And then there were four. Just the Bills, Chiefs, Packers, and Buccaneers 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 FTN. Like we do every week in the Report, let’s break down every game from all fantasy angles below.
Tampa Bay @ Green Bay
Through two games in the playoffs, Tom Brady leads all quarterbacks with 580 passing yards. Packers allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the final five games of the season. Of course, Brady also faced a Washington squad that gave up the third-fewest over that span back in the Wild Card Round. To Brady’s credit, he’s largely dispelled the myth that his arm is shot. Since Week 9, Brady leads the NFL with a passing aDOT of 10.2 yards. That number has been 11.3 over the last two weeks. Expect the Bucs to continue to push the ball vertically downfield. The Packers earned a reputation as a run funnel throughout the regular season, but this unit has stiffened up down the stretch. Over the final five weeks of the regular season, Green Bay was the third-worst fantasy matchup for the position. Last week, Cam Akers did see 18 carries and was relatively effective with 90 yards and a score. With Ronald Jones back on the field last week, Tampa split reps in the run game between Jones and Leonard Fournette. That distribution is likely to continue here, but Fournette will be the primary passing down back. As for the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski continues to be a risky play with the Bucs using a lot of 12-personnel to protect Brady.
Aaron Rodgers gets a mid-pack matchup on paper in this one, but we can’t gloss over what happened when these teams last met back in Week 6. That contest was Rodgers’ worst performance of the season. Despite his Hingle McCringleberry touchdown celebration, Rodgers managed no scores through the air and just 160 passing yards. A big part of the problem for Rodgers was the Bucs pass rush, which delivered four sacks in that contest. The good news for Rodgers is that Jason Pierre-Paul missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and is looking very iffy for this one. Regardless of the Week 6 performance, this is a surging Packers offense thanks to the MVP-level play of Rodgers. There’s no way around it for the Green Bay backfield. This is a rough matchup. Tampa’s run defense was one of the league’s best in the regular season. Opposing backfields averaged a meager 3.38 yards per carry and 59.9 rushing yards per game. To make matters worse for fantasy purposes, the Packers have leaned on a three-man committee of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon. Last week, Jones saw 14 carries with 12 going to Williams and six to Dillon. Jones did rip off a 60-yard run in that contest, but a similar touch distribution will cap his fantasy ceiling.
Buffalo @ Kansas City
We really have to throw out the previous meeting between these two teams this season. That game back in Week 6 was moved due to COVID-19 and also had weather conditions that largely took the air out of the football and forced a dink-and-dunk approach from both offenses. Baker Mayfield and the Browns didn’t have their way against Kansas City last week, but the Chiefs finished the year as one of the more pass-friendly defenses in the league. Over the final five weeks of the season, Kansas City tied for third with 12 passing scores allowed and allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position over that span. It’s hard not to like Josh Allen in this potential shootout. The Bills completely abandoned the run last week, so it’s tough to be overly optimistic about Devin Singletary. That said, Kansas City has struggled to contain opposing run games this year. Opposing backfields average 4.52 yards per carry. Singletary is a very risky play, but he’s also one who could pay dividends if the Bills decide to lean on the run game and control the clock.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the week has been Patrick Mahomes’ playing status after the star signal caller landed in the league concussion protocol. Mahomes has been limited in practice this week, but has taken all first-team reps. While he isn’t a lock to play as of this writing, I’d be very surprised if he didn’t suit up. While the Bills did contain Lamar Jackson before he left with a concussion last week, they did allow 309 yards and two scores to Philip Rivers in the Wild Card. With that said, Buffalo was one of the stingiest pass defenses in the league in the regular season with just 1.4 passing scores per game allowed. Of course, as we’ve seen numerous times with Mahomes, the matchup really doesn’t matter. The Ravens did rack up 150 rushing yards on the ground last week against Buffalo, but we have bigger problems afoot in the Kansas City backfield. Le'Veon Bell missed Thursday’s practice with knee swelling and now looks to be on the wrong side of questionable. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was unable to get back on the field last week due to ankle and hip injuries. While he has been limited in practice, we can’t assume Edwards-Helaire plays. So we could see a lot of Darrel Williams, who has looked surprisingly sharp down the stretch. Williams had 14 touches back in Week 16 and then again led the backfield last week with 13 carries for 78 yards to go along with four catches for 16 yards.