This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We didn’t get much offense in the first two Week 5 primetime games, but the Vegas lines suggest the Chiefs-Raiders matchup has the chance to pop offensively with a 52.5 total. The Chiefs are 7-point favorites, undoubtedly aided by the venue being Arrowhead Stadium. The lines provide an implied total of 29.5 points for the Chiefs and 22.5 points for the Raiders. If the teams meet those expectations, we should have a lot of avenues to rack up fantasy points.
Patrick Mahomes ($12,000 DK, $17,500 FD) is the driver of the high point total. Unsurprisingly, he is near the top of the leaderboard in efficiency metrics such as yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt. Mahomes’ 7.5 TD pass percentage is a percentage point higher than his career norm and the second highest in the league entering the week (to Lamar Jackson, who saw some of his own touchdown regression Sunday night). That doesn’t make Mahomes a bad play — particularly considering the Raiders enter Monday’s matchup with 22nd best pass defense as measured by DVOA — but it reminds us that there are paths to failure for Mahomes. Unsurprisingly, Mahomes is the highest-priced player on either site, and to roster him as a captain on DK he’ll cost 36 percent of the salary cap. The case for Mahomes is the Chiefs’ offense can be splintered — more on that soon — and by rostering him you are capturing all the upside of the offense without having to pick and choose which player will go off on Monday night. If you use Mahomes as captain, you are hoping a single Chiefs’ skill-position player doesn’t explode for a big performance.
The picture for Derek Carr ($10,200 DK, $15,000 FD) isn’t quite as rosy. Carr entered the season averaging 7.8 yards per attempt across the last three seasons. Through four games this season, he’s averaged 6.7 yards per attempt. It also doesn’t appear to be a situation that is rapidly improving, as Carr worked most efficiently in Week 1 and has fallen off since. There is still a case for him. The Raiders’ receiving corps is going to be at full strength with Hunter Renfrow back in the fold. Carr also averages 38.5 pass attempts per game, the highest mark of his career. The Chiefs have a strikingly similar pass defense to that of the Raiders as measured by DVOA. Carr is priced down compared to Mahomes on DK, but is the second-most expensive overall player on FD. He’s not a bad play, but there’s nothing particularly compelling about playing him either.
A lot was made of Josh Jacobs ($8,800 DK, $12,000 FD) potentially losing his role as the lead back in the Raiders’ backfield. That hasn’t been the case. In Week 4, Jacobs’ usage peaked as he racked up 28 carries as compared to two for Zamir White ($1,400 DK, $6,000 FD). Through the first four weeks, Jacobs has accounted for no less than 76 percent of the carries among the team’s running backs. Even more encouraging is that he has nearly triple the route participation of Brandon Bolden ($2,000 DK, $6,500 FD), a role not many believed Jacobs would maintain coming into the campaign. Jacobs is expensive and could be more popular than a typical week due to his boom performance in Week 4. However, he’s by far the back I’m most interested in rostering across both teams thanks to his secured role. It’s worth mentioning the Chiefs have a strong run defense (fifth in DVOA) and there is some risk that Jacobs will lack volume if the game goes according to the projected script. I have little interest in other backs for Vegas. If I were forced to punt, my choice would be Bolden.
For Kansas City, things get much messier. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($7,400 DK, $12,500 FD) is the leader of the group. He’s relied primarily on efficiency to average 18.9 DK points and 17.3 FD points per game. Like Jacobs, he’s coming off his best game of the season in Week 4, when he tallied 19 carries. Prior, he had a very narrow band of volume, tallying either seven or eight carries in the team’s previous three games. Edwards-Helaire can make up for the likely lack of volume with high-value touches. One of those avenues is through red-zone touches. However, CEH doesn’t dominate the touches there, and he actually lags behind both Isiah Pacheco ($4,800 DK, $7,000 FD) and Jerick McKinnon ($3,000 DK, $6,500 FD) in touches inside the 20. Inside the 5, McKinnon and CEH each have three carries and Pacheco has two. The other area to make up lack of rushing volume is as a pass catcher, and things look up a bit there for CEH. He’s run only four more routes than McKinnon overall, but he’s tied for the team lead in targets inside the 5. For that reason, Edwards-Helaire is a defensible play. That said, if we built rosters based strictly on numbers and projected point-per-dollar value, my strategy would be to either not roster any Chiefs running back or focus on McKinnon, the cheapest on each site.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
It’s not often we start the conversation in this section with tight ends, but that’s the only place to start in Kansas City. Travis Kelce ($10,800 DK, $13,500 FD) has the top target share and air yards share on the team and averages 8.5 targets per game — right in his normal range. He’s maintained elite efficiency, so there’s not a particularly compelling argument against rostering him. The primary choice in most circumstances will be whether to roster Kelce or Davante Adams ($11,400 DK, $14,500 FD), as playing both would present significant challenges in building out the rest of the roster. Adams’ volume has increased since leaving Green Bay (nearly 12 targets per game), but his efficiency has plummeted. Typically, I’m rostering an elite wide receiver over an elite tight end without giving it a second thought. However, unless you believe this is the game the Raiders break out offensively, I would side with Kelce. Check projected roster rates closer to kickoff, but there isn’t likely to be a lot of leverage gained by fading Kelce and play Adams.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,600 DK, $10,000 FD), who is questionable but likely to play, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($5,200 DK, $8,000 FD) have clearly occupied the B and C options in Kansas City offense. Mecole Hardman ($4,600 DK, $7,500 FD) isn’t far behind the duo as measured by routes run but is around 10 percentage points behind each in both air yards and target share. The narrative floating around is that Smith-Schuster is the same receiver he was the last few seasons in Pittsburgh, but the numbers don’t back that. His aDOT, yards per target and yards per route run closely resemble his 2018 campaign with the Steelers. That year, he averaged 18.4 fantasy points per game — the ninth-best fantasy wide receiver in the game. He’s a screaming value. This isn’t a redraft article, but I’m buying him anywhere and in any format I can. MVS is a fine play in a single-game format because he’s the most likely Kansas City receiver to deliver a 60-yard receiving touchdown (or two) and turn the slate on its head. Hardman appears to be preparing for the next Olympic games, as he’s run a lot of sprints without seeing much of the football. He can’t be dismissed as easily as that comment suggests because he can also break a long score, but projections aren’t likely to look kindly upon him. Jody Fortson ($400 DK, $7,000 FD) is a punt play for large-field or winner-take-all type tournaments. He has two targets inside the 5 this season. If he scores a touchdown, he’s a tremendous value automatically on DK.
The Raiders’ receiver corps aside from Adams seems fairly straightforward. Hunter Renfrow ($5,800 DK, $8,500 FD) saw a 21.6 percent target share in his two full games this season. Assuming he’s fully healthy, he’ll step into the second receiver role. His return will ding Mack Hollins ($5,000 DK, $7,500 FD), even though the pairing play different roles in the offense. Playing Hollins is hoping for a long touchdown, in which case I’ll pair my receivers with the better quarterback, meaning I’d play MVS over Hollins. Darren Waller ($7,200 DK, $10,500 FD) has more than six targets in a game once this season. Again, comparing across teams, I’d prefer JuJu from a projection standpoint while not accounting for roster rate or roster build. Keelan Cole ($200 DK, $5,500 DF) likely loses all of his value due to the return of Renfrow, though he’s a notable punt play. Foster Moreau ($800 DK, $5,500 FD) has run 32 routes all season.
Matthew Wright ($4,000 DK, $9,500) will fill in for the injured Harrison Butker. Wright made a pair of field goals in Week 4 — both from more than 30 yards out — and tallied 12 total points. Any time a team has an implied total of 29.5 points, the kicker is a reasonable choice. Daniel Carlson ($3,800 DK, $9,000 FD) has made multiple field goals in every game this season, including three or four in each of his last three games. The Raiders’ offense is less likely to be efficient in terms of finishing drives, so I’d be fine rostering Carlson as well.
Defense and Special Teams
The Chiefs’ offense has allowed two sacks all season and Patrick Mahomes has thrown only two picks. The Raiders ($3,200 DK, $9,000 FD) are an extreme play to just get different in a milly maker-type contest, but there’s no compelling reason on paper to play them.
The Chiefs ($4,200 DK, $9,500 FD) are the clearly preferable option to the Raiders on paper. Las Vegas has allowed 10 sacks this season and Derek Carr has thrown four picks. However, the real draw to the Kansas City defense is if you believe it will have a multi-score advantage. That means Carr will take to the air more, creating more of an opportunity for sacks, fumbles, interceptions and maybe defensive touchdowns. I’m intrigued.
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