– Thursday Night Football Preview –
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Spread: Chiefs -3 | Over/Under 49
The NFL season is entering Week 7 and that means it’s time for a divisional matchup on Thursday night. The Kansas City Chiefs who have lost their last two games head to Denver to take on a Broncos team that started their season 0-4 but have won their last two. This is a very interesting matchup as these teams despite their records, are trending on opposite directions. Let’s take a closer look at week 7’s Thursday Night’s Game.
There’s a strong chance that this game features the No.1 overall quarterback in the league versus the league’s worst starting quarterback. Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards (2,104) and is currently the QB4 overall in fantasy. Joe Flacco is QB23 overall and is QB31 in fantasy points per game averaging 11.8 points.
For Mahomes historically he has not been elite playing in Denver. He has thrown just one touchdown pass while playing the Broncos in Denver in two career starts. With the Chiefs’ offensive struggles over the last few weeks combined with a short week and Mahomes’ ankle injury, there is a slight chance that Mahomes does not light up the scoreboard in Week 7. Denver gives up the third-fewest fantasy points to the quarterback position. No quarterback has thrown for more than 260 passing yards versus the Broncos this season. Also, the Broncos’ defense has come alive over the past three weeks generating 12 sacks, six turnovers, and allowing just 13 points per game.
Meanwhile, Joe Flacco enjoys a much more favorable matchup on paper. The Chiefs give up the seventh-most fantasy points to the quarterback position. Quarterbacks are averaging 36.5 passing attempts per game when playing Kansas City. Flacco’s two best games this season have come at home when he has had at least 30 passing attempts. If you are playing DFS, rostering Flacco over Mahomes may not seem as crazy as you might think.
The blueprint to beating the Chiefs over the past two weeks has been to run the ball. They have allowed the most rushing attempts (69), and fourth-most rushing yards (309). On the season Kansas City has allowed at least 99 rushing yards to a running back in five of their six games. Both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have FLEX appeal in this game because of the matchup. From a DFS perspective, I actually prefer Freeman over Lindsay because based on Freemans’ total touches (87) he should have more touchdowns scored. Freeman scored five touchdowns last season on 144 total touches. He also ranks third on the team in receptions (21). Kansas City has allowed 30 red zone touches to opposing running backs over the past four weeks.
The Broncos, on the other hand, have been exposed in their defense by pass-catching running backs. They have allowed the most receptions and most targets to the running back position over the past two weeks. This backfield is a mess to try and sort out though. Based on the sample size we have through six games, Damien Williams is still the running back to target. He has the most targets (16) and routes run (79) despite playing in two fewer games than the other running backs. Damien led the running backs in snaps (56%), but it still going to lose rushing and goalline work to LeSean McCoy. McCoy leads the team in carries (48) and is averaging 5.4 yards/carry. The Broncos are allowing 5.2 yards/carry at home.
Similar to the Chiefs’ running backs these receivers are extremely difficult to dissect. Tyreek Hill is a must-play, but I will say Sammy Watkins is an interesting buy-low for fantasy owners. He is dealing with a hamstring injury and I can guarantee that no owner will want to start him this week. However, Watkins’ best game last year came against the Denver Broncos. He went for over 100 yards with two touchdowns catching eight of nine targets. Whereas Hill has struggled in almost every matchup versus the Broncos. Hill has never surpassed 70 receiving yards versus the Broncos in five career games. Watkins has surpassed 100 yards twice against them. For the other receivers, especially for DFS, I would highly target DeMarcus Robinson. He put up a goose egg last week despite running the most routes last week and he has led the Chiefs in routes run over the entire season. Hill is going to take snaps away from Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle will see his snaps uptick only if Sammy Watkins misses the game. The Broncos give up the fewest fantasy points to the wide receiver position.
On the Denver side, continue to start Courtland Sutton. Sutton has seen at least seven targets in every single game this season. Daesean Hamilton only really becomes an option if Emmanuel Sanders misses the contest. Don’t love playing Sanders on a short week with a banged-up knee. Sanders has not historically produced versus the Chiefs.
This position is pretty easy to go through in this matchup. Travis Kelce is a prime candidate to blow-up in this game and Noah Fant is a sneaky tight end play. Kelce has been an overall disappointment based on his draft capital and from a DFS perspective it only makes sense for him to blow up when the Chiefs are off the main slate. Most notably looking at his career logs versus the Broncos in his last five games against Denver he has averaged 11.8 targets, 7.8 receptions, 110.2 receiving yards, and .8 touchdowns. Fant is just interesting from a volume standpoint. He is third on the team in routes run and ranks in the top-12 in total routes run at the position. Kansas City gives up the sixth-most fantasy points to the tight end position. No team has allowed more targets to the tight end than the Chiefs. Considering that the league average yards per touchdown for tight end are 51 yards that is bound to regress positively for Fant. The Chiefs have allowed just one touchdown on 429 receiving yards to tight ends.
Chiefs D/ST is a solid option this week. If the Chiefs force a pass-happy approach from the Broncos that could create a lot of opportunities for turnovers. On the side for kickers, if they were ever a time to be extremely high on a kicker it would be Harrison Butker. Kansas City has a sub-50 percent red zone touchdown conversion on the road this season. The Broncos are allowing on average 2.3 field goal attempts per game.
The Chiefs are banged up after two straight losses heading on the road on a short week versus a surging Broncos team. That is probably why the line is just at -3, but let’s be real here. The Chiefs are still clearly the superior team. 29-23 Kansas City Chiefs over the Denver Broncos in Week 7!
See all Gridiron Experts Week 7 Free NFL Picks here.