Patriots at Chiefs (-3) 55.5
Weather: Currently projected to be 28 degrees and partly cloudy. The arctic blast is currently unlikely according to NFLweather.com.
- Even if he plays his role and snaps are in question. Running backs coming off a hamstring injury tend to be limited. This is Damien Williams backfield now, and if Ware plays, it would remove any contrarian punt plays of West or Darrell Williams from the table.
- Very questionable how effective he would be, but would be covering Gronk.
- Mahomes had no problem carving up the New England Patriots in the first meeting, throwing for 352 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 completions. The Patriots have struggled with speed historically and the Chiefs offense will provide exactly that issue for them. In his career, Tyreek Hill has 14 catches, 275 yards and four touchdowns against the Patriots. The Patriots have also been a pass funnel defense, largely due to the fact they are winning so many games, giving up 37.75 attempts per game. Facing off against a team that can push him, I expect Mahomes to sling the rock all of the field and the Chiefs have the team speed to cause serious issues for the Patriots. If the arctic blast misses Kansas City, the stars will align for a massive Mahomes game to take the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.
- It has been 30 games since the Chiefs defense has allowed more than 30 points in Arrowhead. Tom Brady has played in more Super Bowls (seven) then road playoff games (six) and in those road playoff games he is just 2-4. The Chiefs defense has been night and day home and away this year. They have allowed 15 more points per game on the road, and quarterbacks only average 216 passing yards per game, despite consistently playing catchup. While playoff Brady is certainly a thing, he is in the toughest spot of any quarterback this week and simply lacks the ceiling of his three counterparts. In large field GPPs, he should carry the lowest ownership and is worth taking a shot on in that format, but of all the quarterbacks I have the least interest in him.
- Williams carried the ball 25 times and saw six targets in the Chiefs blowout win versus the Colts. He is the feature back and in the four games he has been, so he has finished with 29-or-more DK points in three of them. The one exception, he was pulled with the starters at half versus the Raiders. If Ware returns it is a slight bump down, but he has an excellent matchup versus a Patriots team allowing 4.91 yards per carry, 7.44 targets and 49.25 yards per game to running backs. The Patriots struggle with speed, especially with their linebacking core and Williams is a weapon to exploit versus the Patriots. In Kareem Hunt’s two career games versus the Patriots, he had receiving games of 98 yards with two touchdowns and 105 yards and one touchdown on 10 total targets. Look for Williams to be heavily involved in the passing game and smash this weekend.
- James White had 17 targets last week. Let that sink in, 17! That’s 51 total targets in his last five playoff games. He takes on a Chiefs defense that cannot cover running backs, allowing over 55 yards per game in the air to opposing backs per game. White is going to be heavily featured and as we saw last week is game script proof. If the Chiefs get up early in this game and the Patriots are in comeback mode, look for White to be the Patriots feature back.
- Last week, I wrote that I was going to fade Michel because the only way he would hurt me is if he went for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Well, he went for 129 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots blew out the Chargers. I am going right back to that well this week, especially at an inflated ownership and price tag. The Chiefs run defense is bad, giving up a 58 percent success rate against, but they dominated the line of scrimmage last week versus a Colts team with a fantastic run blocking offensive line. The game script is Michel’s biggest concern as his best games have come when the Patriots are dominant in the game. People will box score chase with his performance last week and his dominant performance versus the Chiefs in week six, but looking at the back and forth games, road games, or games where the Patriots play catch up, he simply doesn’t get the volume to perform.
- Last week in their first playoff game as teammates, Mahomes and the Chiefs found as many ways as possible to get Tyreek Hill involved. He finished the game with 13 targets and one carry, which went for a 36-yard touchdown run. He has destroyed the Patriots in both appearances this year as mentioned in the Mahomes section above. He faces off versus a team that historically takes away the top receiver, but also struggles with opponents’ speed. Hill is a nightmare player for the Patriots, as not only is he the fastest receiver in the league, but Reid will find as many creative ways to get him the football as they can. I expect Hill to get double-digit opportunities in this game and he has only finished under 20 DK points once in a game with more than 10 targets this season. Fire Hill up with confidence.
- Watkins looked fully healthy last week and played the snaps and saw the targets to prove it. He had eight targets and one carry and looked like his old self on a 34-yard catch and run early in the first quarter against the Colts. Against the Patriots this year opposing WR2s saw just three less DraftKings PPG (14.25 total) than opposing WR1s. The Patriots have made a point to put Gilmore, the All-Pro corner on top receivers. However, in the first meeting, the Patriots limited Watkins to just 18 total yards on four targets and he could see a heavy dose of Tyreek Hill as the Patriots look to double Hill. If Watkins gets matched up with Gilmore it spells trouble. I have talked endlessly about Watkins success versus zone but struggles against man coverage and Gilmore plays man or press coverage on 62 percent of his targets. Watkins is a game stack play at his price but shouldn’t be a part of core builds.
- Last week, he played 64 percent of the possible snaps and saw just two targets. When Sammy Watkins has been on the field this season, he has seen just 5.9 percent of the team’s targets. He will be on the field for a little over half of the snaps and is part of an explosive offense, but he is nothing more than an extreme dart throw.
- When Tom Brady dropped back to throw against the Chargers, he looked one of two places, to James White or to Julian Edelman who saw 13 targets. The two players combined for 68.8 percent of the Patriots targets in the divisional round. Look for that trend to continue as one of the players Brady trusts and the Patriots will scheme open. Edelman has the safest floor of any receiver on the slate as he has seen less than 10 targets just once in the last five weeks. That game was versus the Jets where the Patriots took their foot off the gas in the second half. That will not be the case he and Edelman should see 10+ targets and be the featured receiver. He lacks the big play ability of the other top-end receivers but seems locked and loaded for at least 20 PPR points in this one.
- Hogan played 92 percent of the Patriots offensive snaps but saw just 11.3 percent of the possible targets. He has a good matchup versus a week secondary on the outside, but he has simply not been involved in the game plan as many people expected with Josh Gordon leaving the team. He had 11 targets against the Jets when the Patriots were cruising and a 63-yard touchdown on a blown coverage, but other than that has been limited to low value, underneath routes. His price and snap percentage put him in play as a game stack punt, but he is a fringe play.
- While Dorsett only played 46 percent of the snaps last week, he did see five targets and got in the endzone. He is the big play threat for the Patriots on the outside and if they are in catchup mode look for him to get multiple deep shots in this game. On the season Dorsett has caught 76.1 percent of his targets and has an aDot of 11.1. At low ownership, he is a guy I want exposure to in MME.
- Quite simply, there is Travis Kelce and there is everyone else. Only once see week seven has he seen less than 9 targets, and he has scored double-digit points in all but one game this season. The No. 2 tight end on this slate has a real shot at not being able to get to double-digits. If he gets 100 yards and a touchdown and you don’t play him, your team will be sunk and he is a player I would, at minimum, match the field on in GPPs.
- Gronkowski faces off versus the worst team in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but Gronkowski is a left tackle at this point. Gronkowski hasn’t seen more than five targets since Week 14, going under 26 yards in four straight games. He is a huge part of their run game but can’t separate and looks like a wounded animal running routes. If Berry is back and matched up against him, Berry has historically won that match up when both players were at their best, and it would spell trouble for Gronk. I will take a stand and fade Gronk on this two-game slate.
- The Chiefs defense is my top overall defense this week. On a normal slate, they wouldn’t be in consideration, when the four best offenses in football square off on a two-game slate, the pickens are slim. The Chiefs defense has been dominant at home, averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game, sacking the quarterback 34 times and forcing 18 turnovers in nine games. They have three big time pass rushers in Ford, Jones, and Houston and with the mystique of Arrowhead, if they can get to Brady, they have a chance to get to double-digit fantasy points. Also, when every defense is in such a rough spot, the fact that Tyreek Hill is returning kicks is a major bonus here.
- The first time against Mahomes the Patriots were able to force multiple turnovers, but still finished with zero points. At home this year, the Chiefs have not scored less than 26 points and have broken 30 in six of nine games. There is always a chance for a bad Mahomes interception on a forced pass, but against this firepower, I will stay away outside of small exposure in MME.
Eliot Crist is the Sports Product Manager for The Quant Edge.He is a fantasy analyst with a background in scouting, analytics, and fantasy research. Formerly he has contributed at PFF, 4for4, Bleacher Report, Powerhour, and NDT Scouting. Eliot combines watching tape with analytics to try and take angles that other analysts aren’t to gain an edge for you.