The Chiefs and Texans will likely have the highest over/under of the Divisional round at 49 points, with the Chiefs favored by -8. Kansas City will run the ball with a lead, but they are still one of the pass happiest teams even when ahead, so we can feel good about Patrick Mahomes’ offensive pieces getting targets.
The Texans have been weak against both the run and pass this season while the Chiefs have been weak against the run and good against the pass. That doesn’t set up well for the Texans, as they will likely need to abandon the run at some point with the Chiefs ability to put points up through the air. But that’s where DeShaun Watson’s ability becomes an equalizer, as he can extend plays and no matter how good a pass defense is, they can’t cover forever.
Both teams have a fairly narrow distribution of touches, so finding ancillary players with good upside for value plays is tough, but both teams have dynamic quarterbacks who can help even the unlikeliest players find the end zone.
Duke Johnson, RB, Texans
This may be more wishful thinking than reality, but the reality should be a ton of work for Johnson against the Chiefs, who give up plenty of receptions to running backs. On the year, they’ve allowed the fourth-most receptions (100), the second-most yards (951) and the fifth-most touchdowns (5) to running backs through the air. Football Outsiders DVOA has K.C. at 20th against running backs through the air. The question is, will they get Johnson more involved?
Against the Bills, Johnson ran the ball three times for 38 yards and caught all three of his targets for 30 more yards. He was highly effective in his limited work as the Texans tried to make up ground against the Bills and should be effective again in a similar situation against the Chiefs. Six touches isn’t optimal, but they SHOULD use him more this weekend and he gets a great matchup.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
Hardman is a touchdown waiting to happen, as his speed and elusiveness mean that one touch is enough for big yardage and a touchdown. Of course, getting touches is the trouble, as he has just one over the last two games. That touch was a 30 yard reception, but we need more than that. The playoffs are a good time for Andy Reid to unleash Hardman on a trick play or a few screens to get his upside into the game though. Hardman has 26 touches and six touch downs on those touches. He also returned a kick for a touchdown, giving him seven total. He’s extremely risky, so is only useful in GPPs, but I rather risk someone with his ability than someone who sees a bit more work, but has little upside with the ball in his hands.
Darren Fells, TE, Texans
This pick isn’t as strong if Will Fuller and Jordan Akins play, but if Akins is out again, he still has upside and if both are out, I like Fells quite a bit against a Chiefs team that has given up the second-most receptions and fourth-most receiving yards to tight ends. The Chiefs have allowed the fewest receptions to wide receivers in the league, which has forced teams to look toward their tight ends more often than they’d like.