NFL Grind Down: Week 7

Written by Notorious

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.

NOTE: Games will be published as they are completed. Primetime matchups are free for all users. Main slate breakdowns can only be accessed by Premium subscribers.

Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.

Vegas Overview

KCC @ DEN Team Spread Total Implied Moneyline
DEN 3 49 23 144
KCC -3 49 26 -166

Betting Quick Take: The Chiefs have uncharacteristically lost back-to-back home games, while the Broncos have picked up two wins in a row. I know Denver is a difficult place to play, but this line would be closer to a touchdown if this game was being played in Week 5. In DFS and in the betting market, most tend to overreact to recent performance. In my eyes, the Chiefs are clearly the better team and they have the chance to take control of the division with a win on Thursday. The line opened at four points and has been bet down to three points, which is music to my ears. If the Chiefs win by a field goal, the bet is a push. I generally don’t love betting on road favorites, but give me the Chiefs in this one. As for the total, I don’t have a strong feel on the 49 points. The Broncos will try to establish the run early, which could lead to a low scoring first half. If forced to choose, I would lean toward the under.

Kansas City -3
Confidence Level: 6 out of 10

Under 49
Confidence Level: 5 out of 10

Injury Situations

Player Team Pos Status Part Impact
Sammy Watkins KCC WR Q Hamstring 7

Injuries to Monitor:

Denver — The Broncos are surprisingly healthy entering Week 7. The only injury of note is right tackle Ja’Waun James, who has been out since Week 1. He is listed as questionable with a knee injury.

Kansas City — The Chiefs aren’t nearly as healthy as the Broncos. Sammy Watkins has already been ruled out of Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury. Tyreek Hill, DeMarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman will continue to round out three-receiver sets. Left tackle Eric Fisher (out since Week 2) and Andrew Wylie (missed last week) have both been ruled out for this week’s game. On the defensive end, cornerback Kendall Fuller has been ruled out, while cornerback Bashaud Breeland is listed as questionable. The Chiefs will be without defensive tackle Chris Jones.

Other News and Notes: The forecast calls for great weather in this one. It’s expected to be in the high 60s at kick-off with negligible winds. Mile High is always a tough place to play given the elevation, but the Broncos have their biggest home-field advantage when it’s cold in Denver and they are facing a warm weather team.

Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations

Expected Game Pace and Tempo: The Colts and Texans laid out the blueprint on how you can beat the Chiefs — run the ball and dominate time of possession. The pace of this game will hinge on whether or not the Broncos can keep this game close. If they are within a touchdown, expect them to lean heavily on their ground game and look to milk the clock. This isn’t far from their season long game-plan, as they are ranked below the league average in situation-neutral pace and plays per game. However, if the Chiefs are able to get out to an early lead, the Broncos will be forced to air it out. This would really help the pace of play for the game as a whole, as the Chiefs will look to push the tempo regardless (top five in plays per second and situation-neutral pace).

Denver Broncos Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Rank Proj ProjAtt ProjYds
Joe Flacco DEN 16.48 QB19 38.29 274.89
RB Team Rank Proj ProjRu% ProjTar%
Phillip Lindsay DEN 12.9 RB15 44% 10%
Royce Freeman DEN 11.5 RB24 46% 7%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Courtland Sutton DEN 15.22 WR15 25% 9.38
Emmanuel Sanders DEN 13.85 WR25 21% 7.85
DaeSean Hamilton DEN 7.71 WR67 13% 4.98
Noah Fant DEN 8.45 TE11 14% 5.36

KCC Adj. Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 13/ RB Rank 6/ WR Rank 22/ TE Rank 18

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Lindsay 49%, Freeman 54%
Rush Share: Lindsay 52%, Freeman 41%
Target Share: Lindsay 14%, Freeman 14%

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
O-Line Adjusted Line Yards: DEN 4.84 (6th)
D-Line Adjusted Line Yards: KC 5.33 (32nd)
DVOA against the run: KC 31st

With this being a Thursday night game, I will try to focus on the fantasy appeal for both the showdown slate and the full week slate. If we look strictly at the workload for the two running backs in Denver, you wouldn’t expect Royce Freeman to be the one leading the way in terms of snaps for this backfield. While he’s played on 5% more of the snaps, Phillip Lindsay has the higher rush share (52%), he’s seen significantly more redzone work (15 touches), and he has all of the touchdowns (four). Even though Lindsay has been the more productive back of the two, they still have similar projections in terms of their rush attempt share and their target share for this week’s game against the Chiefs. Freeman is significantly cheaper than Lindsay in showdown and will likely carry lower ownership as well.

In terms of the matchup, there are few better for running backs than the Kansas City Chiefs. On the season, they are ranked dead last in adjusted line yards (5.33) and 31st in DVOA against the run. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ offensive line has generated the sixth most adjusted line yards. We’ve seen the Colts and Texans run on the Chiefs in each of the last two weeks, which laid out the blueprint on how to beat this team. Assuming the game stays competitive, the Broncos will look to lean on their running game, especially early. Both running backs are viable options in showdown and it’s not the craziest idea to play them in the same lineup in large-field tournaments if you think the Broncos have a realistic chance at winning this game. While I like the Chiefs in this one, the line is set at only three points.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Sutton 91%, Sanders 75%, Hamilton 63%, Fant 69%
Target Share: Sutton 27%, Sanders 18%, Hamilton 12%, Fant 10%
Air Yards Share: Sutton 46%, Sanders 24%, Hamilton 12%, Fant 14%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
DVOA against the pass: KC 11th
DYAR: Flacco +44 (24th)
QBR: Flacco 57.9 (10th)

Even though he’s paid like an elite quarterback, Joe Flacco is more of a game manager at this stage of his career. He’s been fairly efficient with the 10th highest quarterback rating in the league, but he’s been extremely game flow dependent. In the two games that the Broncos have one, he has averaged 24 pass attempts, 180 passing yards, and eight fantasy points. In the four game they have lost, he has averaged 37 pass attempts, 269 passing yards, and 16 fantasy points. Quarterbacks are always viable in single-game slates, especially if you expect the Chiefs to build a lead. The Broncos should be able to find success on the ground, but they could be forced to air it out if they find themselves in a hole early.

Emmanuel Sanders looked great in his first few games back from that Achilles injury, but has cooled off drastically over the last few weeks. Courtland Sutton has clearly established himself as the number one in Denver, commanding a 27% target share and a massive 46% air yards share. He’s drawn coverage from opposing team’s top cornerbacks, but has still managed to put up big fantasy outings this season. We shouldn’t be scared of a Chiefs’ secondary that doesn’t possess a shutdown corner. We actually have Sutton as the WR15 for the week, which is one spot ahead of Tyreek Hill. The latter definitely offers the higher ceiling, but I agree with the projections and prefer Sutton over Hill on a point-per-dollar basis.

Even though Sanders has put up fantasy duds in three of his last four games, he’s still capable of putting up a tournament-winning performance for this showdown slate. I’m not going out of my way to target him, but he should be included in your MME player pools, especially if you are building lineups with the thought that the Broncos will be trailing in this game. DaeSean Hamilton is a talented young receiver, but he’s not seeing enough targets to warrant consideration. Noah Fant hasn’t topped 40 receiving yards this season, but I will go out on a limb and say he tops that mark against the Chiefs. He has a decent 10% target share and a respectable 14% air yards share. He draws an exploitable matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed the third most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Team Quick Summary: For the full week slate, I wouldn’t go out of my way to target any of the Broncos. I know it’s tempting to target players from the Thursday night game, but players tend to be over-owned in this game. For the showdown slate, there are plenty of options at our disposal. I like to build showdown lineups with the game script in mind. For instance, if the Broncos are able to win this game, they are going to lean heavily on their run game. In those lineups, you’ll want to target Phillip Lindsay and/or Royce Freeman and bring it back with the Chiefs’ passing attack. If the Broncos fall behind early, they will be forced to air it out, which would be great news for Joe Flacco, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant. Given the altitude and the high total, the kicker Brandon McManus is firmly in play as well.

Kansas City Chiefs Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Patrick Mahomes KCC 23.59 QB1 38.34 299.38
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
Damien Williams KCC 9.18 RB36 30% 6%
LeSean McCoy KCC 9.62 RB33 44% 5%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Tyreek Hill KCC 15.05 WR16 22% 8.43
Sammy Watkins KCC 11.73 WR39 17% 6.52
Demarcus Robinson KCC 10.35 WR47 15% 5.75
Travis Kelce KCC 16.26 TE3 24% 9.01

DEN Adj. Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 30/ RB Rank 14/ WR Rank 30/ TE Rank 23

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share (Week 6): McCoy 50%, Dam. Williams 38%
Rush Share (Week 6): McCoy 73%, Dam. Williams 9%
Target Share (Week 6): McCoy 6%, Dam. Williams 7%

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
O-Line Adjusted Line Yards: KC 3.44 (30th)
D-Line Adjusted Line Yards: DEN 4.34 (16th)
DVOA against the run: DEN 14th

Before the Chiefs brought in LeSean McCoy, we all expected Damien Williams to be a workhorse running back. We were dealing with a very small sample size, but he really excelled in that role last season after Kareem Hunt was let go and Spencer Ware went down with an injury. McCoy’s presence has made it tough to predict fantasy production in this backfield on a weekly basis and it doesn’t help that the Chiefs are ranked 28th in run play percentage this season. If you are playing the full week slate, this is an easy situation to avoid completely. For the showdown slate, it would be surprising if one of the two didn’t have a noteworthy performance.

The matchup against the Broncos is mediocre at best. Their defensive line is ranked 16th in adjusted line yards and as a team they are ranked 14th in DVOA against the run. The Chiefs have had little success in terms of run blocking, as their offensive line is ranked 30th in adjusted line yards. I expect most to gravitate to McCoy this week after playing 50% of the snaps and handling 73% of the rush share against the Texans. Personally, I see Williams as the better pass-catcher of the two and that’s really what we should be looking to target in this offense. I don’t mind avoiding both running backs in showdown, but would lean toward Williams in tournaments.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share (Week 6): Hill 50%, Robinson 86%, Hardman 55%, Pringle 59%, Kelce 97%
Target Share (Week 6): Hill 29%, Robinson 12%, Hardman 12%, Pringle 9%, Kelce 18%
Air Yards Share (Week 6): Hill 54%, Robinson 23%, Hardman 2%, Pringle 6%, Kelce 11%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
DVOA against the pass: DEN 7th
DYAR: Mahomes +756 (1st)
QBR: Mahomes 76.6 (3rd)

Patrick Mahomes has topped at least 20 fantasy points in every single game this season. He has been dealing with an ankle injury, but I’m not overly concerned. In my opinion, he’s still the best quarterback in the NFL and we should have no issue targeting him in a showdown slate against the Broncos. He has the highest raw projection of any player for the slate and is firmly in play when it comes to selecting a captain. This is not a great matchup by any means, as Denver is a difficult place to play and the Broncos are ranked seventh in DVOA against the pass. While I have respect for this defense, they’ve had a string of easy matchups to start the season. In their two meetings last season, Mahomes put up 26 and 30 fantasy points.

The real question isn’t whether or not to play Mahomes in showdown, it’s whom to pair him up with. Tyreek Hill has an excellent track record in primetime games, but he’ll draw the coverage of Chris Harris, who has really played well over the last few weeks. Of cornerbacks that have played at least 50% of the snaps this season, he has the ninth highest coverage grade (according to ProFootballFocus). It’s not that Hill can’t win a one-on-one matchup against any cornerback and he should certainly be included in your MME player pool, but he’s not my favorite wideout in this particular matchup. The Broncos have only allowed two touchdowns to receivers all season and are ranked first in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position.

Travis Kelce currently has the same receiving yards prop as Hill at 74.5 yards. He has topped that mark in each of his last five meetings against the Broncos. Sure, Denver has a new head coach and a different scheme on defense this season, but it doesn’t hurt that Kelce has fared well in this matchup in the past. On the season, he has a 22% target share and a 25% air yards share. If anything, having Hill back in the lineup should open up targets for Kelce over the middle of the field. While he’s not exactly sneaky, I do think his captain ownership will be fairly low. With Sammy Watkins out, DeMarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle will continue to split snaps and targets. I don’t view any of them as single-entry plays for showdown, but they can all be added to your MME player pool.

Team Quick Summary: Generally, if you play snaps for the Chiefs, you deserve consideration in a single-game slate. They haven’t been able to get much going on the ground, which makes me most interested in Patrick Mahomes. Even though he’s been dealing with an ankle injury and even though he only has four touchdowns over his last three games combined, he has topped 20 fantasy points in every game this season. My favorite wideout to pair him with is Travis Kelce, who draws a better matchup than Tyreek Hill and the other receivers.

DFS Recommendations

Optimal DFS Plays: Courtland Sutton (SD), Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce

Leverage Plays: Phillip Lindsay (SD), Royce Freeman (SD), Brandon McManus, Joe Flacco (SD), Noah Fant (SD), Tyreek Hill, Harrison Butker

Secondary Plays: Emmanuel Sanders (SD), Damien Williams (SD), DeMarcus Robinson (SD), Mecole Hardman

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