Game Thoughts: After struggling in two regular-season
matchups against the Saints, Tom Brady did what he usually does
this time of year and turned in a winning performance last Sunday.
His final line -- 18 of 33 for 199 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs --
wasn't great, but every time the defense gave him the ball on
a short field he delivered seven, including a late QB sneak for
the backbreaking score. While this was Brady's third game of fewer
than 200 yards passing, his season low of 166 actually came against
the Packers back in Week 6 in a game dominated by Tampa's defense.
One-two punch Mike Evans (1-3-1) and Chris Godwin (4-34) were
quiet on Sunday, though that's something of a running theme against
the Saints as Marshon Lattimore has long been a thorn in Evans'
side. Antonio Brown (knee), who'd yet to make his Bucs debut when
they faced the Packers, checked out early in the Divisional Round
with a knee injury, and his availability is unknown. Rob Gronkowski
(1-14) was also quiet versus the Saints with Cameron Brate (4-50)
leading the team in receiving.
After allowing 221.2 yards per game during the regular season,
the Packers limited the Rams to 174 yards through the air this
past Saturday. That performance comes with a couple of caveats,
though, as Cooper Kupp (knee) was inactive and Jared Goff (thumb)
was just a couple of weeks removed from thumb surgery. LA had
success with quick counts and short passes, which isn't Tampa's
approach, and even in the Week 6 loss the Packers held up fairly
well against everyone except Gronk (5-78-1). One key for Green
Bay will be their ability to get after Brady; he wasn't sacked
in their earlier meeting.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: Although their numbers don't jump off
the page, the tandem of Leonard Fournette (17-63) and Ronald Jones
(13-62) were instrumental in Tampa's win over the Saints. Jones,
who has dealt with injuries, appears healthy, and he was the offensive
standout earlier this season when he ran for 113 yards and a pair
of TDs against Green Bay. The Packers had some trouble with LA's
Cam Akers (18-90-1) in the Divisional Round, and given their previous
success this figures to be an area that Tampa looks to attack
in the NFC Championship Game.
Game Thoughts: Given ample time to diagnose LA's top-ranked
defense thanks to strong work from the offensive line, Aaron Rodgers
completed 23 of his 36 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns.
He also missed two huge plays; badly overthrowing a streaking
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and watching Allan Lazard drop a deep
shot, both of which likely would've resulted in long TDs. Rodgers
also scored on a one-yard scramble. The offensive line's ability
to keep Rodgers clean will be critical this week as the Bucs beat
up No. 12 in their previous game, leading to the veteran's worst
showing of 2020.
Much was made of the matchup between Davante Adams (9-66-1) and
Jalen Ramsey, but the All-Pros rarely faced off in man coverage.
The attention Adams demanded created plenty of opportunities for
Lazard (4-96-1), who, despite the aforementioned drop, enjoyed
his best game since a core muscle injury in Week 3. MVS (4-33)
looked to have a 92-yard TD lined up, but Rodgers' pass sailed
harmlessly out of bounds. While Robert Tonyan (4-60) was held
out of the end zone the 60 receiving yards were his fourth-most
in a game this season.
If you throw out Jameis Winston's 56-yard touchdown pass on a
trick play, the Bucs allowed just 134 yards passing last Sunday
and intercepted Drew Brees three times. Although that's well below
the 246.6 yards per game they allowed during the regular season,
it's actually on par with the 160 they held Rodgers and company
to in Week 6. Tampa logged five sacks in that game, and their
ability to pressure Rodgers will again be critical to success.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Facing the NFL's top overall defense and
No. 3 run defense, the Packers deployed all three of their top
backs for the first time all season. It worked. Aaron Jones (14-99-1),
Jamaal Williams (12-65) and AJ Dillon (6-27) ran around and through
the Rams, averaging nearly 6.0 yards per carry. They'll face an
even stiffer test in the NFC Championship Game against the league's
No. 1 run defense (80.6 YPG), though Alvin Kamara (18-85) ran
effectively last weekend. The Packers averaged 4.5 yards per carry
against Tampa in the earlier meeting, and you can bet they'd love
to control the clock here just like they did against LA.
Bills at Chiefs
- (Caron) Line: KC -3.0 Total: 54.0
Game Thoughts: It’s tough not to look at the Bills-Chiefs
matchup and think that it will all come down to the quarterback
position. Two of the best QBs from this season will match up with
Buffalo’s Josh Allen heading into Kansas City to face Patrick
Mahomes. These teams actually matched up earlier this season,
back in Week 6, when Allen arguably had his worst game, throwing
for just 122 yards on the day with two touchdowns and an interception.
He did add 42 yards on the ground so it wasn’t a complete
disaster from a fantasy standpoint, but it was certainly not a
game that should instill confidence in fantasy owners.
Since then, however, Allen has been on a tear. He went on to finish
as the top-scoring quarterback in fantasy football and this matchup
now looks even more enticing when you consider that the Chiefs
pass defense is coming off of an ugly stretch which saw them give
up multiple passing touchdowns in eight straight games to finish
the season along with giving up 300 or more passing yards in half
of those contests.
With the Bills fully embracing the modern idea of a pass-heavy
offense, this is an excellent matchup and one that fantasy owners
should be truly excited about. Allen should be considered the
top QB on the board in the championship games and he could finish
as the top-scoring player overall.
If Allen goes off, it will almost certainly be with him relying
heavily on his top two pass catchers, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley,
perhaps with some John Brown sprinkled in as well. Brown failed
to catch a pass against the Colts in the Wild Card round, but
bounced back in a big way in the Divisional Round against Baltimore
when he was able to snag eight passes for 62 yards, tying a season
high with 11 targets. Brown saw an uptick in playing time when
Beasley was limited due to a knee injury. Beasley has now been
added to Thursday’s injury report, a not-so-great sign for
his chances to suit up this weekend. If Beasley is unable to go,
Brown could again be a major contributor in what will almost certainly
be a heavy volume day for the Buffalo passing game.
Diggs has been and continues to be an elite fantasy option this
season and he has now seen at least eight targets in all but two
games this season. He’s delivered both high-end production
along with consistency, making him one of the true league winners
of 2020. He’s now scored six times over his past six games
and he’ll be against a Chiefs defense that he scored against
back in Week 6. Davante Adams will likely be the top receiver
on most boards, but don’t be surprised to see Diggs deliver
another big fantasy day.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: The Bills have seen a monumental shift
in offensive philosophy and efficiency this season, but even those
who embrace the “pass, pass, pass” mentality could
have never predicted that Buffalo would employ the “just
forget about the run” gameplan against the Ravens in the
Divisional round. Buffalo finished the day with 37 pass attempts
while their running backs took just nine total carries. Those
final totals are also a bit skewed as they actually ran the ball
four of those nine times on their final two drives when they were
simply in “run out the clock” mode while being up
multiple scores. When the game was close, Buffalo completely abandoned
the run for all intents and purposes.
We shouldn’t expect that the Bills will be quite this heavily
skewed toward the passing game against Kansas City, but the important
note - from a fantasy standpoint - is that the Bills are simply
not interested in “establishing the run.” They will
pass, pass, and pass some more if it makes sense and when Allen
is playing as well as he has been this season, that gameplan has
led to great success for the Bills.
If you’re absolutely hell-bent on playing a Buffalo running
back, it should probably be Devin Singletary who has been operating
as the team’s primary back with Zach Moss out. T.J. Yeldon
has contributed a bit as well, but this is Singletary’s
backfield for the time being. Look for him to touch the ball around
a dozen times this week which could be enough for him to get into
the end zone and make his fantasy owners happy, but if he doesn’t
score then he’s likely to disappoint as his workload just
isn’t strong enough to contribute significant yardage.
Game Thoughts: He may not have completely lit up the
scoreboard through the air, but Patrick Mahomes delivered another
nice fantasy performance this past weekend against the Browns.
Mahomes has now contributed multiple touchdowns in all but two
games this season while also delivering the big spike weeks to
practically single-handedly win weeks for his fantasy owners.
This week Mahomes gets a Bills defense that he completed 21 of
26 pass attempts against back in Week 6, for 225 yards and a pair
of touchdowns. While the Bills pass defense has been mostly good
this season, they’re not unbeatable. Mahomes should be considered
either the No. 2 or perhaps even No. 1 quarterback on the board
- just like normal - and the Chiefs will need him to perform if
they hope to make it to their second straight Super Bowl.
If there’s any concern for the Bills, it should be with
wide receiver Tyreek Hill. While Hill has been incredible this
season and will almost certainly deliver something to make fantasy
owners at least satisfied, it’s worth considering that he
struggled and had one of his worst games of the season against
Buffalo back in Week 6. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, one
of the top cornerbacks in the game, was locked up with Hill throughout
much of the game and Hill was kept to just three catches for 20
yards for the day.
Tight end Travis Kelce is always a top option at his position
and a matchup against the Bills won’t change that. He scored
twice against Buffalo back in Week 6 and he’s on a five
game touchdown streak so there’s plenty to love in this
matchup. Look for him to be Mahomes’ top target again.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins returned to practice this week and
is looking increasingly likely to play, which will probably relegate
Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson back to being irrelevant
for fantasy. Watkins himself hasn’t been much of a fantasy
contributor this season, and he’s not someone who we should
be trusting given his injury situation, but he typically does
limit the upside of the other receivers in the Kansas City offense.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
has been out since Week 15, but he finally got back on the practice
field this week and is looking likely to suit up for this important
Championship round contest. Assuming he’s out there, this
could be a great situation for Edwards-Helaire to get back into
the good graces of fantasy owners as he’ll be up against
a Buffalo defense that he absolutely terrorized for 161 rushing
yards back in Week 6. It was the best rushing performance that
any player had all year against the Bills.
Edwards-Helaire will likely have to concede at least a few touches
to other backs in the Kansas City offense, but the running back
position is quite limited with only four teams remaining and he
should probably be looked at as a top three option. Darrel Williams
should be a top five option if Edwards-Helaire is out, but don’t
bother with him if the rookie is in the lineup.