Chiefs-Titans is obviously the fun offensive -- and, thus, fantasy -- matchup this weekend.
The AFC title game opened with an over/under 6 points higher than its NFC counterpart. That number has since climbed 2 points further ahead.
Vegas projects Green Bay to score 4 fewer points than Tennessee on Sunday (with the home favorites another several points ahead each). The Packers arrive as the lowest rated remaining offense by Football Outsiders efficiency metrics, though all 4 teams rate strongly.
Full-season offensive DVOA
“Weighted” offensive DVOA (favoring more recent performance)
Might we see some surprising offense from this matchup? It’s possible. But when you include the defensive ratings, the mismatch becomes more apparent.
Full-season defensive DVOA
“Weighted” defensive DVOA
The Niners rate top 11 in DVOA vs. both the run and the pass -- 2nd best vs. the pass. Their Week 12 annihilation of the Packers came with LB Kwon Alexander and DE Dee Ford both sidelined. Yet Aaron Rodgers still managed only 104 yards passing and 1 total TD while taking 5 sacks.
I mentioned on last week’s podcast that the 49ers had become quite a bit more generous on defense following Alexander’s injury. Through the season’s first 9 weeks, San Francisco allowed 12.75 points and 241 total yards per game. From Week 10 on, those numbers climbed to 26 points and 322.6 yards per game. Over that 8-game span, Rodgers was the only QB who failed to account for at least 2 total TDs in his matchup with the 49ers.
Alexander, Ford and S Jaquiski Tartt (who missed weeks 14-17) all returned for last week’s domination of the Vikings. Minnesota allowed 6 sacks, turned the ball over twice and managed only 193 total yards. And the turnover total could have been much worse. The Vikings only lost 1 of their 4 fumbles.
Good luck this Sunday, Aaron, Aaron and Davante ...
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to build your showdown lineup completely out of 49ers. Fortunately, this chart begins with a couple of sneaky ways to both save salary and get a Packer into the mix.
Marcedes Lewis played his largest snap share of the season last week (66%). Interestingly, Green Bay’s top blocking TE tied for his 2nd-smallest share of the season (34%) in the first meeting with San Francisco. If the Packers again choose to combat the Niners pass rush by getting more receivers onto the field, then Lewis would likely see his playing time slashed again. But they could easily choose, instead, to fortify the blocking this time around. That would keep Lewis on the field more. Either way, of course, you’re basically hoping to luck into a TD. But at minimum salary, you can even get away with a 0 from Lewis.
Jake Kumerow also saw his playing time jump last week, to its highest level since Week 8. That came mostly thanks to an ankle injury limiting Allen Lazard’s snaps. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that it’s a “minor” injury and that Lazard “should be OK.” But he’ll at least be at less than 100% -- while costing $4600 more than Kumerow in showdown salary.
Elsewhere on the injury front: George Kittle sat out Wednesday’s practice with his own ankle issue, a new injury for him. He played his full snap allotment in last week’s win over Minnesota, but it’s obviously a situation worth monitoring. As long as Kittle’s near full strength, he should be well set up with a much nicer matchup than the Vikings presented him.
As for the San Francisco backfield: Tevin Coleman kinda has to be the top play after his big Divisional Round performance. But it’s worth noting that he played just 9 more snaps than Raheem Mostert, who began the game alternating series with Coleman. At halftime of the win over Minnesota, each RB had 6 carries, and Mostert led Coleman 34-20 in rushing yards. It’s no lock that Coleman leads the way again.
And make sure that you give the 49ers defense a good luck as you're building. Over 11 games with Dee Ford in the lineup, San Francisco averaged 13.8 DK points this season. In the 6 he missed (including Week 14, when he played only 4 snaps), the Niners averaged only 4 DK points. And even that low number got inflated by the lone double-digit fantasy outing of the span: the Week 12 meeting with the Packers.
That defense with Ford produced enviable consistency, reaching double digits in 8 of 11 games and dipping below 7 DK points only once. The D/ST has reached 15 DK points 5 times through 17 games, matching QB Jimmy Garoppolo in that category.
Sheer target volume doesn’t help Adams on FanDuel as much as it does on DK. And he managed a pedestrian 7 catches for 43 yards despite 12 looks in the 1st meeting with San Francisco. But top 49ers CB Richard Sherman rarely strays from his home on the left edge of the defense (803 of his 939 defensive snaps for the year, according to Pro Football Focus). So Green Bay shouldn’t have much trouble scheming its lead wideout away from Sherman. Indeed, just 2 of Adams’ 12 targets in that first meeting came in Sherman’s coverage.
The 49ers, meanwhile, benched outside starter CB Ahkello Witherspoon last week after Stefon Diggs burned him for a long TD. Witherspoon played Adams tough in the 1st meeting, but neither he nor replacement Emmanuel Moseley poses a worrisome individual matchup for Adams. He’ll remain the best bet for offensive production among Packers.
On the San Francisco side, a slimmer salary gap between Coleman and Mostert makes the latter less attractive from a value standpoint. But he remains a strong contrarian option. If that $1500 difference in salary doesn’t matter to your lineup, then consider building separate entries for Coleman and Mostert, within otherwise identical lineups.