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Fantasy Football Picks: Chiefs vs. Chargers DraftKings NFL DFS TNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. ET contest between the Chiefs and the Chargers with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

Well, we did it. We reached that magical point in the NFL schedule when there’s football on more nights than there’s not. It all gets started this Thursday when the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers square off in a pivotal battle for the AFC West crown. Honestly, it might just be the best game of Week 15, which is not something we often get to enjoy mid-week.

Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (KC vs LAC)


Captain’s Picks

Justin Herbert ($16,200 CP) - There’s no doubt that the Chiefs D/ST ($4,400) has been playing much better in the second-half of the season. In fact, while the unit ranks 17th overall in DVOA, by weighted DVOA, which accounts more heavily for recent performance, Kansas City sits seventh. Still, the team has surrendered the sixth-most DKFP per game to opposing QBs and this week’s matchup is a daunting task for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Herbert is also playing his best football of 2021. Dating back to Week 9, the former first-round pick is averaging an eye-popping 0.63 DKFP per drop back, all while leading the NFL within that same span in passing yards (1,828), passing touchdowns (14) and total DKFP (160.8). Simply put, Herbert makes throws that other quarterbacks can’t even dream about and having a healthy Keenan Allen ($9,400) back in the mix only makes him feel more unstoppable. On top of that, the Chiefs are banged up and will likely be without three key defensive starters in Chris Jones, L’Jarius Sneed and Willie Gay. That does not bode well.

Travis Kelce ($12,900 CP) - Speaking of important defensive injuries, Kelce’s already immense viability would only be improved if safety Derwin James — currently questionable with a hamstring issue — was ruled out on Thursday. However, regardless of who is eventually inactive, this appears to be a very tasty matchup for the All-Pro tight end. Not only did Kelce erupt for 104 receiving yards and 20.4 DKFP the last time these two teams faced each other, but Kelce is far from the only TE that the Chargers D/ST ($3,000) has had trouble with through 14 weeks. In fact, no unit in the league is allowing more receiving touchdowns per contest to opposing tight ends (0.8), while Los Angeles is also conceding 8.0 yards per target to the position — the fifth-highest mark in all of football. Kelce hasn’t been quite as dominant a force in the red zone in 2021 as in years past, but I’d be surprised if he finishes Thursday without his first receiving TD since Week 9. Obviously, it helps when Patrick Mahomes ($12,000) is the one on the other end of the connection, too.

FLEX Plays

Jalen Guyton ($4,800) - If you’re going to use Herbert, you could do worse than correlate his ceiling with the ceiling of his deep threat. We all know what Guyton is at this point. He’s high-risk, but high-reward. He’ll usually only see a few targets per contest, yet he’s been known to make the limited volume count, averaging a notable 17.9 yards per catch — the fifth-highest mark of any wideout with at least 20 receptions this season. Kansas City has also been burned a little more often than most teams by this type of asset. To wit, the Chiefs have allowed 11 opponent passing plays of over 40 yards in 2021, which stands as the third-most in the league. Guyton only needs one opportunity to break a slate open.

Darrel Williams ($3,200) - On a slate with this much star-power and so few skill-position injuries, you’re not going to be able to find many “slam dunk” value options. At the same time, I do think Williams is a little underpriced, even with Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($7,000) the No. 1 running back on the Chiefs’ depth chart. The LSU product has certainly been more utilized since he retuned to action in Week 11 — Edwards-Helaire has 36 carries to Williams’ 12 within that span — however it’s Williams that’s actually out-snapped the sophomore 85-to-84 in this three-game stretch. Williams has also remained an integral part of Kansas City’s passing attack, which is more than enough to make him viable on Thursday, especially in a matchup with a Chargers defense that’s bled DKFP to opposing RBs all season long.


Dustin Hopkins ($3,800) - I know, I know. Way to go out on a limb and recommend fading a kicker. Well, hear me out for a second. As mentioned above, this is a slate where it’s going to be difficult to save much salary. Generally in those types of Showdown contests, people turn to kickers for a little relief. So, all I’m saying here is: I’d rather be rostering Harrison Butker ($4,000). The reason? Well, for the first time in what seems like forever, the Chargers are an amazing red zone offense. Coming into Week 15, Los Angeles has scored a touchdown on 32.6% of its drives — the second-best mark in the NFL. The Chargers are also averaging an AFC-high 2.33 touchdowns for every field goal they’ve kicked in 2021. They’re just not a team that settles. Something else to keep in mind? Butker has has six kicks of more than 50 yards this season, while Hopkins has made just one. Kickers!


While I think I’m finally ready to start betting on the Chiefs again — they’re 4-0 ATS in their past four games after basically never covering for two years — I think I have to take the Chargers. Surprisingly, in a season that’s been dominated by dogs, home underdogs are only covering at a 46.5% clip in 2021, but this is more about Kansas City’s defense missing key players than any trends. It doesn’t hurt that the Chiefs haven’t covered the last four times they’ve faced Los Angeles, though.

Final Score: Los Angeles 31, Kansas City 27

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (KC vs LAC)

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