I usually don't do this, but a few things have come to mind since I have written this article. And I'm all about full disclosure, and as I finished my showdown lineups (I only do one for each game; it's my process), I found myself using one player I didn't write up. So, I'll include that player in the comments. I won't tell you who it is, but I'll narrow it down for you.
- As I do mention in the Saints analysis, no Ben Watson means I have interest in Josh Hill at 800. Could he get zero? Sure. Could he get 3/62/1 like Watson did in the first matchup? Yes. But, in order to fit the top end plays, I don't mind punting a spot, and doing one with someone who should see over 50% of the snaps and has some TD equity is good for me.
- Keith Kirkwood has been ruled out. He saw the 3rd highest snap % last week among Saints WRs. This will open the door for Tre'Quan Smith at 4,000. We have seen Brees use Smith before and as a 5th or 6th roster play, I can buy it. (Credit to Phil Backert for pointing this out to me yesterday).
- While I do like Cordarrelle Patterson as a punt (gut play), I think I discounted the other receivers for the Patriots. Chris Hogan (4,200) played 92% of the snaps last week, and saw 5 targets. I think he will be the popular 2nd WR choice for the Patriots. If wanting more upside, I like the idea of paying up for Phillip Dorsett (4,600). Dorsett also saw five targets last week, and has scored in each of his last two games. Hogan is the higher floor play among the two, but Dorsett is the higher ceiling play. I am using one of these two players.
- If your curious about who is most popular in the 2-game slates to try and figure out who will be popular in showdown, here are the players who could see 50%+ Ownership in the two-game slate are as follows (no particular order): Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Michael Thomas, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara. While ownership tends to not mean as much in showdown, if you fade 1-2 of these guys in showdown and choose correctly, you give yourself a great chance to cash and potentially threaten the top of these tournaments.
While last weekend is usually my favorite weekend of the year, this may be my second favorite day of the NFL season (Sunday of Week One is my favorite). We have the top two seeds in each conference squaring off yet again, and the top 4 offenses. There should be a lot of points in these games, making the Showdown Slates quite fun.
In the regular season, the Saints were 3rd in DVOA vs the Rush and 22nd vs the Pass. Against individual positions, the Saints were 30th against WR1s, 31st against WR2s, 6th against Other WRs, 4th against TEs, and 29th against Pass-Catching RBs.
Back in Week 9, the Rams lost their first game of the season to the Saints 45-35. The Over/Under of 57.5 suggests we may see a similar type of game. I think there are two players on the Rams you will have to make a decision on. The first is Jared Goff (9,000), who did throw for 391/3 in the first matchup between the two teams. My concern here is he has only gone over 20 points once since that high-scoring Monday Night game against the Chiefs. And the one time he did, he threw for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. He hasn't looked the same as he did earlier in the season, and while I do expect some points by the Rams, I'm not convinced they get to over 30. I think I will be passing on Goff. The other big decision with this team is what do we do with the running backs. Only the Bears allowed fewer rushing yards per game this season than the Saints. However, in the first matchup, Todd Gurley (9,600) did rush for 5.2 yards a carry, but only had 13 rushes. He had an odd line in the passing game, catching 6 of 7 passes but for 11 yards. He did see 57% of the snaps last week, but was outrushed by C.J. Anderson (6,800). Anderson should continue to have a role, but I also think Gurley will see more snaps, with him not being listed on the injury report. The price is discounted due to his health, but is definitely in play, and a nice value captain.
What's nice about the passing game is that we know who the passes will be going to. Brandin Cooks (7,400) enjoyed his revenge game with a 6/114/1 line in the first matchup. I can see a similar type of game coming, as I think he gets at least one big play. The preferred option here may be Robert Woods (8,000), who draws the best matchup in the slot against P.J. Williams. Cooper Kupp had 5/89/1 in the first matchup out of the slot, and I trust Woods more here. In a week where everyone was on Gerald Everett (2,400) last week, it was Tyler Higbee (2,200) who had more snaps (55 to 34). Everett had 3/48 and Higbee had 2/40 in the first matchup, so while the Saints are good against the TE, I don't mind using either one as a punt play and hope your pick finds the end zone. Greg Zuerlein (3,200) continues to finish in double-digit points each week. He's not priced high enough in my opinion, and don't mind using him. Due to the high scoring nature of this game and lack of sacks/turnovers expected, I won't be going to the Rams Defense (3,000).
Possible Captains: Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
In the regular season, the Rams were 28th in DVOA vs the Rush and 9th vs the Pass. Against Individual Positions, the Rams were 6th against WR1, 3rd against WR2, 22nd against Other WRs, 19th against TEs, and 26th against Pass-Catching RBs.
Drew Brees (10,000) is my preferred QB play here. He has over 30 attempts in his last four games, and in seven of the nine games at home this year. In the first matchup, he threw for 346/4, and I would expect to see him go over 300 yards again in this spot. The running backs are intriguing as well, with Alvin Kamara (9,600) outsnapping Mark Ingram (6,000) 53 to 31. Kamara scored two touchdowns in the first matchup, and should be quite popular. So, I think Ingram against the 4th worst rush DVOA defense at a much lower ownership is very intriguing to me. I don't even mind playing both RBs and taking your chances if the Saints get out to a 2nd half lead.
Michael Thomas (11,400) had his third best game of the year last week with 171 yards and 38 fantasy points. His best: Week 9 vs the Rams with 211 yards and 42.1 points. We have seen the Rams been vulnerable against the pass lately, so he is a good play. However, in this slate, I don't mind him as a game theory fade. If Ted Ginn (5,800) goes a bit underowned after letting people last week, I don't mind him either. He has seen 15 targets total the past two weeks and makes sense in any Saints passing game stack. If you want a punt play, Josh Hill (800) did outsnap Ben Watson (2,000) 48 to 26 last week. Watson did go 3/62/1 in the first matchup, so if Hill sees a similar snap count, he could easily pay off that price. (Update: Ben Watson will miss the game with appendicitis. I think Josh Hill becomes a really good value play. But watch Dan Arnold get the TD for the Saints TEs, because that's Sean Payton for you!) Taysom Hill (1,800) did play 25 percent of the snaps last week, and did have a TD pass that got called back due to penalty. He's risky as he doesn't get many rushes/receptions, but may have the best upside of anyone under 2k here. I'm not seeing much in recent performances from the Saints Defense (3,600) or Will Lutz (3,400).
Possible Captains: Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram
Before I get into the individual team analysis, there has been a lot of talk about weather in this game. And, it looks like the forecast has changed where the weather should not be a factor. This link is to the forecast in Kansas City, according to the National Weather Service. I'm writing this part up on Saturday morning, so unless there is a drastic change in forecast, I see no reason to fade any part of this game, due to weather. Of course, if something changes, adjust accordingly.
In the Regular Season, the Chiefs were ranked 32nd DVOA vs the Rush and 12th vs the Pass. Against individual positions, the Chiefs were 9th against WR1, 4th against WR2, 29th against Other WR, 25th against TE, and 21st against Pass-Catching RBs.
What's nice about this game is that though they are in different divisions, they've played each other the past three seasons, so we have a little bit of a clue how each player does. Tom Brady (9,600) has gone over 300 yards in the last two meetings against the Chiefs and was over that last week against the Chargers. The problem: He's not throwing for many touchdowns. He only has three in that two-game span against KC, and one last week. Right now, he literally is the defintion of being a much better real-life QB than fantasy QB. Not that his fantasy numbers are bad by any means; we just have to view him a little differently. At 9,600, he's a decent play, as he should get somewhere around 20 points (The 25 he had in the first meeting was helped by a rushing TD). But, I don't think he's someone you must fit into your lineups. You see the rushing DVOA for KC and immediately think Sony Michel (7,400) should be in a great spot, especially after seeing 24 carries a week ago. I think the price on Michel is a little low and don't mind him. My issue here is that the Chiefs run defense at home has been decent since Week 8, and the number is skewed by early season games, the Ravens extremely run-heavy attack, and a Seattle run-attack in Week 16 in Seattle. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that attacking the Chiefs run defense isn't a bad route: I just don't think it's as bad as the DVOA suggests. Of course, ranking in the bottom half against pass-catching RBs combined with that rush DVOA means James White (7,200) is squarely in play. He's priced down because he didn't see any carries a week ago; yet, he saw 17 targets but didn't get over 100 yards or score. Part of this though was because the Patriots built a big lead early, they relied on Michel. I think we could see 7+ targets for White here, with a carry number around 5. He has upside for more touches, making him my preferred play at RB in this game, as the game flow fits him more than it does Michel.
Julian Edelman (9,000) should be popular, as he's seen double-digit targets in four of his last five games. He has been decent against the Chiefs the past couple of years, getting games of 16.1 and 23 points. From a floor perspective, he is great. However, I'm not sure he has the upside we want for someone at 9k in a showdown slate. You can rely on about 16-18 points, which isn't bad. I just think James White has a similar game output at 1,800 cheaper. Rob Gronkowski (5,600) has slate-breaking upside to win here, and has had some success against the Chiefs in the past. I just wonder at this point how effective he is. With Eric Berry likely to play for the Chiefs, I think it limit's Gronk enough to put him as a low-floor, high-upside play. I personally don't see myself going with Gronk. Chris Hogan (4,200) is on the field a lot, but doesn't do much. You're hoping for a TD for Hogan to hit value, as he won't enough receptions to cover his price alone. I do have some interest in Cordarrelle Patterson (2,200) as a last position punt play. With the Chiefs struggles on defense at times, you would think the Patriots will try to get him the ball. I don't think you have to force him in and this potentially is more of a gut play than it is recent form based. I don't have any interest in the Patriots Defense (2,800) and minimal in Stephen Gostkowski (3,400). Though I do need to mention that Gostkowski did have five field goals in the first meeting this season.
Possible Captains: James White, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, Sony Michel
In the Regular Season, the Patriots was ranked 19th in DVOA vs the Rush and 14th vs the Pass. Against individual positions, the Patriots were 16th against WR1, 12th against WR2, 4th against Other WRs, 8th against TE, and 22nd against Pass-Catching RBs.
Patrick Mahomes (11,400) has tailed off a little bit in December, from a fantasy points perspective. Since Week 10, we've only seen him go over 20 points twice at home (and not over 25 points). He was still putting up some huge games on the road, so the upside hasn't left. And maybe a matchup against the Patriots will bring back that scoring upside, even at home. He is a fine play, but if you want to go contrarian and not play him in multi-entry GPPs, I don't think it's the worst move. The Chiefs haven't always run much against the Patriots in the past three games, but have had success when they do. Damien Williams (8,400) has performed exceptionally well since given the opportunity to do so. He's gone for 29+ points in three of the four games he's played recently. The only concern I could think of is that the Patriots try to do everything to stop the running game (I'm not convinced they will do this). Even if this happens, Williams has been seeing 7 targets a game. He should be popular, but I'm all for it. I think there is merit in looking at Spencer Ware (3,800) as the Chiefs have always had a second running back in play. I do wish this price were about 1,000 cheaper, but I don't mind playing a Williams/Ware pairing together to guarantee all the production from the RB position.
As with almost every Chiefs game, the biggest factor to winning lineups is what will Tyreek Hill (10,400) do. When he goes off, you must have him (and at captain) in your lineups. He has enjoyed this two games against the Patriots: 7/133/1 and 7/142/3. I'm not sure the Patriots can stop him, but will do everything they can to "contain" him. I don't have the best history of getting Tyreek Hill right in my lineups, so for full disclosure, I'm planning on playing him this week. Play him at your own risk! When I said the Patriots will focus on containing Hill, I say that because I think the Patriots will focus their attention on Travis Kelce (10,000). In the last three games, here are Kelce's numbers: 6/23, 5/40, and 5/61. For football, this is "enough" of a sample size that has me fading Kelce. Sammy Watkins (5,400) did see 8 targets last week, but it's always hard for me to trust him with his inconsistency. I don't think I have much interest in anyone else here. Harrison Butker (3,600) is an ok play, and he did have 4 field goals in the first game. I do prefer him over Gostkowski, as the Patriots do have a bend but don't break defense. I don't want the Chiefs Defense (3,200), as Brady doesn't make enough mistakes to warrant a Chiefs Defense play for me.
Possible Captains: Damien Williams, Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes