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Fantasy Football Start Em, Sit Em - Super Bowl Matchups Analysis

DeVonta Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Welcome back RotoBallers to our Super Bowl Matchup Analysis and Start Em, Sit Em column for fantasy football. We are just days away from the most important game of the year. Philadelphia makes its return to the big stage after a five-year hiatus while Kansas City will make its third appearance in four years, an incredible accomplishment. The battle during their respective games was very different, but the outcome and theme were the same. They won by playing high-quality, mistake-free football. It's the first time that both No. 1 seeds will compete against each other since the Eagles conquered the Patriots in 2008.

For those who are unfamiliar, we'll be analyzing every game, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups for whatever format or competition you're participating in. Check back regularly for any updates on player injuries, statuses, or other pertinent information. I also wanted to express my gratitude for some of the great resources that helped me write this article each week such as Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, Rotovitz, Pro Football Reference, DraftKings Sportsbook, and Fantasy Points. Furthermore, a thank you is deserved by all of you for reading this article.

Hopefully, you found success during the first three rounds and can add to that on Sunday. Regardless of what format you're playing this week, we'll make sure you're ready to go. If you have additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @JoshCon, and ask away. Let's dive into the matchup.

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Matchups Analysis - Super Bowl

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Spread: Eagles -1.5
Implied Total: Chiefs (24.75) vs. Eagles (26.25)
Pace: Chiefs (11th) vs. Eagles (8th)
Chiefs Off. DVOA: 41.1% Pass (1st), 1.3% Rush (9th)
Eagles Off. DVOA: 23.9% Pass (9th), 15.4% Rush (1st)
Chiefs Def. DVOA:
6.5% Pass (20th), -6.9% Rush (15th)
Eagles Def. DVOA: -15.5% Pass (1st), -1.9% Rush (21st)
Weather: N/A (dome/roof)
Fantasy Points Allowed:
Chiefs (QB - 2nd, RB - 14th, WR - 9th, TE - 14th) vs. Eagles (QB - 24th, RB - 16th, WR - 27th, TE - 20th)
PFF Coverage:
Chiefs (3rd) vs. Eagles (2nd)
PFF Run Defense:
Chiefs (18th) vs. Eagles (14th)

Matchups We Love:

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

Even with a high ankle sprain, Mahomes led all signal callers in the conference championships with 326 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. He also made a critical five-yard run that led to the game-winning field goal. The Chiefs are by far the bigger beneficiary of the two-week gap between the title game and the Super Bowl given that so many of their key players are dealing with injuries, including Mahomes. He should be closer to one hundred percent come game day, which he'll need to be to overcome the Eagles' defense. It's a meeting of the league's best passer, No. 1 in passing yards and passing touchdowns, versus the best pass defense, No. 1 by DVOA, No. 2 by PFF coverage, No.1 by PFF pass-rush grade, and No. 1 in pass rush win rate. This will be the toughest test Mahomes has faced all year. It likely won't reduce his passing numbers, he's still a strong bet for 300-plus yards and two or more touchdowns, but sacks, interceptions, fumbles, and shorter completions are all more probable.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

Kelce is putting together another historic run, hauling in 21 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns over their two playoff contests. He's proven he's unguardable and cannot be taken out of the game, regardless of how much attention the defense gives him. Additionally, Philadelphia has an extremely talented duo in their secondary, featuring James Bradberry and Darius Slay, but lacks the personnel to shut Kelce down across the middle of the field. The opportunity for a second Super Bowl while facing his brother will bring out his best, locking him in as arguably the most reliable player across all positions.

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

The blueprint for success has been to establish an early lead, stay aggressive, and force the opposing offense into obvious passing situations enabling the defense to dominate. Philadelphia led the league in first-half points, averaging 18.2 per game. That number drops dramatically in the second half to 10.6 because they are typically in cruise control, running out the clock. Kansas City was also efficient during the first two quarters, scoring 15.5 points per game, meaning there's a chance they're able to force the Eagles to lean on their passing attack more.

Regardless of the game script, one thing you can count on is Hurts making an impact. His athleticism is elite, he found the end zone on the ground against San Francisco and is always a threat to score as a rusher. While it's hard to predict touchdowns, it is expected to be a high-scoring and competitive contest, both teams had a massive point differential at plus 133 for the Eagles and plus 127 for the Chiefs, meaning there will be more passing attempts and more opportunity for Hurts to rack up yards through the air, which has been a weakness for Kansas City. It also helps that Hurts is playing behind the PFF's No. 1 offensive line in terms of pass blocking. He has the potential for a monster game if the touchdowns fall his way.

A.J. Brown (WR, PHI)

Once the offense got up 28-7 in the third quarter there was no reason to risk the health of their superstars, nor did they need to pass the ball. It resulted in a poor game for everyone in the passing game, including Brown, who led the teams in targets. Kansas City has some impressive young players in their secondary including Trent McDuffie, plus L'Jarius Snead has cleared the concussion protocol, but none of them are equipped to cover someone with Brown's abilities.

There is variance week to week in the passing game, largely because the volume hasn't been high, but that should change this week as we eluded to above. Determining which member of this receiving corps will post the bigger day is a challenge, but both Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins performed well against them last week, combining for 12 receptions, 158 yards, and one touchdown, so there's optimism for all the options.

DeVonta Smith (WR, PHI)

Smith had his worst outing since Week 10 with the fewest receptions, targets, and yards since that game, making it an outlier. He remains a player to target with a high ceiling in a great matchup. Much like Brown, Smith has a shot to blowup and lead the team to victory as we've seen multiple times this season, including totaling 100-plus yards and at least one touchdown in the same game three times.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)

Goedert failed to find the end zone against the 49ers but still led the team in receptions. He's been a focal point of the offense with Hurts at the helm and remains one of the most likely players to score because of his red zone prowess. He's also cleared the 60-yard mark seven times this season, so he's more than a touchdown-dependent tight end. He's right there with Smith and Brown in terms of the potential for a team-leading performance.

Matchups We Hate:

Jerick McKinnon (RB, KC)

McKinnon saw a boost in targets, ending with four of them, but still trailed Isiah Pacheco in every statistical category. He also saw a drop in snaps, playing only 39% compared to 57% for Pacheco. The pass rush and pressure Mahomes will face should create more opportunities for the backfield to catch passes, but that role has shifted to Pacheco, removing any value McKinnon had left. He's best avoided in all formats and contests.

Boston Scott (RB, PHI)

Scott didn't receive his first carry until 29 minutes into the contest when the team was up 14 points and near the goal line. He plowed forward for a 10-yard score, something he's capable of doing at any time, but finished with only six rushing attempts. The pecking order has Scott as the third option, who they utilize in the red zone, primarily once they've built a comfortable lead. It's possible the stars align and he scores again this week, but he's a touchdown-or-bust player that is only worth pursuing in prop bets or formats where that's the focus.

Other Matchups:

Miles Sanders/Kenneth Gainwell (RB, PHI)

The leader of the rotation is Sanders, who handled nine of the first 12 carries and found the end zone twice before the game became lopsided. The team then shifted to Kenneth Gainwell, giving him the majority of the work in the second half. Gainwell actually finished with the most offensive snaps, 31, compared to 22 for Sanders and Scott. Based on what we've seen from the Eagles this season, Sanders will take on the bulk of the rushing attempts and Gainwell will operate as the receiving back unless the Eagles establish a big lead. It's also a great matchup because the Chiefs are ranked 18th by PFF, 20th by DVOA, and allow the 14th most points to the running back position. They're both great players to target for prop bets and fantasy lineups.

Isiah Pacheco (RB, KC)

As we referenced above, Pacheco took full control of the backfield, leading in snaps, carries, targets, receptions, and yards. Ronald Jones made his return but only had one attempt for zero yards. Additionally, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is off the Injured Reserve, meaning he could suit up on Sunday. Regardless of his presence though, Pacheco is the clear-cut lead back with an opportunity to exploit the Philadelphia run defense, which is much easier to attack. Similar to the Chiefs, their run defense is 14th by PFF, 21st by DVOA, and they allowed the 16th most points. Furthermore, the inability of Mahomes to scramble last game led to 10 backfield targets, five of which Pacheco hauled in for 59 yards. Although Mahomes's mobility will be improved the pass rush will be fierce, setting Pacheco up to catch three to five passes again. He's a fantastic player to target because he's a lesser name that could be undervalued in certain formats.

Chiefs WRs

It's hard not to lump this receiving corps together because their situations are all so murky. Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Mecole Hardman all exited the conference championship game with an injury, opening the door for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to take the reigns. He vastly exceeded expectations, finding space for multiple big plays, totaling 116 yards and a score on six receptions. He deserves plenty of credit for capitalizing on his opportunity, but barring another barrage of injuries, that'll go down as a one-hit-wonder.

The best place to attack the Philadelphia secondary is in the slot. Unfortunately for this group, Kelce played 44.4% of his snaps from the slot, so that role is only available about half of the time. We know Hardman is out while Toney is on track to play, meaning he'd join Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, and Justin Watson on the field. The lack of clarity here does create intriguing opportunities to get a discount on a receiver that could make a significant impact.

Smith-Schuster would be the best choice for volume-based formats and bets, with Toney also in consideration if you trust he remains healthy. Valdes-Scantling is the big play option and the most likely to score, with Watson as a deeper dart throw in those categories. Moore is a long shot to produce because he's so far down the depth chart. Incorporating one of these receivers in your selections is worthwhile, especially given that they have Mahomes as their quarterback in a game featuring a 50-plus over/under.

UPDATE: Toney is cleared to play on Sunday as expected.

Injuries:

Mecole Hardman (pelvis)

Kadarius Toney (ankle/hamstring)

 



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