Thursday Night Football: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback – Derek Carr has put together three solid performances in a row, but has a tough task this week as he heads to Kansas City to play in a very hostile environment. This is a rematch from Week 6, a game where he threw for 225 yards and a touchdown, to go along with two turnovers. Carr has yet to throw over 222 passing yards on the road against the Chiefs in his career and surprisingly has never thrown more than one touchdown in any Arrowhead Stadium appearances. He is a talented quarterback and has been playing well, but this is a situation where his ceiling is capped and in a matchup where he has struggled in the past.
Running Back – Latavius Murray sat out in the Raiders last meeting against the Chiefs, but has scored three touchdowns in four career games against them. This matchup is not ideal as Kansas City has been solid against the run this season, but in recent games they have been a bit more generous to running backs as they are yielding 29.7 carries and 100 rushing yards per game over their last three. Another interesting thing is that Murray has set season highs in touches in consecutive weeks and has 20+ touches in three of his last four games, scoring six touchdowns over that stretch. In addition, he accounts for 66.7 percent of the red zone rushes. Murray remains affordable across the industry and taking everything into consideration, he makes for an interesting tournament play.
Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree continues to lead the team in targets and receiving touchdowns. He has been peppered with 24 targets in his last two games and is averaging 9.3 targets per game for the season, which is good for 24.8 percent of the Raiders target share. He is also responsible for 23.5 percent of the red zone targets. As talented as Cooper is, Crabtree has simply outproduced him and remains the more consistent of the two receivers in Oakland. It is worth noting, that Crabtree’s worst game this season thus far, came against the Chiefs. Amari Cooper scored a touchdown last week, but was targeted just four times and has been targeted fewer than nine times in four straight games. For the season, he is averaging 8.7 targets per game and accounts for 23 percent of the Raiders target share. Cooper is hit or miss, he has scored single digit fantasy points three times this season and fewer than 15 fantasy points seven times this season, but has also topped 30 fantasy points multiple times (based on DK scoring). That being said, the last time he faced the Chiefs he had one of his better games, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 129 yards. The matchup is actually a favorable one for this duo as the Chiefs are yielding 203.6 receiving yards to opposing wide outs and have surrendered 15 receiving touchdowns on the year.
Tight End – The Raiders do not utilize the tight end position enough in the passing game to warrant much consideration to their tight ends.
Defense – It is tempting to start a defense against the Chiefs offense as they are as vanilla as it gets, but this unit has underwhelmed all season and are very difficult to trust. The last time they faced each other, the Raiders defense scored one fantasy point.
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback – Alex Smith has not thrown more than one touchdown pass in a single game since Week 7 against the Saints and has thrown for multiple touchdowns just three times this season. He has scored fewer than 18 fantasy points in all but three games and continues to display his lack of upside. The matchup this week against the Raiders is a favorable one for Smith, but that does not make a difference for him. In Week 6 when they faced each other, he threw for 224 passing yards and did not throw a touchdown, scoring single digit fantasy points.
Running Back – Spencer Ware is coming off of a two touchdown game against a defense that struggles against backs and gets another favorable matchup this week. He faces a Raiders defense that is yielding 111.5 rushing yards per game and has given up 11 rushing touchdowns. In their last meeting, he had a big outing against them, rushing for 131 yards on 24 carries and catching two passes for 32 yards. Even on a short week, this is an excellent situation for Ware who has at least 16 touches in four straight games and is in a spot where he should be able to excel in.
Wide Receiver – Jeremy Maclin has missed the last four games with a groin injury, but is expected to play this week. After a pair of solid games to start the season, Maclin has been unflattering the rest of the way. The one interesting thing about him this week is his price as it is the lowest it has been all season. Tyreek Hill has played well during Maclin’s absence, averaging 61.8 receiving yards, 8.5 targets, and seven receptions per game, while scoring a pair of touchdowns. He led the Chiefs wide outs in every category during that four game stretch and by a wide margin. If Maclin suffers any setbacks and sits this one out, Hill is an interesting tournament option despite the increased price tag. Albert Wilson caught all four of his targets last week for 48 yards and found the pay dirt on a running play, but has not done much else with his increased role. Therefore, he is not someone that is worth much consideration. The Raiders are yielding 178.8 receiving yards per game and have surrendered 12 receiving touchdowns to opposing wide outs. Making this a middling matchup for this group of receivers.
Tight End – Travis Kelce remains hot as he has now topped 100 receiving yards in three straight games and has eclipsed the century mark in four of his last six contests. In his last six games, he is averaging 9.2 targets, 6.3 receptions, and 89.8 receiving yards per game. In sites such as DraftKings, he has exceeded 20 fantasy points four times over that stretch. This is a favorable matchup for Kelce as the Raiders have allowed +1.4 points above expectations to opposing tight ends and are yielding 4.8 receptions and 59.8 receiving yards per game, while giving up five touchdowns. It is uncertain how Maclin’s return will impact Kelce, but the way he has been playing as of late makes it very difficult to disregard him this week, considering the matchup as well.
Defense – This unit did a fine job against the Raiders last time they faced each other and have played better at home this season. Despite giving up more yardage in Kansas City, they have forced more turnovers and are allowing fewer points per game. Although the Raiders offense is not one to typically pick on, this is a division game and the Chiefs are familiar with this team. Plus it is the second time they face each other this season, which usually bodes well for the defense rather than the quarterback. This is a unit that forces turnovers, gets sacks, and has scored several touchdowns this season. They are in play.