Week 1 Daily Fantasy Football: Which Players Should You Target in Patriots vs. Chiefs Contest?
Pro football is officially back in action on Thursday night, as the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs prepare to wage war. It’s a game of interesting narratives, as Tom Brady and co. prepare to defend their Super Bowl title and the Chiefs understandably don’t want to start 2017 off at 0-1.
On the flip side, the Patriots aren’t going 16-0, but if they’re going to, that popular plight begins here against a solid opponent.
It’s actually even bigger than that for the Chiefs, who could be eyeing this game as a true measuring stick. KC went 12-4 and won the AFC West a year ago, but ultimately ended the year with nothing to show for it.
Will Andy Reid and co. go down as overachievers, or can they finally prove right here in week one that they’re an elite team to fear?
Daily Fantasy Targets – Chiefs vs. Patriots
Just as important as the Pats flexing their muscle and the Chiefs trying to stand their ground is the impact this kickoff game has on the NFL DFS scene.
Daily fantasy football returns to our lives on Thursday if you’re part of the “full week” slates at DraftKings and FanDuel, where you can use options from this contest, as well as all of the games on Sunday and Monday.
That gives DFS gamers a wide range of options to choose from and may have many wondering if it’s even wise to target this game for daily fantasy weapons. In some spots, the answer is yes.
However, getting too giddy about the start of the 2017 NFL season can often create inflated ownership in the first game, so it’s best to temper your expectations or at least diversify your DFS portfolio to start the new year.
The first thing we need to consider is the Patriots are concrete favorites at the top NFL betting sites like GT Bets, where you’ll see a 9-point spread and -440 Money Line. Obviously, Vegas likes New England here and if the game is going to provide that much of a gap, odds are we’ll want to lean in favor of Patriots DFS options.
Still, we want to also look at it from both sides, as game flow and matchups can tell us things the sportsbooks won’t always necessarily be able to.
One good way to do that is to assess which options should or shouldn’t be used by looking at past data, individual position rankings and any other data that can be deemed useful. Without further haste, here are our favorite options from Thursday that you should consider rostering for week one:
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
As if you’ve ever needed a good reason to roster Tom Terrific. While using Tom Brady is generally an afterthought, some could be concerned because he is now 40 years old and will be facing a talented Kansas City defense.
Perhaps those could be red flags, but Brady is at home, where he tends to dominate. We do need to consider KC’s weak points, though. They finished 26th against the run in 2016 and just 18th against the pass. Those aren’t staggering (or even good) numbers, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Brady put up solid numbers.
It’s probably worth noting that Brady was just fine (302 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) the last time he faced this defense – in the 2016 playoffs. Counter that with the loss of reliable slot receiver Julian Edelman, and an expensive Brady just might be contrarian.
Super Bowl winners fare well in week one, Brady crushes at home and he’s worked this very defense over before. I doubt he’s anything less than decent to start off 2017.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
We’re skipping Alex Smith because he’s Alex Smith and the Patriots are probably going to keep him from blowing up. Smith tends to do that all by himself, but still.
Bypassing the Patriots’ running game isn’t a bad idea in week one, either. Kansas City’s run defense isn’t scary, but the trust we have in New England pushing forward a defined DFS asset in their backfield kind of is.
Mike Gillislee and Red Burkhead are the options to look at, but James White and Dion Lewis could be plenty active, as well. Gauging who gets the most overall touches, receptions and/or scores out of that group in week one (or in 2017 in general) is a nightmare.
Instead, let’s pivot to Hunt, who is pretty cheap across the industry and with Spencer Ware done for the year.
Bill Belichick is notorious for taking away his opponent’s top offensive weapon, but I’m not sure that’s Hunt yet. New England had a strong run defense in 2016 (1st against fantasy running backs), but Bill and company may be more concerned with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
This is all about role and value, though. Hunt is going to probably get 15-20 touches on the night and if the Chiefs can move the ball, that should equate to 55-60 yards and maybe a score.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
The loss of Julian Edelman is big, but for fantasy purposes, it really just means a slew of extra targets for other Patriots receivers to soak up. It might take Cooks (traded from New Orleans) some time to get acquainted, but he has speed that kills and KC was just a middle of the pack unit against fantasy receivers last year.
Cooks is a bit pricey given his matchup and this being his first game with the team, but he’s going to get a few chances to prove himself in this one.
I don’t really want to pay up for that when there is a ton of value elsewhere on FD and DK, but I can see the interest and he’s absolutely viable.
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
The Patriots wide receiver I want in this game is probably Hogan. He was huge in the playoffs and while he can work the slot, I really covet him for his ability to break big plays. Hogan has great speed and route-running chops, so I doubt the Chiefs keep him under wraps.
Unlike Cooks, Hogan will likely go a little under owned even though he’s cheaper and has better chemistry with Tom Brady already. He isn’t going to be the PPR demon Edelman was, but if we love Cooks because of the enhanced targets, there is .
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
I’m not interested at all in the Chiefs’ passing attack as a whole, but I’m not afraid to try Tyreek Hill a bit in this game. Again, Bill Belichick is a defensive master, so there is risk involved and Hill so far looks more like a guy that needs his touches manufactured than one that can just go out and dominate defenses.
Even so, this is a very talented player that is going to see the ball a ton every time he hits the field. Whether it’s as a return man, running back or wide receiver, I wouldn’t be shocked if Hill’s touch/target number approaches 20 in week one.
I think he’s a bit inflated at FanDuel, but his $5.7k price tag at DraftKings is a bit more palatable.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
The Gronk doesn’t need much of a backing. He’s a beast and pretty much every game he and Brady are active together, he’s a threat to make heads roll.
Gronkowski missed the second half of last year and the playoffs, so you better believe Brady is going to him early and often. They have amazing chemistry and the last time Gronk battled the Chiefs he delivered a staggering 7-83-2 line. I’m not predicting that, but even with a hefty price tag, I’m all aboard the week one Gronk train.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Lastly, we can also consider fading Gronk on FanDuel and pivoting to Kelce. He’ll be far cheaper and might have similar upside. Kansas City’s passing game is held back by Alex Smith, but they at least funnel Kelce targets and he has the size and athleticism to do damage with the ball in his hands.
Known in the DFS community as “Baby Gronk”, Kelce is a threat to see a ton of action come his way in this game.
I prefer him on DK, where his PPR value will be on full display. He will be facing a tough matchup on paper and only mustered 23 yards on 6 receptions the last time he faced New England, so I want all the value I can get out of his targets.
As you can see, there are several high-end options to consider in this game. I’m game for a few of these, but there are two things we need to keep in mind; this game could easily be a slow-paced defensive battle and there are more DFS friendly environments to get our players from.
It’s going to be very tough to play the big slate without using a few of the players out of this game, though, so just be sure to pick your spots wisely. Ideally, you’re sticking largely on the New England side, with Brady, Cooks, Hogan and Gronk being the best options to deploy.