Joe Burrow and the Bengals return to Kansas City to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC championship game this Sunday night (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS). Both teams’ defenses have performed well over the past couple months, but pretty much everyone expects a bit of an offensive shootout. With a plethora of DFS options in this epic clash of AFC powerhouses, naturally, we had to put together a FanDuel single-game tournament lineup.
The big question surrounding this game is Patrick Mahomes’ health. If his high-ankle sprain is minor enough to barely impact his running and throwing, the sky’s the limit for Kansas City’s offense, but if he’s limited in any way, we could be seeing Burrow and company lighting cigars on AFC championship night two years in a row. For now, we will be preparing our squad with the mindset that Mahomes is far from 100 percent, as we don’t want to rely on someone with such a volatile injury situation and facing an underrated pass rush.
Let’s dive into our FanDuel lineup, comprised entirely of players we project to outproduce their draft costs and exceed fantasy expectations. Good luck and enjoy conference title weekend!
Here are the notable scoring settings for FanDuel single-game contests: The point total for the “MVP” is multiplied by 1.5, but he doesn’t cost any additional money like the “Captain” in DraftKings Showdown contests. FanDuel’s default scoring is half-point PPR and four-point passing TDs, and there are no bonuses for 300-yard/100-yard games like on DraftKings.
MORE FD SINGLE GAME: How to win a FanDuel single-game contest
Bills-Bengals FanDuel Single Game DFS Picks: AFC championship game
$60,000 budget, need at least one player from each team
MVP (1.5x points): TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs ($14,000)
Believe it or not, this could very well be a contrarian play. Kelce averages 18.11 FanDuel points per game, well under Mahomes’ 24.75 and Burrow’s 21.6. A ton of people will captain Ja’Marr Chase (16.6) over the stud tight end due to Mahomes’ ankle injury, too. Here’s the thing: Kelce performs well with or without a healthy Mahomes. After the injury, we actually saw Mahomes pepper Kelce with an even higher target share than usual, likely because Mahomes did not have the same escape speed or pocket maneuverability. Kelce had already seen a career-high this season in targets (152), touches (12), and touchdowns (12), but his numbers in the Chiefs’ divisional win last weekend were straight-up bananas: 17 targets, 14 catches, 98 yards, two TDs — good for a robust 28.8 FD points. The best part is that four catches, 15 yards, and one TD from that line came from Chad Henne’s drive in relief of Mahomes. Kelce is the all-time security blanket in KC, and he almost always delivers when he sees high target volume. If Mahomes plays the whole game, the results will be plentiful as always. If Henne takes over at any point, the results should still be very good! Cincy ranked in the bottom third in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends this season, and no amount of double-teams or safety spies can slow this dude down. Gobble Kelce up and enjoy the inflated results.
FLEX QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($16,000)
It’s simple, really — I have picked Joe Burrow in every DFS tournament I have entered this weekend. He has averaged 21.6 FD points per game on the season and eclipsed 28 FD points four times, and Kansas City has surrendered the second-most FD points to QBs this season! It seems as if Burrow saves his best performances for the most important games, and we’re all aware of the wrecking ball he turned out to be in last year’s AFC championship game. Roll the dice elsewhere if you want, but we don’t foresee many FanDuel lineups excluding Joey Brr.
FLEX WR Tee Higgins, Bengals ($11,500)
Higgins has been quiet over the past few weeks, but we all know he’s capable of exploding at any moment. If the Chiefs’ underwhelming secondary focuses too heavily on containing Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins could capitalize with some home-run catches. The last time we saw him put up a monster half-PPR game was Christmas Eve when he rolled a solid Patriots D for 22.8 FD points. I like his chances of exposing Kansas City, which surrendered the ninth-most FD points to wideouts this season.
FLEX RB Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs ($10,500)
Pacheco has turned up the jets as of late, flourishing at just the right time for Kansas City. Mahomes will need the rookie speedster to establish the run early to take pressure off the pocket, and we wouldn’t be surprised if head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy utilize him plenty in the screen game, too. Pacheco had 101 scrimmage yards last weekend in the Chiefs’ win over Jacksonville, and Cincy has surrendered 109.3 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks. Play the averages!
FLEX TE Hayden Hurst, Bengals ($8,000)
Hurst may have a low floor, but his TD upside gives him a decent enough ceiling at $8,000 against a Chiefs D that allowed the fourth-most tight end scores this season. Burrow just found Hurst on five-of-six targets for 59 yards and a score last week, so fire him up for the last spot of your lineup and hope for the best from the big red-bearded one.