We’ve reached the conclusion of another NFL season. I’d like to thank everyone who stuck around for year two of this article. I’ve learned a lot from this exercise and look forward to learning more and tweaking my approach for even better results in 2020…but first, we have one more shot to cash out.
These one-game slates can be super challenging but also super fun. Game script and correlation are always important, but it’s heightened to another level in this format. My take on this game is that offensive savants, Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid, rise above their defensive counterparts and make this game every bit the high-scoring affair that the team totals predict.
The Chiefs will be too formidable on offense for the 49ers to play keep away and Shanahan’s brilliance will allow them to keep pace with Mahomes and company. My lineup will follow that script and hopefully, I can send you into the offseason with some money in your pockets.
Captain Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy G’s eight pass attempt outing in the NFC championship will no doubt scare some people off. I look at this as a way to differentiate yourself from the field at a great price. Mahomes will be an overwhelming favorite in the captain’s spot. He’s phenomenal, has a great cast of weapons and the Chiefs have thrown on 60% of their plays this postseason. Even against a tough Niners defense, I expect him to do well…so well that he forces Garoppolo into upwards of 30 attempts. With Kyle Shanahan at the controls and a nice cast of weapons in their own right, I like Jimmy’s chances at scoring big as they trade haymakers with a great Chiefs offense.
DraftKings salary: 12,000
Flex Patrick Mahomes
I may experiment with one, maybe two lineups without Mahomes on the off chance it pays off but I’m not holding my breath for a large payout. The Chiefs offense shamelessly hunt big plays with little regard for keeping defenses honest. You could force multiple three and outs and feel like you’re holding them in check and they’ll still end up with 35 points by games end. Mahomes is that good in and outside of the original play design and their weapons are just too explosive not to concede things. In other words, play Mahomes, a lot.
Draftkings salary: 12,600
Flex Travis Kelce
Kelce may be my favorite play in this game. I fully expect the 49ers defensive approach to be playing off coverage with two deep safeties versus the lightning-fast trio of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman in an attempt to force Mahomes to be methodical. There’s a hitch in that strategy though…how in the hell do you defend Kelce? He’ll find the soft spots in the Niners zone defense and as good as Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander have been in coverage this year, it’s going to be very ambitious to ask them to consistently man up versus Kelce. I love Kelce’s floor and he’s only a few weeks removed from a 10 catch, three-TD game.
Draftkings salary: 9,600
Flex George Kittle
Here’s another player that might not be properly valued due to recency bias. Because the 49ers absolutely bludgeoned the Packers on the ground in the NFC championship, Kittle ran only 10 more routes than you or me in the game. That one catch for 19-yard game will loom large with the box score watchers but if we trust our game script then we should expect eight to 10 targets for Kittle in this one, more than enough for him to do real damage.
Draftkings salary: 8,400
Flex Emmanuel Sanders
Deebo Samuel will be the most popular but I really like Sanders in this one. Again, more attempts equal more opportunity, but his matchup is a good one as well. He’ll see secondary weak link Bashaud Breeland more often than solid boundary corner Charvarius Ward or stud slot hybrid Tyrann Mathieu. Sanders’ price might be the best of the slate, allowing you to pay up for the elite guys without sacrificing value.
Draftkings salary: 5,200
Flex Kyle Juszczyk
This selection was a little tricky. The previous guys left us 2,200 to spend…just enough to fit in the explosive Mecole Hardman. I went away from it in this lineup for two reasons. Hardman’s price and upside will make him an extremely popular pick so fading him here is a way to be unique. Moving down to Juszczyk also leaves 1,000 in salary on the table. That may be viewed as a negative, but it actually does more to ensure that this lineup will be a more unique one in tournaments.
As for Juszczyk as a play, in Weeks 11 through 17, the Niners played in six competitive games. He scored at least three fantasy points in all of them except their matchup versus the Ravens (a nasty weather game versus another run-first team). I know what you’re probably thinking: three points? At his price point, you’ll take three targets and a carry and hope one of them wind up in the end zone. You must make concessions somewhere and among the “punt” plays, he’s one of the safest bets to see involvement.
PS- *whispers* I’m still gonna play this lineup with Hardman instead Juszczyk as well
Draftkings salary: 1,200