Thursday Night Football kicks off Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season and we get an AFC West matchup as the Denver Broncos visit the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s been an eventful week around the NFL. Justin Jefferson was placed on IR. James Conner as well. Even the Miami Dolphins stellar rookie running back, De’Von Achane is expected to miss some time with a knee injury. For this game specifically, we have a hobbled Travis Kelce who already missed some time in Week 1. He did practice in a limited capacity, but Week 5 certainly laid claim to some reliable fantasy football options. As frustrating as that may be in season-long fantasy football, there is room for financial gain Thursday night. So while it’s frustrating the NFL continues to put teams like the Denver Broncos and New York Giants in primetime, we’ll seek out an edge as we dig into the latest NFL DFS Showdown Playbook!
Spread: Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5)
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Weather: Temps will be in the low-to-mid 70’s with very low chance of rain. However, there will be some decent wind gusts between 15-20 mph that could impact the kickers.
- D.J. Jones, Defensive Tackle – OUT (Knee)
- Baron Browning, Linebacker – OUT (Knee)
- Frank Clark, Linebacker – OUT (Illness)
- Javonte Williams, Running Back – Probable (Quad)
- Greg Dulcich, Tight End – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Travis Kelce, Tight End – Probable (Ankle)
- George Karlaftis, Defensive End – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Tommy Townsend, Punter – Questionable (Knee)
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
We haven’t seen Mahomes’ ceiling yet this season. But we know he has that 400-yard, five-touchdown kind of upside any given week. He gets the best possible matchup available against the worst defense in the league. Yes, the numbers are a little inflated against Denver because Miami dropped 70 points on them but even Sam Howell threw for nearly 300 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns against this defense. Justin Fields tagged them for 335 passing yards and four touchdowns. However, last week Zach Wilson turned back into Zach Wilson and couldn’t eclipse 200 passing yards. Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the league. The Broncos secondary is hot garbage and it’s clear why the Chiefs are favored by more than 10 points. I don’t normally like recommending quarterbacks at Captain, but when they have Mahomes’ upside, then I make an exception. He will cost you a pretty penny on DraftKings. To play him at Captain will require 38.4% of your budget and if you stack him with Travis Kelce in the Flex then you’ve already used up 60% of your funds. We’ll have to get a little weird on this slate to win big with this pairing!
Speak of the devil. It should come as no surprise that Kelce is eligible at Captain, but we do need to be mindful of the ankle injury. Truthfully, he may be a bit slowed by the knee which he hyperextended prior to Week 1. But if he’s on the field, he’s easily viable at Captain. Why? Because he has a 35% target per route run rate which is easily leading all tight ends. The Broncos are universally terrible against all positions, but in three of their last four games entering this matchup they’ve allowed opposing tight ends to collect at least seven catches for 80 yards. He already has 37 targets in four games with three touchdowns. He’s likely optimal at Captain if he scores multiple times as well. You easily pair him with Mahomes if you play Kelce at Captain.
I’m not a big Russell Wilson fan. Yes, I’m one of the many people who thinks he’s incredibly corny and unoriginal. I relished his poor play a year ago. However, 2023 has been different. Through five games he has over 1,200 passing yards, 11 touchdowns through the air, just two picks, and a 103.7 passer rating. Now there are still stretches where this offense stalls and does nothing for what feels like two quarters. But we should assume that Wilson and Co. will be trailing in this matchup. Whether he gets there through garbage time or if the Broncos are surprisingly competitive, Wilson likely puts up numbers simply through volume. He doesn’t scramble or run as much as he used to, but he did rush for 49 yards last weeks against New York and in Week 2 he ran for 56 yards against Washington.
Jeudy’s only seeing about six targets per game so far and sure enough, he’s yet to find the end zone this year. I’m giving Jeudy the slight nod at Captain over Courtland Sutton because it seems like Sutton could be shadowed by L’Jarius Sneed. If/when Jeudy lines up outside, he may get some Sneed treatment but all in all, Jeudy tends to line up in the slot for most of his snaps and that should benefit him in this game. We do expect the Broncos to be airing it out plenty as they attempt to keep pace with Kansas City. Jeudy played 86% of the offensive snaps in Week 5 and had a 29% target share last week. With rumors swirling around the possibility that he could be traded, a big performance can only boost his value as the Denver Broncos have been willing to listen to trade offers.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
I was burned a couple weeks ago in primetime not having enough Isiah Pacheco shares at Captain. And you know what? So be it. We had been waiting for Pacheco to show that kind of upside and it was fun to watch. He’s scored a touchdown in three straight games. But in two of those three games he failed to crack 16 fantasy points on DraftKings. Sure, if he goes for 25+ points on DraftKings again, then he has a great chance at the optimal lineup in the Captain spot. He has at least 17 touches in three straight games so the volume is there. But you need a combination of him finding the end zone while also going for over 100 rushing yards. Fortunately, he is running against the Denver Broncos so this is entirely possible. But if this turns into a blowout, I imagine they go conservative and rest him later in the game considering they’ve leaned heavily on him the last three games. Over their last four games the Broncos have allowed 775 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to opposing running backs. But keep in mind, a lot of that production came against the Miami Dolphins in that historic blowout in Week 3. I will have some shares of Jerick McKinnon, but not a ton. He’s very touchdown dependent in every game he appears in and he may only get five touches. That’s not quite worth the $5,200 price tag. I’d rather pay way down to CEH and hope he gets the garbage time work late in the game.
I will have some shares of Sutton at Captain, but I can’t say I’m ecstatic about it. He lines up on the perimeter on about 73% of his offensive snaps so he’ll likely draw coverage from L’Jarius Sneed who has done well to keep opposing receivers in check. Sutton has three touchdown receptions on the season, but just four catches on eight targets in his last two games. While there will be an emphasis at some point to feature Sutton more, especially if they’re listening to offers in regard to trading him, I just don’t think we see that game happen Thursday night against Sneed. He won’t be shadowed by him all game but keep it in mind when constructing your lineups.
This one is pretty cut and dry. McLaughlin is easy to load up on if Javonte Williams is inactive for whatever reason. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy as Williams doesn’t carry an injury designation so he should suit up in this game. Williams has not been all that explosive to start the year but be mindful he was returning from a torn ACL. He did have three quick receptions early in Week 4 before injuring his hip. But perhaps the Broncos don’t commit 15+ touches to him with the emergence of Jaleel McLaughlin. The latter running back is a bit smaller and shiftier, having found the end zone each of the last two weeks breaking a 30+ yard run in each outing. McLaughlin’s easily been better and more exciting for this poor Denver team. Several players may not want to pay the premium for Williams considering McLaughlin is only $7,000 as a Flex. But with Williams not carrying an injury designation it’s entirely possible we see a split backfield, but McLaughlin has recency bias on his side. The Chiefs are not an easy team to run on. They haven’t allowed 85+ yards on the ground since Week 1 and this doesn’t seem like a spot Denver will be able to establish the run game, but both players are still live for some passing game work.
Rice was a bit of a popular DFS play last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Fortunately, he found the end zone for a score because he finished with just five targets. The bad news is that Rice only ran 10 routes. T-E-N! So what do five targets on 10 routes tell us? Well, there’s a very strong possibility that he’s being looked at when he is on the field. Entering Week 5 his target per route run rate was 34% and he displayed a 50% TPRR rate on Sunday. So that seasonal TPRR rate has simply gone up to 36.4%. Unfortunately, the total number of routes is still a concern because they just haven’t expanded his role. Eight other players ran more routes than he did. For now, he’s viable on a Showdown slate but the $6,400 price tag is a bit of an eyesore until his routes/snaps spike for us.
We know he’s a deep threat. We’ve seen it plenty. He has 246 receiving yards through five games. He is the leading receiver on the Denver Broncos. And yet, he’s run 104 less routes than Courtland Sutton. He only has a 7.4% target share, but he has a target per route run rate of nearly 24%. Not that it matters, but the Broncos did release Lil’jordan Humphrey on Wednesday and as of late Wednesday evening the Broncos had just four wide receivers on the active roster. There should be more of an emphasis to get him involved because he’s such an explosive weapon. We know he can take it to the house with one big play so I anticipate he’ll be a very popular play at $4,600 and I wouldn’t rule out some shares at MVP/Captain as well.
Remember how we were hammering on the target per route run metric with Rashee Rice? Well Rice is at 36.4% and not far behind is Kadarius Toney at 33.3% and he’s $2,400 cheaper than Rice on DraftKings. Look, I prefer Rice over Toney. I want Rice to see more work and involvement, but I don’t think it happens until after the team’s bye week. If I’m being objective, I think Toney is in a great leverage spot. Toney is coming off a game last week where he caught five-of-six targets, but he just hasn’t done much after the target because he’s not being targeted deep. His efficiency and involvement scream out to us that he should get more work so despite the embarrassing performance in Week 1, I’m liking the play Thursday night.
I can’t say I’m excited about either D/ST in this matchup. For starters the Broncos have been terrible and they allow a ton of points. To their credit, they have eight sacks and four takeaways in their last two games. But that was also against Zach Wilson and Justin Fields. This is Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are pretty much getting an implied total of 29 points and can put up over 400 yards of offense. The Broncos have conveniently allowed 400+ yards of offense to their last three opponents. I don’t have a ton of confidence in any D/ST against the Chiefs, let alone one as bad as Denver’s. On the other side, I can’t commit to the Chiefs either. You know people will plug in the Chiefs D/ST at Captain. A popular lineup with the Chiefs at Captain will be Chiefs (CAPT), Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, either Javonte Williams or Jaleel McLaughlin, Rashee Rice, and either Noah Gray/Kadarius Toney/Marquez Valdes-Scantling. But keep in mind, when D/ST’s are priced over $5,500 we typically see them average about 8.6 fantasy points. Even in a short week where this could be sloppy, I don’t want to fall for this trap and assume the Chiefs are a free square. They are definitely a “play at your own risk” DFS option for this game.
Harrison Butker is obviously in play. When you kick for one of the best teams in the league, that just tends to happen. He’s racked up double-digit fantasy points three straight weeks going 7-for-7 on field goal attempts and 10-for-10 on extra points in that span. The only downside is that the Chiefs don’t stall out in the red zone as often as other teams. But they are the heavy favorites in this matchup and should put points on the board which puts Butker in play for another respectable performance. I expect Butker to have significant exposure at the Flex spot simply because Mahomes will be played at Captain in plenty of entries and it makes sense to positively correlate his kicker in the Flex.
Will Lutz doesn’t come with the volume that Butker does. However, he’s still put up at least seven fantasy points in four straight games. But he also hasn’t hit double-digits in that span either. With a $600 disparity in pricing between these two, it shouldn’t be too hard paying up to Butker in this matchup. So far, three of the five opposing kickers against Kansas City have been held to under five fantasy points.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
There are a ton of great value plays on this slate. And we’re going to kick it off with one I absolutely loathe. And it starts with MVS. However, I also want to briefly mention Skyy Moore because I’m not excited about playing him at $5,400. But I can at least stomach MVS at $3,400. MVS and Moore rank 79th and 80th respectively in yards per route run and they’ve both been on the field much more than Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross. MVS has just 11 targets in five games yet he runs a lot of routes. I can’t explain it but he played 65% of the offensive snaps and had just two targets last week. Rice and Ross barely see the field, but when they do, they get targets. MVS hardly comes off the field and yet he can’t get targeted. I don’t get it. All Chiefs pass catchers are touchdown dependent. But with the $2,000 different in pricing between Moore and MVS, I’ll give the latter the edge.
He’s technically eligible to play but I’m not getting my hopes up since he’s coming off IR. I am a little weary of his status and with the short week I’m operating as if he’ll be inactive. But if he plays he’s worth some shares simply because he’s too cheap as the presumed TE1 in this offense.
Greg Dulcich was designated to come off IR but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll play Thursday since he was limited throughout the week. So if Dulcich is out, then Trautman will get some run. In Week 5, Trautman had an 85% route participation rate up from 77% in Week 4. He caught four passes last week and found the end zone. We know he’s one of Sean Payton’s guys so he has that going for him and the Chiefs haven’t been very good against opposing tight ends having surrendered 29 receptions to the position through five games already.
We aren’t getting Watson at $200 anymore, but we can still live with $2,200. He’s had at least three targets in four of five games this year. More importantly, when Mahomes is usually connecting with Watson it’s typically for a big play. In four of five games this year Watson has a catch for at least 25 yards. It is somewhat odd he never gets more of an opportunity but there are usually one or two deep shots to Watson each game.
This might be the perfect game script for CEH. Remember in Week 3 when the Chiefs blew out the Chicago Bears 41-10? CEH had 16 total touches and a touchdown. He’s wildly inefficient with the ball in his hands. But if this game gets out of hand, which is possible, we’re looking at a similar narrative to that Chicago game where he gets volume later on.
Ross is probably my favorite play on this slate that’s under $2,000 on DraftKings. He’s $600 so we only need a few catches from him to pay off. But he just might have the upside of Rashee Rice who is nearly $6,000 more expensive. Here’s the bad news: Ross had six snaps on offense last week. Here’s the good news, he had four targets. That’s similar to the utilization of Rashee Rice. When he’s on the field, there’s a fair chance he’s getting a target. Last week he finished with two catches and a pair of drops. By all accounts he’s a solid route runner. But for $600 on DraftKings, I’m aiming to be overweight on Ross compared to the rest of the field.