FantasyDraft Week 15 DFS Plays for Thursday Night Football

Phil Backert previews Thursday Night Football on FantasyDraft.

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)


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Prior to breaking down the Thursday night game from a daily fantasy perspective, I will recap how I did in the Fantasy Draft $100,000 Run and Gun (Sun Only) tournament from the week before. You can compete against me weekly throughout the season. 



It’s never a good sign when the defense that is used ends up being one of the highest scoring on my roster, but it was that kind of week. I was high on the Steelers passing attack and wanted to target wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster as he had one of the top match-ups of the week according to Pro Football Focus. Smith-Schuster paid off big time as he was low owned an absolutely smashed. Unfortunately, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured and missed part of the game which limited his output. My biggest mistake was fading Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and paying for Zach Ertz instead. The Eagles tight end had a big game against the Cowboys earlier in the season and I was banking on that happening again at low ownership. I nailed the low ownership, but not the performance. I’m extremely frustrated how ineffective New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara has become. Kamara has dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early in his career, but didn’t come close to performing at that level this past week. As always, we turn the page and hope to dominate this week.





We finally have the potential of an exciting fantasy game on Thursday night as the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Kansas City for an AFC West showdown against the Chiefs, but there are a few concerns that could prevent that. There’s a chance for a mix of rain and snow in Kansas City with winds around 20 mph. This has caused the over/under to drop from 56 to 53. Also, there are a number of injury concerns that need to be closely monitored.

I don’t overreact to the weather unless it’s going to be really bad, so I still think there will be points to be had and we need a piece of this game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to play at an elite level and even against a difficult Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 14, the youngster still managed to pass for 377 yards and two touchdowns. It will only be a little easier against the Chargers as they rank ninth in pass defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders compared to the fourth ranked Ravens. Mahomes is as defense proof as we get, but the question will always be about roster construction and if we can pay for his enormous price tag. At $13,900, I will put Mahomes in the tournament conversation as there are cheaper quarterbacks that can be used in cash games to build a more balanced roster.

The same can be said for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers as he checks in as the third highest priced quarterback this week. However, we do get a big discount compared to Mahomes with Rivers checking in at $12,800. Rivers can be part of a Chargers stack, but like Mahomes, I will stay away in cash games and get my exposure in tournaments.


Running Backs


Unfortunately, there is a lot unknown surrounding the running back position for both teams and we may not get full clarity until closer to kickoff on Thursday.

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware missed practice on Monday and Tuesday and is being labeled as “day-to-day.” I would imagine that he would need to participate in some fashion on Wednesday in order to have a chance to play on Thursday night. Due to the question of his status, Ware is a tournament only play and I would even consider him an elite tournament option as the Chargers rank 16th in rush defensive DVOA. Ware caught five passes in Week 14 to go along with 15 carries and a similar workload can be in store if he is active. The price tag is extremely appealing at only $10,200.

If Ware is inactive, Damien Williams would take over as the lead back and would be a lock and load option in all formats. Williams scored two touchdowns in Week 14 against the Ravens and is only priced at $7,400. I don’t hate the idea of using Williams in large field tournaments if Ware is active as there could be enough touches for him to pay off that price tag. I probably wouldn’t go that route, but it’s at least an option due the cheap price and the potential of touching the ball around 10 times. It would be nice to get clarity on this by Wednesday afternoon, but it may not be until kickoff approaches.

The Chargers backfield is also a mess as we don’t know the status of Melvin Gordon or Austin Ekeler. It appears Gordon has a better chance of playing than Ekeler as he practiced on a limited basis. There’s serious doubt that Ekeler will play so I will assume he is inactive. Gordon would be an elite tournament option against a Chiefs run defense that is ranked dead last in rush defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders. The price tag and the playing time puts Gordon out of cash game conversation.

If Gordon and Ekeler are out, Justin Jackson would be a lock and load option like Williams. At only $8,500, the price tag would be too appealing to pass up. If Gordon is active, Jackson can still be used in tournaments as I think he will still get enough touches as Gordon will more than likely be eased back into action.


Wide Receivers


Injuries aren’t just at the running back position as Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is dealing with a heel injury and was limited in practice on Tuesday after missing Monday. I feel like a broken record, but Hill is a strong tournament option, but the injury risk along with the price makes him a fade in cash games. I know we want to fit in the studs in cash games, but the key is to finish in the top half  so we need to eliminate risk. However, we want the upside in tournaments and Hill fits exactly that as he has finished with over 100 receiving yards in three of the last four games. The Chargers pass defense brings some concern, but Hill ate up a strong Ravens secondary so the ability to dominate will always be there. It should also be noted that the Chargers rank 31st against number one wide receivers according to Football Outsiders. If Hill is a full participant in practice on Wednesday, he can be considered for cash games if you can make the salary fit.

As for the other Chiefs wide receivers, there is too much inconsistency that it’s difficult to pick which one could go off, if any. This is an easy fade.

For the Chargers, it starts and stops with Keenan Allen. The wide receiver has been targeted at least nine times in five of the last six games and has scored a touchdown in five consecutive games. The Chiefs give up 282 passing yards per game which ranks dead last. Allen comes with a hefty $15,500 price tag, but he may be worth it. Allen isn’t a core play in cash games due to the price, but he has a chance to absolutely smash and we need exposure.

Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams flash at times, but are too inconsistent for cash games. If using a Chargers stack, they are in play, especially if trying to pivot off the chalky Allen.


Tight Ends


There’s only one tight end worth mentioning and that is Travis Kelce. The tight end is performing like a wide receiver as he currently ranks ninth in receptions and eighth in receiving yards. The only issue surrounding Kelce is he faces a Chargers defense that is ranked number one against the tight end position. However, Kelce is not like other tight ends. Also, Kelce is only $12,500 which would be the 18th highest priced wide receiver. We are essentially getting a top 10 wide receiver at an extremely discounted price tag. I don’t care about the match-up as we continue to mention the Chiefs being defense proof. Kelce is an elite option in all formats and we are getting him basically for free. Sign me up all day.




The potential of a high scoring affair with two elite quarterbacks makes both defenses an easy fade.


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