Conference Championship Showdown: CIN-KC


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Conference Championship Showdown: CIN-KC

General Rules for Creating Showdown/MVP Lineups
  • Correlate with your Captain/MVP — Make sure you are creating a roster that makes sense with your 1.5x player.

  • On DraftKings, lean RB/WR in the captain. Though QB can finish as the optimal captain, it’s often overused by the field relative to its success rate. When you are using a QB in the captain, I like to use many of his pass-catchers. Because the likely scenario, if a QB ends up as the captain on DK, is he spreads his touchdowns around to multiple receivers and not one skill player had a ceiling game. The one exception to this rule is if the quarterback is mobile (think Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray) and can accrue points with their legs without bringing pass-catchers along for the ride.

  • On FanDuel the MVP spot doesn’t cost you 1.5x salary which means you’re just trying to get the highest-scoring player in that spot. Contrary to DK, it’s often the QB because of the scoring system. I would lean QB/RB on FD, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

  • Leave salary on the table — I’m not just talking about a few hundred. Don’t be afraid to leave a few thousand on the table. In a slate that has an extremely limited number of viable options, there is a much greater chance for lineup duplication. It may not seem like much of an issue, but it can decimate your expected value to put in lineups that are going to split with 500 other people.

  • Multi-enter if you can. Single-game slates have so much variance that the first play of the game can take you completely out of contention if you only have one lineup. It’s best to build a bunch of lineups (you don’t have to max enter) that concentrate on different game scripts and a handful of different correlated captains.

  • DST and Kickers, while not very exciting, usually offer a solid floor for cheap — especially in game scripts that go under expected point totals. I would only use at most two per lineup, but usually one or fewer.

  • When creating single-game lineups, the most important part is creating correlated lineups according to a projected game script, and not pinpointing the exact five or six players who will score the most fantasy points on the slate.



It’s going to be pretty interesting to see the percentage that Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce come in at on this slate. I think both are viable captains despite their respective ankle and back injuries. If this were a full slate, I think there would be obvious merit to playing a different quarterback and tight end combination, however, people often conflate showdown and full slate ideas. If the lingering injuries tick their popularity down just a few percentage points, I think it’s a big advantage to slot them in at captain, especially Kelce. He has racked up a 34% target share which has included an average of nine catches per game over the last three contests. I always tend to gravitate towards the main targets in these types of games because when the season is on the line, you often see the game plan and quarterback decision-making favor the most reliable options.

Jerick McKinnon is probably my favorite contrarian captain on the Chiefs side of the ball. He has had two back-to-back disappointing games in a row, but the Chiefs now get a game in which they face a pass-funnel defense. The way I’m looking at McKinnon here is the Chiefs could be more run heavy if Mahomes is hampered by the ankle AND he could see some more check downs with Mahomes needing to get rid of the ball quickly if his mobility is compromised.

Isiah Pacheco makes sense as a contrarian captain as well. Despite the Bengals being a bit better against the run, the Chiefs may scheme to get the ball in their backs hands more often. Mahomes rushing for a touchdown is probably out of the question as well, which ticks up his projection a tad, given that he should see the goal line work. Obviously, if you’re rostering Pacheco you have to be light on other Chiefs, as he sucks the life out of their projections if he gets going on the ground.

The Bengals side of the ball is a bit more enticing as they are all healthy and firing on all cylinders. Ja’Marr Chase is currently dominating the target share for the Bengals, seeing 31% of targets over the last month. Joe Burrow and Chase are probably at the peak of their chemistry right now which makes Chase my favorite captain on the Bengals side. Burrow could, of course, spread the ball around or run one in and land as the optimal captain as well.

I don’t the Bengals will “lean” on the run in this game, but it’s entirely possible that Joe Mixon experiences some positive variance and breaks a touchdown run or has multiple goal line carries. He also has a pretty solid role in the passing game with 12% of targets over the last four games.

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are the contrarian options at captain that I would consider. Given their different price ranges they make different lineups work. I like Boyd a bit more because he’s significantly cheaper. Higgins has had just one ceiling game in the last two months. Burrow has really locked on to Chase. Higgins is only sitting around 17% of targets and Boyd is at about 12%. Boyd gives a bit more room to work with in the flex which is why I prefer trying some lineups with him.


In the flex spot we have some cheap Chiefs receivers like Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Kadarius Toney. All have the ability to score a touchdown, but none see the requisite volume required to land in the captain in my opinion. They are decent options to add to the flex, especially with Mahomes at captain. The three of them combined only make up about a third of Mahomes’ targets, which makes me extremely hesitant to roster more than one in the flex or at all in the captain. The Chiefs have moved the ball through their backs and tight ends as of late and I don’t see that changing.

Noah Gray is a nice punt option due to his increased involvement in the offense. He’s only seen one or two targets for much of the year, but there is some narrative behind Gray this week. The Chiefs could potentially go heavier to protect Mahomes, which puts more tight ends on the field. They could try to be more run-heavy which also gets Gray on the field more often. There is also the chance, albeit slim, that Gray gets a quarterback sneak with Mahomes ankle sprain. Earlier in the year, the Chiefs used a play in which they motioned a tight end under center to snap the ball and sneak it in.

Mecole Hardman is questionable, but also worth considering if he’s active. The Skyy Moore experiment doesn’t seem like it’s been a successful one for the Chiefs but they still try to get him involved with a gadget play or two, so he’s a last-man-in type dart if you are MMEing.

The Bengals keep their receiver rotation pretty tight. Hayden Hurst had a big game against the Bills because the Bills were leaving the middle of the field open. I tend to shy away from outlier games the next week because it’s usually a point of emphasis for the opposing team to stop, plus the added ownership from recency bias doesn’t help. Trenton Irwin has been on the field a bit this last month. It began when he filled in for injured starters and flashed some great hands. Similar to Noah Gray, Irwin will probably only see a couple targets, but he could turn those two targets into a 2/20/1 line that needs to be in the flex.

Samaje Perine has been involved a bit more since going bonkers in Mixon’s absence during that latter part of the regular season. He should see somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 touches. It’s all about capturing variance on showdown slates, and rostering a guy like Perine when he has a touchdown catch could be the key to unlocking the slate.

Both placekickers and DSTs are in play because each team will probably move the football through the air. It creates opportunities for the defense to sack and turn over the offense.

Lineup Starters

Captain: Patrick Mahomes

Flex: Travis Kelce, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd

Captain: Travis Kelce

Flex: Patrick Mahomes, Ja’Marr Chase, Hayden Hurst

Captain: Jerick McKinnon

Flex: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins

Captain: Ja’Marr Chase

Flex: Joe Burrow, Juju Smith-Schuster, Harrison Butker

Captain: Joe Burrow

Flex: Ja’Marr Chase, Hayden Hurst, Jerick McKinnon

Captain: Joe Mixon

Flex: Bengals DST, Tee Higgins, Travis Kelce

Captain: Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd

Flex: Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce

Pat began playing fantasy football 20 years ago. In 2012 he started the fantasy football site which opened the door for him to become a DFS contributor at several sites and is the newest DFS Contributor for Fantasy Points.