49ERS // CHIEFS OVERVIEW
Okay, sure. The Chargers were missing Joey Bosa in Week 1. And the Steelers were missing Joe Haden. But that was still the Chargers and Steelers, who each finished top 10 last year in DVOA against the pass. Now the Chiefs come home (for Mahomes’ first home start, after three games on the road to begin his career), and they are playing the 49ers (28th in DVOA against the pass last season).
The beauty of this Chiefs offense is that their defense is so bad, it forces them to remain aggressive when they have the ball; and the biggest question to ask ourselves right now in assessing this Chiefs offense is, “Can the opposing offense put up points?” If the answer is “Yes,” we should have plenty of interest in the Chiefs’ side of the ball.
49ERS PASS OFFENSE
After ranking 23rd in DVOA against the pass last season, this Chiefs defense has ranked 29th through the early portions of this year, while giving up a league-leading (and frankly unbelievable) 860 yards through the air two weeks into the season.
Of course, with the Chiefs running a man-heavy coverage scheme, it is worth noting that they have played three elite wide receivers through two weeks (Keenan Allen, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster), who have done most of the damage against them. Speedster Tyrell Williams also burned the Chiefs in Week 1 for a dropped touchdown (and scored again later).
It is also worth noting that for all the love the public has for Jimmy G., most of that was the result of him going 5-0 last season on what had previously been an 0-11 team. In seven starts for the 49ers, Jimmy has topped 300 yards only twice, and he has thrown for two touchdowns on only three occasions. He has yet to throw more than two touchdown passes in this offense, and he is still working with below-average weapons.
If Marquise Goodwin fails to get cleared for this game, I would have concerns about the ability of Pierre Garcon and disappearing act Dante Pettis to truly rake this defense over the coals, and I would give the 49ers a greater-than-50% shot of falling shy of their Vegas-implied total.
If Goodwin gets cleared to play (currently, he is trending in that direction), I’ll give this game a much clearer shot at remaining close.
In five games played with Jimmy under center last year, Goodwin was the clear number one weapon, averaging 5.8 catches for 76.8 yards on 8.6 targets, while adding one touchdown in that stretch. Goodwin’s touchdown ceiling will always be difficult to fall in love with, but he’ll carry big-play upside this week and is priced like a number two or three option. Goodwin went 3-37-0 against the Jags last year with Jimmy under center and 2-28-1 against the Rams. He posted at least six catches and at least 99 yards in each of his other three games.
Garcon has seen nine total targets through two weeks, with Goodwin missing almost all of that time, while Pettis has seen seven looks in all. Outside of Goodwin, this offense seems set to spread the ball around to its wide receivers, putting these guys in the “touchdown-hunting” category.
George Kittle saw only four targets last week, after seeing nine the week before, but he did run 26 of a possible 36 pass routes, and the Chiefs have been unable to slow down tight ends this year. Kittle should go overlooked after he burned so many people last week — but much like Keelan Cole in Week 2, there is really no reason other than recency bias to dislike this guy if you liked him last week.
49ERS RUN OFFENSE
Matt Breida played only 25 snaps last week to 31 for Alfred Morris, and he even ran fewer pass routes than Alf (12, compared to 15). But he currently leads the NFL in rushing yards (for real), and he has looked awesome with the ball in his hands. As I said before Week 1: I loaded up on Breida in Best Ball this year even before McKinnon was injured, as there were some 49ers beat writers who expected him to eventually take over the lead job. There is no indication that this is set to happen yet, but this could be the week in which things begin shifting in that direction, as Breida is the better back in space, and the 49ers will likely be playing catch-up. Frustratingly, this is hardly actionable information, as Breida is priced like a borderline-starter on all three sites (alongside guys like Alex Collins, Giovani Bernard, and on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, even Kareem Hunt). He should have a solid game here against a Chiefs run defense that enters the week ranked 32nd in DVOA, but it’s tough to bet on him seeing more than 60% to 65% of the work, and even that requires some guesswork — making him a difficult guy to bet on at his price.
Alfred Morris should soak up 10 to 12 carries and two or three catches of his own. He’ll need a couple touchdowns in order to really be worth a roster spot this week.
CHIEFS PASS OFFENSE
This offense is so much fun to watch. Unlike the Deshaun Watson situation last year — when Watson was simply letting it rip deep and letting his skilled receivers come down with the ball — guys on the Chiefs are just plain open, and Mahomes is making perfect reads and incredible throws. Everything that Andy Reid is doing right now is working, and the weapons this offense has to work with will allow these things to continue working most weeks this season. Defenses have to respect weapons at all levels, and all areas of the field, with Tyreek Hill stretching them deep, Travis Kelce as dangerous as they come over the middle of the field, and Kareem Hunt still possessing blazing talent underneath. Add in Sammy Watkins on the outside, and there is just too much for a defense to try to defend. Someone is going to be open most plays, and Mahomes/Reid usually have a pretty good idea of exactly where that “someone” will be.
I’m expecting the Chiefs to win by about 10 points in this spot, with around 31 to 34 points scored; though with a healthy Goodwin on the other side, the chances of the 49ers pushing the Chiefs a little bit harder would be improved.
Mahomes’ most valuable weapon so far this season has been Tyreek Hill, who has incredibly turned 14 targets into 259 yards and three touchdowns. (Adam Levitan also added this stat today on Twitter: “Pat Mahomes has thrown at Tyreek Hill 28 times this preseason plus regular season. It’s resulted in 26 catches, 441 yards & 4 TDs.”) Expect yet another six to eight targets for Hill, with theoretically scary floor at his price on so few looks, but with as much upside as any wide receiver in the game.
Travis Kelce finally got going last week, with seven catches on 10 targets, for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was targeted six times the week before in a matchup against the Chargers, and he will again push to be the target leader in this spot, in a neutral tight end matchup. (Naturally, matchup matters less for Kelce than usage.)
Sammy Watkins also got going last week, with a 6-100-0 line on seven targets, to go with a 31-yard rush. This offense is so comfortable spreading the ball around, it will be difficult for any of these guys to top 10 targets on the regular, and all of them will sprinkle in some duds; but Watkins carries big tourney upside, especially as his downfield routes will play well in this spot.
CHIEFS RUN OFFENSE
With all the aggressive downfield throwing on the Chiefs, Kareem Hunt has fallen out of favor with the DFS community right now, having seen only 34 carries and two targets all year. This is a spot in which the carries may spike a bit, given that the Chiefs will likely be playing with a lead, but the big dent for Hunt right now is the lack of pass game work, which puts him into that class of guys like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch — guys with only one dimension to their box score production. There is a chance that Andy Reid will scheme several pass plays to Hunt simply to “get him involved” — the way he did last week with Watkins — but the likeliest scenario here is another 16 to 20 carries, with three or fewer targets mixed in. Hunt has the talent to post a strong game on that type of work, but it is not the likeliest scenario.
If Marquise Goodwin plays in this spot, I will have interest in him as a guy with seven to nine targets as his likeliest range, and with a 4-50-0 line easily deemed a “disappointment.” He could go for as much as eight catches for 120 yards if everything goes right.
If Marquise Goodwin misses, this side of the ball will become less exciting, as no one really stands out on this spread-it-around offense. Kittle and Breida both have nice ceiling, though with iffy, usage-driven floors. Kittle will be a borderline play for me, while Breida will likely end up in the “large-field tourneys only” bin. Pettis theoretically has big upside as well, but it’s very difficult to trust his usage right now.
I love Mahomes this week, and I feel he is still underpriced across the industry, given the matchup and the overall game environment. We cannot count on another six-touchdown game, but 250 passing yards and two touchdowns is a safe “floor” expectation here, and 325+ passing yards with four touchdowns would not be unexpected. He’s a great, high-floor, high-upside option this week.
I don’t think I can pay the Tyreek Hill price tag myself, for the same reasons I have never liked paying up for Kamara when his price soars too high: efficiency is awesome, but these lower-usage guys still have some disappointing games stored in them, and it sucks to land on those games when paying up for a guy. To be clear: Hill carries some of the highest upside on the slate, and he can hit in this matchup as easily as he can in any other. This has nothing to do with Hill or the matchup for me; it’s just not my style to pay top-dollar for seven or eight expected targets.
Kelce joins Ertz as the top tight end options if looking to pay up at the position (the ceiling is the same on each; Kelce has a greater chance of falling out of the game plan than Ertz does, making Ertz a little safer). Watkins and Hunt both have upside, but each has a low floor to go with it.