NFL

DFS start-sit advice for Chiefs-Raiders

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo is expanding its daily fantasy football options in 2021 with a single-game offering. Yahoo has a roster construction of one “Superstar” that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the “Superstar” salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

The Chiefs head to Las Vegas to take on the division-rival Raiders, who, at 5-3, are clinging to a tie for the lead of the AFC West. The Chiefs have been reeling offensively, and despite a winning 5-4 record, appear to be vastly underperforming expectations so far this season. After the Chiefs barely escaped Weeks 8 and 9 with two ugly wins against the Giants and the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers, the division truly feels up for grabs.

Depending on the type of contest we’re creating rosters for, we’ll need to adjust our player selection strategy. If playing in a tournament with a huge amount of contestants, it will be vitally important to play something other than the optimal lineup based on projections. Differentiating yourself from the rest of the field is equally valuable. Once we understand the type of roster we need to be building for the specific contest you’re trying to take down, we can then focus on player selection, working to identify combinations of players that could all hit their respective ceilings together, based on specific game environments. Slow, run-oriented defensive battles often allow very different players to hit their ceiling score compared to when a game is fast-paced and pass-happy.

Vegas Total and Spread

The current total for this game sits at 52.5, the third-highest of all the Week 10 games. The Chiefs, favored by 2.5 points, have an implied team total of 27.5 points compared to the Raiders’ 25.

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Weather

None, Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium is a dome.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

The Chiefs’ have some serious problems on both sides of the ball. Right from the start of the 2021 season, even casual observers could spot holes in the Kansas City defense, and little has improved as the season has worn on, as the Chiefs rank bottom-10 in points allowed per play and in PFF’s team defensive grade, and 30th in yards allowed per pass attempt. Over the last three weeks, the Kansas City offense has followed suit, producing three straight sub-par performances against the Titans, Giants, and Packers.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes ($36) has been at the center of the issues, as he’s averaged 5.4 yards per attempt over his last three starts, and has now thrown nine interceptions since Week 3. The Chiefs’ receivers haven’t done him many favors, as the team’s 20 dropped passes are second-highest among all NFL teams. And yet, despite all the visible flaws in recent weeks, the Vegas line suggests a rock-solid 27.5-point performance from this squad, and with Mahomes averaging 40.2 pass attempts per game, the ceiling potential for Mahomes and his two primary passing-game weapons, Tyreek Hill ($32) and Travis Kelce ($30), remains as high as ever. There’s likely no other FLEX player outside of those two who offer 30 fantasy-point upside.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hasn’t delivered his typical fantasy production, but he could get back on track against the Raiders in a friendly matchup. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hill’s production has been quite volatile during this tumultuous stretch for the Chiefs’ offense, but he still produced a 21-point fantasy performance in Week 8 and scored over 42 in Week 4. He’s averaging a staggeringly-high 12.5 targets per game over his last six contests and ranks No. 1 in the NFL in total air yards, making him an excellent option at the Superstar position. Not to be outdone, Travis Kelce’s 9.1 targets per game since Week 3 rank 12th among all players. He leads his position in receptions, yards after the catch, touchdowns, and fantasy points per game. While Las Vegas’ defense has been graded highly by PFF grades, the Raiders rank right at league-average in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to opposing offenses, which is enough evidence to suggest ceiling games are well within the range of outcomes for the Chiefs’ Big 3.

The best value play from the Chiefs is running back Darrel Williams ($17), who projects to have a majority of the backfield workload once again, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire not quite ready to return. Williams has averaged 21 opportunities over his last two starts, including a solid five targets, giving him a solid floor and a 25-point ceiling against the Raiders’ defense that allows the sixth-most yards per rush attempt in the NFL. Mecole Hardman ($10) also remains under-valued, as he’s seen seven targets per game over his last five starts, but outside of those two, the remaining Chiefs are all highly volatile dart-throw plays.

The Raiders’ Derek Carr ($33), who has scored between 20 and 25 fantasy points in five of eight games this season, will also likely lean on his two primary passing game weapons to keep the home underdog Raiders in the game. Darren Waller ($27) saw double-digit targets for the first time in six games in Week 9 and should be in line for a similar workload from Carr this Sunday. Hunter Renfrow ($17) has been ultra-consistent earning opportunities this season, seeing between five and nine targets in every game he’s played. Renfrow, a prototypical slot receiver, has a lower ceiling based on his route-tree, and likely only gets to his ceiling score via multiple touchdowns. Bryan Edwards ($10) and Foster Moreau ($15) round out the passing game but are expected to see, at most, four to five targets. In the backfield, expect Josh Jacobs ($20) to get his typical 12-15 carries, and is always a threat to find the end zone, especially against Kansas City’s middling defensive line, but Kenyan Drake ($16) continues to mix in plenty and earned a season-high eight targets in last week’s loss to the Giants. Drake could see extra work once again if the Raiders were to fall behind early.

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Close, low-scoring game

  • Darrel Williams

  • Travis Kelce

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Darren Waller

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Derek Carr

  • Hunter Renfrow

Close, high-scoring game

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Travis Kelce

  • Darren Waller

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Derek Carr

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Darrel Williams

  • Bryan Edwards

  • Mecole Hardman

Blowout for home team

  • Darren Waller

  • Derek Carr

  • Travis Kelce

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Kenyan Drake

  • Raiders

Blowout for away team

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Travis Kelce

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Darrel Williams

  • Darren Waller

  • Chiefs

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Kenyan Drake

Cheap/Unique Stack Options

Kenyan Drake ($16) and Derek Carr ($33)

Drake saw eight targets in the passing game against the Giants last week and should see his typical 4–10 carries on top of the receiving workload. By rostering him with Carr, you can set yourself to score fantasy points, theoretically, for every non-Josh Jacobs Raiders’ touchdown. An eight-target per game player is viable to stack with their quarterback, regardless of position.

Low Salary Volatile Plays

Bryan Edwards ($10)

Edwards has seen exactly four targets in four of his last five games. He’s seen between three and six looks in every game this season, but he’s still managed to produce three games with over 65 yards receiving and two over 80 yards. At the very least, he’s become a full-time player in recent weeks, averaging a 90.8% snap share since Week 7.

Mecole Hardman ($10)

The Chiefs have begun utilizing Hardman in a more traditional wide receiver role, and while it hasn’t shown in the production category, Hardman’s receiving opportunity continues to become more and more consistent. He’s seen six-plus opportunities in four of his last five starts and earned a career-high 12 targets in Week 5 against Buffalo. Always a threat to earn a rush or two as well, Hardman is averaging 8.3 yards per carry this season, as well.

Superstar Picks

Tyreek Hill ($32)

Second in the NFL in targets, third in deep targets, and third in targets per snap, Hill remains one of the most explosive players in the game and has 30-point potential every time he and Mahomes step on the field together.

Travis Kelce ($30)

A steadfast producer through much of the Chiefs’ recent tumult, Kelce has scored between 13 and 22 fantasy points in six of the Chiefs’ nine games and remains a near-lock for eight targets. He’ll still likely need multiple touchdowns to produce a “have to have it” score at his salary.

Darren Waller ($27)

The Chiefs rank fourth-worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, and Waller saw his second-highest target total of the season last week. Another week removed from the ankle injury that plagued him earlier in the season, Waller should continue his upward trajectory in targets, and the production should come with it.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position in middle school, Matt has been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, he loves to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone.

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