It's only Week 8 and the Chiefs of all teams are at risk of watching their 2021 ambitions slip away, their 3-4 record already marking a major disappointment as they return home for this Monday matchup against the Giants. The 2-5 Giants have their own, much bigger issues, both on an organizational level and in terms of the injury report, where many of the team's best offensive players are out (Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay) or questionable (Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton, Johns Ross, Evan Engram). Going to Arrowhead Stadioum isn't the traditional cure for a struggling roster, especially one this beat up, and the spread has accordingly factored this in to the tune of KC -10, the over/under at 52.
Patrick Mahomes ($12000 DK, $17000 FD) has had a perfectly fine season by normal quarterback standards, but last week especially he struggled, and especially relative to his own high standards. Even before Week 6, Mahomes was throwing interceptions at an uncharacteristically high rate, and now he already has nine on the year compared to 'just' 18 touchdowns. Rather than a 2:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, Mahomes is normally a lock to throw four to six times as many touchdowns as interceptions. His struggles speak to structural issues of the Chiefs, but correction is still likely around the corner, and a game like this is as good of a time as any. The Giants defense has struggled this year, and that's the case even though they've played weak offenses in five of their seven games. They conceded 38 points to the Rams and 44 to the Cowboys, and this Chiefs offense is of course closer to that category than that of Denver, Washington, Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina. It's crucial to note that, while the Chiefs are double-digit favorites, it's difficult to imagine them scoring rapidly by the run game. Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnson simply can't do much, so we are potentially looking at a scenario where if the Chiefs cover then Mahomes will almost necessarily have a big game. There's less risk of a vulture with a running game this weak.
Daniel Jones ($10200 DK, $15000 FD) is a total wildcard from week to week, but his high-point games can occur even in unfavorable matchups, so he's a player who always warrants serious consideration on a one-game slate. The offense around him is beaten up – in addition to Saquon Barkley and Golladay already declared out, we don't know the status of Sterling Shepard or Kadarius Toney, both of whom are questionable – but this Chiefs defense is a mess and might leave itself vulnerable to Jones' big-play abilities anyway. It's generally not a good omen when a quarterback has to head to Arrowhead, but Jones might benefit from the travels – his home touchdown to interception ratio is 15 to 19 at just 6.4 yards per pass attempt, while on the road he has 25 touchdowns to seven interceptions at 7.0 yards per attempt. Those numbers will likely even out with time, but for now it's a somewhat jarring divergence between his home and road splits.
Devontae Booker ($8200 DK, $12000 FD) could be busy in this game, especially if the Giants defense plays well enough to keep the run game viable for the offense. Booker has three straight games with more than 50 snaps, and only fullback Eli Penny ($600 DK, $6000 FD) has taken any backfield touches otherwise in the last two games. Penny is somewhat interesting in his own right, especially if the Giants get any goal-line situations to run with, but Booker is a candidate to take almost all of the backfield work for the Giants. If there is any cold or rain during the game then it could boost Booker's workload a bit further. The Chiefs have been awful against the run for years and 2021 appears to mostly be more of the same – so far they're allowing 4.4 yards per carry to opposing backs while conceding a catch rate of 83.0 percent at 7.0 yards per target.
Darrel Williams ($9000 DK, $11500 FD) is the clear leader of the Chiefs backfield as long as Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out, or at least until the Chiefs get impatient with the plodding running of the former LSU backup. Williams and his 4.7 speed don't cut it in the NFL and he doesn't break tackles, but in a showdown slate as the heavy home favorite he's still worth consideration because of the scoring opportunities that might await. Bad as the Chiefs run defense might be, the Giants appear worse, allowing 4.5 yards per carry while allowing 6.7 yards per target on a catch rate of 81.8 percent. The way it works for Williams is a game like Week 6, when he scored twice to make up for otherwise producing just 62 yards on 21 carries. Jerick McKinnon ($1000 DK, $6500 FD) is more explosive and should play around 20 snaps, but his playing time might be capped in that range, and that level of activity yielded just four carries and 10 targets over the last three weeks.
WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS
Tyreek Hill ($11000 DK, $14000 FD) and Travis Kelce ($10600 DK, $13500 FD) need no introduction or explanation – it's always desirable to roster them in a single-game slate. The question of whether a third pass-catching contributor emerges is a subject more worth pondering, though it might be futile just the same trying to guess which of Mecole Hardman ($4800 DK, $7500 FD), Byron Pringle ($2200 DK, $7000 FD), or Demarcus Robinson ($800 DK, $6000 FD) might get the opportunity. Robinson is the weakest receiver but tends to play the most of the three, while the much more explosive Hardman and Pringle are more likely to capitalize on their playing time. Josh Gordon ($300 DK, $5500 FD) is also hanging around and might or might not be a candidate to see more playing time. You would think the Chiefs would give more playing time to Gordon the more desperate they get about Mahomes' struggles. Noah Gray ($200 DK) seems like the second tight end after Kelce and is a candidate to pop up at some point.
The Chiefs defense is a mess, and as mentioned previously, Jones tends to pass better on the road. This could be a setting where multiple Giants players provide good fantasy returns for the price, both because of the opportunity of the setting and their rather modest prices. Sterling Shepard($7000 DK, $11000 FD) and Kadarius Toney ($6800 DK, $8500 FD) have both shown the ability to rake this year, but both are questionable to play, Shepard due to a hamstring and Toney an ankle. They also both line up in the slot – it's not clear who will line up where on what basis if both are able to play. Darius Slayton ($6400 DK, $9000 FD) has a more defined role – he's the fast guy who plays on the boundary and does the distance running. Slayton hasn't played much this year due to injury troubles of his own, but he's quietly been very productive on a per-snap basis (1.42 yards per route, 72nd percentile). Former Washington teammates Dante Pettis ($5000 DK, $8000 FD) and John Ross ($1200 DK, $6500 FD) played 33 and 34 snaps last week, respectively, but Ross was running ahead of Pettis before the injuries hit the Giants wideouts, Ross included. If one of Shepard or Toney is active, then Pettis might disappear again. The same is true of Collin Johnson($400 DK, $5500 FD) – he's an interesting player but might not see much playing time if one or especially if both Shepard and Toney are active.
Evan Engram ($5400 DK, $7000 FD) and Kyle Rudolph ($1800 DK, $5000 FD) are locked in at tight end for the Giants, though Rudolph is mostly a blocker rather than a serious receiving threat. It's been another frustrating season for Engram, but his per-snap usage is relatively high and the Chiefs have been brutalized by tight ends this year, allowing 11.5 yards per target at an 80.0 percent catch rate. It's arguably Engram's most favorable matchup of the year.
Harrison Butker ($4000 DK, $9500 FD) has lost some opportunities due to the struggles of the Chiefs offense, so if the Chiefs offense plays to its customary standards then Butker might be slightly underpriced. As a heavy home favorite with a high-scoring past, Butker seems like a solid showdown consideration, even though he's only hit double-digit fantasy points twice this year, and never exceeding 10 points. Graham Gano ($3800 DK, $8500 FD) is the boot on the other side, and he's had remarkable week to week volatility in 2021. He's nailing his kicks, but his point totals have swung wildly from one game to another – he had one point in Week 1 and 22 in Week 2, for instance. Gano has the less favorable mathup than Butker, but apparently we can't write him off.
Arrowhead can bring out sluggish efforts from opposing offenses, but the Chiefs ($3400 DK) defense has been so busted all of 2021 it's difficult to feel optimistic about their chances. Then again, good road splits or not, Daniel Jones will always be a wild player liable to turn the ball over at a rapid pace in any given sample. If Jones has one of his inexplicable bad days, then the Chiefs could get turnover opportunities. It's a little more difficult to think of a silver lining for the Giants ($2800 DK) defense. They simply haven't played well this year, and for that to change they need the league's best quarterback to have two bad games in a row. Anything is possible, but we're working in the margins of possibility at that point.