KC (27.75) @ LAC (24.75)
Thursday Night Football games tend historically to be pretty bad. Still, we get a really nice one this week between two exciting teams in a divisional matchup. Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs come into LA as three-point road favorites over the Chargers. This one has a high total and a lot of potential for an offensive shootout. Let’s dig into the game.
Kansas City Chiefs Overview
The Chiefs will face a Chargers team around the middle of the pack in defensive DVOA. Yet they rank as the worst in football against the rush. This is partially by design as their defensive scheme prioritizes keeping the big play in check. Still, this should be considered when we look at how to attack them with KC pieces.
Mahomes is, of course, a beast and the highest projected player on the slate. It should be a priority to get him into your lineups if you can afford him and still make them leveraged enough for large-field GPPs. He should be close to 70% owned overall and the highest-owned captain. There is some game theory merit to making lineups without him or at least without him in the captain spot, but it is a considerable risk.
The Chiefs’ passing game is easy to suss out, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce being the primary targets. Both will be popular, and Hill is very expensive. Rostering Hill and Mahomes, particularly in the captain slot, prohibits you from doing great things with the rest of your lineup. After failing to be the force of nature he has been over the last few years so far in 2021, Kelce’s price has really come down, and he is too cheap at just $8,600. I expect him to be a prevalent play at this price. One can always take a shot on an ancillary receiving piece like Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, or Mecole Hardman, but these are dart throws at best. Outside of Pringle, they should at least be very low-owned.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams share the work in the Kansas City backfield, although CEH is the number one. Both are priced well, with Williams offering low-priced value at just $3,200 and CEH at $7,000 as a starting running back against this Chargers porous run defense.
Yet, due to the timeshare, it doesn’t appear that either is actually all that high-owned. Both are coming in at sub-30% projected ownership at the moment, which is honestly surprising. I do expect to see it creep up by game time, but if it stays anywhere near there, I’d like to be over the field on these guys. I would even play both in the same lineup to embrace the negative correlation that many DFS players tend to avoid to get different in big GPPs. They are both priced well enough to exceed their respective values in the same game, even sharing touches.
Neither defense in this game should get much ownership, nor should the kickers. The Chiefs DST and Harrison Butker are good ownership-based options at friendly price points.
Los Angeles Chargers Overview
Kansas City has settled in as a middle-of-the-road defense after getting off to a rough start. Their rush and pass defense are about equal, so there is no clear way to exploit it by focusing on one or the other.
Justin Herbert projects pretty similarly to Patrick Mahomes, yet he is considerably cheaper at just $10,800. He should also come in at somewhat lower ownership. If I’m only playing one quarterback, I might actually prioritize Herbert. Especially since there is a likelihood that the Chargers’ defense keeps Kansas City on the ground.
Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will be popular choices in the Chargers’ passing game. While their ownership projections look similar at the moment, I would not be surprised to see Williams higher owned than Allen, considering that he comes at a $2,000 discount. There could be some leverage in prioritizing Allen. I don’t mind using both with Herbert and playing a Chargers passing game-heavy build. Tight end Jared Cook should get relatively low ownership, and he is not a bad option if he is sub-20% owned at $5,400. You could consider Jalen Guyton and Joshua Palmer as fringe dart throws for savings and differentiation in large-field GPPs.
Austin Ekeler is always in play for his immense ceiling. He is a massive part of both the passing and running game and pairs fine with Justin Herbert. He is not cheap on this slate at $10,200, and it won’t be easy to fit him in with the other studs. He comes into Thursday with a questionable tag, although it sounds like he is on track to suit up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ownership somewhat depressed due to people prioritizing Mahomes/Hill/Herbert. Although he’ll undoubtedly be owned, he would be a player I would like to prioritize as a spend-up in tournaments.
Dustin Hopkins should go low-owned as a kicker in a game expected to go off offensively. The Chargers DST is highly contrarian and only $3,000. Playing the Chargers DST may not be optimal, but I don’t mind it at all as a contrarian choice, and the savings help you elsewhere in your lineups.
The majority of the field will prioritize Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game. Despite the Chargers being very susceptible to the run and Justin Herbert being a steal over Mahomes. My favorite GPP approach is to go with an LA passing stack and focus on the Chiefs’ running game to get different while still being logical with the build.