Championship Week Storylines

Intro

I love writing these storyline pieces. Now that we’ve hit the playoffs, I want to cover all the games, bringing you at least something to think about when you watch the playoffs. Even though playoffs don’t count for our fantasy teams, playoff performances can have massive effects on future dynasty value.

This piece will give you something specific to look for in each contest, which I hope helps you enjoy the games even more. We all play fantasy football to enhance our enjoyment of football, and I’m trying to add to that sense of happiness here. Fun is the most essential part of this hobby for all of us, including me.

I’ve listed the home team first for each game to keep things organized. I won’t waste any more time, so let’s jump straight in!

Packers vs. Buccaneers

Packers

The Packers have a spotless injury report, coming off a divisional round 32-18 victory over the Rams. The Packers’ offense excelled on all fronts in that game, with both their passing game and rushing attack carving up the Rams. There wasn’t much to take away from that contest, except that Aaron Rodgers is currently playing like an MVP candidate.

However, the same old storylines did exist in that game. Aaron Jones only saw 14 carries and 63% of offensive snaps, despite dominating with 99 yards and a touchdown. While Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan were okay, the Packers could use a secondary receiving weapon to complement Davante Adams

Therefore, I want to watch the Packers’ offense, especially Lazard, Tonyan, and AJ Dillon. They will all be on the Packers’ roster in 2021, unlike Jones and Jamaal Williams, who are free agents. Those incumbent players are fighting for increased or stable playing time in 2021, and this game is their best chance to make an impact on head coach Matt LaFleur.

Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have some interesting question marks as well. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette split touches almost evenly last week, although Jones still wasn’t 100% healthy from a quad injury. Jones wasn’t on the final injury report, so I assume he’s completely good to go for this game.

I’m curious if head coach Bruce Arians returns to Jones as his workhorse starter or if Fournette has earned more work. Jones will return as the Buccaneers’ starting running back in 2021, but Fournette has a free-agent contract on the line. If Fournette sees more carries and plays well, he might earn a decent payday. He only recently turned 26 years old, so he’s not an aging running back.

Outside of the backfield, the Buccaneers’ WR3 is the second most significant story. Antonio Brown will miss this week with a knee injury, opening targets for Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller. Both Johnson and Miller are popular dynasty stashes, especially since Brown and Chris Godwin are free agents after 2020. I prefer Johnson, but Miller has shown more chemistry with Tom Brady. Let’s see if either sparks this week.

Chiefs vs. Bills

Chiefs

The major storyline for the Chiefs all week concerned Patrick Mahomes and the concussion or head injury that he suffered in the AFC Divisional Round against the Browns. Chad Henne replaced Mahomes, and the Chiefs still managed to win 22-17, although most people wouldn’t have given the Chiefs much of a chance without Mahomes this week. Luckily, Mahomes cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and is off the final injury report, meaning that he will start this contest.

However, Sammy Watkins, Le’Veon Bell, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are all questionable. Bell is essentially out of the Chiefs’ offense, and he’ll play basically zero role if Edwards-Helaire plays. Watkins is also basically done in my eyes, so whether he plays or not barely matters. The Chiefs funnel targets to stars Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and everyone else gets scraps.

But, I fully expect Edwards-Helaire not only to play this week but also to reclaim his starting role ahead of Darrel Williams as the backup. Dynasty owners have recently turned against Edwards-Helaire, with his value plummeting every week. I believe that Edwards-Helaire will come out and have an excellent game, vaulting him back into the dynasty RB1 conversation. Let’s not forget that he was a first-round pick who totaled 1,100 yards in 13 games as a rookie. He was no failure, and he still carries immense upside in this high-powered offense.

Bills

The Bills have a couple of injuries, most notably to running back Zack Moss. Moss also missed last week’s game versus the Ravens, though, and Devin Singletary failed to take advantage of his opportunity. Singletary managed only seven carries for 25 yards and three receptions for 12 yards. 

If Singletary can’t make an impact this week, I think we can write him off as a dynasty asset. Singletary provided no fantasy value with Moss in the lineup, so he requires handcuff upside to have any value at all. If that isn’t even there, Singletary is just a high-priced dynasty roster clogger.

Outside of Singletary, I’m most interested in John Brown, who came back with eight receptions for 62 yards on 11 targets last week. I thought that Brown had lost the second outside receiver role to rookie Gabriel Davis, but he had a strong week. However, the Bills can save almost $8 million if they release Brown before 2021, and I expect them to do just that. Therefore, Brown might have somewhat of an audition this week.

Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.

Previous Storyline Articles: Week 6 Early Games, Week 6 Late Games, Week 7 Thursday Night, Week 7 Early Games, Week 7 Late Games, Week 8 Thursday Night, Week 8 Early Games, Week 8 Late Games, Week 9 Thursday Night, Week 9 Early Games, Week 9 Late Games, Week 10 Thursday Night, Week 10 Early Games, Week 10 Late Games, Week 11 Thursday Night, Week 11 Early Games, Week 11 Late Games, Thanksgiving Day, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15, Week 16, Week 17, Saturday Wild Card, Sunday Wild Card, Saturday Divisional, Sunday Divisional

jkarp

Columbia SPS Sports Management graduate.

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