The NFL Conference Championships are here and while everyone is concerned regarding who will be playing in Super Bowl 58, Fantasy Alarm remains focused on the task at hand which is building winning DFS lineups this weekend. The AFC Conference Championship between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens has some outstanding lineup options, from chalk plays like Lamar Jackson and Travis Kelce to DFS bargains like Jameson Williams and Justin Watson. The DFS value plays are going to be important this week as we aren’t the only ones who know the chalk. Defensive coordinators do as well and they’ll be scheming against them, for sure. So, let’s dive in and see what direction we want to go as we look to take down some GPP tournaments.
Chiefs vs. Ravens Prediction: Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce Invite Taylor Swift to Super Bowl Party
While the Baltimore Ravens may be the more complete team overall, and yes, all signs, atleast on paper, point towards them winning, but experience tips the scales towards the Kansas City Chiefs winning the AFC Conference in what should be a nail-biter for all. Both teams will look to establish the run early so look for Isiah Pacheco, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to see significant touches in this battle. But in the end, it comes down to the magic of Mahomes finding Kelce and Rashee Rice downfield for the win. The match-up is extremely tough on both sides, but we expect the Chiefs to use Willi Gay as a spy on Jackson and then it’s up to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to make sure the secondary is ready for whatever Todd Monken and the Ravens throw at them. There are strong weapons for the Ravens which will help us in DFS, but they are facing the fifth-ranked pass defense in the league and we’ve seen the Ravens struggle late in games both with scoring and stopping the opposition. Again, a close one, but I’m still leaning towards Kansas City.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens Odds
- Spread: Ravens -3.5
- Chiefs (+165)
- Ravens (-200)
- Total: 44.5
- Weather: Rain is likely, 10-15mph winds.
Chiefs vs. Ravens Injury Report:
Isiah Pacheco, RB (toe – questionable)
When last we looked on Thursday, Pacheco still hadn’t practiced, but reports are still saying that he is expected to play. Perhaps Andy Reid is keeping him fresh and we see a full-practice on Friday, but we will continue to monitor closely. It’s a tough match-up, but Pacheco should still find time to shine.
Kadarius Toney, WR (hip – OUT)
Joe Thuney, LG (pectoral – OUT)
This one is a bit disconcerting given the strength and importance of the Chiefs offensive line. The questionable tag seems to be based in more hope than actual facts and most reports indicate that Thuney will not be available.
Derrick Nnadi, DT (triceps – questionable)
He’s been sidelined since suffering the injury during the Chiefs Wild Card game against the Dolphins and it isn’t looking good for Sunday. Both Tershawn Wharton and Neil Farrell filled in during the Divisional Round and are expected to share reps again, if needed.
Willie Gay, LB (neck – questionable)
After putting in a limited practice Wednesday, Gay’s participation this week got a little more optimistic. We’ll continue to watch, but all signs point towards Gay playing and fulfilling a similar role as last week, this time spying on Lamar Jackson.
L’Jarius Sneed, CB (calf – questionable)
He’s been on the injury report with this calf injury since Week 17 and save for Week 18 where the starters didn’t really play, he’s been out there. Hard to see him missing this one.
Mike Edwards, FS (concussion – questionable)
Awaiting clearance via the league’s concussion protocol.
Marlon Humphrey, CB (calf – questionable)
Humphrey finally made an appearance at Wednesday’s practice, albeit a limited one. Still, it’s a step in the right direction and has Humphrey trending towards playing this week.
Best DFS Picks for Chiefs vs. Ravens:
This is where the big-game experience comes into play as Mahomes is able to put a team on his back and carry them to victory. He’ll focus on feeding Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice the ball, but we’ve also seen him spread it around a ton. I like for him to add some rushing yards as the Ravens pass-rush is likely to be very aggressive early, but in the end, it’s his arm that does the talking. He’s 8-3 straight up in his career as an underdog, the best record of any QB in the Super Bowl era with a minimum of 10 starts.
He’s likely to be the chalkiest of the chalk, not because of the match-up, but because of his rushing ability. He ran for 100 yards and two scores last week and everyone is going to chase that as the expected MVP looks to get that Super Bowl monkey off his back. I list Mahomes slightly ahead of him because I could see Todd Monken lean on the run a little given the Chiefs’ shaky run defense, but it’s real tough to shy away here.
Kelce was built for big games like this, as evidenced by last week’s two-touchdown performance. The Ravens were strong against the tight end all year, ranking eighth in DVOA against the position, but given the magnitude of this game and Mahomes’ desire to lean on his best guys, Kelce should shine in a tough match-up against Kyle Hamilton.
What an amazing rookie season for the kid out of SMU. He’s blossomed into Mahomes’ most-reliable receiver and he’s averaged nine targets per game over his last eight, including four double-digit target games, three 100-yard efforts and four touchdowns. He’ll battle it out with a banged-up Marlon Humphrey and should produce a strong stat-line once again.
The Ravens move him all over the field and we haven’t heard anything regarding L’Jarius Sneed shadowing him this weekend, so expect the Ravens to continue leaning on the rookie wideout. Derrick Stingley did a good job against him last week in the Divisional Round, but he averaged seven targets per game in the previous four, with one 100-yard effort and three touchdowns.
He was officially activated from IR and added to the 53-man roster which means it’s wheels-up for Andrews this week. The Chiefs ranked 10th in the league in DVOA against the tight end, so I’m not expecting huge yardage out of him, but we know he’s a strong red zone threat for Jackson and he’s priced down on the sites because of his injury status all week.
Other DFS Picks for Conference Championships:
While Sneed is preoccupied with Flowers throughout this game, it’s going to give OBJ an opportunity to shine. We all know he lives for the spotlight in big games and this one won’t be much different. The bargain price is tasty and the Chiefs ranked 25th in DVOA against the opposing No. 2 wideout. If Beckham gets behind the coverage, he could blow up this week.
I’m a little worried about the injury to Joe Thuney, but Nick Allegretti did a nice job filling in last week on several runs by Pacheco. He’s blossomed into the every-down back Andy Reid covets and while it’s a tough match-up against a fierce run defense, we should see some angry runs that set him free.
Even though Justice Hill out-touched Edwards last week, I’m still riding the Gus Bus as the Ravens short-yardage and goal-line specialist. He still gets regular work, so expect a decent number of touches out of the backfield, but his real value will come when he punches it in at the goal-line.
The uptick in workload has been encouraging and the hope is that it continues. But the real bread and butter for Hill is his work in the passing game. He’s averaged five targets per game over his last four and found the end zone once in that span. If he can continue to bring that element to the game for Jackson, he should produce enough to give you some decent RB value this weekend.
DFS NFL Value Plays:
He remains the most-targeted receiver in this group, but he is still one of the dart-throws we have to look at and hope he hits value. Very tough to tell with Mahomes and whatever coverage schemes the Ravens bring to the table, but we know the Ravens like to play a lot of man-coverage and that seems to be where Watson excels most.
While Rashod Bateman plays more snaps, it seems that Agholor is the red-zone target Jackson prefers. He’s seen 15 targets over the last four games and three of those came inside the red zone, resulting in two touchdowns. As dart-throws go, he’s probably one of your best bets for a random score.
He’s the deep-threat for Mahomes and finally caught a few last week. Will that turn into more targets from Mahomes in this match-up? Hard to tell. But he’s on the field for the majority of snaps and if he can get behind the coverage this week, maybe he pops.
Out of all the Chiefs receivers, Hardman has the most dramatic splits facing man vs zone coverage and that keeps him on the dart-throw radar this week even though he’s put the ball on the ground a few times in recent games. Again, this is like the Wheel of Randomness when picking Chiefs receivers to throw darts at, so spin away.
He’s on the field plenty but sees limited targets. With the return of Mark Andrews, it seems unlikely that Bateman is going to pop off this week, but if you’re playing percentages and looking for volume snaps to maybe result in better targets, this would be the lean. A very slight lean though.
Even with Andrews coming back, if you are a multi-lineup/max-lineup player, I would have some exposure to Likely. Tod Monken doesn’t run a lot of two-TE formations, but even just 10-percent of the time could yield some targets for him, even in a secondary role.
Wanna throw another dart? Why not Gray? With the Ravens likely focusing their coverage attention on Kelce, it could open things up for Gray.
We’re not sure if he’s even playing, but if he is, we’ve obviously seen him used. Matt Nagy loves his pre-snap motion and he loves his gimmicks, especially near the end zone. If Toney is playing, I might even consider him as the top dart-throw on the Chiefs roster.