TNF Fantasy Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargersby Mike Fanelli December 16, 2021 0 comments
Tonight, Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season kicks off with a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers. While everyone loves Thursday Night Football, fantasy owners struggle with which players they should put in their starting lineups. To help them decide which players they should start and which they should sit, let’s dive into this week’s Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.
All stats are based on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback – Patrick Mahomes
While he hasn’t put up the impressive fantasy numbers this season as he has in the past, Mahomes is still the QB5 this year, averaging 20.2 fantasy points per game. Last week, Mahomes had two touchdowns and 20.3 fantasy points despite throwing a season-low 24 pass attempts against the Las Vegas Raiders. Tonight, he faces a Los Angeles defense that has shut down quarterbacks this season. The Chargers have held quarterbacks to only 16.2 fantasy points per game this season, the sixth-fewest in the NFL. However, the Chargers have given up over 22 fantasy points to quarterbacks three times this season, including to Mahomes in Week 3. While the matchup is tough on paper, Mahomes is still a top-five quarterback this week for this critical AFC West showdown.
Running Back – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams
Even with the return of Edwards-Helaire, Williams has remained productive. Since returning from a knee injury, CEH has averaged 14.7 touches per game compared to 6.3 touches for Williams. However, the fantasy points scored during that time have been relatively close. Edwards-Helaire averaged 15.3 fantasy points per game, while Williams averaged 9.2 fantasy points per game during that span. Surprisingly, both running backs have played 45 percent of the snaps over the past three contests. Tonight they have a great matchup against the Chargers. Los Angeles has given up an average of 26.9 fantasy points per game to running backs this season, including a season-high 41 fantasy points last week. Tonight, fantasy owners can trust CEH as a mid RB2 while Williams is a low-end flex option.
Wide Receiver – Tyreek Hill
Despite the dip in Mahomes’ production, Hill has remained one of the best wide receivers in fantasy football, averaging 19.1 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he is third in the NFL with 90 catches and second with 131 targets. More importantly, Hill has a 25.2 percent targets share this season, 13.2 percent higher than any other wide receiver on the team and 4.2 percent higher than Travis Kelce. Meanwhile, the Chargers have held wide receivers to only 28 fantasy points per game this season, the second-fewest in the NFL. They have also given up the second-fewest touchdowns to wide receivers this season with seven. Despite the tough matchup, Hill is still a plug-and-play WR1. However, the rest of the wide receiver core belongs on the waiver wire.
Tight End – Travis Kelce
Many will call Kelce a bust after spending a first-round pick on him. While that is debatable, he is the TE2 for the year, averaging 15 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Kelce has been the TE1 each of the past five seasons, averaging 16.9 fantasy points per game during that span. Furthermore, he has scored over 17 fantasy points in 61.5 percent of the games this season. Tonight, Kelce is in line for a big performance against a struggling Chargers defense. While they have done a solid job stopping wide receivers this season, the Chargers have given up 15.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends, the sixth-most in the NFL. Despite the slight regression in fantasy production, Kelce remains a plug-and-play TE1.
To begin the year, the Chiefs D/ST was awful, averaging negative one fantasy point per game over the first five weeks. However, the Chiefs D/ST has held their opponents to only 9.6 points per game while averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game over the past five games. Furthermore, they have held their opponent to under 10 points in three straight games and four of the past five contests. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have averaged only 2.8 fantasy points per game this season against the Chargers. Opposing D/STs have scored negative fantasy points in more games this season (five) than games with over six fantasy points (three). While the Chiefs D/ST has played great lately, fantasy owners should look for a streaming option off the waiver wire instead this week.
Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback – Justin Herbert
Coming off an impressive rookie season, Herbert has taken his game to another level in 2021. He is the QB3 for the year, averaging 22.7 fantasy points per game, only behind Tom Brady and Josh Allen. Since Week 9, he has averaged 2.3 passing touchdowns and 24.6 fantasy points per game. Herbert had at least 19.7 fantasy points in all but one game during that span. More importantly, he had a season-high four passing touchdowns and 30.8 fantasy points against the Chiefs earlier this season. However, the Chiefs have shut down quarterbacks lately, giving up only 11.1 fantasy points per game to the position over the past five games. Despite the Chiefs’ recent success stopping quarterbacks, Herbert will finish the week as a top-five quarterback.
Running Back – Austin Ekeler
Despite leaving last week’s game early with an ankle injury, Ekeler expects to play tonight. Other than Jonathan Taylor, Ekeler has been the most impressive running back this season. He is the RB2 for the year, averaging 21.3 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Ekeler has more games this season with over 22 fantasy points (five) than games with under 16 fantasy points (four). Tonight, he faces a Chiefs defense that has been average at stopping running backs this season. They have given up an average of 23.9 fantasy points per game to running backs this season, roughly a point more than the league average. While the Chiefs haven’t given up a rushing touchdown to running backs since Week 4, Ekeler remains a plug-and-play RB1 this week despite the ankle injury.
Wide Receiver – Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
While Allen missed last week’s game with Covid-19, he will play tonight. For the year, Allen is the WR11, averaging 17.1 fantasy points per game, while Williams is the WR15, averaging 15.1 fantasy points per game. More importantly, Allen and Williams join Chris Godwin and Mike Evans as the only pair of teammates currently in the top-15 wide receivers this season. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have given up an average of only 32.1 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this year. However, they gave up 41.5 fantasy points to the Raiders wide receivers last week and a season-high 52.5 fantasy points to the Chargers wide receivers in Week 3. Both Allen and Williams are plug-and-play wide receivers this week, with plenty of upside.
Tight End – Jared Cook
Cook is the TE18 for the year, averaging 8.1 fantasy points per game. However, he has been very inconsistent, scoring under nine fantasy points in eight games this season. Furthermore, Cook has scored under nine fantasy points in four of his past five contests. Fortunately for him, the Chiefs have given up 13.9 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. They have given up over 12 fantasy points to tight ends in nearly 70 percent of their games this season, including two of the past three games. However, Donald Parham has a role in this offense, limiting Cook’s upside. Despite the matchup this week, Cook is far from a must-start tight end. Instead, fantasy owners should avoid starting him if possible.
On paper, the Chargers have one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. However, it hasn’t turned into fantasy production. The Chargers D/ST has averaged only 4.2 fantasy points per game this season, ranking outside the top-20 D/STs. Despite a great matchup against Mike Glennon last week, the Chargers D/ST scored only six fantasy points. Furthermore, they have scored under four fantasy points in five of their past seven games. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have averaged 3.8 fantasy points per game against the Chiefs this season. Furthermore, they have averaged only two fantasy points per game over the past five games against the Chiefs. Like the Chiefs D/ST, fantasy owners should look for a streaming option off the waiver wire instead of starting the Chargers D/ST this week.
Mahomes: Mid QB1
Edwards-Helaire: Mid RB2
Williams: Low-End Flex Option
Hill: Low-End WR1
Kelce: High-End TE1
Chiefs D/ST: Avoid
Herbert: Mid QB1
Ekeler: High-End RB1
Allen: Mid WR1
Williams: High-End WR2
Chargers D/ST: Avoid
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