Lamar Jackson, Ravens
The only way to beat the Ravens is to contain Jackson in the pocket. However, on Thursday, Titans LB Jayon Brown was ruled out with a shoulder injury, which is a massive loss as he is the Titans LB who could best spy on Jackson and keep him from breaking off those 15-20-yard runs. Look for Jackson to continue thriving in Greg Roman’s brilliant RPO scheme and to have close to 100 yards on the ground and a little over 200 in the air.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
The Texans defense let up the fourth-most points to opposing QBs all season. This does not bode well for them as they face arguably the best QB in the league in Mahomes. If Mahomes has time to throw, he should be able to take advantage of a very suspect Texans secondary. Look for him to have 320+ passing yards and at least 2 TDs.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
If you are looking to be contrarian, Jimmy G might be your man. The Vikings defense has struggled in pass coverage (they are one of the ten worst teams at covering opposing WRs), which means that I expect Kyle Shanahan to take advantage with a short passing attack. Look for Garoppolo to take the wind out of the Vikings' sails—and watch him put up about 250+ yards passing with 1-2 TDs.
Derrick Henry, Titans
How can I ever tell you not to play a RB who could have 30 touches? The Ravens have one of the most robust pass defenses in the league, so if there is any way that the Titans can win, it's going to have to be by running the football and keeping Lamar Jackson off the field. My only hesitation in playing Henry is that if the Titans are behind, he is usually not on the field in obvious passing situations. I might hedge and have some lineups with him and a few without just in case.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
Welcome back to Beast Mode! Lynch could play a significant role in this game mainly because the Packers have one of the worst run defenses in the league. The magic number for Lynch will be 20. If he can get 20 carries (and more importantly, if his body is ready to handle 20 carries), there is a good chance the Seahawks can control the game with the run and use play-action passing to their advantage.
Damien Williams, Chiefs
The Texans run defense has been incredibly generous all season (they are the seventh-worst team against opposing RBs), and Williams finally appears to be healthy. In Week 17, Williams had 124 rushing yards on only 12 carries with two TDs. On top of that, Williams is a threat in the passing attack (he has four receptions in Week 17 as well). Williams is in a great spot to succeed, and I expect that he will be a part of the winning DFS lineup.
Aaron Jones, Packers
After sharing carries for the first half of the season, Jones has asserted himself as the definite starter in Green Bay and had 19 TDs on the season. Jones is especially tough around the goal line as the Packers prefer to run in tight situations. The Seahawks defensive line has dealt with a myriad of injuries for much of the season, and right now, they are far from healthy. Look for Jones to be used as a battering ram of sorts, as he gets 20+ touches and finds the end zone at least once.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
It’s easy to be Visionary when it comes to playing Tyreek Hill. He is usually the fastest player on the field, and he has a QB who can sling it 80+ yards with ease. The Texans will initially try to use Bradley Roby in coverage on Hill, but Roby cannot match Hill’s speed. If he gets beaten once or twice early in the game, I would expect to see a safety slide over to help in coverage. Once that happens, Travis Kelce will have a lot more room to work the middle of the field, and the Chiefs should be going to their second AFC Championship game in a row.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
Football is a funny game in that one week, a player plays well, and the next week that same player underperforms. With DK Metcalf having a colossal breakout week against the Eagles, I think the Packers will pay close attention to him this weekend, thinking he might be Russell Wilson's WR1. The truth is that Wilson's #1 target is still Tyler Lockett, and I expect Lockett to make the bigger impact in this game.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers
On my daily radio show, I often talk about the concept of "name over game." I think that applies here regarding Vikings CB Trae Waynes, who is expected to cover 49ers rookie WR Deebo Samuel. Wayans has struggled for much of the season (remember Marvin Jones’ four TD game?) and has been getting picked on by opposing QBs. Since Week 9, Samuel has been an integral part of the 49ers game plan, and I expect Jimmy G to use him extensively this week.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Historically, the Texans have always struggled when it comes to covering opposing tight ends. This year, the Texans improved somewhat, but are still ninth-worst at covering the position. This is problematic, considering that the Chiefs love throwing to their All-Pro Kelce on critical downs. The Texans might choose to use a safety to cover Kelce, which makes sense since he is faster than most opposing linebackers. Still, Kelce is physically bigger than safeties, which gives him a considerable advantage.
Jimmy Graham, Packers
If you want to win in DFS, you have to figure out a way to be contrarian and differentiate yourself from the rest of the field. This week, one of the best ways to do that might be to play Jimmy Graham. Not only is Graham somewhat familiar with the Seahawks offense after playing in their system for a few seasons, but Seattle is also the third-worst team at covering opposing TE. QB Aaron Rodgers is going to need another weapon outside of Aaron Jones and Davante Adams if the Packers are going to win—and Graham might be that guy.
Mark Andrews, Ravens
The Titans have struggled to cover opposing tight ends all season (they are the sixth-worst in the NFL), which should play right into the Ravens' strength since they have three excellent tight ends. Andrews is the best receiver of the bunch, and he is Lamar Jackson’s most reliable target. Andrews should have his way in the middle of the field and could easily have 80+ receiving yards and a TD in this contest.