[sc name=”Author – Taylor Maxton”]
Carson Wentz keeps looking better and better, doesn’t he?
The sophomore quarterback showed up big time in a 28-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers to the tune of three passing touchdowns, adding to the thrill of a high-scoring Thursday Night Football game. Cam Newton, on the other hand, struggled mightily in the passing game with three interceptions, though his fantasy day was largely salvaged by a team-leading 71 rush yards that included a leaping touchdown. For those of you that had to start Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, my condolences. He was once again out-snapped by rookie Christian McCaffrey who managed to have an exceptional game through the air with 10 receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Now, no longer flawless after a defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Kansas City Chiefs head to Oakland for a shot at redemption on a short week. Oakland has struggled mightily as of late, with the team being on a four-game losing skid. They will be fired up to prove that they still have what it takes to compete in the AFC West and defeat the current division leader. Let’s dive into what owners should expect fantasy-wise in this divisional matchup!
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Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Date and Start Time: Thursday, October 19 at 8:00 PM ET
Notable Injuries and Status:
- Charcandrick West (RB, KC) – Concussion – Inactive
- Albert Wilson (WR, KC) – Knee – Inactive
- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (OG, KC) – Knee – Active
- Gareon Conley (CB, OAK) – Shin – Inactive
- Marshall Newhouse (OT, OAK) – Foot – Inactive
Offensive and Defensive Rankings (2017):
Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup
Kareem Hunt (RB, KC)
The league’s leading rusher through the first five games of the regular season was forced back down to earth in Week 6, as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top-three defense in yards allowed per game held him to nine carries for 21 yards on the ground. On the other hand, his five receptions for 89 yards showed that Hunt is still a centerpiece of the Kansas City offense and has the opportunity for a big-time bounce-back in a matchup against an average Oakland rushing defense. The old adage of start your studs applies here: let Hunt stay a fixture in your starting lineup.
Travis Kelce (TE, KC)
Kelce remains firmly nestled as a top-shelf option at the tight end position, ranking 12th in the league in receiving yards as a result of having plenty of opportunity in Andy Reid’s quick-action passing game. He and Tyreek Hill will see the lion’s share of targets, with Kelce representing the big-bodied touchdown machine against a Raiders team that has allowed four top-10 tight ends through six regular season games. He is an every-week start given his situation, talent, and the scarcity of the tight end position in general.
Michael Crabtree (WR, OAK)
It’s tough to know in advance which member of the Oakland Raider’s receiving corps will draw the tough coverage assignment from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, but Crabtree is nearly impossible to sit given his unparalleled consistency. Outside of a Week 6 dud stat line of one reception for seven yards, he has never had below six receptions and 50 receiving yards in a game this season. Factor in that the Chiefs have surrendered 10 touchdowns and an average of 39.4 PPR points per game to wide receivers and you get a very startable WR2 in Crabtree with WR1 upside.
Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup
Charcandrick West (RB, KC)
This should serve as more of a precautionary warning than anything, but those expecting West to be a serviceable fantasy option would do well to keep him on their bench. He is a definitive spell-back in an offense that prefers to keep its No. 1 back in Kareem Hunt on the field for the majority of snaps, as is made clear by West never receiving more than two carries in a game this season. He did manage to vulture two touchdowns in Week 5, but the volume will never be there for West barring any form of injury to the stud ahead of him. On the slim chance that he is active, don’t bother starting him.
Marshawn Lynch (RB, OAK)
Sitting atop Oakland’s running back depth chart, Lynch has failed to live up to expectations as a bell cow in a high-powered offense. He ran for his highest yardage total since Week 1 when he rushed for 63 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers’ putrid run defense on Sunday, but has looked slow and clearly lacks the burst to break off for long gains. When you start Lynch, you are praying for him to stumble for a touchdown that can lift his production into the serviceable RB2 range. While the Chiefs’ 27th ranked rushing defense looks to be a prime time to spot-start Lynch, the lack of a proven passing game will mean plenty of stacked boxes and another rough outing.
Amari Cooper (WR, OAK)
Speaking of Oakland’s disappointing aerial attack, their deep receiving threat in Cooper has been virtually absent over the last four games with a grand total of nine receptions for 51 yards. Despite leading the team in targets, Cooper seems to have gone to the phantom zone and is operating as more of a decoy for the rest of the offense to benefit from. His 50-percent catch rate on balls thrown his way should serve as the nail in the coffin that condemns Cooper to your bench until he can show signs of life.
Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?
Solid Option: Alex Smith (QB, KC)
Much like his running back, Smith was stymied by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game where the offense as a whole generated only six total yards in the first half. However, Smith should remain in the discussion as a consistent QB1 considering he has scored more than 15 points in every game this season. With both of his top-2 receiving options ready to go, Smith can only go up from here.
Solid Option: Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)
To put it bluntly, Hill is the spark that ignites the Kansas City Chief’s offense. He has little to no competition around him, especially considering breakout candidate Chris Conley‘s placement on injured reserve with an achilles injury, and generates an absurd 5.1 yards after the catch. Head coach Andy Reid loves having as flexible a player as Hill in his starting lineup and you should too given Oakland’s lack of speed at the cornerback position. His neck injury is of some concern given his small frame, but it’s unlikely fantasy owners have a quality option like Hill waiting on their bench. He is a high ceiling, high floor WR2 play this week.
Sleeper: Derek Carr (QB, OAK)
Coming off of a broken leg that derailed his 2016/17 MVP candidate year, Carr hasn’t looked quite like the prolific passer we are used to seeing. That being said, he draws a great matchup with the Chiefs that should at least earn him streaming consideration. Kansas City owns Pro Football Focus’s second-worst pass-rush grade, whereas Oakland’s O-line has the top pass-blocking efficiency rating (87.2) with the fewest pressures (30), hurries (19), and hits (0) allowed. I’m going to go out on a limb on this one and say that Carr bounces back with a big performance against the Chief’s bottom-12 pass defense.