CHIEFS // RAIDERS OVERVIEW
May the Lord have mercy on the souls of the Raiders this week. On defense, the tanking Raiders rank 30th in points allowed, 22nd in drive success rate allowed, 32nd in rushing yards allowed per game, 26th in yards allowed per game, 24th in takeaways, and 32nd in sacks. They will be taking on a Chiefs offense that ranks second in points scored, second in drive success rate, and third in yards per game. On the other side of the ball, only two teams have taken more sacks than the Raiders, only six teams have notched a lower drive success rate, only four teams have a higher rate of three-and-outs, and only three teams have been worse at converting red zone visits into touchdowns. Last week, Marcell Ateman was the most targeted receiver on a Raiders squad that traded Amari Cooper, lost Martavis Bryant to injury, and is stuck using Jordy Nelson as a number one receiver for shell-shocked quarterback Derek Carr. Crazy things can happen in the NFL, but with Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ historic, speed-oriented offense coming off the bye to take on an old, slow Raiders defense, this game projects to get ugly early on. The Raiders are doing their best at this point to lose games in their pursuit of the first overall pick, and the Chiefs have every reason to chase wins as they look to protect the number one overall seed in the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs opened as 15.0 point favorites in a game with an Over/Under of 55.5.
CHIEFS PASS OFFENSE
The old, slow Raiders defense has no real hope of slowing down Patrick Mahomes and the awesome Chiefs passing attack — with this team allowing an 8.5% increase on the league-average aDOT, and allowing the most yards per pass attempt in the NFL with a league-worst, no-other-team-even-close YAC/R rate allowed. On the season, the Raiders have allowed a 27.6% increase on the league-average YAC/R rate. The Dolphins have been the second worst team, at +20.3%. The next worst team is Washington, all the way down at +12.2%. The Raiders particularly struggle with speed. The only thing that can slow down the Chiefs this week is a blowout. The Raiders have faced the fewest pass attempts in the NFL this year, at an absurdly low average of 27.9 opponent pass attempts per game.
In further good news for the Chiefs, Mahomes has thrown 34 or fewer passes in five games this season, and he has notched touchdown totals in those games of 4 // 6 // 4 // 3 // 2 — with that two-touchdown game coming against a tougher Cardinals defense. If volume dips, it will be because the Chiefs picked up a bunch of early yards and points — creating a situation in which PPR and half-PPR receiving outputs could get dented a bit, but in which yardage and touchdown ceilings will remain. This is not a team that will take its foot off the gas until the late third or early fourth quarter, providing room for these players to hit.
Targeting this offense becomes a bit easier with Sammy Watkins expected to miss another week. Watkins missed Week 10 and hardly played in Week 11 (five snaps), leading to target counts of 10 and 14 for Tyreek Hill — good for a monstrous 32.4% target rate. His 10-target game came with Mahomes throwing only 28 times, making seven to 10 targets a fair expectation this week even if passing volume falls shy of 30. It is terrifying to bet on a “seven to 10 target” receiver in a likely blowout at the highest end of the price range…but legitimately, Hill carries the highest raw upside on the slate, at any position. He has posted five scores this year that would wreck your roster at his price, but he has posted another four scores that you needed to have in order to win. With Watkins out, Hill’s floor becomes a bit safer in the best possible matchup for his skill set and usage.
Travis Kelce has also seen big usage with Watkins out, with seven and 15 targets in his last two games — good for a 29.7% share. To put this 62.1% combined target share for Kelce and Hill into perspective: Diggs and Thielen each rank top three in the NFL in targets per game, and they have combined for 53.2% of Cousins’ targets on the year. JuJu and AB each rank top nine in the NFL in targets per game, and they have combined for 49.2% of Ben’s looks. Even if volume becomes an issue for this passing attack as a whole, Hill and Kelce should be the main pieces piling up the yards and scores that lead to the blowout.
Behind these two, Chris Conley played 64 out of 72 snaps in Week 11, Demetrius Harris played 39 snaps at tight end, and Demarcus Robinson played 35 snaps. Conley saw eight targets against the Rams — benefitting from the shootout nature of that game. He saw only two targets the week before. Robinson has four and two targets in the Chiefs’ last two games, and Harris has zero and two targets. None of these guys are more than dart throws in a game in which Kansas City should have no trouble piling up yards and points with Kelce, Hill, and Hunt.
CHIEFS RUN OFFENSE
Oakland has been one of the worst teams in the league against…well, everything — including the run, where they have allowed the fifth most yards per carry while facing the second most running back rush attempts and allowing the most running back rushing yards. With teams passing so infrequently against the Raiders, they have allowed the fewest running back receptions in the league, but even with this they have allowed more receiving yards to running backs than seven other teams. The only major concern for Kareem Hunt in this spot is volume, as the Chiefs have held him to 17 or fewer rush attempts in six consecutive games, and he has three or fewer receptions in three straight contests. Incredibly, Hunt has topped 100 rushing yards only one time all season (though he has gone for 70+ rushing yards in six of his last seven). The matchup is tremendous, and Hunt’s 14 touchdowns on the year point to the upside he can generate, but this ceiling has boosted his price a bit high for the floor, making him more appealing in tourneys than in cash games
Behind Hunt, it won’t be surprising if Spencer Ware touches the ball five to eight times in a blowout, which could allow him to pop a long play into the box score — but that’s obviously a long-shot bet.
RAIDERS PASS OFFENSE
Matchup has hardly mattered this season for this minor-league, dink-and-dunk Raiders passing attack — which has failed to produce even 200 passing yards in four of its last six games, while topping 250 yards zero times in that stretch. The Chiefs play an aggressive, attacking style of defense with a lot of tight man coverage — a setup that allows opponents to attack downfield in this matchup, but that has produced a below-average catch rate. Neither of these elements match up well with a Raiders team that ranks dead last in average intended air yards, with the average pass from Derek Carr traveling an embarrassing 6.3 yards downfield. The Minnesota Vikings have had the best passing touchdown defense this year, allowing only 14 touchdowns to enemy quarterbacks. Derek Carr has essentially turned his average opponent into the Vikings, tossing only 13 touchdown passes all year.
The one bonus for this Raiders passing attack is the fact that they should be chasing points. It’s tough to say how valuable this is after Carr went two for nine last week on passes that traveled 10 or more yards downfield (one week after going three for 11 on such throws).
Seventh round rookie Marcell Ateman has suddenly become the primary pass catcher on this team with Brandon LaFell and Martavis Bryant out of action — seeing 15 targets across the last two weeks, and going 7-66-0 on these looks. Ateman has gone 1-32-0 on his six targets that have traveled 10 or more yards downfield, but he has gone a less embarrassing 6-44-0 on the nine targets that have come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s a dart throw in this spot, but he’s not without upside potential with a chance to connect on something in garbage time.
Jordy Nelson has all but disappeared lately, with zero catches on two targets across his last two games, and with no games since Week 5 above 16 receiving yards. Seth Roberts is a floor play salary-saver for his underneath role in this offense; he’s unlikely to fail at his price, but he’s unlikely to pop for much upside given his role and the struggles of this offense.
This “attack” wraps with Jared Cook, who continues to play around half of the Raiders’ snaps as they attempt to lose games. Cook has seen five or more targets in four of his last five games, giving him some potential to hit — though his attachment to this pathetic offense keeps his floor a bit low, with only one game in his last four above 32 yards.
RAIDERS RUN OFFENSE
The Chiefs have been one of the easiest teams in the NFL to run on — allowing the fourth highest opponent yards per carry and boosting the league-average YPC mark by 13% — but with this team constantly playing with a lead, they have faced the eighth fewest opponent carries in the league.
“Playing from behind” is nothing new for the Raiders, with Doug Martin seeing recent carry counts of 13 // 11 // 15 // 10 // 11 (chipping in an average of two catches for 19 receiving yards in this stretch). On a tanking team with nothing to play for, it won’t be a shock if the veteran sees his snaps dry up one week without warning, but you should be able to comfortably project yet another game with around 50 rushing yards and around 2-20-0 through the air, giving him a thin path to price-considered upside if he scores. Of course, the Raiders have the second fewest touchdowns in the NFL this year.
Behind Martin, DeAndre Washington saw his carries drop last week from 12 to three, while he played only eight snaps.
Jalen Richard continues to dominate pass game work, with four or more targets in nine consecutive games. He has maxed out at eight targets (and has maxed out at 59 receiving yards), making it difficult for him to hit for upside with only four red zone targets and three red zone carries all season; but he should carry decent floor once again in this spot, as the Raiders will have to feed him the ball through the air as they fall behind.
I am not a big fan of the price tags on Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce, but I like all three plays quite a bit from a projection perspective. There is certainly a case to be made for choosing Hill over Gurley or CMC in tourneys, if forced to choose, and there is a case to be made for paying up for Kelce at tight end. With Ebron underpriced this week, he makes more sense — but this should also leave ownership on Kelce a bit thinner than it should be. The likely blowout nature of this game is the only major concern for these three, but they will likely be the cause of the blowout — allowing them to pile up yards and scores before the offense shuts down for the fourth quarter.
I wanted to like Hunt in this matchup more than I do, but his consistently limited volume makes him difficult to bet on from a floor perspective. His touchdown and big-play upside helps him rank among the highest ceilings on the slate, but at his price, he’s more iffy-floor, high-ceiling than he is lock-and-load play.
The Raiders should be trailing in this game, but that has not mattered much for upside in this Raiders passing attack, which matches up poorly with the benefits the Chiefs’ defense provides. If anyone in this passing unit ends up popping this week, Ateman and Cook would be the likeliest candidates — making them worthy large-field tourney darts; though each guy carries an iffy floor, and neither is much more than a “hope and pray” play.
The Raiders’ backfield is largely unattractive, though Richard provides solid price-considered floor (especially on full-PPR sites), while Martin could provide above-average price-considered production with a touchdown. I’ll likely be hunting for higher ceilings myself, but neither guy is a poor play this week.