Johnny's Cash Game Plays: Conference Championship


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Johnny's Cash Game Plays: Conference Championship

With only two games on the docket this week, I’m changing up this article and will transition from the usual listing of picks, since there are so few to choose from this week. For what it’s worth, I think I may shift to this approach in 2021, as we add more DFS-focused contributors who will produce more content this year. My goal will be to just pass along the plays that I like personally like each week, for those interested.

The Divisional Round of the playoffs did not treat us well for DFS (or at least most of us). It’s tough to get picks right when all but a handful of players actually come through. I’m not sure why, but I had a ton of success in the first two rounds of the playoffs last year, yet this year DFS has not been much fun in the postseason (at least for me).

I don’t think things will be much better this week, with only four teams playing with more pressure on them in less-than-ideal weather, and with less-than-desirable matchups. But the NFL is always a good bet to surprise us, so I will still play some DFS this week - and this article will cover who I’ll be using.


At QB, I think Aaron Rodgers stands out as the best value and play, since he’s the second-cheapest guy on the board. I know he struggled in the first meeting and the arrow is pointing up for the Buc defense, but our Greg Cosell still thinks they’re beatable, and I’d have to agree. Greg noted they like to play a lot of cover-4, and that Rodgers kills that coverage. They do play a lot of zone, and Rodgers usually kills zone. I like the TB-GB game to go over the total of 54.5 much more than I like the other game to go over 51.5, so I’ll roll with Rodgers as the best value play of the week.

Otherwise, I’ll be honest, no one else is standing out as a good DFS play, since Patrick Mahomes has some health issues and Josh Allen isn’t exactly playing his best football right now. Obviously, both guys could go off at any time. Tom Brady could also go off, but I think they will “go heavy” in this game with 12 personnel and will run the ball, plus, unlike the other three QBs playing this weekend, Brady doesn’t run himself, so I can’t say I love him this week. He could get “lucky” with 3 TDs along with the likely 250+ yards they will pass for, but I think they will stay run-heavy in this one.

On DK, between Mahomes, Brady, and Allen, I’d have to say Allen is the best play, despite being the second most expensive option this week. On FanDuel, Allen is actually the better option in terms of value, since he costs $200 less than Rodgers and is curiously the third-cheapest option.

Running Backs

It’s bad, obviously. I’m making it a point to use Davante Adams and Travis Kelce this week, but not Aaron Jones. I’ve given love to Jones here several times the last 4-5 games of the season, and he’s been good, but he’s been dependent on popping off long runs, which he may not do this week. The tough Buccaneers run defense will get former DT Vita Vea back on Sunday, and he’s a big body that will help tighten up their run D. Last week, we saw Packer RBs not named Jones get 18 touches, and they will have rookie AJ Dillon available. Clearly, they are hell-bent on limiting Jones’ touches and/or using their other two RBs. Jones also managed just 10/15/1 rushing in this matchup in Week 6 (along with 3/26 receiving). I don’t see how you can use any of the Packer RBs with any confidence.

The key to the week at RB, most likely, will be guessing right which one of the Buccaneer RBs will produce. If you sort our DFS projections by point-per-dollar-value, then Ronald Jones comes in as the better value on DK and FanDuel. However, it’s close between him and Leonard Fournette, especially on DK. I have to lean to Fournette for several reasons. In his last four games, Jones is averaging 12.3 carries per game, but only 1.3 targets per game. In that same span, Fournette is averaging 3.3 targets a game. The Packers like to play in subpackages with more DBs on the field, which makes them a little light in the ass on their defensive front, which could help the bigger Fournette, who is running hard in the playoffs. The Packers gave up 140 total yards per game this year and the fifth-most FPG (27.0), and Ram RB Cam Akers had plenty of room to run against them last week, posting 18/90/1 rushing, and that was with a banged up Jared Goff under center. Jones ran for 113/2 in this matchup in Week 6, but I don’t like backing injured players. Jones claims he’s feeling better this week, but his quad grabbed him on his long run last week, and he may still be unable to comfortably open it up. Of course, an aggravation is certainly possible. Hell, him being active and not playing is possible, as we saw two weeks ago.

2:33 PM ET Update: Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn is inactive, which is a good sign for Jones. I now see him as a better value than Fournette, but it’s still very close.

Otherwise, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire still banged up and Zack Moss out, I have to look at Darrell Williams and Devin Singletary as viable plays at their low cost. Our guy Adam Caplan was told this week by a team source that Bell’s running style has not yet been synced up with their OL, and they clearly view Williams as a guy they can lean on with run and the passing game. CEH ran for a season-high 161 yards against a Bills defense that was without a couple of key pieces in Matt Milano and Trent Murphy back in Week 6, but I don’t see CEH handling a large role. Williams played 70% of the snaps in Week 16 and 79% last week in their first playoff game, and given his experience, recent reps, and better health, I have to back him over CEH, who is $200 more expensive. As for Singletary, it’s impossible to count on even 10 carries, but he should get 12-15 opportunities, and it’s always possible they actually commit to trying to run

the ball with him 10+ times, especially if they had a lead in the second half. KC’s been beatable on the ground all year, giving up 142 total yards a game to RBs, but the real hope for Singletary comes in the passing game. The Chiefs are giving up 6.5 catches a game to RBs their last four games and injuries to Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis could inflate Singletary’s catch potential in this one. I have him with 4 grabs, but 5-6 would likely mean he comes through with 10+ points even if he doesn’t score or get more than 7-8 carries.

Wide Receivers

For one, I’m using DaVante Adams, even though corner Carlton Davis handled him well in the first matchup (6/61 on 10 targets), and even though Adams has been held under 8.0 YPR in three of his last four games. Davis also shut out Michael Thomas last week, but I’m just not rolling without Adams, who has 6+ catches in 14-of-15 games and a TD in 12-of-15 games.

I’m also confidently using Mike Evans, who some may lose interest in after seeing him get erased by Marshon Lattimore yet again last week. Packer CB Kevin King was added to the injury report on Friday with a back issue and also has an Achilles issue, so the matchup is way better for Evans this week. He may even see some time on ancient veteran Tramon Williams, who actually played last week for the Ravens. He will also see some of stud corner Jaire Alexander, as well, but Alexander gives up 7 inches to Evans, who has scored on 9-of-15 end zone targets.

If I decide to do more than 1-2 lineups, I’ll certainly consider Chris Godwin, who just missed a long TD last week, but Godwin’s hands have failed him a little the last two weeks, so I’m not viewing him as a must-use. Obviously, no Antonio Brown does help Godwin’s chances, especially if he can get in the slot often. I’ll also use Stefon Diggs with little hesitation. One player I’m actually not feeling is Tyreek Hill. If I did 2-3 lineups I’d probably use him once, but he posted a season-low 5.5 FP against the Bills in Week 6 and has only 10/61 receiving on 14 targets in two career games against the Bills, who play a lot of zone with two-deep safeties in an effort to keep things in front of them and keep the big plays to a minimum.

There’s not much left at WR with some other guys banged up, so Allen Lazard stands out to me this week, since he looks to have turned a corner last week with 4/96/1 receiving on a season-high 8 targets. I trust him more than Marquez Valdez-Scantling. The Buccaneers gave up the fifth-most catches per game to WRs this season (14.8), and Lazard should get a solid matchup if Davis is on Adams as expected and with slot corner Sean Murphy-Bunting playing well right now and likely on MVS the most.

I hate to limit my options this week, but the week is set up to go cheap at RB and to pay up at WR, so I will be rolling with Adams, Evans, and Diggs in 2 of my 3 WR spots with Godwin also meriting consideration and with Lazard a good, cheap WR3. One other player who is interesting to me is John Brown, who showed up last week after I backed him the week before (0 points). Brown had 8/62 receiving on 11 targets against the Ravens, and Allen does like throwing him the ball, particularly downfield. I’d rather not consider banged-up Bills WRs Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis, but Brown is viable. I’d also rather not try to guess which KC receiver is a good play between Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and DeMarcus Robinson (I’d go Watkins in a revenge game if I have to use one of them). And I don’t feel comfortable taking a leap of faith with a secondary Bucs receiver like Scotty Miller or rookie Tyler Johnson.

Tight Ends

I’m going with Travis Kelce if I do only one lineup, and I may go Kelce at TE if I do 2-3 lineups because he’s so much better than the rest of the field and I’m finding it easy to pay for Kelce with crap at RB this week. But I do have three low-end TE plays I like.

The first is obviously Robert Tonyan, whose targets are down lately but who caught all four of his targets for 60 yards last week. Tonyan managed 3/25 receiving on four targets in this matchup in Week 6, but it’s a good matchup by the numbers with the Bucs giving up 6/52 to TEs the last four weeks with 3 TDs in that span. He’s a reliable option for Rodgers, so I think he’ll see 5-7 targets in this big game.

I also like Dawson Knox as a deeper sleeper. The injuries to Bills WRs Beasley and Davis could help Knox, and while he’s tough to trust, he’s an athletic vertical TE with some upside. Knox ran a route on a promising 67.5% of Allen’s dropbacks last week, and KC has been shaky against TEs all year (despite TE matchup guy Daniel Sorensen being scrappy as hell) and currently give up 18.9 FPG the last four weeks with 4 TDs given up in that span and 5.8/71. I’m rolling with him in one DK lineup as a cheap flex.

The last guy I wanted to mention is an even bigger reach than Knox, and that’s Cameron Brate, who has 8/130 receiving on 12 targets and 38 routes in two games. With Antonio Brown out, I think the Bucs will play with a lot of 2-TE sets, and they haven’t been shy lately about throwing it to Brate, who is moving well. I’ll probably pass on Rob Gronkowski, but he is affordable this week and he did put up 5/78/1 on 8 targets against the Packers in Week 6.

That’s all I got for this week, good luck!

Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer John Hansen has been an industry leader and pioneer since 1995, when he launched Fantasy Guru. His content has been found over the years on,, SiriusXM, DirecTV, Yahoo!, among others outlets. In 2015 he sold Fantasy Guru and in 2020 founded