This matchup between the Chiefs and Jaguars gives us one of the top offenses in NFL history against a team in the Jaguars that last year allowed the second fewest net passing yards per game and the fourth fewest points per game – even with some games down the stretch in which this team showed just pathetic effort.
A game such as this (a matchup of two extremes) tends to have a broader range of potential outcomes than other types of setups, and in large field tournaments you could make a case for building some rosters around some alternative angles; for this writeup, however, we will focus on the likeliest path for this game to follow – and the starting point here is that we should expect Kansas City to score fewer points than they typically score, but more points than most teams score against Jacksonville.
We take a deeper look at what we can expect from the 2019 Jaguars offense HERE, but to summarize: John DeFilippo has taken over as offensive coordinator after getting fired by the Vikings partway through the year last year for throwing the ball too much. And while the Jaguars are still built to win through the run game and defense, we should expect this team to have a more aggressive personality on offense – looking for opportunities to take control of the game on this side of the ball, rather than simply sitting back and allowing opposing offenses to dictate the game. With the Chiefs on tap, we open a fairly safe path by projecting the Jags to do more than just hand off the ball and hope for the best. Last year, the Chiefs faced the most opposing pass attempts per game (39.5 on average!), and giving Foles a projection of at least 35 pass attempts is not crazy in this spot. This is important to think about, as the question this naturally brings up is: who will these passes go to?
DeFilippo has raved about Dede Westbrook this offseason, and beat writers have generally gone on about the connection that Dede and Nick Foles have shown on the field. The Jaguars also have talked openly about how A) they want to keep Leonard Fournette on the field as much as they can, and B) they want to keep him much more involved in the pass game than he has been the last couple years. The Jaguars have still failed to develop a serious threat at tight end, and joining Dede on the field will be Chris Conley and DJ Chark. Conley is primarily a speed guy and a gadget piece, while Chark remains fairly raw.
A case can be made for moving to Conley or Chark as an upside piece in large field tournaments — especially in this matchup (the Chiefs should improve under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo – especially with Tyrann Mathieu running the communication on the back end, and with Frank Clark adding pass rush juice – but they should still be more attackable than most defenses, especially through the air). But with question marks on both playing time and usage for those two, our main focus should be on Dede and Fournette. DeFilippo was comfortable with an extremely narrow distribution of touches in Minnesota, and it’s comfortable to expect him to move Dede around this week and try to load him up on targets. A projection of anywhere from 7 to 10 targets is not crazy in this spot (with upside for even more if this game gets out of hand), and I’m even comfortable giving Fournette 5 to 7 targets of his own.
On the other side of this game, the Chiefs are pretty simple to break down. Given the public’s love for the Chiefs offense, there is a likely leverage play here of simply fading the Chiefs in most contests. Realistically, we will probably still see at least 8% ownership on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill (we will get a better, more accurate reading on public sentiment for Week 1 when UFCollective’s ownership projections go up; though…given what we know about the DFS community, this is a fair assumption to make). And in order for it to be worth it to take on the downside of any pass catcher against the Jaguars, we would need that pass catcher to have a higher-than-ownership chance of putting up a monster point per dollar score. To put that another way: if Hill (for example) is projected to be owned at around 8%, we would want him to have a greater than 8% chance to post a monster price-considered score in order for this to be a positive leverage play. Given where the price tags sit on these players, the percentages are not on the side of rostering them.
Of course, given the sorts of scores these players are capable of putting up, I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to take some shots on the other side of these numbers. If looking to roster one of the Chiefs, keep in mind that the Jaguars last year allowed the second fewest passing touchdowns and the fewest wide receiver touchdowns, but they allowed the seventh most touchdowns to tight ends. Kelce has the clearest path to a big game here, and if not for how many other tight ends there are to like on this slate, he might even sit at the top of my own list. If we expect the Chiefs to still put up around four touchdowns, after all, it is likely that Kelce – in the best matchup of this bunch – pushes for a decent chunk of this production. (One unique tournament approach this week could even be to roll with two tight ends – as Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, and George Kittle are all in strong spots as well. This could be a unique roster construction that still keeps upside intact.)
As for running back: the Jaguars ranked middle of the pack against the run last year, while showing consistently poor effort down the stretch. It is fair to assume that Jacksonville comes ready to play in Week 1, and there is some fear that Damien Williams will ultimately see his workload capped most games this year at around 17 or 18 touches. Rostering Williams this week is a bit like diving into a pool blind and hoping you find the deep end – though with that said, you should run into lower ownership on Williams; and given that this is the Chiefs we are talking about, the deep end in question is at least rather deep.
Note :: With LeSean McCoy added in KC and a tough matchup on tap, “wait and see” is your best approach in anything but large-field tourneys. Unless you genuinely think Williams gets you a score here that you can’t get anywhere else, the floor isn’t worth taking on in cash games, small-field tourneys, or single-entry tourneys. The McCoy addition does, however, open a case for Williams with a small percentage of large-field play, if going MME, as there is a case to be made that McCoy’s role will be minimal at best in Week 1, and that Darwin Thompson won’t yet steal too many touches. I’m not high on this play for my own rosters, but I’m not high on taking players at Jacksonville, either. If you were leaning Chiefs already, 5% to 8% exposure to Williams in MME play makes a lot of sense.
JM’s Interpretation ::
Although this is the highest over/under game on the slate, it isn’t crazy to think about fading the side of this game that is driving that total, as the Chiefs are still priced at an elite level, and there is a strong case to be made that there are simply better ways to allocate salary this week. That’s where I’ll land myself — with some exposure to Kelce if I dabble in any multi-entry play in Week 1 (though probably lower exposure than the field), and with a few darts on Tyreek Hill in that scenario as well (if we played this slate a hundred times, Ramsey would hold Hill to a disappointing point-per-dollar score more times than not; but a few of the “nots” would turn into monster games — which is a chance worth considering in any MME build).
I do expect the Chiefs to push things on the scoreboard, however (again: my likely lean away from Chiefs in my own builds has more to do with salary allocation than with any expectation that the Chiefs will be shut down); and while there is at least a slim chance that the Jags could look to slow down this game and control it on the ground, everything we know so far about this new Jags offense tells us we can expect them to take some swings. Fournette has potential — in his likely three-down role — to be priced much higher a few weeks from now than he is priced in Week 1. There is a game flow scenario (the Chiefs jumping out to a big lead early) that could put Fournette at risk of a disappointing showing, though even that setup would likely leave him with around five receptions. All things considered, both his floor and ceiling are high.
The same can also be said for Dede, who should be heavily involved and will post some big games this year.
On the MME theme: I would also include a a few shots on Conley and/or Chark if executing a mass-build strategy; and going 1% or 2% exposure on Foles is a fair mathematical bet as well, as he could pop off for the top score on this slate at least once or twice if we played this thing out a hundred times. This approach also leaves room for some shots on Sammy Watkins (or even Demarcus Robinson), as there is a chance that the Chiefs reach (or even pass) their Vegas-implied total of 28.0, and that this comes with the Chiefs having to work the ball through their number two receiver.