Chiefs-Chargers DFS Showdown: Injury and Depth Analysis
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Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Los Angeles to take on Justin Herbert and the Chargers in an AFC West Showdown on Sunday Night Football. Mahomes ranks first in the league in both passing yards and passing touchdowns, averaging a commanding split of roughly 325 yards and 2.75 touchdowns per game. Herbert has not had the same statistical production seasonally, but we know he can compete with Mahomes if a back-and-forth shootout were to ensure. Plus, having all of his weapons back for the first time all season certainly helps.
Austin Ekeler’s fantasy value has skyrocketed recently with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams out. He’s averaged 12 targets per game over the last four weeks, which is frankly absurd, but with Allen and Williams both returning tonight, that’ll likely fall to around 7-8. Isaiah Spiller will be the primary rotational back, but now with Ekeler not seeing as much receiving work Spiller could lose the 5-6 carries we anticipate him seeing. Sony Michel will also be a rotational back, but his workload will be minimal, barring injury.
Isiah Pacheco appears to be Andy Reid’s new RB1, but it is difficult to ever carve anything in stone given how he’s operated his backfield. We don’t anticipate a serious receiving workload, but if the Chiefs control the game, we could see Pacheco’s carries eclipse 12-14. Jerick McKinnon’s RB2 value is evident as he’s been targeted 16 times over the past two weeks, which has a strong chance of staying consistent (with further upside) as the Chiefs’ receiver room is depleted. Clyde Edwards-Helaire only took four snaps last week, so it is hard for us to be bullish on any kind of semi-minimal workload for him tonight.
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both listed as questionable for tonight but are expected to play, marking the first time they’ll both be on the field healthy since the second quarter of the season opener. We’re giving Williams a slight edge as the WR1 as we’re more confident in his injury recovery, limiting any sort of serious snap count, and he’s performed very well in Allen’s absence. Both offer double-digit target upside that could grow higher if this game becomes the shootout many expect. Joshua Palmer will be relinquished to the WR3 role, so we’ll expect around five targets to find his way, but he’s been targeted 30 times over the past three weeks, so don’t completely expect him to be brushed off. DeAndre Carter will be the rotational receiver, but knowing how LA operated last season, Allen-Williams-Palmer will all likely eclipse 80% of the snaps, with Carter only seeing around 20%, producing minimal opportunities.
Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman are both out tonight, elevating Kadarius Toney to the WR1 role in only his third week in Kansas City. Toney produced a dominant stat line of five targets, 57 yards, and a score in only 44% of the snaps last week, so his upside is through the roof with a WR1 snap share and no one around him. Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be the WR2, but he’s only seen 12 targets over the past four weeks, so we’re not ready to tout a serious production increase. Justin Watson saw 73% of the snaps last week but was only targeted once, not giving us much confidence in him either, but the opportunities could be there provided the commanding snap%. We’re still waiting for the Skyy Moore coming out party as he’s only seen seven receptions all season, so given how MVS and Watson have been targeted ahead of him on the depth chart, the opportunities could arise.
Travis Kelce has the highest receiving upside of everyone on the slate and could be in for an even more significant workload if the Kadarius Toney WR1 buzz quickly fades. He has a double-digit target upside while being the most intimidating red zone threat on the field. Noah Gray and Jody Fortson are factors for around three combined targets behind Kelce.
Gerald Everett’s highest volume game this season came back in Week 2 against the Chiefs, where he saw double-digit targets and went for his highest yardage mark of the year. With a full slate of receivers around him again, that feels unlikely to repeat, but he’s a solid weapon capable of seeing several targets. The Chargers’ depth receivers don’t have more than a minimal upside target-wise, but we know how rotational tight ends can kill us on showdown.
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