Kickoff: Sunday, September 17th, 1:00 PM ET
Location: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Betting Odds: KC -3, 51 O/U total via OddsShark
Writer: Nick Beaudoin
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
Let’s be honest – If you drafted Patrick Mahomes, you’re starting him every week. Even without Travis Kelce, and despite his receivers doing everything in their power to stop him (See: Kadarius Toney), Mahomes was still good enough to finish as QB7 in Week 1. The Chiefs are “optimistic” Kelce will be back in action this week, and if you need any more convincing, they enter the week as 3-point favorites, with an implied point total of 27. In an expected shootout against PFF’s 27th-ranked secondary, Mahomes has a good chance to finish as a top-3 QB this week.
Isaiah Pacheco (Start, RB2), Jerick McKinnon (Sit, Flex), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Sit)
The Chiefs did nothing to address their backfield this offseason, placing high hopes in seventh-round pick Isaiah Pacheco. Although Pacheco encouragingly led the backfield with eight carries in Week 1, he gained just 23 yards and only out-touched Clyde Edwards-Helaire 12-7. This is not the type of split that fantasy managers were hoping for, but what was encouraging was his usage in the receiving game, bringing in all four of his targets for 31 yards. The Chiefs backfield may be difficult to predict on a week-to-week basis, but Pacheco getting the first crack makes him a high-upside, low-floor RB2 against Jacksonville.
Pacheco’s late-season success in 2022 came at the expense of Edwards-Helaire and passing-down back Jerrick McKinnon, who surprisingly received zero carries and just two targets in Week 1. Both players showed flashes last year, with McKinnon finishing the season as a low-end RB2, but both will be too unpredictable to use in Week 2.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kadarius Toney (Start, Flex), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Sit), Skyy Moore (Sit), Rashee Rice (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
It’s hard to argue with the Chiefs’ philosophy coming off a Super Bowl win, however they are still yet to find a replacement for Tyreek Hill. Instead of bringing in high-profile options such as DeAndre Hopkins, they have opted for quantity over quality, adding several young, high-upside speedsters, allowing Mahomes to play to his strengths and consistently stretch the field. Any of these receivers could be considered the Chiefs’ WR1 by the end of the season, but for now I would still put my money on Kadarius Toney.
Toney managers are as frustrated as ever, and for good reason. His never-ending myriad of injuries had people on edge before the season, and his Week 1 performance was absolutely atrocious. He finished the game with one catch for one yard, with two crucial drops, including one that led to a pick-6 early in the third quarter that arguably cost the Chiefs the game. With that being said, Mahomes confirmed after the game that he “still has trust in KT.” Toney has shown enough to prove that he could be special, and when he’s on the field, he’s drawing targets. The former first-round pick is the most explosive option outside of Kelce, and I expect him to come back to form as a volatile FLEX option in Week 2.
Behind Toney lies a combination of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice. According to the depth chart, I would have to lean MVS, who led the Chiefs with 48 yards in Week 1, but on only two targets. This is not a justifiable start. Perhaps he could build his rapport with Mahomes this year, but with only one touchdown last season, his upside feels capped even in the most explosive offense in the league.
The Moore vs. Rice matchup will be interesting to watch this season. Both are highly-touted second round players drafted in consecutive seasons. The Dynasty community is banking on Moore to take the “second-year leap,” but he hasn’t shown anything to convince us yet, finishing Week 1 with zero catches on three targets. Rice, however, garnered three receptions for 29 yards on five targets, including a one-yard touchdown catch. The only argument for starting a Chiefs receiving option outside of Kelce is that “someone needs to be the one who scores.”
Travis Kelce is the number one option on this offense, assuming he is healthy. Kelce missed Week 1 with a hyperextended knee, however all reports are optimistic that he will be available in Week 2. This is bad news for the Jaguars, and Kelce provides TE1 overall upside on a weekly basis. Don’t overthink it.
Trevor Lawrence (Start, QB1)
I admittedly drafted Trevor Lawrence everywhere this season, and at home against the Chiefs, we find him in a dream matchup. The 2021 #1 overall pick was the highest-rated prospect since Peyton Manning, and ever since Urban Meyer has left town, he has been as good as advertised. Against the Colts in Week 1, Lawrence finished as QB8, despite fostering a huge lead and establishing the run game the entire second half. Lawrence’s ceiling is still untapped, and with the addition of Calvin Ridley, we can expect great things this season. Entering the week as 3-point underdogs against the Super Bowl Champions, Lawrence has Top 5 upside in Week 2.
Travis Etienne (Start, RB1), Tank Bigsby (Sit, Low-FLEX)
Travis Etienne is by far the most talented and established RB on this team. Also drafted in the first round of 2021, Etienne led the Jaguars in Week 1 with 23 touches for 104 yards and one touchdown. Perhaps most notable for Etienne was his tally of five catches for 27 yards, an aspect missing from his performances last season. Although rookie Tank Bigsby scored a late touchdown, his seven carries only amounted to 13 yards, and were mostly due to the Jaguars nurturing a large lead. Based on experience and talent, Etienne should dominate snaps in this game regardless of game script, and should be started as an RB1 in all formats.
Tank Bigsby appears to have won the #2 running back job for the Jaguars, earning seven touches and scoring one touchdown in his first NFL game. Although this is a great story, he only averaged 1.9 yards per touch, not the mark of someone who needs to force-feed against the defending Super Bowl Champions. Bigsby will probably get a few touches and have (random) touchdown upside, but Etienne will be the lead back and the only option worth starting in Week 2.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Calvin Ridley (Start, WR1), Zay Jones (Start, Low-WR2), Christian Kirk (Start, High-WR3), Evan Engram (Start, Low-TE1)
If I were a betting man, I would put money on Calvin Ridley to be Lawrence’s favorite target this year. In his first game since mid-2021, Ridley commanded 11 targets, completing eight of them for 101 yards and one touchdown. This was no accident, as Ridley has always been known for elite route-running, and often out-performed future Hall of Famer Julio Jones in his time with Atlanta. Ridley is currently in the best fantasy situation of his life being paired up with Trevor Lawrence, and in an expected shootout with the Chiefs, should be on the receiving end of 7-10 targets once again. Most likely drafted Ridley as a WR2, but his fantasy managers will be thankful for WR1 numbers this week against the Chiefs.
The WR2 position in Jacksonville has become more complicated with the addition of Ridley. Most will lean Zay Jones after his late-season resurgence in ’22, and following a five catch, 55-yard performance in Week 1 that featured a touchdown, this is absolutely a fair argument. It is also worth noting that Jones was on the field for 89% of snaps – in comparison 81% for Ridley and just 60% for Christian Kirk. It is far too early to jump to conclusions, but in Week 1, it was Jones on the field in 2WR sets, who is clearly trusted by the coaching staff. For these reasons, I have him (slightly) higher than Kirk in Week 2.
After finishing as the WR12 last season, Kirk remains one of the most undervalued receivers in the league. I expect him and Jones to both have their weeks, and as defenses are forced to compensate for Ridley, targets will have to be distributed elsewhere. Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo understands that in order to shut down the Jaguars’ offense, they will need to stop their number one option, and force targets elsewhere. After earning 133 targets from Lawrence last year, I expect Kirk to be the beneficiary of plenty of short and intermediate targets this week, with potential touchdown upside. Head Coach Doug Pederson made it a point after Week 1 to address that “Christian thrives against man-defense. He’ll get his chances this weekend.” Kirk can be treated as a low-end WR2 / high-end WR3.
Evan Engram is yet another first-round pick at Lawrence’s disposal. Engram has never lived up to his post-draft hype, but came close last year by providing a few week-winning performances in our fantasy world. Engram had five receptions for 49 yards last week, and in the TE landscape, this is a viable starting option. Engram is a solid TE streamer in what is expected to be a high-scoring affair versus the Chiefs.
– Nick Beaudoin