Mike Fanelli | October 17th, 2019
Last week’s Thursday night game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was a closer game than many expected, at least till the fourth quarter. Eventually, the Patriots won 35-14 as the defense scored two touchdowns to match Tom Brady‘s two rushing touchdowns. While the game wasn’t full of fantasy points, Golden Tate and Julian Edelman joined Brady and the Patriots D/ST as the only players to score more than 14 fantasy points in the game. Hopefully, tonight’s game offers more big-time fantasy scorers.
I did a good job last week. As expected the Giants’ offense struggled to score fantasy points. Tate scored 22.2 but no other Giants’ player scored more than seven points. Meanwhile, thanks to a big run towards the end of the game, Sony Michel scored 13.3 fantasy points and James White scored 13.5 fantasy points. Both guys finished as low-end RB2s for the week as I predicted. Edelman was the only Patriots’ wide receiver to play as Josh Gordon injured his knee and didn’t return to the game. Once again the Patriots D/ST did their job, scoring 28 fantasy points, the 11th highest score among all players from last week. In the end, I had a good week with my projections for last week, how will I do this week? Probably awful but let’s find out.
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback – Patrick Mahomes
Let’s not overthink this. Yes, Mahomes has been in a funk (at least his standards) over the last three weeks, scoring under 19 fantasy points in each game. The Chiefs have lost two straight (mostly because of the defense) but no one should worry about Mahomes. He is still the QB4 on the season in four-point passing touchdown scoring and has thrown three or more touchdowns in 67% of his games this season. Meanwhile, the Broncos have won two games in a row, in large part thanks to their defense. They have held Philip Rivers plus the duo of Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill to a total of 7.4 fantasy points during their winning streak, but none of those guys are Mahomes.
In two games against the Broncos last year, Mahomes scored 26 and 22.9 fantasy points. That Broncos’ team had Bradley Chubb available but he is done for the year with a knee injury. There is a fair chance Mahomes doesn’t score more than his 23.7 fantasy point average tonight but given his upside and the return of Tyreek Hill, Mahomes is still a top-five quarterback this week despite the tough matchup on paper.
Running Back – LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams
Over the last few weeks, the Kansas City backfield has been confusing. First off, the Chiefs have run the ball just 18 times over the last two weeks. To furthermore make this backfield unpleasant, both Damien Williams and McCoy are averaging 10.7 fantasy points per game. Of the trio, Darrel Williams is clearly third on the depth chart. Let’s take a look at him first.
Last week verse the Texans, Darrel had just one catch for 52 yards and played just seven snaps (12%). He has yet to play more than 22% of the snaps in any game Damien Williams is active. During the preseason many thought he was an afterthought with draft darling Darwin Thompson being thought as the challenger to Damien Williams. Then on top of that, the Chiefs gave McCoy a $3 million dollar signing bonus days after he was cut by the Buffalo Bills. Unless McCoy or Damien gets hurt, Darrel belongs on the waiver wire; both for tonight and the rest of the season.
Between Damien Williams and McCoy, both running backs offer the potential to have a big day. However, that only comes at the expense of the other. Despite missing two games with an injury, Williams has played just nine fewer snaps than McCoy this season. Last week Williams had nine fantasy points compared to McCoy’s 6.4 fantasy points. However, McCoy played 50% of the snaps and had 10 touches, while Williams played 38% of the snaps but just two touches. The difference is Williams got a touchdown while McCoy didn’t.
Touchdown wise, McCoy (three) has one more than Williams (two) but has played in two more games this season. For the rest of the season, both guys are risky flex options unless one of them can separate themselves from the other and take over as the featured starter. However, if the Chiefs only run the ball nine times a game as they have done during their two-game losing streak, neither back has any fantasy value.
For tonight’s game, the Broncos give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. However, that number is a little inaccurate. Before last week’s game against the Titans (where the Titans offense was a disaster), the Broncos have given up at least 29.6 fantasy points to running backs in three straight games. Furthermore, they have given up 16.5 fantasy points per game to running backs in the air during that span. Both running backs have 13 catches this year and whichever can get more touches in the passing game will likely have the better game.
Both running backs are flex options this week for me and I don’t feel good starting either. If I had to pick which to play, I would go with McCoy as he played more snaps and had more touches last week but I would much rather stay away from this backfield for now.
Wide Receiver – Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson
Watkins has been ruled out for tonight’s game with a hamstring injury. Given that he missed last week with the injury and the short week, Watkins was a long shot to play tonight. Of course, no one is surprised to see Watkins missing games because of injury. With Watkins out, the duo of Hardman and Robinson will see an increased workload. Last week Hill played the least amount of snaps of the group (50%) but was on a snap count as he hadn’t played since week one. I fully expect him to return to his normal snap percentage tonight.
Despite a tough matchup, Hill is a must-start. He is too talented and can produce fantasy points in too many ways to be left on the bench. However, I would stay away from Hardman and Robinson. Last week both guys got four targets but Robinson caught zero of them while Hardman caught all four. Hardman had 8.5 fantasy points while Robinson had zero. However, Robinson led all wide receivers, playing 86% of the snaps. If the matchup was better I would consider Robinson and Hardman high risk, high reward WR3/flex options but this week both belong on the bench and maybe even the waiver wire. However, in DFS I would consider taking a shot on Hardman as he is $1,500 cheaper than Robinsonon DraftKings and has more big-play upside.
The Broncos have given up the fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season, giving up 8.4 fewer points than the league average. Furthermore, the Broncos have given up just two touchdowns to wide receivers this year and haven’t given up a touchdown since week three. On top of that, the Broncos have yet to give up the league average (33.8 fantasy points) to wide receivers this season. In fact, they have held wide wide receivers under 27.5 fantasy points in 67% of their games this season.
Finally, over their two-game winning streak, the Broncos have given up just 22 catches for 111 yards, no touchdowns and 43.1 fantasy points to wide receivers. Other than Hill, I am not starting any other Chiefs’ wide receiver in standard size season long leagues. In larger size leagues, I would consider playing Hardman but would be praying for a blown coverage or a big play downfield.
Tight End – Travis Kelce
Again, let’s not overthink this. Despite Kelce scoring 11 or fewer fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, he is still the TE3 for the season. While Kelce has just one touchdown this season, he has at least eight targets in five of six games. In the two games against the Broncos last season, Kelce scored just under 14 fantasy points in both contests. Meanwhile, the Broncos have given up around the league average per game to tight ends but have yet to face an elite tight end this season. Usually, teams play better at home but the Broncos are giving up 4.9 more fantasy points per game to tight ends at home than they are on the road. Kelce may not be the top-scoring tight end this week but he is still a must-start this week.
Let’s make this short and sweet. The Chiefs D/ST is the 26th rank D/ST in the league, averaging 3.5 fantasy points per game. They have scored less than three fantasy points in 67% of their games this season. The Chiefs have given up 26 or more points in 67% of their games this season. Despite the positive matchup against the Broncos offense, there are zero reasons why the Chiefs D/ST should be on your roster, let alone in your starting lineup.
Quarterback – Joe Flacco
While the Broncos are winning, Flacco isn’t the reason why. Over their two-game winning streak, Flacco has 13 total fantasy points. For the season, Flacco has scored under 16 fantasy points in five of six games and less than nine fantasy points in half of his games. Rumors are out there that once Drew Lock is ready to come off injured reserve, the Broncos will bench Flacco for him. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant; Flacco isn’t a top 25 fantasy quarterback. While the Chiefs give up the eighth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, Flacco is still outside my top 20 quarterbacks this week and is only an option in deeper super-flex leagues. At $12,000 on DraftKings, I’m leaving Flacco out of my DFS lineups tonight as well.
Running Back – Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman
This duo is the strength of the Broncos’ offense. Lindsay is the RB13 and Freeman is the RB26 for the season. Both guys are averaging over 10 fantasy points per game and have played at least 45% of the snaps in every game this season. Lindsay is the top dog but Freeman is right on his heels. During the Broncos’ two-game winning streak, Freeman has out-snapped Lindsay 71-57, however, Lindsay is out-touched Freeman 36-31 in those two games. This backfield isn’t a true 50-50 split but both guys have strong fantasy value.
Rarely am I fan of starting two running backs on the same team but if you own both Lindsay and Freeman on your team, tonight is the night to start both. The best chance the Broncos have to win this game is to do what the Colts did two weeks ago; run the ball down the Chiefs’ damn throat. The Colts held a 37-23 minute advantage in time of possession in that game because the Colts ran the ball on 61% of their plays. If the Broncos can do similarly, they have a real shot of winning this game.
The Chiefs give up the 10th most fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up 26.6 per game. However, over the last four weeks, they have given up an average of 32.4 per game and four rushing touchdowns. One interesting note, Lindsay has three games this season with 15.5 or more fantasy points while Freeman has none. I would start both running backs tonight and expect 15 plus fantasy points from both guys. However, despite playing fewer snaps this season, Lindsay has more upside. I view Lindsay as a high end RB2 with a chance to finish as a top-five guy while Freeman is a low-end RB2 this week. Fire up both backs and watch the Chiefs defense struggle to stop them.
Wide Receiver – Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, DaeSean Hamilton
Quietly, Sutton is the WR12 this season, scoring 11.5 or more fantasy points in five of six games this season. He has three touchdowns over the last three weeks and has gotten at least seven targets in every game this season. Without a doubt, he is the Broncos’ WR1. Sutton may not be a must-start every week but given the matchup against the Chiefs, he is a must-start tonight.
Sanders only played 40% of the snaps last week as he left the game early with a knee injury but is expected to play tonight. After starting the year with back-to-back games of 19.5 or more fantasy points, Sanders has been a disappointment over the last four games, scoring a total of 21.3 fantasy points. However, if the rumors out there are true and the Broncos are shopping Sanders, tonight’s game is the perfect opportunity to show him off and increase his trade value. Sanders is a high-end WR3/flex option this week who has the upside to finish as a top 15 wide receiver given the matchup. With Kendall Fuller out for tonight’s game, I like Sanders even more.
Does anyone know how many wide receivers have scored more fantasy points than Hamilton this season? The answer is 101. Hamilton has no fantasy value and should be on the waiver wire. I would not start him tonight and at $7,000 on DraftKings I rather spend my money elsewhere. However, with the trade deadline 12 days away, fantasy owners with a deeper bench should grab Sanders off the waiver wire in the event that Sanders is traded. Hamilton has played 62% or more of the snaps in 67% of the games this season. He is getting on the field (as the Broncos lack depth at wide receiver), just not seeing a lot of targets. If Sanders is traded that should change, but if Sanders is still on the roster once the deadline passes, drop Hamilton without thinking twice.
Tight End – Noah Fant
I had high hopes for Fant entering the season but like usual, rookie tight ends fail to be fantasy relevant. Fant is the TE26 on the season, averaging just 5.5 fantasy points per game. He has scored more than 7.5 fantasy points just once this season and that was the game he scored his only touchdown of the year. Meanwhile, the Chiefs give up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends, giving up 15.8 per game. They have given up 17 or more fantasy points to tight ends in 67% of their games this season. Despite the matchup, Fant is just outside my top 18 tight ends this week and I would only play him in DFS lineups tonight but not in season-long leagues. I hope I’m wrong here but I don’t trust him right now.
After scoring a total of two fantasy points over the first four games of the season, the Broncos D/ST has scored 31 fantasy points over their two-game winning streak. Furthermore, they had five sacks on the season entering week six but had seven against the Titans. However, despite their impressive two-week stretch, a Mahomes led Chiefs offense is far and away better than the Chargers or Titans offense. Even with Mahomes’ “slump”, there is no reason why anyone should start the Broncos D/ST this week.
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