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Fantasy Football Picks: Bengals vs. Chiefs DraftKings NFL DFS AFC Championship Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Sunday’s AFC Championship between the Bengals and the Chiefs with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This Sunday’s clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals isn’t just a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, it’s also the fifth straight AFC Championship Game to be hosted at Arrowhead Stadium. I’m starting to sense a pattern.

Let’s dive into the second-last taste of football we’ll get this season.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1M Sunday Night Showdown [$250K to 1st] (CIN vs KC)


Captain’s Picks

Travis Kelce ($16,500 CP) - I think we’ve reached a point with Kelce where he’s simultaneously matchup-proof and quarterback-proof. Generally, we don’t have to consider the latter, as Kelce’s attached to the best active QB in the game in Patrick Mahomes ($11,400); but with the All-Pro suffering a high ankle sprain in last weekend’s victory over the Jaguars, it’s unclear just how healthy Mahomes will be. In any case, Kelce was a monster against Jacksonville, hauling in 14 of his 17 targets for 98 yards, two touchdowns and 35.8 DKFP. It should be noted that one of those two scores came off the right arm of Chad Henne ($8,000). Finding the end zone isn’t exactly a new trend for Kelce, either. During the regular season, it was the veteran TE who led all skill-position players in red zone targets (30), receptions (19) and touchdowns (10). Simply put, Kelce’s ceiling his massive thanks to an enormous touchdown expectancy.

Ja’Marr Chase ($15,600 CP) - If you’d like to get a sense of just how much upside Chase possesses, consider the way he closed the regular season. The sophomore wideout returned from a hip injury in Week 13 — ironically against these same Chiefs — and then proceeded to lead the NFL from that point on in red zone targets (18). He was also fourth overall in targets within that same span (59). Why is that so impressive for a man that is considered one of the league’s best weapons? Well, Chase didn’t even get to play a game and accumulate stats in Week 17. He’s just that good. Chase’s viability is about more than track record, though. It’s just as much about matchup. Kansas City has been picked apart by the top option at receiver for opposing teams all season, with the Chiefs ranking 31st in the NFL against WR1s according to DVOA. Kansas City’s surrendered the sixth-most DKFP per contest to opposing wideouts, as well. Chase should be licking his chops at the idea of facing this secondary.

FLEX Plays

Jerick McKinnon ($6,600) - Let’s apply some quick and easy psychology to how the ownership of this slate might break down. After rushing for 95 yards and just looking generally explosive against the Jaguars, I’d anticipate that Isiah Pacheco ($6,400) gets a lot of attention this Sunday. It doesn’t hurt matters that he’s $200 cheaper than McKinnon, too. Still, when you break down all the factors from last weekend, McKinnon finished the victory with 11 carries to Pacheco’s 12 — he simply failed to do anything with the opportunity. McKinnon also was on the field for 44 offensive snaps to the rookie’s 24. Really, the only shocking thing about McKinnon’s performance versus Jacksonville is that he wasn’t targeted in the passing attack. In the final six contests of the regular season, McKinnon racked up 31 targets and eight receiving touchdowns. I’d expect that the Divisional Round ends up looking like the outlier in the RB’s game log.

Chiefs D/ST ($3,800) - Obviously, there’s a chance this could go very poorly. Starting a defense against Joe Burrow ($10,600) sort of feels like trying to bail out the Titanic with a bucket — what’s the point? However, there’s a few things to like in this spot. First and foremost, Chiefs D/ST is a cheap asset that should carry a relatively low ownership. Beyond that is the matchup we’re going to get in the trenches on Sunday. Don’t let a solid performance on a slippery track fool you, the Bengals’ offensive line remains injured and subpar, whereas Kansas City’s defense registered the highest adjusted sack rate in the AFC during the regular season (8.9%). Four or five sacks all by their lonesome would be enough to make this unit viable, but if those sacks translate into turnovers, Chiefs D/ST could alter the whole slate.


Patrick Mahomes ($11,400) - Wait. Before you close this article and mock me, I’m not suggesting a full-on Mahomes fade. The pivot averaged 26.4 DKFP per game this season and led the league in passing yards (5,251) and passing touchdowns (41). He’s a God amongst men. Still, I have serious concerns about Mahomes playing on a high ankle sprain, even if he was technically listed as a full participant in practice on Wednesday. How will it effect his mobility in the pocket? Will he be able to scramble at all? These things matter. Plus, history has taught us that Lou Anarumo is a formidable foe for Mahomes. Going back to Week 17 of last season — not counting last weekend’s injury-shortened outing — Mahomes has managed to exceed 300 yards passing in 12 of his last 22 starts. None of those 12 have come in his three cracks at Anarumo’s unit. All I’m saying is be careful and that I certainly wouldn’t stick Mahomes in the Captain’s spot against Cincinnati.


As of Thursday afternoon, the Chiefs are back to being slight favorites in this game — likely a result of Mahomes’ promising designation at practice on Wednesday. However, including the playoffs, Kansas City is a putrid 1-7-1 ATS at home this season. Meanwhile, Burrow is 4-0 ATS lifetime in the playoffs as an underdog. It feels wrong to side with such a publicly-backed underdog, but that’s where I’m leaning.

Final Score: Cincinnati 28, Kansas City 23

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1M Sunday Night Showdown [$250K to 1st] (CIN vs KC)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.