Well FAmily, we’ve made it. Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is here. We kick off the new year with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. The Chiefs will raise another Super Bowl banner in the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid era before taking on the Detroit Lions, who we shouldn’t sleep on in this matchup. Travis Kelce is Questionable to play after hyperextending his knee during practice on Tuesday while Chris Jones is M.I.A. on the defensive side of the ball as he holds out for a new contract. It’s not the most ideal start for the defending Super Bowl champions so let’s dig into the first NFL DFS Showdown slate of the 2023 NFL season.
Be sure to check out the rest of the NFL DFS Coaches and DFS Watch List throughout the week!
Before we begin, I feel it’s important to reiterate what Howard Bender used to make note of at the beginning of his Showdown playbooks. These slates can be lottery tickets. The standings on DraftKings and FanDuel will change with every single play. And the more skin you have in the game, the greater your chance of winning is. Sure, the Milly Maker is tempting and I’ll have a few tickets as well. But the payout structure is horrendous. I’m the kind of person that loves to max enter the $0.50 Mini Max contest for just $75. But maybe you don’t have that kind of bankroll and that’s perfectly fine! Play a smaller single-entry contest to get exposure and have some fun. Maybe play the $1, 20-max contest. Play within your means and don’t hesitate to take risks to differentiate your NFL DFS showdown lineups. Now with that’s said, let’s finally dive into this slate.
Spread: Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
Weather: Clear skies with temps in the mid-to-high 70’s. Winds likely won’t exceed 10 mph.
- Emmanuel Moseley, Defensive Back – OUT (Knee)
- Isaiah Buggs, Defensive Tackle – Questionable (Illness)
- Ifeatu Melifonwu, Safety – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Frank Ragnow, Center – Probable (Toe/Rest)
- Travis Kelce, Tight End – Doubtful (Knee)
- Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver – Probable (Knee)
- Richie James, Wide Receiver – Questionable (Knee)
- L’Jarius Snead, Defensive Back – Questionable (Knee)
- Tershawn Wharton, Defensive End – Questionable (Knee)
- Nick Allegretti, Guard – Questionable (Pectoral)
- Nic Jones, Defensive Back – Questionable (Hand)
- BJ Thompson, Defensive End – Questionable (BJ Thompson)
Let’s start with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, shall we? Mahomes is awesome in Week 1. How awesome? This is what he’s done in his last five Week 1 games…
That seems pretty good. That’s 308.4 passing yards per game, 3.6 touchdowns per game, and zero interceptions. That kind of stat line would come out to over 27 fantasy points on DraftKings and that’s not accounting for any rushing yards. And we know this guy can scramble as well as he’s averaged 20 rushing yards per game each of the last three seasons with eight rushing touchdowns in that span. Sure, there is concern that his ceiling may be lowered if Travis Kelce is inactive. But he’s still a generational player. He elevates the talent of those around him and he has a pretty good offensive line in front of him. For that reason, I’d also want him in every single lineup of mine whether he’s the captain or not.
Here’s the deal. I am well aware that Kelce hyperextended his knee. I know that he’s trending towards not playing. But the ligaments in his knee are still all together. If he does suit up and plays, do you think he’s going to have a lot of exposure at Captain/MVP given all the hysterics over the last 48 hours regarding his injury status? We’re potentially looking at one of the greatest players of all time at his position and we’d potentially have leverage on him. I’ll spare you the stats because you know why he was a Captain/MVP candidate before the injury. If he suits up and plays, the common DFS player could be nervous to play him in this spot.
This section could be summed up with one word… VOLUUUUUUUUUME. Apologies for the typo, but St. Brown had 146 targets in 16 games last season, which was ninth-most in the NFL. Despite the heavy volume and target share he only had 1,161 receiving yards last year. Sure, that’s good but it is a little underwhelming that he couldn’t do more with the workload. His home/road splits are a little concerning from a year ago as well. He averaged 22.3 fantasy points on DraftKings at home and just 12.7 on the road. But let’s be honest, this game script is perfect for him. The Lions will need to throw the ball to keep pace with the Chiefs and the passing game operates through St. Brown.
It seems a little bold to be listing two injured playmakers for the Chiefs at Captain. But it’s looking more and more likely the Chiefs won’t have Kelce. Toney was at least a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. There’s still the realistic possibility that Toney could get hurt in this game, but we can’t operate like that. I like that he’s trending the right way and I like that there’s this stigma that he can’t stay healthy. Again, that could push exposure at Captain/MVP down. The Chiefs have been very high on Toney as well. Sure, the struggles to stay healthy are well documented. But they lost 135 targets in the offseason with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leaving. And if Kelce’s out, that will open up more targets. Toney had a 24.6% target share on less than 70 routes run in the regular season last year with Kansas City. Personally, I want this upside at Captain and he’s a player I want to be overweight on because of his ceiling and the large workload available.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions
Look I don’t hate Goff at all and he actually has a nice ceiling in this matchup. Historically, quarterbacks could come in around 12-18% rostered at Captan/MVP. That’s fine for Patrick Mahomes, but I don’t want Goff at Captain/MVP in more than 10% of my lineups. So he’s a fine Flex play. He should have to throw enough in this matchup and without Chris Jones on the other side of the ball, the matchup is even better for him. He has plenty of pieces to work with. I don’t think he’s a lock for the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings, but I think he can easily throw three of four touchdowns. If you’re playing Amon-Ra St. Brown at MVP/Captain then you definitely want to correlate the play with Goff at the Flex.
Okay so I can’t include everybody in this game at MVP/Captain. Sure, he didn’t make that section but in my 150 lineups on DraftKings, he’ll make a handful of my lineups at the top of the build. I saw this tweet come across my timeline the other day and it certainly caught my attention…
Gibbs was Detroit’s first-round selection and they liked him enough to move on from D’Andre Swift. If the Lions are going to use him in a role similar to Austin Ekeler then sky’s the limit for this kid and he has a very manageable price tag for such a dynamic player.
I’m going to skip over Isaiah Pacheco. It’s not that I don’t like him, but at the same time there are more explosive options on the Chiefs offense. Pacheco came on strong late in the year with performances of 12-16 fantasy points on DraftKings. That’s good. But at his price tag if that’s going to be his output, then congrats on min cashing. Here’s another tweet, this time from Jacob Gibbs, regarding the status of the Detroit Lions matchup without Chris Jones staring them down on the other side of the ball…
It might actually benefit the Detroit Lions to slow the game down and run the ball down the throat of the Chiefs without Jones. That would certainly suck for DFS if the pace slowed, but there is a path for Montgomery to score multiple touchdowns in this matchup. I don’t like playing both Gibbs and Montgomery in the same lineup. They would both need to pop off for huge performances to be optimal together and I just don’t believe they correlate well in the same build.
Surprisingly, I’m skipping over another Chiefs running back in Jerick McKinnon. I do like McKinnon because he showed more of a ceiling than Isaiah Pacheco last season, but he is behind Pacheco on the depth chart. So, I’ll go to another Chiefs pass catcher that could see more targets if Kelce is out. MVS is no stranger to getting attention from Patrick Mahomes. He had seven games last year with at least six targets. Now that isn’t great but in an offense that had plenty of mouths to feed, that’s not a terrible baseline. And as mentioned previously, there are plenty of targets available for this game. MVS flashed upside against the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs last year with six catches on eight targets for over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions
Sam LaPorta has an opportunity to be a top two target in this offense with Jameson Williams suspended to start the year. He was the Lions second round pick in this year’s draft and by all accounts, he’s ready to make an impact. Will I have some shares at MVP/Captain? Yes, but not a ton. Several people are going to want to jam in the studs at Flex and one way of doing that is going with the likes of MVS, LaPorta, and others listed below. There’s no leverage there. I love LaPorta for season-long and have plenty of shares in Best Ball leagues. But he isn’t a secret commodity anymore. Certainly play him, but I would considering just matching the field’s exposure at best.
Again, Moore’s viable at Captain but I don’t think there’s much leverage there. Similar to LaPorta and MVS he opens up a ton of salary to fit studs in there. You can build a lineup on DraftKings with Skyy Moore at Captain, and you can correlate that with Mahomes. Then you can fit Jared Goff and potentially Goff’s top two targets, while also squeezing in another Chiefs pass catcher in that same lineup. Now I can’t openly give away the lineup, but you can probably figure it out. That build will be played everywhere. It’s not that sneaky. Moore is set for a big season especially if he’s surpassed Kadarius Toney in terms of being Kansas City’s shiny new toy. There’s a great opportunity for him here and he’s a guy that can line up anywhere on the field.
NFL DFS Defense/Special Teams
I’m going to be completely honest; I don’t love playing D/ST’s in this game. That mindset could cost me a big takedown in a GPP. Truthfully, if there’s a defensive or special teams touchdown in this game, it could be optimal. But typically for games with high projected totals, I’m not ecstatic about D/ST’s in Showdown contests. I’m certainly not playing either D/ST at Captain, but both teams are live as Flex plays and at that point you’re just hoping for some sacks and you’re fortunate if there’s a touchdown that goes your way.
NFL DFS Kickers
Kickers, like D/ST’s, don’t really belong in the Captain/MVP spot. You already gain a ton of leverage in Showdown contests if you keep Kickers and D/ST’s away from the top of your lineup(s). In a Showdown slate with so many high-scoring threats, I don’t see the point in rostering a Kicker atop the lineup. Now you should absolutely correlate your Kicker if you have a teammate like a wider receiver or quarterback at Captain. Perfectly fine Flexing these guys for Showdowns, but this doesn’t feel like the game to plug them in at Captain/MVP.
NFL DFS Dart-Throw Bargains
It’s really going to boil down to inactives 90 minutes before the game. I’ve seen some tweets suggesting the Chiefs could dress seven wide receivers, which would be bonkers. But that would likely mean Rice is active. He made some noise early in camp and had some nice connections with Mahomes. Similarly, Justyn Ross can be considered as a Flex option if he’s active as well and he’s far more affordable.
CEH had a good start to last season with five touchdowns in the first four games of the season. Now he is third on the depth chart, but he’s still pretty affordable on DraftKings. If he catches fire or falls in the end zone he could be helpful as a Flex option.
Earlier in the article I skipped over Marvin Jones. Jones is okay and I won’t talk you off of playing him if you really like him. But Reynolds has a rapport with Goff dating back to their time in Los Angeles and he’s much more affordable than Jones. Don’t forget there was a three-game stretch last season where Reynolds had 28 targets prior to getting hurt. Give Kalif Raymond some consideration as well. He’s $800 on DraftKings and had seven games with at least five targets last season and had ten games with at least seven fantasy points on DraftKings. Is he buried in the depth chart? Sure, that’s why he’s $800 but he should get some snaps and could be productive.
Gray’s the easy low-hanging fruit to grasp if Kelce is inactive. He won’t command the same target share as Kelce but he did catch 31 of 38 targets last season and could get three or four looks in this game. Blake Bell is a bare minimum DFS option to consider as well.
If the field is looking to Blake Bell, I will go to Justin Watson. And that’s if I’m desperate for a $200 play on DraftKings. Watson probably gets two targets in this game. But he’s familiar with this offense ahead of guys like Richie James, Rashee Rice, and Justyn Ross. I’m not dying to lock him into my builds but there’s immense salary relief here and if any names like James, Rice, or Ross are inactive then I’m fine throwing some extra love to Watson even though he’s not quite top three on the depth chart.