Chiefs-Bills DFS Picks: Wait, Patrick Mahomes is Allowed to NOT Have a Home Playoff Game? (January 21)

Sunday Night Football gets a first, with Patrick Mahomes playing in a hostile stadium for the first time in the postseason. The Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen have payback on their mind for the culmination of the Divisional Round action. In this issue of Stokastic’s NFL DFS picks series, we’ll be providing our Chiefs-Bills DFS picks for the Sunday Night Football Showdown slate.

Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all the different slates, game formats and sites. This column will provide a free analysis of the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Sunday Night slate, so check out these Chiefs-Bills DFS picks.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Chiefs-Bills DFS Picks

Kansas City Chiefs: 22.0 Points


The Stokastic NFL DFS projections have Patrick Mahomes as the fourth-ranked quarterback on both DraftKings and FanDuel for the full Divisional Round player pool. We know that he is a magician, but this year he has not had a lot of help from his assistants. In a fun twist, this will be the first time in his career that he has had a road playoff game, keeping in mind that the Super Bowls are considered a neutral location.

Last year it was Josh Burrows and the Cincinnati Bengals that knocked off the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round, but the prior two years Kansas City crushed the hopes and dreams of Josh Allen and the Bills Mafia. Expect a raucous crowd in the stands tonight and a pitched battle on the field.

The Bills were victorious over Mahomes in each of the last three regular season meetings, including Week 14 this season, with Kansas City dropping a close 20-17 game in Arrowhead Stadium. The key takeaway from that matchup was that Isiah Pacheco was out with an injury, which is not the case tonight.

Buffalo boasts the ninth-best passing DVOA, but it can be exploited by a strong rushing attack, ranking 18th in DVOA and allowing 4.6 yards per carry, which was the fifth most in the league. That was the same efficiency rate that Pittsburgh posted last week, even when the Bills knew the team was relying on the run early.

Over the back half of the season, the Bills tightened up against the pass, with only Mahomes (271) crossing over 220 aerial yards. Defensive backs Taylor Rapp and Christian Benford are out, along with linebacker Baylon Spector. Plus, cover man Tre’Davious White and linebacker Matt Milano are on the injured reserve.

Compared to Kansas City last week, the 20-degree temperatures in Buffalo are going to feel downright balmy, though there is still a decent wind chill with 10 to 15 mph breezes.

Running Back

Pacheco has consolidated the backfield opportunities, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire spelling him on occasion, typically in low-leverage situations. Since Jerick McKinnon went down in Week 15, La’Mical Perine has played on just seven snaps, excluding Week 18. In his final four healthy games, with injuries taking him out of the picture in Weeks 14 and 15, Pacheco tallied four rushing scores and one receiving touchdown and had games of 110 and 130 rushing yards. He also saw 20 targets in this timeframe, resulting in 19 receptions for 82 yards.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The passing game has been distilled to rookie wideout Rashee Rice and veteran tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce just missed out on an eighth consecutive season with 1,000 receiving yards, though he missed the opener and also elected to sit for Week 17, falling 16 yards shy of the milestone. He did make his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl, and he can still be effective at 34 years old. While he has just one touchdown in his last 10 games, Kelce has a stellar 16 in his 19 postseason efforts.

Rice had a fine inaugural campaign, starting eight games and wrapping up his rookie season with 102 targets, 79 receptions, 938 yards and seven touchdowns. Including his 130-receiving-yard performance last weekend, he had nine of the 12 59-plus-yard games for the Kansas City wideouts this season. That is more of an indictment of how awful the rest of the pass-catchers have been outside of this dynamic duo.

Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney are out, and Justyn Ross (hamstring) could miss another game. That leaves Mecole Hardman, Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Richie James rounding out the receiving options. Each is likely to see a couple targets, but good luck guessing which will actually catch the ball with any measure of success.

Noah Gray will likely be on the field for close to half of the snaps, but expecting more than a target or two is wish-casting. Anyone on the field in the red zone is live for a touchdown with Mahomes under center, but Gray is well down the pecking order.

Defense/Special Teams

Kansas City actually did a pretty good job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks this season and should be able to generate a couple of sacks, along with a turnover or two.

Buffalo Bills: 24.5 Points


Counting Monday’s game, Allen has run for a score in 13 of the last 16 games, including three multi-touchdown efforts. Oh, he also threw for 29 touchdowns, the fifth most in the league. Only once this season has he failed to have a hand in multiple touchdowns, which is just ridiculous. Kansas City was able to hold him in check, with just 233 yards on 23 of 42 passes, one touchdown, one interception and three sacks. The real question is how many lineups to make before skipping over Allen. Kansas City has the fifth-best passing DVOA, but with Allen’s ability to rival most running backs, that should not dissuade gamers from making him a focal point in all formats Sunday.

Running Back

James Cook has been able to wrangle most of the backfield touches, but he is still on the field for around 60% of the offensive plays. He loses out in the red zone to Allen while also ceding opportunities to 34-year-old Latavius Murray and NFL nomad Ty Johnson. Cook is still in the mix for 15 touches as a baseline, and his receiving skills are likely to push him towards 20, but do not be shocked when you see him on the sidelines in a key moment, watching one of the other backs steal his work. Cook had six runs of 20-plus yards and also seven receptions.

The Chiefs have the 27th-ranked rushing DVOA, which bodes well for Cook and Allen. This also keeps Murray and Johnson in the mix as salary savers on DraftKings, though they can be skipped on FanDuel outside of those making 40 or more lineups. Murray and Johnson are adequate in all facets of the game, making it hard to parse out which is the “better” option. Johnson likely has the edge for carries between the 20s that don’t go to Cook, while Murray is the “trusted veteran,” but he still is the fifth or sixth option in the red zone. The only reason to set rules to avoid overlap among this trio would be to get ahead of an in-game injury scenario.

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Wide Receiver

Gabe Davis is out once again with a knee injury, though even more important is the status of Stefon Diggs. The veteran has been dealing with a foot issue and was only a limited participant in Friday’s practice and then sitting out yesterday. There is conflicting news, as some outlets are saying he is dealing with a sore back, but others are citing his foot as the injury. Diggs has said he plans on playing and he actually has been removed from the injury report, but who knows how effective he may or may not be. The only real certainty is that, regardless of the actual outcome, there will be ample victory laps taken on DFS Twitter.

If Diggs is healthy, then we are getting a player with just nine fewer targets than the rest of the wideouts combined, but with Davis already out, Khalil Shakir should be in everyone’s player portfolio. Last week he had just three targets, but he had 13 in the three preceding games, when everyone was healthy. In the regular season, 10 of Shakir’s 39 receptions were for 20-plus yards, which tied him with Diggs and were two behind Davis, who led the team.

Last week Trent Sherfield was on the field for 63% of the offensive plays, but he did not get any looks from Allen. Deonte Harty played 21% of the snaps, garnering one target, which he hauled in for 34 yards.

Tight End

Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox each scored touchdowns against Pittsburgh, though the latter had only that 9-yard catch on a paltry two targets. Kincaid has 21 targets over the last three games, and the rookie saw at least six in 11 of his 18 appearances. Knox is more of the traditional in-line tight end, while Kincaid will operate from the slot or split out wide.

Kincaid looks like a core play on FanDuel, where the $10,000 salary cap hit is likely to keep a lot of gamers at bay. Sadly, that will not be the case on DraftKings, where it looks like the rookie will be on nearly half of all rosters, including the multiplier slot.

Defense/Special Teams

Buffalo had 30 takeaways this season, which was the second most in the league, behind the 31 of the Baltimore Ravens and, in a fickle twist of fate, the New York Giants. Mahomes was decent with a 2.3% interception rate, but that was the highest of his career, as was his 4.3% sack rate.

Sunday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However, those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with his quarterback.

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Chiefs-Bills DFS Picks Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Chiefs-Bills

  1. Josh Allen: Captain, my Captain.
  2. Patrick Mahomes: Mahomies Unite!
  3. James Cook: Cheaper than Pacheco, and 13 plays of 20-plus yards is impressive.
  4. Rashee Rice: The rookie has been outstanding and getting better every game.
  5. Isiah Pacheco: Move him ahead of Rice on FanDuel.
  6. Khalil Shakir: Benefits from Davis being out again.
  7. Dalton Kincaid: The discount has him with a similar fantasy-point-per-dollar ratio as Rice.
  8. Travis Kelce: Still great, but no longer dominates games.
  9. Stefon Diggs: Just one touchdown in the last nine games; even if we knew he was 100% healthy, it would be hard to push him above Kincaid.
  10. Buffalo D/ST: Home field, frigid weather and Mahomes no longer looking invincible, albeit that is due to a lack of trustworthy pass-catchers.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Chiefs-Bills

  1. Tyler Bass: League average; 4 of 6 (66.7%) from 40 to 49 yards and from beyond 50; gets the nod over his counterpart for having kicked in Highmark Ralph Wilson Stadium for the last four seasons.
  2. Harrison Butker: Just two misses this season, and he was perfect on his 12 attempts from 40 or more yards.
  3. Kansas City D/ST: Allen should be good for three or four combined sacks and turnovers, but if this unit can’t stop the run, it will be in trouble.
  4. Trent Sherfield: No targets last week, but at $400 on DraftKings, he opens up a lot of lineup possibilities.
  5. Dawson Knox: Touchdowns in the last two games are nice, but only five targets, three catches and 31 yards.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Chiefs-Bills

  1. Mecole Hardman: Price is right, and he is just as likely to pop off for half a dozen targets as the other flotsam and jetsam in the K.C. receiving corps.
  2. Deonte Harty: Becomes intriguing only if Diggs is really hiding an injury. Main punt returner.
  3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: In-game injury to Pacheco is his only real path to relevance unless he lucks into a touchdown.
  4. Ty Johnson and Latavius Murray: Coinflip on DraftKings as discount dandies, tournament longshots on FanDuel.
  5. Justin Watson: Salary is prohibitive when compared to his counterparts, and being buddies with his quarterback does not mitigate a $3,000 premium.
  6. Richie James Jr.: Returns kicks, could get a schemed look or two on offense.
  7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Yes, he could pay off with one long reception — but he has only done that ONCE this season.
  8. Andy Isabella: Played seven snaps last week, sitting at the $200 minimum on DraftKings. May return kickoffs as he had one for 19 yards on Monday, but Johnson and Shakir also have held that role this season.
  9. Blake Bell, Quintin Morris, Reggie Gilliam and La’Mical Perine: They will be on the field but with a collective over/under of half an offensive touch.

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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