Thursday Night Football
Kansas City @ Oakland
Team Totals: Chiefs 25, Raiders 22
This is a get-right spot for the Chiefs’ offense after last week’s shockingly pathetic display against the Steelers, now facing a Raiders defense that has allowed top-15 fantasy weeks to 4-of-6 quarterbacks faced while yielding the NFL’s second-highest passer rating (105.4), ranking 29th in pass-defense DVOA, and struggling to generate pressure with the NFL’s fourth-fewest sacks (11). Alex Smith has been a top-12 fantasy passer in 5-of-6 starts with three top-six finishes, and enters Week 7 with a 12:0 TD-to-INT ratio on the year. Even if Smith’s ceiling isn’t as high as his early-season production suggested, he should be a solid floor play in this plus draw. … Coming off his sixth straight game of 100-plus all-purpose yards, Kareem Hunt’s outlook is enhanced by sometimes-vulture Charcandrick West’s (concussion) absence against a sub-par Raiders run defense that has yielded the NFL’s sixth-most rushing yards (649) and fifth-most receiving yards (335) to enemy backs. The matchup plays perfectly into the all-purpose skill set of Hunt, who ranks first at his position in rushing yards (630) and fifth in receiving yards (255). Hunt is poised for major positive rushing-attempt regression after last week’s season-low nine carries, and he set a year high for targets (6) with West on the shelf. Hunt should continue to be teed up confidently.
Smith’s Weeks 1-6 targets: Travis Kelce 44; Tyreek Hill 41; Hunt 23; Albert Wilson 19; West 11; Demetrius Harris 10; Demarcus Robinson 8; De’Anthony Thomas 7. … Kelce should roll over an Oakland defense that yielded 5/58/1 to Vernon Davis, 7/76/0 to Delanie Walker, 4/75/1 to AJ Derby, and 5/90/0 to Hunter Henry. The Raiders are so desperate at inside linebacker they signed cut-49ers ILB Navorro Bowman, a significant coverage liability who lost his role on passing downs in San Francisco. … I have strong doubts these numbers are predictive, but I wanted to note them in case we are onto a short-term trend: Hill’s weekly PPR finishes in road games are WR3 > WR17 > WR14. Hill’s weekly home-game finishes are WR45 > WR51 > WR43. While that is likely mere variance, I think we know the drill with Hill by now. A big-play-dependent player, TyFreak is going to mix big weeks with smaller weeks, and you have to live with his highs and lows. Beyond home-road splits, no singular data point suggests this will be a blowup game or otherwise for Hill. … All other Chiefs pass catchers are mere dart throws. As Wilson missed Week 6 with a knee injury, Robinson managed 16 scoreless yards on five targets versus Pittsburgh despite playing 91% of the offensive snaps. Gadget-guy Thomas scored more fantasy points thanks to a 57-yard touchdown on an improvisational play made by Smith, although Thomas worked behind Hill and Robinson on 65% of the snaps and will lose playing time when Wilson returns. If forced to choose a Thursday night sleeper behind Kelce and Hill, I would take my chances with Robinson.
On a short week dealing with fractures in his back, Derek Carr is understandably tough to trust in what appears to be a difficult matchup with Kansas City. I’m not sold it’s that tough of a draw, however. The Chiefs have allowed 27 or more points in five of their last six road games in addition to the NFL’s eighth-most passing yards (1,485) and 12th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Since a white-hot start against the Titans and Jets, Carr has slumped to QB30 > QB25 > QB24 results over his last three starts. Like last week, I am approaching Carr as a high-risk fantasy option. … Marshawn Lynch has logged 13 touches or fewer in five straight games and played only 52% of the Raiders’ Week 6 offensive snaps in a close-fought bout with the run-soft Chargers. Lynch has yet to catch more than one pass in any game and didn’t help himself last week with a drop that resulted in an interception. A feel-good story entering the year, Lynch has been a full-on fantasy bust. The good news is Kansas City’s run defense has broken down, surrendering a combined 98/472/4.82/2 rushing line to enemy running backs in the last month. The bad news is Lynch will bust again if he doesn’t score a touchdown and/or received enhanced usage.
Carr’s Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Amari Cooper 34; Michael Crabtree 26; Jared Cook 24; DeAndre Washington 13; Seth Roberts 12; Jalen Richard and Cordarrelle Patterson 9; Lynch 8. … Cooper matched a season high with five catches in last week’s loss despite facing frequent chase coverage from Chargers CB Casey Hayward and losing a 31-yard deep gain to a penalty on RG Gabe Jackson. Cooper can’t be viewed as more than a boom-bust WR3/flex option based on to-date production, but there are reasons for Week 7 optimism. Whereas Crabtree will run nearly half of his routes at Chiefs top cover man LCB Marcus Peters, Cooper runs 65% at other areas of the field. Although I’m still standing behind Cooper as a buy-low target in season-long leagues, he remains best viewed as a volatile Thursday night play with wonky career stat lines of 5/29/0 > 10/129/0 > 2/20/0 > 4/69/0 against Kansas City. … Since signing with Oakland, Crabtree’s four stat lines versus the Chiefs are 4/21/0 > 2/10/0 > 3/34/1 > 5/45/1. This season, Crabtree has scored a touchdown and/or cleared 80 yards in 4-of-4 healthy games. Crabtree will run more routes at Peters than any other Raiders pass catcher, but he still plays 57% of his snaps elsewhere on the field. At worst, Crabtree is a solid WR3 play with WR2 upside. … Cook hasn’t reached 60 yards in a game this season and has only one target inside the ten-yard line on the year. As the Chiefs are allowing the league’s sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, Cook doesn’t stand out as a Week 7 streamer.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 23