The 2023 NFL playoffs march on and we are now one step closer to crowning our Super Bowl 58 winner. Who will that be? Obviously, it depends on who wins the Conference Championships and this battle between the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco 49ers is going to be a fierce one. It is also, according to Las Vegas, going to be a high-scoring affair which always plays nicely when setting winning DFS lineups. The short slates can be tough to navigate sometimes, but that’s a challenge Fantasy Alarm never shies away from. We know players like Christian McCaffrey and Amon-Ra St. Brown are going to be the chalk. We give you the edge with the DFS value plays you need, not just to score points, but to differentiate your lineup from the rest of the herd. Let’s get started.
Lions vs 49ers Prediction: San Francisco Overcomes Loss of Deebo Samuel to Win the NFC Conference
Detroit Lions fans won’t like the prediction, but the 49ers have way too much firepower, both on offense and defense, to not come out ahead. They may not cover the spread (a conversation for another article), but Kyle Shanahan has this team working like a well-oiled machine and last week’s wake-up call that nothing is a guarantee should keep them moving towards the Super Bowl. The Lions will try to run hard with Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, but the 49ers defense and the injuries to Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson may be tough to overcome. Jared Goff will sling the rock heavily to keep the Lions going, but in the end, a strong ground game led by Christian McCaffrey will open things up for Brock Purdy to find Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle downfield. Points will be scored, but more from the Niners in this one.
Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers Odds
- Spread: 49ers -7
- Lions (+275)
- 49ers (-350)
- Total: 51.5
- Weather: clear skies with temperatures in the low-50s
Lions vs. 49ers Injury Report:
Kalif Raymond, WR (knee – questionable)
After suffering a knee injury in the regular-season finale, Raymond hasn’t suited up for either playoff game. He seems unlikely to play this Sunday, but keep an eye on practice reports just to be certain.
Brock Wright, TE (forearm – OUT)
Jonah Jackson, LG (knee – OUT)
Frank Ragnow, C (ankle – questionable)
With Jackson unlikely to play, Ragnow is going to push himself to be on the field. Expect some missed practices, but he is expected to play
Alex Anzalone, LB (ribs – questionable)
He is playing through a variety of bumps and bruises and is expected to play Sunday.
James Houston, LB (ankle – questionable)
The second-year linebacker is still working his way back from a fractured ankle back in Week 2. The team activated him from IR leading into the Divisional Round but he was left inactive. It would be surprising to see him take the field as anything more than a special-teamer this week.
Deebo Samuel, WR (shoulder – off the injury report)
As of right now, this is the only injury listed for the 49ers, but obviously, it’s a big one. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said there is no fracture, but Samuel is in significant pain. They are putting his chances of playing Sunday at 50/50 so stay tuned for updates. UPDATE: He is officially off the injury report, but personally, I'm skeptical. I could see him serving more as a decoy than anything else.
Best DFS Picks for Lions vs. 49ers:
While we always expect Christian McCaffrey to see a ton of touches, even in a tough match-up, the way you attack the Lions is through the air. We’re still awaiting a final injury report regarding Deebo Samuel, but even if he is out, you can still expect Purdy to throw fairly often and with targets like Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and even Jauan Jennings, he looks like a great option.
We all know that Goff plays better at home than he does on the road and we also know that he prefers the controlled environment. Fortunately for him, we’re looking at clear skies, no real wind and no precipitation. It’s obviously a tough match-up, but we’ve seen receivers get behind the 49ers coverage before and if Goff can stay upright, he should have himself a solid game.
If you need me to give you analysis on McCaffrey, you clearly haven’t been paying attention all year. Understand that on a short slate, you’re more than likely going to have to lock him and his price tag into your lineups. Sure, if you’re a multi-lineup player you can build one or two fading him, but unless there’s a major injury, those lineups are likely to struggle.
I’m actually hoping to see Gibbs get more involved in the short-passing game. With Jonah Jackson doubtful and Frank Ragnow banged-up, it’s going to be difficult for the Lions to move the ball between the tackles. That means running to the outside, but then you also have to beat either Nick Bosa or Chase Young. Not easy. But little dump-off passes over the heads of the edge-rushers, that’s where Gibbs could really shine.
He’s the bread and bitter for Goff when it comes to moving the football downfield. It’s not the greatest match-up in the world, but the Niners did rank 11th in DVOA against the opposing WR1 and allowed an average of nearly 70 yards per game against them. He should really earn his price tag with the receptions in a full-point PPR format like DraftKings, so don’t freak out if he’s sporting a low aDOT this week.
With Deebo Samuel banged-up and 50/50 to even play this week, we should see more work for Aiyuk, hopefully more in the realm of how he started the season. If Deebo doesn’t play, the Niners are going to need a big game from Aiyuk, so watch for the inactives and weekend injury reports. No Deebo almost locks Aiyuk into my primary lineup.
Similar to Aiyuk, if Deebo is out, it’s wheels-up for Kittle. Not only did the Lions allow an average of 55 receiving yards per game to the position, but out of all the remaining teams, the Lions are the ones who have allowed the most fantasy points per game to the tight end. His intensity on the field is unparalleled and his ability to add yards after the catch and after contact is huge.
While the 49ers ranked fourth in DVOA against the tight end, they did give up an average of nearly 53 receiving yards per game to the position. We all know how Goff likes to lean on LaPorta, especially on third down when he needs to make a big play, so consider him a solid option at a loaded position this week.
I like him but I don’t love hum. We’ve seen Gibbs get more touches in recent games and with the offensive line concerns, as well as the overall match-up against the Niners run defense, it’s going to be some tough sledding between the tackles. He could get some goal-line work so I would still want some exposure, but no need to overload this week.
Other DFS Picks for Conference Championships:
We’ll just have to wait and see what his status is for the game. The outlook isn’t good, so even if he does play, he could be limited. If you’re a max-lineup player and he’s active, get some exposure but don’t overdo it. UPDATE: He is officially off the injury report, but personally, I'm skeptical. I could see him serving more as a decoy than anything else.
If Deebo is active, Jennings is more of a dart-throw, but if he’s out, then Jennings becomes significantly more appealing as they use him in that Deebo role. We saw him be a focal point of the passing attack last week and while that was because of the gameplan walking in, he should still be featured enough to provide value.
Can’t argue with the role or the recent targets, can you? It can be a tough match-up between the 20s, but we’ve seen Goff look for Reynolds in the back of the end -zone often enough to know that their connection over the years cannot be ignored.
While Dan Campbell has been grooming him to be more than just a deep threat, Williams should be leaned on to stretch the defense vertically. His route tree has been expanded to make him a more complete receiver, but in this case, given the match-up, it’s going to be his speed they rely on most. I’d love to see a breakout performance for him in this one and will likely have strong exposure given the fact that the Niners corners may struggle to stay with him.
DFS NFL Value Plays:
We’re not sure if he’s going to be active for this game, but given the potential loss of Brock Wright and limited depth behind LaPorta, maybe Ertz gets a couple of looks.
This one isn’t for the faint of heart and most would rather use Elijah Mitchell for the time he does spell McCaffrey. But we’ve all seen Kyle Shanahan use Juszczyk for some gimmick plays and if Deeb Samuel is out, perhaps they run a fullback wheel route or two. I’ve used this dart throw in the past and it’s worked, but it’s like Sex Panther where 60-percent of the time, it works every time.
If you really want to throw a dart, and I mean only if you are a max-lineup player looking to get a little weird, then DPJ has some slight appeal. Not a lot, but some. If you believe the Niners win this game and Goff is just chucking the ball all over the place, then maybe…just maybe…