XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football sees the Chiefs visit the Jets for a 41.5 total game with Kansas City favored by a whopping 8.5 points. I bet whoever made the schedule was really excited about this game, and then Aaron Rodgers got hurt and the Jets seem to just stubbornly use Zach Wilson even though he’s atrocious. The Jets implied team total here is just 16.5 points, a number that might actually be somewhat aggressive as they’ve scored just 42 points in three games so far this season. Yikes.
The Chiefs run game is an awkward three-way timeshare with Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all seeing time. Pacheco is the clear lead back, playing the most snaps (roughly 50% of offensive snaps so far) and handling 35 carries with nine targets. McKinnon is the receiving back with just three carries but eight targets, while CEH has taken 22 carries and four targets. First, CEH’s role is somewhat inflated by last week’s game (16 of his 22 opportunities came in Week 3), and that was a game in which Pacheco was a game-time decision, thus we can extrapolate that CEH’s role increase was likely a combination of Pacheco’s injury and the Chiefs absolutely blowing out the Bears and running the ball a lot more (just 33 pass attempts for Mahomes with 30 combined carries for the two lead backs is a very non-Chiefs kind of line). Pacheco’s the lead back here with CEH in a relatively modest role, but CEH will be on the field and will be a threat to steal goal line work. McKinnon appears to be in the role we saw him in last year after Mecole Hardman got injured, which includes a lot of schemed red zone usage. That created a lot of value for McKinnon last year on limited touches but lots of touchdown equity (a massive nine receiving touchdowns last year, and two already this year). In a road matchup against a really tough Jets defense, it’s tough to see a path to a lot of fantasy goodness for the Chiefs running backs. McKinnon would almost certainly need a trip to the end zone given his limited workload but his touchdown equity is awesome. Pacheco and CEH are similarly unlikely to rack up enough volume to get there without a TD. I’d rank McKinnon as my favorite here, then Pacheco, then CEH.
Ownership updates automatically
The Chiefs passing game, as always, is “Travis Kelce and then a merry-go-round of wide receivers.” Six different wide receivers have played offensive snaps for the Chiefs in every game so far, while only one WR has ever played more than 70% of the snaps in a game (Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 2). The trickiest one to evaluate here is Kadarius Toney, who is one of the most talented receivers on the roster but struggles with both health and consistency. Toney has played 25%, 29%, and 3% of the snaps in games so far this year. The 3% was likely due to being on the injury report that week, and without any sort of injury designation, the most likely outcome is he returns to that 25-35% range but with significant usage when on the field (despite the low snap counts, Toney saw five targets in each of Weeks 1 and 2). MVS is the guy who’s on the field the most but struggles to consistently earn targets with just seven on the year. Watson is a bit similar to MVS, a perimeter receiver with a deep aDOT but limited volume. But right now Watson is kind of like a better MVS with 12 targets on the year and less than half the salary. Skyy Moore is the slot guy who was widely expected to have a breakout season (he was the first-drafted Chiefs WR in Best Ball), while Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross are talented rookies whose roles are both likely to grow as the season progresses. At tight end, it’s Travis Kelce and he’s an awesome play every Showdown. Backup Noah Gray has continued to keep a real role after Kelce returned in Week 2, with three and two targets on exactly 61% of the snaps in each game, while TE3 Blake Bell will be on the field and occasionally see a look. All in all 13, different Chiefs have seen targets on the year so far if you include Richie James, who is now hurt.
If we look at the target distribution across the Chiefs passing game it looks like this: Kelce leads with 17 (in just two games!), then Rice with 14, Moore with 13, Watson with 12, Toney with 11, Gray with 10, Pacheco at 9, McKinnon 8, MVS 7, CEH 4, Bell 3, Ross 2. That’s a LOT of guys soaking up volume. From a “player takes” perspective the guys I like most here are Rice, Toney, and Watson. Rice looks like an ascending rookie who has quickly earned Mahomes’ trust with the most targets of the WR group; Toney won’t be on the field a ton but should see plenty of schemed work when he’s there (and now that he’s “back” to his normal role he could steal at least some of the schemed red zone usage back from McKinnon); while Watson is cheap and his role seems to be bigger than expected. From a strategy perspective, it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these guys hit (well, beyond Bell and Ross) so I want to take advantage of where the field is going to express more or less certainty via ownership (be overweight the lower owned Chiefs pass catchers and underweight the higher owned ones, except for Kelce who is of course in a class of his own).