BENGALS // CHIEFS OVERVIEW
From the perspective of a fan, it’s refreshing that this game is being given the prime time slot, as NBC would typically have played to the large television audiences of the Cowboys and Redskins by flexing that game into this space — but from a DFS perspective, it’s too bad that this game will be missing from the main slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. These are the sorts of games we lost when DK and FD pulled the Sunday night game from their main slate last season, so we’ll have to make do without it. In the Showdown slates, of course, there is plenty to like here — and all of us who are playing the One Week Season Survivor Contest on FantasyDraft will be able to dip into this game as well.
This game has been given a scintillating Over/Under of 58.5, with the Chiefs (second in points per game, at 35.8) installed as a 5.5 point favorite over the Bengals (sixth in points per game, at 29.0). Each defense ranks bottom 10 in points allowed per game, and there is room for the Over/Under to grow as the week moves along. The Vegas-implied total for each team is lower than each team’s season-long average.
Kansas City ranks second in drive success rate, and Cincinnati ranks fourth. Only one team has allowed a higher drive success rate than the Chiefs, and only seven teams have allowed a higher drive success rate than the Bengals.
BENGALS PASS OFFENSE
Only three teams in the NFL have allowed a deeper average depth of target than the Chiefs through the early portions of the year, and only five teams have allowed a higher YAC per reception rate. Paired with an average catch rate allowed, this adds up to the Chiefs allowing the seventh most yards per pass attempt, while no team has faced more pass attempts this season. (The Bengals have faced the second most pass attempts on the year.)
A.J. Green has been the 1A option in this passing attack, with target counts on the year of 8 // 9 // 8 // 8 // 10 // 12, while seeing 37.4% of the team’s air yards (eighth in the NFL), with an aDOT of 12.5. Green has a massive 12 red zone targets, with five targets inside the 10-yard-line.
Behind Green (or alongside Green), Tyler Boyd has been the 1B, with target counts of 5 // 9 // 7 // 15 // 7 // 9, while seeing 26.7% of the team’s air yards, on an aDOT of 9.5. Boyd has seven targets inside the 20 and one target inside the 10. So far, he is a perfect seven for seven on his red zone looks — leading to three red zone touchdowns (the same number as Green). The Chiefs have allowed the most passing plays of 20+ yards, the fourth-most wide receiver receptions, and the ninth-most wide receiver yards.
These two are dominating looks in this offense, but John Ross appears likely to return this week, which could lead to a few downfield looks for him. Ross has caught only seven of his 15 targets on the year, for 79 yards.
As we began to expect during the second half of last week, C.J. Uzomah was schemed extra targets in a Week 6 matchup against a Steelers team that bleeds targets to tight ends, and he enters a similar spot this week against a Chiefs team that has allowed the fourth-most receptions to the position, with more yards allowed to tight ends than any other team in the league. Uzomah has skills as a pass catcher, and in what should be a high-volume affair, he should be in line for a respectable number of looks once again.
BENGALS RUN OFFENSE
Because the Chiefs have been so bad against the pass (and because the Chiefs’ offense is so dominant — leading to opponents having to turn to the air), it can go overlooked that this team has also allowed the second-most yards per carry in the NFL, behind only Denver. As noted last week: the Chiefs have incredibly allowed a long run of only 26 yards, which emphasizes just how consistently opponents have been able to move the ball on the ground, as this massive YPC mark has come without any monster plays to artificially boost it.
Through four games, Joe Mixon has touch counts of 22 // 22 // 25 // 15. The one realistic concern here is that Mixon could see his volume trickle down if the Chiefs jump out to a big lead early — but even with that concern, he remains involved in the pass game (he has a pair of seven target games already), and he ranks ninth in the NFL in carries inside the 10, in spite of missing two games. Mixon has played 73.6% of the snaps the last two weeks, and if this game were on the main slate, he would carry the number two raw point expectation among backs, behind only Gurley. The Chiefs have also allowed the second-most receptions in the league to running backs, and they have faced an average of 20.3 rush attempts per game — enough for Mixon to do plenty of damage.
CHIEFS PASS OFFENSE
The Bengals have ranked middle of the pack in yards allowed per pass attempt on the strength of solid tackling after the catch, but the Chiefs are the only team that has faced more pass attempts, and this has led to Cincy allowing the seventh-most wide receiver yards and the seventh-most wide receiver receptions in the league.
Kenny Stills and John Brown posted solid games against the Bengals with usage similar to what Tyreek Hill will see this week, creating optimism for upside-hunters. Hill’s floor is always a bit low for the price, but as we mention in this space every week: he genuinely has the upside to post the highest score on the entire slate — a range he has hit twice already, only six games into the season.
If the Bengals have been bad against wide receivers, they have been awful against tight ends, allowing the second-most receptions and the seventh-most yards to the position, in spite of only one game against a team (Indy in Week 1) that truly features the position. The Patriots once again made it a priority last week to stop Travis Kelce (and once again paid the price with a monster game from Hill), but Kelce still notched 61 yards through the air, and he was coming off a stretch of three 100-yard games in four opportunities. He should approach double-digit targets in this one. He posted double-digit looks in three consecutive games before facing the Jags and the Kelce-focused Patriots.
Kelce and Hill are hogging most of the upside in this passing attack, with Sammy Watkins operating primarily underneath (an aDOT of only 7.4). Watkins will have his big games this year, though they will be difficult to see coming — making him a “guess and hope” play in this high-powered offense. The same goes for Chris Conley, who continues to soak up heavy snaps, but who has seen target counts ranging from one to six — with no games yet above 21 yards receiving. He does have a pair of touchdowns on the season.
CHIEFS RUN OFFENSE
Only eight teams have allowed more yards per carry than the Bengals, and as noted last week, the way the Bengals are getting hammered on the scoreboard is by allowing teams to march the length of the field before closing out drives in the red zone — a good setup for running backs who get red zone usage. Last week, it was James Conner and his 14 carries inside the 10 (third in the NFL). This week, it’s Kareem Hunt and his 13 carries inside the 10.
Hunt has continued to see spotty pass game usage (four games this year of two or fewer targets), but he saw six targets in a track meet with the Patriots last week (a game in which his carries took a step back), and he has 18 or more touches in four of his last five games. Expect another 18 to 25 touches in this spot, giving Hunt plenty of space to show his upside against a Bengals run defense that has been attackable all year.
Floor rankings in the Showdown slate for me go :: Mahomes // Dalton // Mixon // Kelce // Green // Boyd // Hill // Hunt // Watkins // Uzomah — with every one of these guys genuinely able to have a case made as a strong play. Guys like Chris Conley and John Ross can also be kept in mind if multi-entering.
Ceiling rankings really aren’t that different, as all of Mixon // Kelce // Green // Boyd // Hill // Hunt have legitimate 22-point FanDuel upside and 30-point DraftKings upside, while even Watkins and Uzomah could bust out for genuine starting-caliber scores. Obviously, Hill moves to the top of the list when talking ceiling.
On FantasyDraft, I’ll likely build a team that looks nothing like my DraftKings roster, in order to account for all the great plays in this game. While I don’t build my tiers until I read through the NFL Edge on Thursday afternoon (writing this article is such an intense stretch of focus, research, and writing over two and a half days with very little sleep, I typically don’t retain much of this information until I go back and read the article myself), I expect that Mixon, Green, Boyd, Kelce, and Hunt will make my Tier 1 list, while Tyreek Hill will be a “monster ceiling, slightly lower floor” tourney option. Patrick Mahomes will become the most attractive quarterback on the slate, with Andy Dalton joining him in the top tier. C.J. Uzomah and Sammy Watkins look like tourney-viable options as well. This game changes everything the main slate throws at us — creating a great edge against those on FantasyDraft who simply move their DraftKings team over each week with merely cosmetic modifications.
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