Should there have been football played this season? Probably not. However, there was football played, across 20 weeks since early September, and it’s all going to culminate in Sunday’s big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a matchup of star-studded rosters that many have been predicting since the latter signed Tom Brady ($10,000) back in March and, harrowing real-life worries aside, it should be a really fun tilt.
Let’s break it all down — for the final time this season — from a Showdown perspective.
Travis Kelce ($16,500 CP) – It’s going to be almost impossible to stack the Chiefs’ three most expensive players on this slate, so, as always, your milage with Kelce sort of correlates with how much exposure you’ll be getting to Tyreek Hill ($10,400). While I will admit that the duo are extremely difficult to differentiate — Patrick Mahomes ($12,000) peppers both with targets like they’re No. 1 options — I think there are a few things that give Kelce the edge on Sunday. First and foremost, we’ve simply never seen this level of consistency from a high-end asset. Going back to Week 8, not only is Kelce is averaging 27.7 DKFP per contest, but he’s also managed to score at least 22.0 DKFP in nine of those 10 games. Ironically, the lone “poor” performance in that stretch came against these same Buccaneers, when Kelce finished that 27-24 victory with eight receptions for 82 yards. That leads me to my second argument in favor of Kelce ownership: People are going to prefer Hill. Remember when the speedy wideout had 269 yards and three TDs versus Tampa Bay? Yeah? Well, so does everyone else. He’s cheaper than his teammate and people will convince themselves he has a higher ceiling, despite Kelce posting more games with over 25.0 DKFP in 2020.
Tom Brady ($15,000 CP) – Brady’s most profitable starts this season have tended to come in plus-matchups (Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina and Las Vegas); but it really feels like the volume is going to be too much to ignore here. Even in a neutral setting, Bruce Arians leans towards the pass. In fact, Tampa Bay ranked second in the NFC in pass rate during the regular season (62.5%), and there’s a decent chance the script will dictate the Buccaneers throw even more than usual. Still, it’s not only about how often Brady is throwing the ball, it’s about which types of passing plays are called. One reason for the veteran pivot’s fantastic and consistent play in the second-half of the season was that Tampa Bay began to heavily increase the amount of crossing routes run — something that was Brady’s bread and butter back in New England. It’s partially why Brady averaged an eye-popping 26.5 DKFP in his final seven starts of the regular season. Also, while Chiefs D/ST ($2,600) is obviously superior defending through the air than defending the run, they ranked just 16th in pass defense by DVOA.
Leonard Fournette ($7,800) – While I stand firm in my belief that the Buccaneers will likely be playing from behind in this game, we’ve reached the point where “Playoff Lenny” might actually be script-proof. Though it has to be acknowledged that Ronald Jones ($2,200) was unable to play in the Wild Card round, Fournette has logged 156 of a possible 210 snaps so far in the playoffs (74.3%) and he’s used that opportunity to become a vital element of Tampa Bay’s passing attack. To wit, Fournette has 17 targets and 14 receptions in the Buccaneers past three contests, to go along with 48 carries for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Any way you slice it, it seems like Fournette is going to see around 20 touches against a defense that allowed the second-most targets to opposing RBs and ranked 31st versus the run by DVOA during the regular season.
Darrel Williams ($5,200) – I’m not suggesting there isn’t a chance that Clyde Edwards Helaire ($7,000) works his way back into the lead role after being able to log full practices all week, but what exactly has Williams done to lose his recent role? Heck, CEH actually out-snapped his teammate 32-to-30 in the Chiefs’ 38-24 victory over the Bills, yet it was Williams who finished with 14 touches to Edwards-Helarie’s seven. The rookie also managed just seven yards on those opportunities. Considering Tampa Bay has surrendered the fewest DKFP to opposing RBs all season, maybe you’re better off just ignoring Kansas City’s backfield entirely; however, if I’m picking one or the other, it’s Williams that’s viable.
Demarcus Robinson ($1,400) – Couple things to think about with Robinson, who did not catch a pass in the Chiefs’ most recent game and who is currently on the COVID-19 list. One, despite the goose egg against Buffalo, Robinson still played 65% of Kansas City’s offensive snaps in the AFC Championship Game. Two, Robinson was only deemed a “close contact” and he should be cleared to play by Sunday. Basically, when it comes to the Chiefs’ tertiary receiving options, I think the defining characteristic is affordability. With Sammy Watkins ($4,200) trending towards being active for this game, Robinson and Mecole Hardman ($5,600) will have to split snaps with the veteran wideout. That creates a situation where none of these three men is probably going to see more than three or four targets at most. Is Watkins really three-times more likely to get those looks than Robinson? Is Hardman four-times more likely? Well, that’s what this pricing suggests. I’ll save some salary and take my chances with the always overlooked Kansas City WR.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($7,000) – As mentioned above, I simply can’t envision myself getting into a situation where I’m rostering the former first-round pick. Beyond how ineffective he looked against the Bills, beyond how difficult a matchup Buccaneers D/ST ($2,800) has been for running backs all year long, I’m just not really sure what Edwards-Helaire’s role currently is. While he caught passes at LSU, the 21-year-old has registered a mere nine receptions in his past five games. Though he was billed as an every situation back, after receiving seven carries inside the opponent’s 10-yard line all the way back in Week 1, Edwards-Helaire garnered only eight more of those attempts for the rest of the regular season. This is a hefty chunk of salary cap to give up for an asset with so, so many question marks.
I think it would shock a lot of non-gamblers to know that the Chiefs are somehow just 2-8 ATS across their past 10 games. Still, Kansas City isn’t your average NFL team. In fact, they sort of remind me of recent NBA dynasties, aware that they have the ability to flick a switch whenever they so choose. The Chiefs were well on their way to crushing the Browns prior to Mahomes’ injury, and they made easy work of a dangerous Bills squad. They’re engaged. It’s the playoffs. It’s the Super Bowl. If Kansas City is playing at its highest level, there’s no team in football that can match that.
Final Score: Kansas City 31, Tampa Bay 21
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