Kickoff: Thursday, September 10th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Betting Odds: KC -9, 54.5 Total via Oddsshark
Deshaun Watson (Start, QB1)
Welcome to the 2020 NFL season, everyone! The schedule makers were extremely kind to us by having this matchup as the opener. As you can see above, the total is 54.5 which is the highest of the week and signals that Vegas sees this as quite the high scoring affair. That will be the theme for this game preview as we will be chasing the points and looking to start players on these offensive juggernauts. If you drafted Deshaun Watson, you will be starting Watson, especially this week. In Watson’s two matchups against the Chiefs last year, he threw for 668 yards and three touchdowns while scoring three rushing touchdowns. With the Texans likely playing catch up to the Super Bowl champions and the lack of practice time affecting defenses more than offenses at the start of the year, Watson is a no brainer.
David Johnson (Start, RB2/Flex), Duke Johnson (Sit, Deep Flex)
The Texans running backs are a bit more of a conundrum than Watson. David Johnson will almost assuredly be the lead back on rushing downs (as it seems Bill O’Brien hates using Duke Johnson more in that role) and should have his opportunities in the passing game. Johnson is a solid play this week. The Chiefs gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs last year, per FantasyData, and are without their run-stuffing DT Mike Pennel due to suspension. The issue in this backfield is how much Duke plays in passing situation. The Texans will likely be playing from behind, with a pass catching back on the field, but it is likely to be DJ instead of Duke. I would lean on keeping Duke on the bench until we know more but if you are paying in a deep format, Duke is a decent flier on the chance that he sees more passing work in a shootout.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Will Fuller (Start, WR1), Brandin Cooks (Start, Flex), Randall Cobb (Sit, Deep Flex)
Speaking of suspended players, Brashad Breeland, the Chiefs’ top cornerback, is also suspended for the start of the season. Without Deandre Hopkins receiver Will Fuller is walking into quite the boom spot to begin his season. Fuller has the most chemistry with Watson in the WR corps and this is the exact type of matchup he is built for. In two matchups against the Chiefs last year Fuller had 17 targets for 10 catches for 133 yards. Not a wonderful showing, but he also dropped three walk-in touchdowns which would have gone for an additional 116 yards. Per Sharp Football Analysis’ new WR Heat Map Tool, Fuller does most of his deep damage down the right sideline which just so happens to be where the Chiefs allow a lot of success. With the pace of play and additional volume, Fuller is an obvious start with the chance for a real smash week. Brandin Cooks is a bit iffier this week due to his lack of reps with Watson and a quad injury that has limited his reps in camp. Like Fuller, this is a great spot to play him but there is a chance that the Texans work him in slowly and he sees his routes limited. I have him as a flex play, but only if you are willing to deal with the potential that he may not see a ton of work. If Cooks is limited initially, then someone else has to be on the field to catch passes. Enter Randall Cobb. If you are in a deep format and are looking for a solid floor flex play, Cobb should see a nice amount of targets working out of the slot.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
The overall QB1 could easily be where Patrick Mahomes finishes this week. The Texans have not made any substantial additions to their 25th ranked passing defense (per Football Outsiders) and Mahomes lit them up last year in the playoffs. The Texans gave up the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs last season, per FantasyData. Do not overthink it and just enjoy watching this man shred once again.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Start, RB1), Darrel Williams (Sit)
In a potential shootout and game where the Chiefs will likely be leading, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is set up for a strong rookie debut. Edwards-Helaire’s prime selling point is that he should game script agnostic on the best offense in football. If the Chiefs are leading, he will be the primary rusher and if they are trailing he is an excellent receiver. The Texans gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs last season (per FantasyData) and lost underrated DT D.J. Reader to the Bengals in the offseason. The only thing that could potentially hold Edwards-Helaire back this week is Darrel Williams’ usage. Williams beat out Deandre Washington (now cut) and Darwin Thompson for the secondary back role. The Chiefs view him as their best pass blocking option. You can’t start Williams this week because info on his usage is limited and Edwards-Helaire will likely see all the high-value touches in the backfield. But Williams is worth rostering and seeing how the backfield eventually settles.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyreek Hill (Start, WR1), Sammy Watkins (Start, Flex), Mecole Hardman (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are must-start players every week being either the top or near the top of their respective positions and attached to Mahomes. The Texans’ 25th ranked passing defense poses no threat to Hill and Kelce. Auto-start. Sammy Watkins is an interesting bet this week. While most of the fantasy community has pushed Mecole Hardman over Watkins, Hardman is still behind Watkins for playing time, per Kansas City beat reporters. We know what both are capable of in this offense but we also know what they are capable of in the other direction. Watkins is a decent bet this week due to his larger role and the upside in a shootout. Hardman may be a factor down the line, but cannot be trusted this early on.
-Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList on Twitter, Zzzonked92 on Reddit)