Lions-49ers DFS Picks: Amon-Ra St. Brown + Jared Goff Embrace Underdog Status! (January 28)

Sunday Night Football has the Detroit Lions in San Francisco looking for their first NFC Championship, while the 49ers try to make their seventh trip to the Super Bowl and potentially avenge their 2019-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. In this issue of Stokastic’s NFL DFS picks series, we’ll be providing our Lions-49ers 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 Lions-49ers DFS picks.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Lions-49ers DFS Picks

Detroit Lions: 22.0 Points


The Stokastic NFL DFS projections have Jared Goff as the lowest-ranked quarterback for the Championship Round. That should be no surprise as two of the other three signal-callers have been MVPs and his counterpart tonight was a frontrunner for that award deep into the season before handing the baton to Lamar Jackson.

The health of the offensive line is going to be key, and though guard Jonah Jackson (knee) has been ruled out, it sounds like center Frank Ragnow (ankle/toe/knee/back) will be playing after getting in a full practice on Friday. San Francisco has allowed four of the last six opposing quarterbacks to throw for a pair of touchdowns, though only three surpassed 195 aerial yards.

Goff has excellent skill-position players across the board, and while he is markedly better in domes, at least the weather is cooperating in San Francisco, with no precipitation and late-afternoon temperatures around 70 degrees.

Running Back

The loss of Jackson will be noticeable, but the Lions still have Ragnow, tackle Penei Sewell and tight end Sam LaPorta as Pro Bowlers. Of course, the San Francisco defense boasts linemen Nick Bosa and Javon Hargrave, linebacker Fred Warner and cornerback Charvarius Ward also earning that designation.

Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs has been electric and efficient, though that carries significant downside risk if things do not go his way. Last weekend he played just 26 of 73 (36%) snaps, which was masked by his nine carries for 74 yards and a score, along with catching all four targets for another 40 yards. That is just 13 total touches, and while getting the ball on half of his offensive appearances is great, it is also not sustainable.

Veteran David Montgomery was on the field for 41 plays (56%) and saw 10 totes for 66 yards while matching Gibbs with four targets, catching three for 19 yards. Craig Reynolds vultured a 1-yard rushing touchdown on his lone carry, playing just six snaps. Jason Cabinda was elevated from the practice squad, and though he is mainly a special team player, he did see the field on 11 offensive plays, catching his single target for no gain.

Gibbs and Monty are far and away the best DFS options, but it is a little disconcerting that, in such a big game last week, they did not account for every touch. Aaron Jones had a stellar game in San Francisco last weekend with 108 yards on 18 carries, becoming the first opposing running back to top 87 rushing yards against the 49ers this season. Can that be replicated tonight? Well, we will have to wait and see.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Amon-Ra St. Brown did not earn a Pro Bowl nomination, but he was tabbed as a first-team All-Pro, which is a higher award. This season, including the playoffs, he has 164 of the 332 (49.4%) targets earmarked for the wideouts. LaPorta is not too far behind with 120 targets, making this duo a formidable one-two combo that can work every area and angle on the field.

Josh Reynolds sees plenty of action, and the team loves him for his blocking ability. It also respects all of his dirty work, and he tends to be rewarded with a few targets each game. He has 10 total targets in the postseason for seven receptions for 107 yards, and he found pay dirt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round.

Jameson Williams should be in line for a couple of looks as well, as he saw two and four in the last two games. While he has just four receptions for 54 yards, he does have the potential to make some noise after the catch. Veteran Donovan Peoples-Jones has played on two and three snaps this postseason, with no targets. He is a deeeeeeeeeeeeep differentiation play, as is Antoine Green, who has mirrored his lack of production. Kalif Raymond remains out, so we have the blueprint of how things are likely to proceed tonight.

Tight end Brock Wright was placed on the injured reserve after hurting his forearm last week, joining fellow backup James Mitchell (hand). While veteran Zach Ertz was signed to the practice squad, he will not be active tonight. Wright had played on 23 and 30 snaps each of the last two games, so it will likely be Anthony Firkser seeing more time on the field. He played four and 12 snaps in the two playoff games, though he does not have any targets. This is Firkser’s sixth season in the league, having played for Atlanta last year and spending the first four seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans.

Defense/Special Teams

Detroit’s defense was solid last round with four sacks and a pair of pickles. San Francisco has allowed around a 6% sack rate over the last two seasons and a 2.4% interception rate. Detroit was respectable during the regular season with 2.4 sacks per game, but that is not overly special, with the Niners ceding nearly three sacks per tilt. For the season, the 49ers suffered just over one turnover per game.

San Francisco 49ers: 29.0 Points


Last week things were dodgy with the rain, and Brock Purdy started out the game with a glove on his throwing hand, which he quickly abandoned after a couple of inaccurate throws. That variable will not be an issue tonight, and in even better news, Deebo Samuel (shoulder) is not on the injury report after practicing in full on Friday. Of course, this is some gamesmanship as well since he is probably not at full health; it is still better than him being out.

Even with the embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, San Francisco lost all three games this season when Samuel was out with injuries, including Week 6 in Cleveland when he was hurt and then the next two games in Minnesota and at home against Cincinnati. Purdy has had an impressive career trajectory after being tabbed Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 NFL Draft, and this will already be his fifth postseason start and second NFC Championship game. He was in the mix for the MVP down the stretch, and he has certainly emerged from the caretaking game-manager role that he had last season.

Detroit has been shredded by opposing quarterbacks, allowing an average of 373.6 yards across the last five weeks, which saw Nick Mullens tally 411 and 396 aerial yards. In this stretch every quarterback notched two passing scores, with Baker Mayfield getting three last weekend. Coach Kyle Shanahan likes the running game, but if the Lions can continue to put up a strong front, he can easily change plans and target the secondary.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey had a Pro Bowl season with 21 touchdowns (14 rushing, 7 receiving), tying him for the most in the league. He sat out Week 18 with most of the key players, and then the first-round bye allowed him to get back to full health after dealing with a calf issue. Last week he had 17 carries for 98 yards and a pair of tuddies, along with a dozen targets, which he converted into seven receptions for 30 yards. The targets were a season high and likely elevated with Samuel missing time, but it was also the second time in three games that he had double-digit opportunities in the passing attack.

Kyle Juszczyk also made the Pro Bowl for the eighth time and also earned his first All-Pro award. Though, with so much competition on his own team, he had career lows of 17 targets, 14 catches and 119 yards; he did have two touchdowns, however. Juszczyk had only five carries for 6 total yards, earning two first downs.

Eli Mitchell and Jordan Mason each saw the field for one offensive play in the Divisional Round. Mitchell is the most likely to get a couple of inconsequential carries between the 20s, though with everyone healthy he will be hard-pressed to outperform his salary, unless he sees mop-up duty tonight.

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Wide Receiver

Samuel, of course, could be more injured than he is letting on and there is always a risk of in-game aggravation. That could scare gamers away, which could be a good or bad outcome … we will not know until the final whistle sounds. What we do know is that Brandon Aiyuk has been outstanding and he was named second-team All-Pro, which is a lofty honor. This year he had a personal-best 1,342 receiving yards, for a stellar 17.9 per catch. Seven times this season he surpassed 100 yards and he also accounted for seven touchdowns.

Jauan Jennings is the third wideout and he is fully healthy after being injured in Week 15. Typically he is on the field for around 40% of the plays, though he did get an increase to 68% with Samuel getting dinged up in the Divisional Round. Chris Conley also saw an uptick stepping into an increased role for 25 snaps. That is unlikely to be repeated as long as Samuel is available and with Ray-Ray McCloud III the team’s preferred option. Keep in mind that McCloud missed Weeks 13 through 17 with a rib injury, but he was getting significant playing time in the first half of the season, with and without Samuel. Casual gamers may have pushed him back into the “return man” bucket, but remember that in his time playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had plays schemed for him a couple times per game. The 49ers would likely be doing the same if the offense weren’t so loaded with top-tier players.

Tight End

George Kittle was named to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in his career, and he earned first-team All-Pro status for the second time. While he is noted for his blocking and ability to shatter primetime slates, it should be noted that he also had a relatively quiet 1,020 yards this season. Last week he popped off for 81 yards and a touchdown, catching four of seven targets.

Charlie Woerner was on the field for 10 snaps and Brayden Willis one. The former has three targets this year, with Willis still waiting for his first. Injured veteran Ross Dwelley had the other three non-Kittle targets this year. For those scoring at home, it is officially Kittle 90 targets, other tight ends five.

Defense/Special Teams

Excellent, though not spectacular efficiency metrics — there is a lot to like from this squad. The 49ers allowed just 17.5 points per game, which were 1 behind the Ravens while also trailing Baltimore’s league-leading 31 takeaways by three. Goff is OK at limiting sacks and turnovers, but he is buoyed by the top-shelf offensive line. Guard Jonah Jackson is out, so that could prove detrimental to the depth if anyone else is lost in tonight’s action.

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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Lions-49ers DFS Picks Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Lions-49ers

  1. Christian McCaffrey: Needs a 20-fantasy point game to breakeven; he has hit that mark in five of the last seven games, with half-PPR scoring.
  2. Amon-Ra St. Brown: Easily above the quarterbacks on DraftKings with the full-PPR; not quite as clear on FanDuel.
  3. Jared Goff: Tougher matchup, but desperation volume should be plentiful.
  4. Brandon Aiyuk: How healthy is Samuel — that is the unanswered question.
  5. Brock Purdy: Consolidates one end of the passing game.
  6. Sam LaPorta: Top-2 fantasy season ever for a rookie tight end.
  7. George Kittle: Only thing pushing him below LaPorta is competition from his own teammates for targets.
  8. Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery: Rookie has the better upside, while the veteran gets the discount. Both have red zone equity and conceivably could be used on the same roster, playing for a conservative Detroit approach.
  9. Deebo Samuel: If he were unquestionably at 100% health, he would move above Purdy.
  10. Josh Reynolds and Jameson Williams: Salary savers who should see three to five targets.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Lions-49ers

  1. San Francisco D/ST: Bosa, Hargrave, Ward, Arik Armstead, Chase Young, Fred Warner and Ambry Thomas, just to name the more prominent members of this top-shelf unit.
  2. Michael Badgley: The “Money Badger” was on the practice squad most of the season before ultimately replacing Riley Patterson. Nothing special other than a great nickname; has appeared in 64 regular season games across six seasons for five different franchises.
  3. Jake Moody: Rookie led the league, connecting on 60 of 61 PATs, but he was average on field goals, making only two of three from 50-plus yards. The 25 total attempts are relatively low, which makes sense considering how often the offense scored touchdowns. Field goals are a fickle proposition on a game-to-game basis, and there could be more tonight as the teams may be 1) conservative and 2) stall out in the red zone.
  4. Detroit D/ST: If the 49ers can contain Aidan Hutchison (11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss), the Lions will have trouble.
  5. Jauan Jennings: Crowded offense, needs Samuel to reaggravate his injury to move up the pecking order.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks for Lions-49ers

  1. Anthony Firkser and Charlie Woerner: TE2s who could see a target or two, and they are at the $200 minimum salary on DraftKings.
  2. Eli Mitchell: Hard to trust in a close game.
  3. Ray-Ray McCloud III: Differentiation option on DraftKings at $1,800; if Samuel were actually out, he would be a DFS darling among touts.
  4. Kyle Juszczyk: Team just does not need him to touch the ball.
  5. Chris Conley: Coinflip if he gets a target; expect him to see around 6 to 10 snaps.
  6. Craig Reynolds: Lightning is not going to strike twice; main kickoff returner.
  7. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green, Jason Cabinda and Brayden Willis: They will at least be on the field; collective opportunities are set at half a target. Peoples-Jones does return punts.
  8. Jordan Mason and Ronnie Bell: Should be active.

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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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