divisional Round. However, more important than the actual results was the process. Discounting the seven scrambles Mahomes made or the two carries given to wideouts, Williams was the lone RB on Kansas City’s roster to touch the football against Houston. Williams played 96.9% of the Chiefs’ 64 offensive snaps, he garnered 12 rushing attempts and his six targets were the second-most of any player on the team. The 27-year-old also possesses 4.4 speed, meaning, like many of Kansas City’s assets, he’s always just seconds away from breaking off a huge slate-changing play. The second possible Captain’s Pick comes with a little more risk. It’s Harrison Butker ($4,000). With such a top-heavy list of salaries, I don’t necessarily mind saving some cash with the veteran kicker. The Chiefs produced a field goal on an NFL-high 21.8% of their drives during the regular season, while the Titans have only conceded a touchdown on two of the eight red-zone possessions they’ve allowed so far in the playoffs. It’s slightly unconventional, but it does leave you with an average of $8.8K to spend on your remaining five FLEX options.
As for Kansas City’s receiving corps, the biggest storyline is prospective adjustments. Tyreek Hill’s ($10,200) best DFS showing of the season came in Week 10 against this very same Tennessee squad. He caught 11 of his season-high 19 targets and finished an eventual Titans’ victory with 157 receiving yards and 36.0 DKFP. This wasn’t an issue specific to Hill, either. Top-flight WRs destroyed Tennessee’s secondary for essentially the entire second half of the year. Mike Evans (11-198-2), D.J. Moore (7-101-0), DeAndre Hopkins (6-119-0), Michael Thomas (12-136-1) and even Zach Pascal (7-109-0) all exceeded the 100-yard plateau in matchups versus Tennessee past Week 8, with the Titans allowing a whopping 8.6 yards per target to the position within that same span of time. For as much stock as I put into Travis Kelce’s ($11,000) red-zone target share last weekend – he’s the lone player in the league to see at least 40% of his team’s targets inside the 20-yard line – it would appear that Hill is the way to lean in the AFC Championship Game. As for value plays, Demarcus Robinson ($3,600) comes in $200 cheaper than Mecole Hardman ($3,800) despite out-snapping him 37-11 last Sunday. Hardman’s the big-play threat, but Robinson did see a target near the goal line.
Tennessee TitansAs if I’d start this section of the article with anyone other than Henry. The Alabama product has been a force of nature throughout the AFC playoffs, averaging 32.0 carries and 188.5 rushing yards across Tennessee’s first two matchups against New England and Baltimore. It’s been incredibly impressive to watch, but it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. Dating back to the Titans’ Week 10 victory versus these very same Chiefs, no running back in the entire NFL finished out the final eight weekends of the regular season with more rushing yards (896), 100-yard rushing games (5), rushing touchdowns (10), 40-plus yard rushing touchdowns (3), yards per attempt (6.5), yards after contact per attempt (5.2), or PPR fantasy points per snap (0.66) than Henry. Making all that more insane? The 26-year-old appeared in just six contests within that stretch, with many others at the position compiling their stats over eight starts. Considering Kansas City allowed an ugly 4.82 adjusted line yards per opponent rush attempt this year, it would truly seem that the only thing that could limit Henry this Sunday is game-script and, even then, things would have to get really out of hand for Tennessee to abandon its ball-control principles. Like Mahomes, Henry might be too expensive to roster at 1.5x value; however, if you think this contest stays within two touchdowns for the first three quarters, you simply can’t fade the hulking back.
The case for Tannehill is a little more complex and, if we’re being completely honest, narrow. Once drafted to be the next great Dolphins’ franchise quarterback, Tannehill is embracing some serious Bob Griese vibes, completing a mere 15 passes over the course of the Titans’ first two playoff wins. He’s basically been asked to control the offense and not make mistakes, as Tennessee has led for a majority of the 120 minutes they’ve played so far in the NFL’s second season. Still, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some possible value here. In a contest with an O/U of 53.0 points on the DraftKings Sportsbook, Tannehill’s salary is just barely over $8K. That’s unheard of for a QB. Plus, it’s not like his efficiency numbers have suddenly fallen off the face of the Earth. While Tannehill has only attempted 29 passes the past two weeks, he’s managed an eye-popping 0.76 fantasy points per drop back – which is actually better than the 0.70 figure that placed him second among all pivots during the regular season. I’m not suggesting that you need mass exposure to a player that has serious volume concerns; yet, with the Titans currently clocking in as seven-point underdogs, there’s obviously a narrative where Tennessee falls behind early and has to lean on Tannehill to do more. Essentially, in any lineup where you don’t have Henry, you need to have the former eighth-overall pick.
Unsurprisingly, with a complete lack of an aerial attack the past few weeks, the Titans pass-catching options haven’t had a whole lot of success. Still, based on snap counts alone, there’s really only two people within this group of players that I’d consider viable against the Chiefs. A.J. Brown ($7,200) remains an amazingly talented wideout and now he’s super cheap. Consider that among all active WRs – a collection of receivers that includes Hill, Davante Adams and Emmanuel Sanders – Brown leads the pack averaging 2.52 yards per route run so far this season. Jonnu Smith ($4,400) is also a value possibility. The tight end logged a 94.5% snap rate in Tennessee’s Divisional Round victory over Baltimore and, since Tannehill took over the reins in Week 7, Smith has gone from producing 1.3 targets per game to 3.4 targets. It might not seem like much, but the 24-year-old possesses explosive athleticism and he’s a red-zone favorite.
THE OUTCOMEAgain, there are a couple of different ways you can go about constructing your lineups for the AFC Conference Championship. If you want to take a stab at grabbing a Captain’s Pick with the highest possible ceiling, Tyreek Hill ($15,300 CP) or Damien Williams ($14,100 CP) are probably the best candidates. If you want a Captain that’s going to open up salary, Harrison Butker ($6,000 CP) has the highest floor of any mid-tier option. Heck, if you just want to stack Chiefs in what you believe will be a blowout, Ryan Tannehill ($12,600 CP) might honestly be the best way to bring it all back. Pick your script and stick with it.
Final Score: Kansas City 27, Tennessee 21
Set your lineups here: NFL $350K Playoff Showdown [$100K to 1st]
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