top of page

Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Chiefs vs. Chargers

The Week 1 Thursday night game was a bit of a dud, but (knock on wood) this showdown between the Chiefs and Chargers will hopefully make for a more even match than the Rams versus Buffalo did. Arrowhead Stadium generally drags down visiting offenses and often brings out the worst in visiting quarterbacks, but there are two quarterbacks who are seemingly immune to Arrowhead's effects and they're both playing in this game. Patrick Mahomes of course has no trouble taking care of business at home, but Justin Herbert is on quite an Arrowhead tear himself with 583 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions passing, not to mention one rushing touchdown. The over/under is down slightly from its opening line (54.0 -> 53.5) and the spread has grown from KC -3.5 to KC -4.5.


It's concerning for Justin Herbert ($11200 DK, $16000 FD) that Keenan Allen (hamstring) will miss this game, especially since Allen raced to four catches for 66 yards on four target and just 21 snaps before suffering his injury in Week 1. This is not the first time Herbert has played in Arrowhead without Allen, though – Allen missed the Week 17 game in Arrowhead in 2020, and in that game the rookie Herbert completed 22 of 31 pass attempts for 302 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for a fourth touchdown. It doesn't offset the loss of Allen, but the Chiefs will be without standout rookie first-round pick Trent McDuffie, so the Chiefs aren't at full strength either. Still, Herbert needs Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer to step up and produce better than they did in Week 1, when they combined for five catches for 15 yards on eight targets.

Patrick Mahomes ($11800 DK, $17000 FD) will surely be a popular pick after a memorably dominant Week 1 showing in Arizona. The Chargers might be without CB1 J.C. Jackson (ankle) again, in which case Mahomes would catch the Chargers well short of full strength. Between JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mahomes has the targets to strike all parts of the field, and that might be a tough depth test for the Chargers corners. As long as the Chiefs can manage the intimidating edge rush of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, Mahomes has the tools to get to work in this one.


Austin Ekeler ($10200 DK, $16500 FD) is arguably the league's most dangerous pass-catching threat at running back, so that could make him a big deal with Allen's absence. The offense depends on Allen for huge target volume, but if Palmer can't claim all of Allen's typical usage then there might be additional targets for Ekeler to claim – even above his already very high baseline projection. The Chiefs have generally contained Ekeler in recent matchups, but his high usage makes it difficult to truly stop him. Sony Michel ($3000 DK) and Joshua Kelley ($1600 DK, $8000 FD) played 16 snaps each in Week 1, with Michel getting two red-zone carries but with Kelley proving more effective from scrimmage generally. Kelley also might be more likely to see passing down snaps than Michel. Isaiah Spiller ($200 DK, $8500 FD) is on the outside looking in for now. Fullback Zander Horvath ($800 DK, $5000 FD) won't get predictable usage but he has a strong from-scrimmage skill set by fullback standards.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($8600 DK, $11500 FD) was huge in Week 1 and will look to keep the momentum rolling against a Chargers defense that struggled to contain running backs in 2021. More specifically, the Chargers were competent against running back pass catchers but got mauled in the ground game. Isiah Pacheco ($4400 DK, $6000 FD) was impressive in his NFL debut and could pose a big-play threat if the Chargers get sloppy with their gap defense. Jerick McKinnon ($2600 DK, $7500 FD) played the remaining snaps in Week 1 while Ronald Jones($1000 DK, $8000 FD) was a healthy scratch. It seems that Pacheco will get most of the carries that Edwards-Helaire does not, and McKinnon will mostly work in passing situations. Fullback Michael Burton ($200 DK, $6000 FD) rarely plays and gets the ball less often yet. WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS Mike Williams ($9000 DK, $13000 FD) was invisible in Week 1 but it would be almost inconceivable for him to post another dud here, especially with Keenan Allen out. Curiously, Williams has scored and gone over 100 receiving yards in each of his last two trips to Arrowhead. The Chiefs will be without one of their top corners in rookie first-round pick Trent McDuffie, which will likely force the Chiefs to give more playing time to rookies Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams. In addition to Williams the Chargers will need to lean more than usual on wideouts Joshua Palmer($5000 DK, $7500 FD), the primary Allen replacement, and ostensible big-play threat DeAndre Carter ($4600 DK, $7500 FD). They also have Jalen Guyton ($1200 DK, $7500 FD) hanging around, but he played just five snaps in Week 1 after playing 580 snaps in 2021. If Guyton plays more in this game he's liable to be left with the downfield decoy routes. Tight end Gerald Everett($4800 DK, $8500 FD) was big in Week 1 and might need to keep it up here, especially with fellow tight end Donald Parham out. Tre McKitty ($400 DK, $5000 FD) is also a candidate to play upwards of 40 snaps at tight end, though the former Georgia product has no history of extended pass-catching production. While Derwin James got the better of him at times last year, Travis Kelce ($11000 DK, $15000 FD) will look to maintain his momentum after a fast start in Week 1. Kelce might be thought of as the de facto WR1 in this offense despite the tight end title. JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8000 DK, $12500 FD) seems to have a safe lead among the wide receivers in name, and he's in position to pick up steam after a steady but restrained Week 1 effort (six catches for 79 yards on eight targets and 43 snaps). Smith-Schuster is a candidate to play closer to 60 snaps in this one, making him a candidate for double-digit targets. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($6400 DK, $10000 FD) actually led the Chiefs wide receivers in Week 1 snaps, uncharacteristically catching all four of his targets on 49 reps. Mecole Hardman ($5600 DK, $8000 FD) was busy on his 36 snaps, drawing six targets at a 14.0-yard average depth of target. Skyy Moore ($1800 DK, $6500 FD) is a tantalizing prospect but only played 13 snaps in Week 1 – less than even Justin Watson ($200 DK, $6500 FD), who played 14 snaps against the Cardinals. The Chiefs even have two capable pass-catching tight ends in backups Jody Fortson ($600 DK, $5500 FD) and Noah Gray ($200 DK, $5500 FD). Gray was targeted only twice but played a whopping 36 snaps in Week 1, while the more wideout-like Fortson played 22 snaps. Fortson has emerged as something of a goal-line specialist for the Chiefs. KICKERS Harrison Butker (ankle) is out, leaving the Chiefs with Matt Ammendola ($4000 DK, $9500 FD) at kicker. Ammendola has a history of good accuracy from short range, but he hasn't demonstrated the ability to kick from beyond that. Unless he's a fundamentally different kicker at this point then it's not so easy to see how he rakes up the fantasy points, at least not on the basis of range. Dustin Hopkins ($3800 DK, $9000 FD) kicks for the road dog and isn't any long-range shooter himself, but Hopkins has still demonstrated more range than Ammendola and might be more reliable from short range, too. DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS As previously noted, Arrowhead is normally a great venue to fade the visiting quarterback, but the rule has so far made a dramatic exception for Herbert. The Kansas City DST ($3600 DK, $9000 FD) might not be especially popular as a result, and perhaps with good reason. The Chiefs defense appears improved from 2021, and the absence of Allen could prove important, so if they surprise in this setting it could be for those reasons. The Chargers DST ($3200 DK, $9000 FD) comes across even more unfavorably, for they are the road underdogs. If the Chargers defense shocks everyone it would probably be due to a heroic effort from Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, who certainly made for an intimidating tandem in Week 1. The Chargers are thin at cornerback, though, and the Chiefs are about to test every bit of that depth.

21 views0 comments


bottom of page