Here’s a breakdown of the Thursday Night Football one-game DFS slate featuring the Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) at the Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) that kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network, FOX and Amazon Prime.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Spencer Ware (doubtful, shoulder) looks like he won’t be able to go, making Damien Williams a top value as a home favorite running back facing a defense that doesn’t play the run as well as the pass (16th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA vs. the run, ninth vs. the pass).
- Even with Tyreek Hill (wrist, heel) banged up and Travis Kelce in a tough matchup (Chargers rank first in DVOA vs. tight ends), our DK Showdown Models like Patrick Mahomes as the top ceiling play on DraftKings, where his league-leading 330.8 passing yards per game and 18.2 rushing yards per game make him a better bet for the 3-point bonus than Philip Rivers (279.8, 0.5), though both passers are neck-and-neck for the top ceiling on FanDuel.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Like Williams, Justin Jackson enters a featured role due to injuries as Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are set to miss this game. The rookie is still among the top values on DraftKings even though he’s been priced up to $6,800 but he’s an even better play on FanDuel at $8,000 ($2,500 less than Williams). Also like Williams, Jackson will be up against a defense better against the pass (15th in DVOA) than the run (32nd).
- I already mentioned Rivers is a top-two ceiling play on FanDuel, but it’s his go-to guy Keenan Allen who is in the No. 2 spot for DraftKings. Allen has at least five catches and 60 yards in 11-of-13 games this season.
Roster Construction Notes
- Mahomes’ fantasy production has had a strong positive correlation with the opposing quarterback this season (0.73 correlation coefficient). There’s also been a positive correlation between Rivers’ and the opposing passer, but to a lesser degree (0.42).
- Mahomes has had a negative correlation with Hill (-0.18) but a positive correlation with his No. 2 receiver (0.73), Kelce (0.63) and his top running back (0.61). Hill’s tendency to rattle of chunk gains can at times result in him hogging fantasy production from his teammates. Case in point: Hill and both the team’s No. 2 wide receiver (-0.31) and Kelce (0.25) have also seen a slight negative correlation.
- Allen has been positively correlated with the opponent’s quarterback (0.31), top running back (0.47) and top wide receiver (0.28).
- Rivers has been positively correlated to his wide receivers, but negatively correlated to his team’s top running back and tight end. If the Chargers are smart, though, the reverse might end up true for this matchup, as the Chiefs rank 28th in DVOA against both running backs and tight ends but third and eighth against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers, respectively.
Cash Game Strategy
Going with Williams in the Captain spot lets you get in an extra stud alongside both quarterbacks and Jackson. The top projected combination is Allen and the Chargers’ No. 2 running back, Detrez Newsome, with Hill-Mike Badgley after that.
You can comfortably fit in Mahomes, Rivers, Williams, and Jackson with $8,500 to spare. Badgley has scored 9-17 FanDuel points in six of his seven games this season and is the top projected player in our Models available at that salary or below.
- Williams’ Captain salary even after the 1.5x premium is just $6,000. He has an edge of more than four points over any other player on the slate in Captain Projected Plus/Minus.
- With the matchup in his favor and potential for a heavy workload, Jackson has a top-three projected ceiling among non-quarterbacks on both sites.
- Among non-quarterbacks, Hill’s and Kelce’s ceilings rank second and tied for third on DraftKings. On FanDuel, Hill is No. 2 and Kelce is No. 5.
- Mahomes-Williams-Rivers-Allen: Plays off the opposing correlations of each quarterback and his top running back — positive for Mahomes, negative for Rivers — as well as the fact home favorites tend to dominate on Thursday Night Football, covering the spread at a 70% clip over the past three seasons and 62.5% since 2003 (per Bet Labs).
- Williams-Chiefs DST (on DraftKings): Also plays on the home-favorite Thursday trend, as well as the under going 29-16-1 in Arrowhead in the Andy Reid-Bob Sutton era, per Bet Labs.
- When you have unproven running backs stepping into large roles for the first time, it’s natural to expect their backups to be involved. Newsome is a top-three value in terms of Projected Plus/Minus, Charcandrick West has a positive Projected Plus/Minus as well. Darrel Williams could also be involved after running ahead of West last week.
- Tyrell Williams ran 31 routes to Mike Williams’ 20 and Travis Benjamin’s 10 last week at wide receiver, while Antonio Gates ran 14 and Virgil Green ran 13 at tight end. Mike (23%) has a slight edge over Tyrell (20%) in air-yard share, but Benjamin’s 23.5 average depth of target also gives you good bang for the buck, especially at a salary of just $800 on DraftKings.
- In the games Sammy Watkins (out, foot) missed all or most of, Chris Conley is second on the team in receiving touchdowns (3), third in target share (13%) and tied with Demarcus Robinson for third in air-yard share (13%). The Chargers have not slowed down tight ends in general, but also Kelce in particular, holding him to stat lines of 1-6-0, 6-46-0 and 1-1-0 in their last three matchups, and with second-year corner Michael Davis continuing to fill in for Trevor Williams (knee) while top corner Casey Hayward is likely to follow Hill, Conley and/or Robinson could play a major role for Andy Reid’s offense Thursday.
Let’s get this shmoney!
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Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network and a co-host of “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.
Pictured above: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15)
Photo credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports