One of the things I am going to bring you on a weekly basis this year is a short preview on the Thursday Night Football game.
Since this is one of the only two times the Kansas City Chiefs play on a Thursday night, it is one of the only times I will be able to talk about the Chiefs without being made fun of by the rest of the For Fantasy Sake staff. (Editor’s note: That will not stop us.)
So, let’s take a look at what we are looking at in terms of a fantasy lookout.
Both quarterbacks torched the opposing defenses for the most part in two meetings a season ago, but it was Patrick Mahomes stealing the show in their playoff meeting last season, throwing five touchdowns in the AFC Divisional matchup. In the two games against the Texans, Mahomes threw for 594 yards and eight scores. He is my No. 1-ranked quarterback for the season and for Week 1.
Deshaun Watson started the divisional matchup on fire but fizzled out in the second half while the Chiefs were making their comeback. Watson beat the Chiefs up on the ground in the regular season, rushing for a pair of touchdowns before throwing a pair in the playoff matchup. Watson is a must-start this week as well and he is my No. 5-ranked quarterback for Week 1.
Gone are Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde, the top two producers in the backfield during the Chiefs-Texans two matchups last season. Enter Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the running back the Texans got in return for DeAndre Hopkins, David Johnson.
This will be CEH’s first exposure to an NFL defense in real-time after the preseason was canceled because of COVID19, but, don’t worry if you drafted him. He has the best coaching staff in the NFL this side of New England and the best young quarterback in the league.
CEH is my No. 10 running back and should see plenty of touches in both the run game and the passing game against the Texans.
The Chiefs defense improved as the season went on and was stout against the run with Mike Pennell on the field a season ago. The issue for the Chiefs, Pennell is on suspension and will not play tonight.
Johnson has been very good in his career, when healthy, in five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The running back out of Clinton, Iowa averaged four yards a carry and 10.7 yards a catch. If he can block for DeShaun Watson, he should be a three-down back, even with Duke Johnson on the roster. I think Duke takes most of the passing downs, at least in this game.
The Chiefs were the 26th-worst defense in terms of yards allowed to opposing running backs a season ago. With Pennell on the sidelines and the fact that the Chiefs did nothing to make their linebacker crew, better, David Johnson is my No. 18 running back in Week 1.
Would I miss an opportunity to talk about Travis Kelce as much as possible? (Editor’s note: He would not.)
Kelce shredded the Texans linebackers in their playoff game, catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns in that matchup.
I would expect the Texans to switch things up with a line closer to the 4-58-0 line Kelce put up in the regular season a year ago, but obviously, the Chiefs figured something out at some point. Per usual, Kelce is my No. 1 tight end this week.
The regular season matchup with the Texans was Tyreek Hill’s first game back from a collar bone injury last season and he had a big game, catching five passes for 80 yards and a pair of scores. They did a better job in the postseason game, focusing on stopping him, in lieu of Kelce. We saw how that turned out. Hill is my No. 3 wide receiver this week.
With Hopkins moved on to Arizona and Brandin Cooks likely not to play this week, the Texans will have to count on Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, who both had 80-plus yards in the postseason game, but didn’t do much in the regular season. Stills did get lost, literally for a score in the postseason game, but tight end Darren Fells caught Watson’s other score.
Fuller is my No. 28 wide receiver this week, a high-WR3/Flex option.