We close out the weekend with a Sunday Night Football matchup between the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, as they head to the Meadowlands to face the New York Jets. It’s obviously a bit of a bummer that Aaron Rodgers won’t play in this game. Obviously, this game has turned into a bit of a circus. The Jets are awful (per usual), but the NFL has to be thankful that Taylor Swift is in attendance because that’ll still draw the attention of her fans and bring eyes to the matchup. As far as the on-field product? Look, it’s probably going to be awful. But we still have a game to preview and there’s money to be made. So let’s sit back and look at how to approach this Sunday Night Football matchup for our NFL DFS showdown lineups.
For what it’s worth, this has been my least favorite Showdown Playbook to cover so far this year. The Aaron Rodgers injury really sucked the fun out of this game and I don’t even know if I’ll watch. The projected total is low and the Chiefs are big favorites. It’s almost insane how awful this game could be. Normally I build my Showdown lineups going 3-3 or 4-2 in most builds. That means three players from one team and three players from the other. Or four players from one team and two from the opponent. This is the kind of game that could be so one-sided that we likely see a hefty amount of 5-1 lineups. You have to play at least one player from each team so I expect most of the field to stack Chiefs and squeeze in one Jets player that they can get any production out of (hello there, Tyler Conklin). I’m likely doing one lineup and calling it a day because this game just doesn’t do very much for me.
Spread: Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
Over/Under: 41.5 points
Weather: Clear skies with temps in the high 60’s/low 70’s but cooling off as the evening progresses. Winds likely will never exceed more than 10mph.
- Nick Bolton, Linebacker – OUT (Ankle)
- Chris Jones, Defensive End – Probable (Groin)
- Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver – Probable (Toe)
- Jaylen Watson, Defensive Back – OUT (Shoulder)
NFL DFS MVP/Captain
I mean… Is a write-up even necessary for this guy? He’s the best quarterback in the league. He elevates the talent of those around him. The last two weeks we’ve seen him put up 25 fantasy points on DraftKings which almost feels like his floor. The concern I have is if this game gets out of hand. But even then, if a large enough lead is built up, you expect Mahomes to have done plenty of damage. 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns are both on the table in this matchup, but this may be a matchup where the Chiefs don’t try to humiliate their opponent given the circumstances surrounding their quarterback situation.
We follow up the best quarterback in the league with arguably the best tight end in the league. We haven’t seen Kelce go nuclear yet. However, through two games he has 11 receptions on 17 targets for just 95 yards. He’s at least scored a touchdown in each of the two games he was active. We know he’s capable of a big performance and with his girlfriend generating buzz for being in the stands in this matchup, we have to think there will be emphasis on Mahomes featuring his prized tight end as much as possible. A multiple touchdown performance would likely mean he’s in the optimal lineup, potentially at Captain.
If I was to play any Jets player at Captain it might be Wilson. And most of his production may not come until later in the game. As bleak as it looks for the Jets, they still have some talented players. They just don’t have any good options at quarterback. But Wilson has 17 targets in his last two games. The downside is that he only has seven receptions in that span. You’re really hoping he can make some highlight reel catches in this game. I don’t love him at Captain but we know most Showdown lineups will feature either Kelce or Mahomes at Captain so it doesn’t hurt to be different. Now the big concern is that he’ll likely be shadowed by L’Jarius Sneed and in Week 2, Sneed limited Calvin Ridley to just two catches for 32 yards. Last week, DJ Moore was able put post three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown while Sneed shadowed him. The Chiefs have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and with Wilson running most of his routes on the perimeter, it’s likely he gets Sneed’s attention.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
I never know what to do with Pacheco. I feel like he’s a solid RB2 in season-long leagues. But how does that translate to DFS? Unless he gets multiple touchdowns he’s probably better suited as a Flex play. He’ll see at least a dozen touches but we really need him to score here. The game script could potentially benefit him if the Chiefs get a big enough lead then they could just as easily hand it off to him to kill the clock. The Jets have given up 291 yards on the ground the last two weeks, but despite the shortcoming of the defense they haven’t allowed a touchdown to an opposing running back this year. That could change this week, but the Jets also don’t miss too many tackles. Pacheco’s volume and floor are good for the Flex, but I wouldn’t pay this price tag to plug him in at Captain. I don’t really understand Jerick McKinnon’s price tag when he’s touched the ball 10 times through three games. Perhaps it’s juiced because he scored twice last week on five touches. That’s a bit fluky so I’d rather invest in Pacheco.
Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
It hasn’t been pretty for Hall the last few weeks. Since his big performance in Week 1, he’s totaled 36 all-purpose yards on 17 touches. The volume and output have been abysmal. If the Jets have any hope of winning this game, it might be in their best interest to run the ball and keep the Chiefs offense off the field. And the Chiefs probably know this. The Chiefs have allowed just 34 points to opposing offenses through three games and 308 rushing yards in that span as well. Perhaps if there’s one thing we can hang our hats on, it could be this…
If the pitch count is gone, and the workload continues to increase, then sky’s the limit. But the efficiency has been dreadful the last two weeks. Tread carefully here.
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST
There are going to be plenty of DFS players that plug in the Chiefs at Captain. They are $5,200 on DraftKings which is pricy but not terrible. Check out this tweet from Establish The Run’s Cody Main from nine days ago…
The Chiefs D/ST doesn’t qualify for his tweet because they’re $5,200 and not $5,500. But I still think it’s important to take away what we’ll see from such a heavily favored team’s defense. Cody posted that tweet in reference to the San Francisco 49ers who were playing the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football in Week 3. The 49ers were heavily owned but they returned just eight fantasy points. Now I’m not saying the Chiefs will definitely bust in this spot. But be mindful of what they need to happen. They’ll need sacks and a D/ST touchdown. Maybe two. The Chiefs have allowed just 34 points to opposing offenses on the year. After an underwhelming performance in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, where they did not have Chris Jones, they’ve collected seven sacks and three takeaways while holding each of their last two opponents to under 300 yards of offense. So they’re in a spot where they could go off, but they’ll also be very popular. If this is a matchup where they only return eight fantasy points that may not even crack the optimal lineup.
If the Jets have to abandon the run at any point and L’Jarius Sneed is shadowing Garrett Wilson, then Lazard should get some looks. Truthfully, for what he’s provided on a per game basis, you can find similar production for a cheaper option on this slate. He has at least four targets in each of the team’s first three games but hasn’t done much with them and I don’t believe there’s much of a ceiling.
Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receivers
In this group, we have four players:
- Skyy Moore – He might be my second favorite play of the group. He only has seven receptions through three games, but his targets share has steadily grown from 8%, to 10%, to 16%. Even 16% still isn’t great but we like how his targets are trending.
- Kadarius Toney – The upside is massive. But he’s always been hurt. The good news is that he’s logged full practices this week and doesn’t carry an injury designation. His usage and involvement has been minimal but he finally appears healthy. He had five targets in each of the team’s first two games. He’s been frustrating to own in season-long formats, but we know what his upside is for DFS.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling – MVS has not had much of an impact as anyone listed in this section. He has just five receptions on seven targets but is always a threat to take a deep catch to the house.
- Rashee Rice – The rookie wide receiver has had some nice plays, but also some bad drops so far. He has 10 catches on 14 targets and has been very impressive. Despite the drops, Pro Football Focus still has high praise for the first year wideout…
Now why did I group them all together? As is the case every single week, we’re left to our own devices trying to figure out which Chiefs wide receiver finds the end zone. But the matchup is tricky. Mike Clay of ESPN had this to say in his most recent Fantasy Football Shadow Report: “The Jets allowed big fantasy games to Stefon Diggs (26 points in Week 1) and CeeDee Lamb (25 points in Week 2), but no other wide receiver has reached 9.0 points against them. This remains an elite group led by perimeter CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. You’re likely already avoiding the frustrating Chiefs’ receiver committee, so this week’s tough matchup is extra incentive to stay away…” Now that article is primarily directed toward season-long fantasy football. However, there is some merit to applying it to DFS. In truth, one of these names could certainly score a big touchdown. I’d probably go with Rashee Rice over the other three. He likely doesn’t see as much quality coverage lining up out of the slot against Michael Carter II. Moore will likely see coverage from Sauce Gardner while MVS draws Reed. But do read on for another Chiefs pass catcher that could be far too cheap for this slate.
Everyone will flock to Harrison Butker and I think that’s perfectly fine to play him at the Flex. If you build multiple lineups with Patrick Mahomes at Captain, I would correlate Butker at the Flex in every lineup. Butker has only made five field goals on the season, but if the Chiefs are finding the end zone he’s a cheap source for extra points. Even last week he kicked two field goals with five extra points and still returned a dozen fantasy points. That kind of return is perfectly fine for a Flex play. The price tag is a little elevated unfortunately. Greg Zuerlein likely won’t have many opportunities to kick extra points in this matchup. But if the team can do enough to get the ball into field goal range, they’ll want to take points against the Kansas City Chiefs. But if the game gets out of hand and the Jets are down by at least three possessions, why bother with field goals? Zuerlein came through in the clutch for the Jets in Week 1 with three field goals, but last week he only had one field goal attempt and one extra point. He’s easily the less appealing option compared to Butker.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
Last week’s game script certainly benefitted CEH. He touched the ball 16 times, and while he totaled just 57 yards, he did find the end zone. It’s possible the Chiefs find themselves in a similar game script this week and he’s leaned on heavily late in the game.
Watson was that “other” wide receiver I alluded to in the collection of Chiefs wide receivers up top. When the ball has been in his hands, he’s been electric. He’s recorded at least 45 receiving yards in each of the team’s first three games. The efficiency has been great, but the volume hasn’t been amazing with just seven receptions on the year. He is currently listed as a starter on the team’s depth chart so that is intriguing, and we know Mahomes likes taking a couple deep shots to Watson once or twice per game.
There are concerns with any member of the New York Jets you roster. But Conklin is only $1,600 on DraftKings as a Flex play and he has at least five targets in each of his last two games. Through three games the Chiefs have allowed 15 receptions to opposing tight ends for 135 yards. That’s roughly five receptions and 45 yards per game to opposing tight ends and if Conklin can get a few receptions he can easily pay off this price tag.
When the dust has settled and Travis Kelce has scored two touchdowns and rides off into the sunset with Taylor Swift, maybe Noah Gray comes in and gets some work. He only has five targets in the two games Travis Kelce has been back, but fortunately Gray is only $600 on DraftKings as a Flex play and a couple receptions with some yards easily justify the price tag.