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The AFC and NFC Conference championship games are here and so are the under-the-radar booms and busts!

This is the weekend fans find out who they will be watching play football in between the Super Bowl commercials in two weeks! This is also probably the last weekend fantasy football lovers will really get to enjoy DFS contests, unless they are action sickos who find one-day Pro Bowl or Super Bowl contests to stick their entry fees into.

Here are some under-the-radar booms and busts for the third week of NFL playoff action to help you set a winning lineup. Good luck RotoBallers!

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Conference Championships Under-the-Radar Booms

Blake Bortles (QB, JAC) at NE

New England’s General Genius, Bill Belichick, and his defensive coaches always try to take away an opposing offense’s best weapon. That is exactly what happened during the Divisional round as the Patriots held Tennessee tailback Derrick Henry to 28 rushing yards and stifled the Titans ground game. So the Patriots game plan this Sunday should be to load the box against workhorse tailback Leonard Fournette so he has no room to run (unlike against Pittsburgh’s defense). That means it will be Bortles and his band of below-average receivers against New England’s 30th-ranked pass defense. Bortles has not been great the past two years, but he has always been known as a quarterback who racks up meaningless stats late in games when the outcome of the game is a foregone conclusion. If New England is able to get a good lead in the second half and sits back and allows Bortles to scamper for short runs and throw short passes, he could pile up 275 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and a couple touchdowns.

Chris Hogan (WR, NE) vs. JAC

The man from my alma mater (Monmouth) had to make into my column, especially after his triumphant return last week where he caught a touchdown toss after missing several weeks due to a severe shoulder injury. Jacksonville might have the No. 1 pass defense in football, but I just watched Ben Roetlisberger, Antonio Brown and the high-flying Pittsburgh Steelers throw for 469 yards and five touchdowns against that vaunted secondary. I also witnessed Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo throw well against the Jaguars towards the end of the season, so Tom Brady should be able to find some cracks to throw through. Look for Jacksonville to key on Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, which will leave Hogan in single coverage and able to catch some passes and score a touchdown in a second playoff game in a row.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN) at PHI

Rudolph has been as silent as a witness pleading the fifth over his last three games (seven receptions for 37 yards, no TD). This should be his week he speaks up, though. Minnesota is not going to move downfield against Philadelphia’s defense by running the ball. It will be up to Case Keenum to make plays, and you have to figure with the Eagles secondary focusing on wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs that Rudolph will be asked to shoulder more of the target load than usual. I predict that Rudolph ends the Eagles’ streak of five straight games without allowing a tight end to score a touchdown by grabbing six Keenum passes for 65 yards and a score.

 

Conference Championships Under-the-Radar Busts

Latavius Murray (RB, MIN) at PHI

Murray has been featured in my column as both a bust and a boom probably more than any other player this season. Maybe it is because he is a feast-or-famine fantasy producer, or maybe it is because he is easy to predict. Running on the road against the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, this has the makings of a 12-carry, 40-yard, no-TD outing for Mr. Murray, especially since backup Jerick McKinnon will be splitting the touches and because Minnesota might go with a pass-first game plan due to Philadelphia’s stout front seven. There are better directions fantasy players can go.

Nelson Agholor (WR, PHI) vs. MIN

Another week with Nick Foles at quarterback equaled another disappointing game from Agholor. Philadelphia’s long-range threat has now gone five games in a row without averaging nine yards per catch. Agholor has gone from being another James Lofton to being the fullback who catches five-yard passes in the flat, and he will not suddenly go back to his old self against Minnesota’s second-ranked pass defense. Minnesota’s secondary will tighten up after being embarrassed by New Orleans’ Michael Thomas during last week’s Divisional playoff victory. Agholor can only do so much since Foles has not been able to complete passes consistently in the 20-yard range, so with all of these factors you have to pencil in Agholor in for another lackluster fantasy day.

Marcedes Lewis (TE, JAC) at NE

New England might have the worst defense remaining in the playoffs, but the Patriots have allowed less than 20 points in 11 of their past 13 games. Most importantly when it comes to Jacksonville’s Lewis, the Pats have not allowed a tight end to catch a touchdown pass in 11 games and have only allowed one TE to break the 50-yard barrier in a game over that span. Lewis hauled in five touchdowns this season, his largest amount since 2010, so coupling that with the fact that the Jaguars will probably throw more than usual on Sunday could sway fantasy players into using Lewis as their tight end option this weekend. I would not bother and would prefer to pick up a Jaguars wide receiver on the cheap instead in DFS contests and playoff leagues. New England’s 30th-ranked pass defense usually allows its most yardage to No. 2 or No. 3 WRs.

 

More Conference Championships Lineup Prep