Super Bowl Matchup Preview
The 49ers’ offense has been straightforward during the season and the playoffs. Aside from QB Brock Purdy, they get the majority of their contributions from RB Christian McCaffrey, and he is going to have to have a solid game if the 49ers want to be Super Bowl Champions. Receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk account for almost all their contributions from the receiver position, with Jauan Jennings chipping in if one of the top two gets injured. TE George Kittle is hit or miss; he is capable of huge games, but he is often asked to block more and does little on the stat sheet in those games. Against Kansas City, I think he is going to have to get involved, with at least 50 yards receiving. The Chiefs can play defense much like the Packers did, where they can limit both outside receivers, making CMC and Kittle even more important. They will be a priority in many of my showdown slates.
The Chief’s offense has been straightforward as well. Aside from QB Patrick Mahomes, they get most of their contributions from TE Travis Kelce, RB Isiah Pacheco, and WR Rashee Rice. I would expect that trend to continue as the 49ers’ defense has been suspect vs. the run and will give up pass plays to the tight end and receiver positions. As mentioned in previous articles, the 49ers’ defense gives up big plays if they don’t get to the passer, and Mahomes is great at evading the pass rush. I think for the Chiefs to win, either Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, Justin Watson, or Richie James is going to have to make a big play. I would think MVS would be the favorite, as his speed makes him a playmaker if he can catch the ball.
Showdown Slate Perspective
To win a showdown slate, you are going to have to beat a lot of competition. Most tournaments have hundreds, if not thousands, of entries. There is a high probability that first place is going to have a split pot of many winners. I will play several lineups. Some will be very square, but in others I will try to get as different as I can. The big names will be highly owned, with Pacheco and McCaffrey leading the way.
How do we get different where it makes sense? First, we must pick a Captain, and CMC is going to be the highest-owned Captain player. For me, I will have lineups with CMC at Captain, but I think we can also turn to Kelce, Kittle, Mahomes, or Rice. Regardless, we need to have a big-name player in the Captain’s spot because it will be highly unlikely that a lesser-known player will score enough fantasy points to win. MVS could be the only exception I would think about, as you can get more star players in your lineup with him up top and he could have a miracle game.
Outside of choosing your Captain, there are other ways to have a contrarian lineup. Traditionally, I look to the kickers. They are generally lower-owned, and they can rack up points. I am expecting a lower-scoring game, and both defenses could stop the other team’s offense in the red zone. I prefer the Chiefs’ Harrison Butker over 49ers kicker Jake Moody. Butker has more experience, and the Chiefs’ offense has had games where they have settled for more field goals. For example, in Week 17 vs. the Bengals and in the Wild Card round vs. the Dolphins. Another reason to look towards the kickers is because the game is indoors. No worries about the elements is optimal for kicking. Second, I look towards a defense. Can either defense create sacks, turnovers, or a defensive TD? Again, I look towards the Chiefs, as I think they would have the ability to rattle Purdy, but I don’t know if the 49ers can do the same to Mahomes. I will have several lineups with both Butker and the Chiefs’ defense to be a bit different.
Lastly, is there a highly-owned player to fade? This is the most difficult aspect of playing a showdown slate, because if you pick wrong, your entry is worthless, but we don’t have the salary to play all the star players, so we must pick somebody. I think you need to go with your gut. Since I mentioned that I think CMC and Kittle need to be a big part of the 49ers’ offense, I don’t think I can fade those players. I am less inclined to play both Deebo and Aiyuk. On the Chiefs’ side, I have to think Kelce is going to be difficult to stop as he is playing tremendously, and the 49ers’ defense has been leaky vs. the tight end as of late. I don’t want to fade Pacheco or Rice, but that is why I am playing several lineups.
I don’t think that I can flip-flop on a game from day to day more than I have been with this one. I can see this game playing out in tons of different ways, but I am leaning towards the Chiefs. I think their defense is playing a bit better, and they have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. I picked against them once, and that didn’t turn out well. My only reservation about the Chiefs is that I think they have been handed the Super Bowl appearance by their opponents’ shortcomings. I don’t want to take anything away from the Chiefs, but they played a decimated Dolphin defense at home, a decimated Buffalo defense on the road, and a bizarre Ravens game plan. Still, they are here, and they have the experience. The 49ers are the most skilled team they have played, with the best running back on the field, but I don’t like how the 49ers have been playing. Let’s face it: They were very fortunate to come out on top against both the Packers and Lions, but maybe they saved their best for last. Chiefs 24-20.