Each week, I will write a comprehensive introduction to each NFL game and all relevant players, contestants, pace and play-calling notes and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting up your alignments. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’ll also offer these more focused correspondence overviews.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning list of Fantasy Football Gear as you navigate your season. Of ours Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal alignment, based on accurate consensus projections – to ours Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
*Our team specific injury news and inactive player pages are linked below*
Justin Herbert: Last year against the Chiefs Justin Herbert was much better for fantasy (QB5, QB2) than in real life. He recorded two top five performances on the strength of a fourth passing score in one game and a rushing touchdown in the other. Herbert, through the air, was fine completing 63.1% of his passes (averaging 258.5 passing yards), but with only 6.8 yards per attempt to show for it. Despite destroying Kyler Murray in Week 1, this is not a pass to be afraid of. Last year the Chiefs gave up the eighth-highest adjusted completion percentage while sitting at ninth in yards per attempt and fourth in deep passing yards. The one thing Herbert might have is if the Chiefs’ pass rusher can come home. Last year Kansas City was fifth in pressure and eighth in rushing. Herbert had the 12th-highest completion percentage differential as a blitz and the tenth-lowest passer rating against the blitz (minimum 200 dropbacks). The scoring environment is nice, but Herbert could disappoint this week. He is a mid-level QB1.
Patrick Mahomes: Last year, the Bolts’ pass defense was 13th in yards per attempt and 14th in passing touchdowns allowed. Patrick Mahomes tore them apart in their two meetings, completing 63.7% of his passes and averaging 335 passing yards with a 6:3 passing touchdown to interception ratio. In those two games, Mahomes went deep on 11.1% of his passes, which likely won’t be the plan of attack in Week 2. Outside of those games, Mahomes had a 9.7% deep rate last year, down to 7.7% through one game. of the 2022 season. Mahomes should keep things short and let his receivers do that work against a team that allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards last year. Mahomes is a top 3-5 fantasy quarterback again this week.
Austin Thank you: Austin Ekeler wasn’t alone last week in the backfield. Ekeler only played 49% of the Chargers’ snaps, which is odd considering he only dipped below 58% of the snaps twice the entire 2021 season. The Bolts referenced wanting to keep Ekeler fresh by working in other backs. It’s one thing to hear about it and quite another to see it unfold. The biggest concern was Ekler’s 38.2% route through rebound rate. Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel stealing some early down work isn’t a massive concern, but with them eating into his routes, it’s something to watch, and it drops Ekeler into low-end RB1 territory. I don’t want to overreact to a one-week usage sample, but if we see this continue into Week 2, it might be time to hit the silent alarm button.
Austin Ekeler was the RB8 and RB5 last year in his two games against the Chiefs, averaging 16.5 touches and 94.5 total yards. Kansas City is a juicy matchup for Ekeler, as long as he gets the job. Last year they allowed the second-highest yards per attempt and ranked 26th in DVOA against receiving backs. They saw the fifth-most running back targets allowing the fourth-most receptions and third-most receiving yards.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Last week, before the Chiefs got the all-out thrashing of Arizona, Clyde Edwards-Helaire served as the leading back with ten touchdowns (Jerick McKinnon four, Isiah Pacheco two). Edwards-Helaire secured all three of his targets and, in total, turned his ten touches into 74 total yards. His 2.88 yards after contact per attempt in this small sample was strikingly similar to his rookie season (3.03). While the Chargers were eighth in DVOA against running backs through the air last year, they allowed the third-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns. After permission Josh Jacobs run for 5.7 yards per carry last week, they don’t look any different from the team that finished last year 28th in adjusted scrimmage yards and second-level yards. CEH is a strong RB2 again in Week 2.
Keenan Allen: I currently project him to miss this game, but stay glued to practice reports all week for clarity. Update: Keenan Allen has been ruled out for Week 2.
Mike Williams: Mike Williams failed in Week 1. There’s no way around it. Despite leading the team with 31 routes, he only saw an 11.8% target share with one air yard. Yes, you read that right. One air yard. His 3.8 aDOT in Week 1 was reminiscent of last year’s start to the season when it was 9.8 through three games. Yes, I know this is more extreme. I’m not ready to hit the panic button for a player who will be backed up by Herbert this week, with Keenan Allen likely out. The talent is still there. Williams was fifth in road wins last year.
Last year he averaged nine targets against Kansas City with one highlight-reel game (seven receptions, 122 receiving yards, WR1) and one touchdown (WR46). Williams ran about 84% of his routes on the outside last week, which means he’ll match up with a seventh-round rookie. Jaylen Watson and Rashad Fenton. Fenton allowed a 69.2% catch rate and a 91.2 passer rating last year. Herbert should take advantage of Williams’ size against the 5’11” 193-pound Fenton.
Joshua Palmer: Joshua Palmer finished second among wideouts in routes run last week (25). He was on the limit for 60% of his routes, which could continue or increase this week if DeAndre Carter repeats the slot role. Palmer was only targeted on 12.0% of his routes which was miserable. Palmer didn’t show the ability to draw targets at a high rate last year (18.1%, 76th) nor be efficient with them (1.31 yards per route run, 83rd), so count me under consensus on Palmer hype entering Week 2. Palmer could have a solid day simply based on volume against Watson and Fenton, but don’t expect a moon game. Palmer is a WR4 with upside.
DeAndre Carter: If you’re looking for a deep league or last-second starting candidate with upside, it’s DeAndre Carter. Carter came off the bench last week and ran from the slot on 71.4% of his snaps. He drew a target on 28.5% of his routes. Last year in the four games where he ran 25 or more routes with Washington, he posted yards per route run marks of 1.7 or higher three times (1.77, 1.70, 2.1). If Carter is the primary slot receiver again this week, I love his potential vs L’Jarius Sneed. Last year Sneed allowed a 75.0% catch rate and 100.5 passer in coverage.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Good I will mention before we discuss Juju Smith-Schuster that I was away. All the way on Smith-Schuster for 2022. If I was wrong about him I will happily own the L. Good now to Smith-Schuster. He was second among wide receivers in routes (one less than Marquez Valdes-Scantling) leading the group with a 20.5% target share and 54 passing yards (2.47 yards per route run). He rotated between the slot (42.9%) and outside. I wonder if we see his rate higher this week. When he’s out, he’ll fit in with Michael Davis and Thank you Samuel Jr. (assuming JC Jackson remains outside). Davis allowed a 55.0% catch rate and 97.4 passer rating last year. Samuel gave up a 67.9% catch rate and a 101.0 passer rating. Why I think Smith-Schuster’s slot usage could climb is to take advantage Bryce Callahan. Callahan stands at 5’9″ which would be advantageous from the jump for Smith-Schuster (6’1″). Callahan allowed a 66.7% catch rate and a 102.0 passer rating last season.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Marquez Valdes-Scantling was just a guy last week. He only pulled a 10.3% target share despite running a route on 80.4% of dropbacks. With only one red zone target and lacking the deep role (zero deep targets), he is a weekly flex play for Week 2. He will run about 65% of his routes against Davis and Samuel.
Mecole Hardman: Mecole Hardman is the usage powder keg that could explode in Week 2. Hardman only ran a route on 60.9% of Mahomes’ dropbacks, but the explosion could account for some of that. Hardman was utilized from the slot on 63% of his routes which pins him against Callahan in Week 2. This great love for Hardman comes from his high leverage target usage. He was the only wide receiver to see a deep target (two) in Week 1 while also leading the way in red zone targets (three). Unless you’re in a deeper league or dynasty format, you probably won’t have to go deep to Hardman for a flex in Week 2, but if you’re in this spot, the payoff could be big.
Gerald Everett: Gerald Everett’s Week 1 usage was nice. He ran a route on 67.6% of dropbacks. In a perfect world, would we want that closer to 75%? Sure, but his other peripherals were encouraging. While he only commanded an 11.8% target share, he led the team with two red zone targets and managed 2.35 yards per route run. These are numbers we can certainly live with. The Chiefs were a middle-of-the-road matchup last year, ranking 17th in DVOA and 15th in receptions, and receiving yards allowed to tight ends.
Travis Kelce: Travis Kelce was Travis Kelce in Week 1. He ranked fourth in target share (23.1%), first in receiving yards (121), and tied for first in red zone targets (two) among tight ends. Last season Kelce destroyed the Chargers, and he is ready to do it again in 2022. He averaged a ridiculous 12 targets, 8.5 receptions and 147.5 receiving yards against the Bolts finishing as the TE4 and TE1. After permission Darren Waller to rumble for 79 yards on four catches last week, the Chargers’ defense looks a lot like the squad that ranked 23rd in DVOA with the most receiving yards and the second-most receiving touchdowns allowed to tight ends last year.
Thursday Night Football DFS Games
Top shelf captains: Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Patrick Mahomes, Juju Smith-Schuster
Opposing captains / Flex plays: Gerald Everett, Mike Williams, DeAndre Carter, Mecole Hardman, Austin Ekeler