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The A List at DFS Academy: NFL Conference Championship DFS

NFL Conference Championship DFS

We are gearing up for one of the most anticipated weekends of football as four teams battle it out to determine the Superbowl matchup. So has your favorite team already been eliminated? Well, no worries, you can get some stake in the game by playing DFS this NFL Conference Championship weekend.

Below I provide my favorite Cash lineup for your double-up and 50/50 contests, followed by five players to target in tournament settings. Now that we are down to only two games on the main slate, volatility is at its peak, presenting new challenges in Cash lineups and new opportunities in tournament settings. 

Because of this, I will be entering fewer Cash lineups this weekend and taking a couple more dart throws in tournaments. Additionally, I will likely play fewer overall contests this week to not blow my bankroll. 

DFS Tournament Advice

Before we get started, I want to briefly discuss how we should think about making unique tournament lineups for Sunday. It is very easy to get lost focusing on picking the random player who will pop off for a huge game. This is a trap.

Sure, it may be worth setting a lineup with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, since he has underperformed, and most people likely will avoid him. But an easier way to get different is with your roster construction.

This week, I am much more comfortable setting lineups where I stack both running backs from the same team (i.e., Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco) or where I stack a quarterback with a receiver and his running back. I may even stack with the backup running back, such as with Joe Burrow and Samaje Perine. This is also a week where rostering two tight ends could provide value. 

Get unique, but don’t galaxy brain yourself. Sure, this may be Justin Watson’s week, but he will most likely finish with one catch for 18 yards. So instead, get different with the way you build your roster and the number of players you’re willing to roster from a single game and go from there.

As always, my DMs are open for feedback and questions, both on Twitter and Instagram.

Cash is in session.

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NFL Conference Championship DFS

NFL Conference Championship DFS

Teacher’s Pet

Ja’Marr Chase (DraftKings: $7,600 / FanDuel: $8,600)

This one is simple, take the best wide receiver on the slate. There’s not much more I can say about Ja’Marr Chase. He is always a big-play threat and often brings in double-digit targets. And outside of L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City has a young cornerback room, which should give Chase additional opportunities to thrive. I also think you need to play Chase in tournaments to avoid getting buried by the field. 

NFL Conference Championship DFS

Honor Roll

Joe Burrow (DraftKings: $6,800 / FanDuel: $8,300)

It has been well-documented that Joe Burrow has performed very well against the Kansas City Chiefs. While I expect Steve Spagnuolo to have something cooked up to slow down Cincinnati, Burrow likely scores two or three touchdowns regardless. He also continues to add value with his legs, which could be crucial to helping you cash this week. Further, Burrow is the cheapest quarterback outside of Brock Purdy on DraftKings. So save the money and take the safe floor. 

Brandon Aiyuk (DraftKings: $4,400 / FanDuel: $6,000)

The wide receiver position provides many opportunities to save money this week. With Brandon Aiyuk below $5,000 on DraftKings, it’s hard to pass up, particularly considering what we have to spend elsewhere to get players like Chase and Travis Kelce. I expect the Eagles to primarily focus on stopping George Kittle and Deebo Samuel this week, which will open up opportunities for Aiyuk to play cleanup. Plus, with his value, you’ll feel pretty good about his day if he gets in the endzone.

Travis Kelce (DraftKings: $7,800 / FanDuel: $8,500)

17 targets. That’s all you need to know. Besides the fact that Travis Kelce has a case for the best tight end of all time, he brought in 17 targets last week. This man is getting astronomical usage. If you avoided him in Cash last week, you lost. Play Travis Kelce and enjoy the extra rest you get knowing your tight end is going to ball. 

NFL Conference Championship DFS

Check the Chalkboard

Christian McCaffrey (DraftKings: $8,000 / FanDuel: $9,000)

I would be surprised if anyone playing Cash avoids Christian McCaffrey this weekend. Just look at the alternatives for running backs. None of them are within reaching distance of McCaffrey. Further, the 49ers committed to the run last week against the Cowboys, seemingly avoiding putting Brock Purdy in a tough situation against an opportunistic defense. I expect them to take that same approach against the Eagles, providing McCaffrey an easy pathway to fantasy success. Plus, if the 49ers do move to a drop-back passing game, McCaffrey will still be a prominent part of their offense. 

Participation Grade

Kadarius Toney (DraftKings: $3,700 / FanDuel: $5,600)

Kadarius Toney has become a consistent weapon in the Kansas City offense, increasing his touches every game since Week 17. Last week he was targeted on seven occasions, which is a dream for a sub-$4,000 player on DraftKings. I also like Toney in tournament settings, but I imagine the field does as well. He can be an element of a unique lineup, but ultimately you’ll need to find other ways to get different as well. 

Back of the Classroom Studs

Isiah Pacheco (DraftKings: $5,300 / FanDuel: $6,300)

Did you see this man run against the Jaguars? I had seen Isiah Pacheco’s juice throughout the season, but it looked like he brought out another gear last week. And that’s why I want him in my lineup this week. Additionally, with Patrick Mahomes still not at 100%, Kansas City will look to run the ball, and Pacheco is their best rusher. His price is just the cherry on top, allowing you to pay up elsewhere. 

Tyler Boyd (DraftKings: $3,800 / FanDuel: $5,300)

While Tyler Boyd underperformed in the Divisional round, I expect him to maintain his role as a valuable part of this offense, particularly in the Red Zone, where he is a constant threat to score. Plus, the flip side of Chase potentially drawing coverage from Snead is that Boyd will go up against some of the younger Kansas City defensive backs. This should open up opportunities for him to get loose. At $3,800, you don’t need him to do much to return value, and with his touchdown upside, he’s a great play on FanDuel. 

San Francisco 49ers (DraftKings: $3,000 / FanDuel: $4,100)

The clear Cash game defense is between the 49ers and the Eagles if you can afford it. I lean towards the 49ers because I think they are more likely to force turnovers and minimize Red Zone opportunities. But overall, you can’t go wrong with either team, and it’s more about which team allows you the salary space to build the rest of your roster how you’d like. 

We have you covered if you’re looking for some 2023 fantasy football content. Check out our new series, “How To Fix,” where we are creating a plan to fix some of the worst offenses in the league last year.

Tournament Options

Patrick Mahomes (DraftKings: $7,600 / FanDuel: $8,500)

I expect people to avoid Patrick Mahomes as they express concern over him suffering a high-ankle sprain last weekend. Because of this, I want to be in on Mahomes, who still put up solid numbers despite having one usable ankle against the Jaguars. But further, he has already been a full participant in practice, which I imagine wouldn’t happen if his ankle wasn’t making progress. So take the best player on the slate in Mahomes. 

Samaje Perine (DraftKings: $4,500 / $5,300)

As much as the narrative is that Joe Burrow torches Kansas City, Samaje Perine has also been a consistent part of their success. I think an undervalued aspect of the 2022 AFC Championship game narrative is the fact that it was a long run-after-catch by Perine that set up the Bengals to score late in the first half to close the gap. Further, when he stepped in for Joe Mixon in the Week 13 matchup between these two teams, Perine averaged five yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch. So if you’re looking for a contrarian running back option, look no further than Perine. 

Miles Sanders (DraftKings: $5,200 / FanDuel: $6,200)

This pick is essentially a game theory move. The prominent narrative is that the 49ers are the toughest run defense, which will scare most people away from Miles Sanders this week. I will likely target him in tournaments, as his roster percentage will be down. If he hits, we will gain significant leverage on the field. Simply put, when others zig, we’re going to zag. 

Dallas Goedert (DraftKings: $4,100 / FanDuel: $6,400)

In the strange scenario where you avoid Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert is a fairly natural pivot. And while it may be tempting to play both Kelce and Goedert, I think if you are trying to get different at tight end, you need to fade Kelce completely. Unfortunately, the field was also onto the strategy of doubling up at tight end last week, so the better contrarian play is to play Goedert alone. That said, I still want exposure to Kelce in most of my lineups to avoid getting buried, so I recommend only starting a few lineups without Kelce. 

Kansas City Chiefs (DraftKings: $2,500 / FanDuel: $4,200)

Never. Play. The Chalk. Defense. My guess is most people will be out on Kansas City in tournaments because they will be in on the Bengals’ offense. However, Steve Spagnoulo is known for his blitz packages. And while the Bengals’ offensive line has been better this year, we can tell ourselves a story that it all comes crumbling down this weekend, and Kansas City finally shifts the tides and pulls out the victory. And if that hits, it could be the difference between first and 50th. 

Report Card

Scoring System

  • A: Scored over three times their price
  • B: Scored over two times their price
  • C: Matched their price
  • F: Scored lower than their price


Player Price Points Grade
Patrick Mahomes $8,000 16.6 B
Josh Allen $7,800 18.2 B
Joe Mixon $6,500 23.3 A
Deebo Samuel $5,900 9.6 C
Christian Kirk $6,000 20 A
Dallas Goedert $4,500 16.8 A
Travis Kelce $7,700 35.8 A
Tyler Boyd $4,000 3.3 F
Trevor Lawrence $6,000 14.28 B
Miles Sanders $5,700 9 C
Jerick McKinnon $6,000 2.5 F
Travis Etienne $6,400 17 B
JuJu Smith-Schuster $5,100 4.9 F
Dawson Knox $3,800 11.5 A
New York Giants $2,500 -3 F
San Francisco 49ers $3,300 9 B
Overall $89,200 208.78 B
Season Long $1,553,600 4036.98 B


Player Price Points Grade
Patrick Mahomes $9,200 16.6 C
Josh Allen $9,000 18.2 B
Joe Mixon $7,700 19.3 B
Deebo Samuel $7,100 7.6 C
Christian Kirk $7,600 16.5 B
Dallas Goedert $6,300 14.3 B
Travis Kelce $8,000 28.8 A
Tyler Boyd $5,600 2.8 F
Trevor Lawrence $7,600 14.28 C
Miles Sanders $7,200 9 C
Jerick McKinnon $7,000 2.5 F
Travis Etienne $6,800 15.5 B
JuJu Smith-Schuster $6,600 3.9 F
Dawson Knox $5,800 9 C
New York Giants $3,000 -3 F
San Francisco 49ers $4,500 9 B
Overall $109,000 184.28 C
Season Long $1,893,300 3509.18 C

While our content slows down in the postseason, keep an eye out for our weekly betting and DFS articles here.