XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 6 begins with the Broncos visiting the Chiefs for a game with a 49 point total and Kansas City favored by 10.5. Ohhh boy. I guess we know how the field is going to build for this one! On the one hand, we have a Broncos defense that has given up at least 28 points in four of their five games played so far (but the Denver offense has also been reasonably capable, averaging just over 24 points per game themselves), while on the other hand, we have a Chiefs team that has not quite found their offensive rhythm yet (just one game over 27 points, but still averaging a solid 25.6 points per game) but boasting a stout (and often underrated) defense allowing just 16 points per game. The Broncos are also on the road, and Arrowhead is a tough matchup any time, but especially when the Chiefs D is playing well. This is a really interesting one to try to pick apart because of how many ways the game could go, as well as how spread out both teams are (interesting is one word but frustrating could be another). Let’s try to figure it out.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATES:
1. Greg Dulcich
First, the easy update: Greg Dulcich is going to return for Denver, which makes Adam Trautman an even worse play than he already was. Even if Dulcich is on a snap count, Trautman’s role was so weak already that any reduction is a death knell. Can you still use him in tournaments? I suppose, I mean anyone who’s on the field can get lucky and catch a touchdown. Dulcich himself is at least interesting at $4,800 . . . if he steps into a full role, he’s a viable piece (but not an outstanding one). There’s risk here because who knows if he’ll play a full complement of snaps, but he at least he has a meaningful per-target upside.
The second impactful update is that the weather for this game is looking to be pretty gross. It looks unlikely to rain much during the game but the really impactful thing in NFL DFS is wind, and we have a good amount of it. It looks like expecting sustained winds at 15mph or higher with gusts up to 30 mph. 15 mph sustained is when we start to see wind impact passing production so we have to at least consider the impact of weather in this one. This isn’t a hurricane, so there’s no need to just X out deeper aDOT guys like MVS, Watson, or Mims but it is windy enough to have an impact. In cash games, this significantly bumps up short-area guys like Toney and Rice as well as the running backs. In tournaments, the same applies, but also keep in mind that people tend to wildly overreact to weather. Deeper passing can still succeed in somewhat windy conditions so it’s worth still considering the higher aDOT guys like Sutton, Watson, and MVS, etc. Their chance of hitting their ceiling is reduced but my general experience is that the impact to their ownership is greater than the impact to their expected fantasy production. We want to react smartly to weather but we don’t want to panic or overreact – this looks like a game with windy conditions but not catastrophic, so be smart about how much you change your game plan in response to the wind.
On the Chiefs side, their running back usage can be maddening. Lead running back Isiah Pacheco has topped out at 60% of the snaps this year though that’s still come along with some solid opportunity counts of 18, 23, and 17 (as well as 12 and 14 in Weeks 1 and 2). Pacheco is talented and the matchup is awesome against a Broncos defense that is AVERAGING 187 rushing yards per game allowed (lol) with over 100 rushing yards allowed to four of their five opponents so far. Talent, check. Matchup, check. Opportunity is like . . . a half check. Pacheco’s the lead back but we’ve seen that A) being the lead back on the Chiefs does not always result in large workloads, even when they’re playing from ahead, and B) the Chiefs are consistently near the top of the NFL in pass rate over expectation, which dings both his usage and his touchdown equity. Mahomes has roughly double the pass attempts inside the 10 yard line compared to Pacheco’s number of carries from inside the 10. At $9,400, Pacheco is a bit tough to click on with Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Russell Wilson priced above him, which makes him a very interesting tournament play if you want to bet on the Chiefs scoring on the ground. His floor is a little shaky for his price, but his ceiling is up there amongst the highest on the slate and I expect his ownership will not get out of hand despite being a huge home favorite running back in a good matchup. Jerick McKinnon has the RB2 role but it’s more of a passing down specialist, with just seven carries on the year so far. McKinnon, as we’ve discussed before, was heavily involved in the Chiefs red zone usage scheme last year but that seems to have dropped off this season as he has just two red zone targets (both in Week 3, both caught for touchdowns), and while that could happen again, there isn’t yet any indication that the Chiefs are intentionally focusing on him in the red zone on a consistent game-to-game basis. That makes him an extremely fragile play at $5,200. RB3 Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a shot-in-the-dark play who sees very little usage – you’re betting on a blowout (CEH saw, by far, his most opportunities of the season when the Chiefs demolished the Bears 41-10 in Week 3) or a Pacheco injury to make him relevant.
Ownership updates automatically
The Chiefs passing game, as always, is “Travis Kelce and then good luck figuring it out.” Except, Kelce is questionable with an ankle injury. It’s a low ankle sprain which caused him to miss a bit of time in last week’s game, though he did return and played the rest of the game out so it’s probably not a huge concern but the Chiefs could consider taking a cautious approach with their superstar tight end in a game that they should be able to win handily. One thing to consider is even if Kelce is active, will he have a full role? Generally, I assume if a player is active and I have no specific information to the contrary, that he’s fully healthy and will play his normal role. But, it’s worth mentioning in Showdown here because he’s likely to be one of the two or three highest owned plays in the game. The Chiefs could feasibly have him active, and see how things go, but be quick to pull back on him if he shows any signs of struggle with the ankle or just rest him if they get up big early. Consider Kelce as an elite play (duh) but with a higher than normal level of risk.
As far as the rest of the Chiefs, eesh. Rashee Rice has led the pass catching group in non-Kelce production so far and has a whopping eight red zone targets (Kelce has eight, nobody else has more than four), but after seeing his snaps ascending in Weeks 3 and 4 they dropped back down to just 30% last week. Eek. Rice isn’t playing a ton but he is at least earning targets when he’s on the field with at least five targets in four of five games, and eight of his 24 targets have come in the red zone . . . aha, maybe this is where the Chiefs schemed red zone usage has gone! It does look like Rice is a guy they’re already trusting heavily when close to the goal line. $6,400 is a bit of a tough price for a guy playing this few snaps, and I expect the field will click on him plenty just because he’s the Chief who’s done the most in the passing game besides Kelce. As with all the Chiefs, his role is volatile. Marquez Valdes-Scantling leads the Chiefs in snaps played but has just 11 targets on the season to show for it, Skyy Moore is next but with only 17 targets, while Justin Watson remains a glaring value at just $2,200 despite being third of the WRs in snaps and second in fantasy point production per game. Oh, and then we still have Kadarius Toney and even Justyn Ross playing some snaps. Holy cow. We also have two backup tight ends in Noah Gray and Blake Bell (Bell is mostly a blocker with three targets on the year, but Gray has 2+ targets in every game). I always hate breaking down the Chiefs because there is so little to point at where fantasy production is likely to come from and they spread the ball around SO much. The volume gets spread out that outside of a broken play or long bomb, no pass catcher besides Kelce really has a realistic shot at reaching 100 yards, so we’re really just looking for touchdowns. Rice is the best bet for them, with Moore next in red zone targets followed by MVS. My general sense of this pass catching group: Kelce is awesome. Rice has the best touchdown odds of everyone else and is fine. Watson is a value at just $2,200 and his deep role gives him upside. MVS is on the field a ton but has really not produced at all since joining the Chiefs, so while he will probably project well at his $3,400 price, he’s a boom/bust tourney option to me. Toney is still seeing a lot of usage when on the field but isn’t on the field much. Gray is overpriced but that could drive down his ownership and make him interesting if Kelce plays but is limited. Ross and Bell are MME dart throws. Good luck with the Chiefs receiving corps.