The NFL kicks off Week 7 on Thursday Night Football with the Kansas City Chiefs at the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs are 3-point favorites on DraftKings Sportbook, and the game has been given a total points of 48.5.
The matchup is between one of the NFL’s better teams at scoring points and one of the NFL’s better teams at preventing points. The Chiefs’ offense enters the matchup ranking fourth best in points scored per game, while the Broncos’ defense ranks seventh best in points allowed per game. Denver has generally been a difficult team to score fantasy points against and ranks in the top three in fantasy points prevented to QBs and WRs.
A report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday stated that the Chiefs were optimistic that Sammy Watkins (hamstring) would be able to play this week, and Watkins was able to practice in limited fashion the entire week. However, the Chiefs have ultimately ruled him out. Rapoport also reported that the Broncos are optimistic that Emmanuel Sanders will be able to play after exiting Week 6 early with a knee injury, and Sanders practicing in full during the week is encouraging for his status.
All-Pro QB Patrick Mahomes is an obvious start despite facing one of the better pass defenses in the league, as his elite skill set makes him a must start every week. Travis Kelce is also a must start at a TE position that lacks many appealing fantasy players. Here are some other players that fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their leagues:
Start: WR Tyreek Hill
Hill returned to action last week after a Week 1 shoulder injury sidelined him for multiple games. Hill was limited in his return, playing on just half of the Chiefs’ offensive plays, a drop from an 87 percent rate in 2018. Despite being limited snap wise, Hill was still heavily involved in the offense, getting 10 targets, including a red zone target on a play snapped inside the 10-yard line. Hill was targeted on roughly one third of his snaps on the field, an excellent rate, and received 53 percent of the Chiefs’ air yards, also an elite number. The Broncos have limited WRs to just the second fewest fantasy points per game, but Hill’s elite skill set combined with QB Patrick Mahomes’ explosive play potential makes him a must start regardless.
Sit: Chiefs RBs
Both LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams have been splitting snaps, with McCoy playing on 50 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive plays last week, compared to 38 percent for Williams. Neither saw good touch volume, with McCoy getting 10 touches compared to just two for Williams. Denver’s run defense has been mediocre, but the timeshare combined with subpar touches makes both McCoy and Williams risky starts this week.
Start: Broncos RBs
Kansas City’s run defense has been very poor, ranking third worst in both yards per carry and rushing yards per game while allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay have been splitting snaps at RB, with Freeman getting just over half of the work. Lindsay has seen more touches despite playing less snaps, out-touching Freeman 103-to-87, and has been the more productive fantasy back. Both Lindsay and Freeman are startable options against a poor run defense.
Start: WR Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders is coming off two quiet weeks, seeing a combined four targets over the Broncos’ last two games, one of which was shortened by an early exit due to injury. Despite the injury, Sanders’ playing status looks good for this week given he has practiced in full. Provided he plays and is not limited, Sanders is in good position to bounce back against a Chiefs team that allows more passing yards than average, and Kansas City’s explosive potential on offense can make opponents a candidate to increase their passing volume. Broncos WR Courtland Sutton is also in a good spot for similar reasons and is worth starting.
Sit: Non-Tyreek Hill Chiefs’ WRs
With Sammy Watkins (hamstring) ruled out again, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle are set to continue their roles from Week 6, but this is not a great week to start any of them considering Denver’s elite fantasy point prevention to wide receivers.
Start: QB Joe Flacco
This is highly dependent on an individual fantasy roster, as there are many better options than Flacco this week, but Flacco is an option if fantasy owners are in need of a streaming option as a bye week fill in. Flacco has been below average this season and is coming off a poor Week 6, but has a decent matchup as the home team against a high scoring Chiefs team that has allowed elevated fantasy points to opposing QBs. While Kansas City ranks well in QB rating allowed to opposing QBs, their explosive potential on offense can increase passing volume for opposing QBs. The Chiefs have allowed the eighth most passing attempts per game and eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs.