After 65 preseason games, 256 regular-season games, and 10 playoff games – a total of 331 opportunities for excitement, controversy and watching the Jets fail – we finally know the two teams that will face off in the Super Bowl in Miami in two weeks’ time.
The AFC will be represented by the Kansas City Chiefs, while the San Francisco 49ers will do the honours on behalf of the NFC. However, we’ve got two weeks of articles, talking heads and memes ahead of us to talk about that game, so let’s recap your fantasy studs and duds from Sunday’s Championship weekend first!
Stud: Raheem Mostert – RB – San Francisco 49ers
Cinderella stories are few and far between these days, but for Raheem Mostert, on Sunday it was a fairy-tale evening. For a player who started this season as the third-string running back (and would have been fourth-string but for the injury to Jerrick McKinnon) on his seventh NFL team, his chances of even making the roster for the NFC Championship game were slight. His performances over the final third of the season, however, along with an early-game injury to Tevin Coleman, meant that the former undrafted free agent had free reign over the 49ers backfield in their Sunday-night beatdown of the Green Bay Packers.
And boy did he beat them down. Mostert went for a 49ers post-season record 220 yards on the ground on a whopping 29 carries. That’s 7.6 yards per carry! He also managed to find the end zone four times to completely crush the Packers’ Super Bowl dreams as well as catching both his targets for 6 yards. That tied him to the team lead in receptions, as the 49ers were able to attempt just eight throws thanks to Mostert’s dominance on the ground. He might turn into a pumpkin in Miami against the Chiefs, but for one night at least Mostert was the belle of the ball game this Sunday.
Stud: Sammy Watkins – WR – Kansas City Chiefs
Sammy Watkins has always had the talent to be a number one receiver, but every once in awhile he shows that talent. For most players, this would make them seem unpredictable, but like death and taxes, you can now guarantee that Watkins will have his big day in the AFC Championship game. While his more illustrious colleagues Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill more regularly grab the plaudits, Watkins had his second consecutive mega game Championship game.
Just like last year against the Patriots, Watkins had 114 receiving yards, and just like last year against the Patriots, he led the Chiefs in that category. The difference this time around? The Chiefs actually won. Watkins made his yardage by bringing in seven of the 10 targets he saw, including a deep grad that he took into the end zone to help the Chiefs see of a one-dimensional Tennessee Titans side. Will he produce in the next game out? History says no, but if you plugged in Watkins in your fantasy team this week you don’t care about the future!
Dud: Derrick Henry – RB – Tennessee Titans
Let’s be clear; Derrick Henry was not the reason that the Titans lost this game. Still, for anybody who has been playing fantasy over the last few weeks, Henry has been the must-start player throughout these playoffs. He destroyed the best defence in the AFC in the New England Patriots in their Wild Card Matchup, and then almost single-handedly took out the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, repeatedly improving in the second half of each matchup. You had a right to expect King Henry to continue to perform against a Kansas City offence that hasn’t been the best against the run this season.
The Titans star RB still had a respectable stat line at the end of this game, but the King was dethroned in the second half against the Chiefs as they bottled up his inside runs to limit the NFL rushing leader to just 69 yards on 19 carries. He managed to find the end zone and catch 2 targets for 2 yards through the air, which helped soften the blow for fantasy fans this week, but ultimately Henry was a let down for fantasy fans. Off with his head!
Dud: George Kittle – TE – San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle is either the best tight end in the league, or the second-best, and it’s a long way down to find the third. His performances over the last two seasons have had 49ers fans and fantasy owners alike salivating at the sight of a matchup like the one against the Packers and specifically linebacker Blake Martinez. In their regular-season matchup in Week 12, Kittle made minced meat of the Packers D, catching all of his six targets for team-leading 129 yards and a touchdown. In the same venue, against the same opponent, with the same surrounding cast, it’s reasonable to expect at least a similar result.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan does not care for your reason. He allowed Raheem Mostert to do all the work for the 49ers attack (see: above) and Jimmy Garoppolo threw just six completions all game. At one point in the second half, when Garoppolo was forced to throw after over 90minutes without swinging his arm, he connected with Kittle for 19 yards and an important first-down. That was all Kittle contributed to your fantasy scoreline this week. It’s fair to assume he’ll do more against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami, but this is further proof that Kyle Shanahan does not care about our fantasy teams. That monster.