Welcome to the weekly wide receiver/cornerback breakdown! We will review each of the outside matchups, as well as my three favorite matchups in the slot. Then, below the charts in this article, I break down my elite, affordable, and bargain picks for DFS purposes. We are on to the Conference Championships, so the slate is just two games, but that doesn’t change the chance to win some big DFS money. Follow me on Twitter (@fightingchance) as well!
|Left Wide Receivers vs. Right Cornerbacks|
|Tee Higgins||CIN||Charvarius Ward||KC|
With just two games on the slate there are less options than usual and while Higgins can be volatile, he is often a big part of the game plan. He was a third down catch machine against the Titans and finished with seven catches for 96 yards against Tennessee. Is that good enough to get the previous two games out of your memory? Including the game where he had just three catches for 62 yards against the Chiefs? You have to figure that Kansas City is not going to want to let Ja'Marr Chase beat them with the deep ball in this one and I do think that Higgins will see near ten targets. It is hit or miss whether he finds the end zone or not, but I am expecting a better performance than Week 17 and Higgins will make a mid-range salary for your DFS lineups.
|Mecole Hardman||KC||Chidobe Awuzie||CIN|
He did have two carries for 31 yards including a beautiful touchdown, but Hardman had just one catch on one target for 26 yards. He also had just one catch in Week 17 against the Bengals, although it was good for 51 yards. Byron Pringle has definitely passed him as the third receiver on the team after Hill and Kelce, and that severly limits Hardman's potential. I haven't been a Hardman guy all year, and I am not going to start trusting him, even on a two-game slate, in the championship round.
|Odell Beckham||LAR||Emmanuel Moseley||GB|
Last week was one of his better games since joining the Rams, although he didn't find the end zone like he's been doing. But given the fact that he had six catches for 69 yards and how low his salary was last week, he certainly returned decent value. He had two catches for 18 yards in each of the Rams games against the 49ers this season, although the first one was the very first week he joined the team. Beckham has wanted this grand stage his whole career, and while I think he will not bust like he did against San Francisco this season, I am not expecting a huge game from him. He should have between seven and nine targets which should end up being five or six catches for around 60-75 yards and I won't be shocked if he finds the end zone.
|Deebo Samuel||SF||Jalen Ramsey||BUF|
He came off the field unable to put pressure on his one foot, but I feel there is no question that Samuel will play on Sunday. The stats weren't impressive for the first time in forever for him, but those conditions in Lambeau got worse as the game went on. He did have at least one drop, but I am not concerned in the least about Deebo. He had 95+ receiving yards in each game against the Rams and ran for a combined 81 yards in the two games with three total touchdowns. He is the main cog in the 49ers offense and you have to figure this is going to be a fairly high scoring game. I am so sure that he will find the end zone and make at least one big play with the ball in his hands after a catch. His salary is kind of high for a guy nursing some injuries, but unless the Rams are totally able to shut down the 49ers, Samuel should have a big game.
|Right Wide Receivers vs. Left Cornerbacks|
|Ja'Marr Chase||CIN||Mike Hughes||KC|
His 109 yard performance against the Titans was the fourth time in five games he went over the century mark in receiving yards. The most explosive of these was the 11-catch, 266 yard effort with three touchdowns against these Chiefs in Week 17. You HAVE to figure that Kansas City is not going to want to let Chase beat them again. Although, you had to figure at some point they would have locked down Gabriel Davis last week too and they were unable. Chase is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode with a big play at any time and like Tyreek Hill he just runs at a different speed than others. They might try to limit him, but I can't see Chase being held down for an entire game again. He won't be cheap, but he will be one of the most attractive of the high priced receivers based on his recent performances including drubbing Kansas City.
|Byron Pringle||KC||Eli Apple||CIN|
He clearly as separated himself from the rest of the crappy pack in Kansas City as the third option as he has had seven or more targets and five or more catches in four of the last five weeks. He also has three touchdowns in the two playoff games. When the chips are down Mahomes is going to look to Kelce and Hill, but Pringle continues to be involved. He isn't going to be a slate breaker and his max is probably 15 fantasy points, but with bigger dollars likely going to quarterback and running back this week, Pringle is the perfect guy to fill out a roster at wide receiver with a price tag that won't break the bank and is nearly a guarantee to get you ten fantasy points in PPR scoring.
|Van Jefferson||LAR||Ambry Thomas||SF|
There are three real targets when it comes to the Rams passing game. Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham, and Tyler Higbee. You can toss the running backs in there a little, but Jefferson is barely involved anymore. He has had two catches or less in six of the last seven games, and has only had more than three targets twice in that span. He had just five catches for 85 yards combined in the two games against the 49ers this season, so he hasn't even been able to take advantage of a decent matchup. You are totally rolling the dice with little reasoning if you put Jefferson into your lineups on Sunday.
|Brandon Aiyuk||SF||Darious Williams||LAR|
The conditions were bad but Aiyuk was only targeted once and didn't pull it in. That worked out for the 49ers because it was a borderline fumble and it would have been recovered by Green Bay. His season has been so volatile, he has either been a big part of the game plan or he has been a total ghost. Which will it be? You can't even look back to games against the Rams because he had three catches for 26 yards in one and six catches for 107 yards in the other. Which Aiyuk will we get this week? Obviously, the weather played a big factor last week as the offense never got started and Aiyuk had at least played fairly well in the three games before that. His salary is similar to that of Odell Beckham and Byron Pringle and honestly I have more confidence in both of them. You can feed him into a couple lineups if his salary fits, but I am surely not targeting Aiyuk in any large percentage of my roster builds.
Now, here are my three favorite matchups in the slot for the Conference Championships
|Slot Wide Receivers vs. Slot Cornerbacks|
|Cooper Kupp||LAR||K'Wuan Williams||SF|
He had another monster game with nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs, including the two biggest catches on the final drive. I can almost guarantee that the 49ers won't let him get alone deep down the middle if the game is tied in the last minute, but there's almost no way that I don't expect Kupp to have big numbers again on Sunday. In two games against the 49ers he had a combined 18 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns. I'd say even though Williams is one of the best slot corners in the game, there is just no containing Kupp this season. Arizona was the only team to hold Kupp under 90 yards all season and Kupp should have a minimum of seven catches for 100 yards and a score in the NFC Championship.
|Tyreek Hill||KC||Mike Hilton||CIN|
My God he runs like the wind! The Bills had no answer for Hill, especially late and he ended up with 11 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. It was just crazy how he would just the catch the ball and turn on another gear and run through defenders. I would say it is safe to assume now that Hill is over his bout with Covid and his heel injury or he couldn't move like that. He had six catches for 40 yards in Week 17 against the Chiefs, but the Chiefs are the much more experienced playoff team. Mahomes is going to focus on Hill and Kelce a lot, and even though the Bengals have allowed just two passing touchdowns so far in the playoffs, that average won't hold and Hill should have another field day!
|Tyler Boyd||CIN||L'Jarius Sneed||KC|
There are only four choices out of the slot this week and I can't believe that the Rams are going to let Jauan Jennings repeat his Week 18 performance. Boyd did next to nothing against the Titans and had just 36 yards on four catches against the Chiefs in Week 17. However, he had scored in four straight games before last week and the Bengals are going to have to throw to keep up with the Chiefs. Plus I trust Joe Burrow more than a badly beaten up Jimmy Garoppolo right now. Boyd is a big risk as he is the third receiver on this team, but he's found the end zone a lot down the stretch and that alone is worth the dart throw.
Cooper Kupp vs K’Wuan Williams
He is just automatic every single week. Again, only Arizona has figured a way to keep this guy under 95 yards and he has whipped the 49ers twice. With it being just one game before the Super Bowl, the Rams are going to pepper their bread and butter as much as they possibly can. Williams is solid, but Kupp has been the best all season long and I see no way he is held down now. He is by far the most expensive wide receiver but should definitely be worth it. The only way you don’t use Kupp is if you really can’t afford that extra salary and field a team you feel good about but believe me you can do it.
All three of the top-level receivers are great options this week, but it is really hard to pick against Hill considering his salary and the other worldly game he just had on Sunday. It was like he was running on one of those people movers at the airport and everyone else was in quicksand. Don’t be scared away by his poor game against Cincinnati a few weeks ago, we know Hill struggled coming back after a bout with Covid. He looked unguardable on Sunday and the Chiefs look to be on their best form at the right time. Hill’s price tag is very affordable considering he has a chance to give you 20+ fantasy points at any time and is a dynamite option against Hilton.
Ja’Marr Chase vs Charvarius Ward
I am honestly shocked how affordable he is on DraftKings this weekend for a guy who has performed so well over the last month and change. Like Tyreek Hill, Chase just has a different speed sometimes, and he is really good at making tacklers miss. I know he will be the focal point of the Chiefs defense, but we saw on Sunday how they can be exploited. Hell, Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 200 yards on them with two touchdowns. I know some of that was garbage time but still. Chase doesn’t always get the high target volume, but this kid can take any catch the distance. I will like him more if Tyrann Mathieu is unable to play, but at his price tag you are being begged to give Chase a roster spot this week.
Another guy I was surprised how cheap he was, Beckham didn’t find the end zone last week, but he was targeted multiple times in the red zone and still had a solid stat line against Tampa Bay. He is clearly the second favorite target in the passing game, and despite the fact he hasn’t had huge games since coming to the Rams, we know he is fully capable. With their being no weather concerns at all in Los Angeles this weekend this game should play very fast and in the air. Given his price tag compared to other wide receivers on this slate, Beckham seems to be a great option to help you pay up at other positions.
He certainly isn’t a household name, and he isn’t the star of this team. But when the scraps of Hill and Kelce are dropped, Pringle picks them up. He has 14 targets in the playoffs to Mecole Hardman’s five. He has three touchdowns in the playoffs, and we know that the Chiefs are going to throw a ton since they can’t run the ball well. Apple and the Bengals have played well all season long, and I’m not expecting a huge game out of Pringle. But if he can find that end zone and still have four or five targets you are looking at a great return. He is in the same price range as Brandon Aiyuk and Tyler Boyd and I think Pringle is by far the best option of those three.
*Information gathered from research done at Pro Football Focus.