Monday Night Football
Denver @ Kansas City
Team Totals: Chiefs 25, Broncos 18
After two straight losses, this is an increasingly must-win game for Kansas City in its fight for home-field playoffs advantage. Alex Smith maintains the keys to Andy Reid’s offense and has consistently delivered in the box score with top-12 fantasy results in 6-of-7 starts, including four top-six finishes. He has a sterling 15:0 TD-to-INT ratio on the year. Smith’s Week 8 matchup is far from ideal against a Broncos defense that has held four straight quarterbacks to fantasy finishes of QB16 or worse. Although I would balk at DFS investments into Smith, I am riding with him in season-long leagues. … Kareem Hunt’s matchup can’t be construed as positive against a Broncos run defense that ranks No. 1 in DVOA and has held enemy running backs to 3.08 yards per carry. Ezekiel Elliott (9/8/0), LeSean McCoy (14/21/0), and Melvin Gordon twice (18/54/0, 18/38/0) have all been erased by Denver on the ground. In season-long lineup decisions, the bet here is on Hunt as an individual player. Hunt leads the league in rushing (717) and yards from scrimmage (1,002), and has totaled 100-plus yards in 7-of-7 games to begin his career.
Smith’s Weeks 6-7 targets, since Chris Conley hit I.R.: Tyreek Hill 15; Demarcus Robinson 13; Travis Kelce 12; Hunt 10; De’Anthony Thomas and Demetrius Harris 5; Albert Wilson 2; Charcandrick West 1. … Befitting his skill set, Hill has been a spiked-week player lacking a great floor in his sophomore season. He had one big game and one solid one in last year’s two Broncos meetings, finishing as the PPR WR7 against them in Week 12 and the WR24 in Week 16. Even with high-variance production, Hill should be teed up every week in season-long leagues and always makes for a viable DFS tournament play. … The Broncos have shown extreme tight end vulnerability since cutting SS T.J. Ward, surrendering 10/97/1 to Jason Witten in Week 2, 7/70/1 to Bills tight ends in Week 3, 5/61/0 to Raiders tight ends in Week 4, 6/88/1 to Giants tight ends in Week 6, and 5/77/0 to Chargers tight ends last week. Kelce went off on Denver twice last year (8/101/0, 11/160/1). … Not a single wide receiver has reached 65 yards against the Broncos’ secondary this season. Robinson is worth rostering in deep leagues for his expanded role in Conley’s (Achilles’) absence, but I’d have a hard time trusting him as an actual starter on Monday night.
Including January’s playoffs, the Chiefs have held each of their last nine opponents to 20 points or fewer at Arrowhead Stadium. Teams visiting K.C. have averaged 16.5 points per game in that span. The Chiefs have major defensive weaknesses versus both the run and pass, but I’m skeptical Trevor Siemian is capable of exploiting them. Siemian has failed to finish as a top-20 fantasy passer in three of his last four starts and has reached 260 passing yards in 1-of-6 games this season. I still think Siemian is a viable two-quarterback-league play against a Chiefs defense that has been rocked for quarterback results of QB1 (Derek Carr), QB1 (Deshaun Watson), QB12 (Kirk Cousins), and QB2 (Carson Wentz) in four of its last six games. … Kansas City has been gashed for a 118/545/4.62/3 rushing line by running backs in its last five games. The matchup is nothing to fear for C.J. Anderson, but his usage is an increasing concern. Denver stayed true to its three-way RBBC in last week’s shutout loss to the Chargers, limiting Anderson to 11 touches on 59% of the snaps while Jamaal Charles (8, 23%) was next in line and Devontae Booker (5, 17%) came in third. Anderson is a risky RB2/flex, and the rest of the Broncos’ backfield is unplayable.
Siemian’s Weeks 1-7 target distribution: Demaryius Thomas 50; Emmanuel Sanders 42; Bennie Fowler 29; AJ Derby 23; Anderson 14; Charles 11; Booker and Virgil Green 10. … I’m writing this as if Sanders (foot) won’t play in Kansas City. … As Thomas runs 62% of his routes at right and slot cornerbacks, he projects to avoid stationary Chiefs LCB Marcus Peters on well over half of his snaps. Kansas City has allowed big games to Amari Cooper (11/210/2), Antonio Brown (8/155/1), Travis Benjamin (5/105/0), Danny Amendola (6/100/0), Alshon Jeffery (7/92/1), Brandin Cooks (3/88/0), Terrelle Pryor (3/70/1), Will Fuller (2/57/2), DeAndre Hopkins (4/52/3), and Michael Crabtree (3/24/1). … With Sanders on the shelf last week, Derby ran his second-most routes (28) of the season, setting year highs in targets (7) and catches (6). Derby still plays only half of Denver’s offensive snaps, but he’s worth streamer discussion against an Eric Berry-less Chiefs defense that Jared Cook (6/107/0) roasted last week. … Jordan Taylor got the Week 7 start in place of Sanders, only to get erased (1/7/0) by Chargers CB Trevor Williams as Casey Hayward shut down Thomas (2/9/0). Taylor runs a team-high 46% of his routes to Peters’ side of the field. … Fowler logged a season-high 83% snap rate in Sanders’ absence, catching 5-of-5 targets for 45 yards. Albeit far from a sexy play, Fowler is worth a serious look against Chiefs slot CB Phillip Gaines, who is PFF’s No. 113-graded cornerback out of 113. Fowler plays 78% of his snaps in the slot.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 20, Broncos 17