Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, 1-1 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-1, 0-2), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Chargers 24.25, Chiefs 30.75
Spread/Total Movements: 7 to 6.5, 54.5 to 55
Weather: 85 degrees, 0% chance of rain, 10 mph
Chargers Injuries to Watch: DE Joey Bosa (foot/ankle, questionable), CB Chris Harris (shoulder, out), S Derwin James (toe, probable)
Chiefs Injuries to Watch: DT Chris Jones (wrist, questionable), EDGE Frank Clark (hamstring, doubtful), CB Charvarius Ward (quad, questionable)
Brolley’s Chargers Stats and Trends
The Chargers have been recent ATS darlings with five straight covers and outright victories before they dropped a 17-14 decision to the Cowboys in Week 2.
Justin Herbert took Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to overtime in his first career start in Week 2 last season in a 23-20 loss as 8.5-point home favorites. The Chiefs rested their starters in their matchup in 2020.
Los Angeles is 6-2 toward unders in its last eight games.
Justin Herbert has thrown for 675 yards in his first two games but it hasn’t translated into much fantasy success with just two touchdown passes. He’s actually attempted the most passes inside the 10-yard line with eight but he’s completed just two of those attempts for one touchdown. The Chiefs have allowed just one touchdown pass through the first two weeks. He posted 311/1 passing in his first career start against the Chiefs, and he added 302/3 passing in last year’s season finale with the Chiefs resting key players.
Keenan Allen has posted a pair of 100-yard games and 14+ FP in each contest to open 2021. He reached 100+ receiving yards just three times in all of 2020. Keenan has posted 16+ FP in each of his last three matchups against the Chiefs since the start of 2019, including 7/96 receiving in his lone matchup against them last season.
Mike Williams owns both of Herbert’s touchdown passes this season on his way to a pair of 22 FP performances. He still posted 7/91/1 receiving on 10 targets even with Austin Ekeler getting involved in the passing attack for the first time in 2021. Williams’ aDOT sits at 9.9 yards through two weeks after he averaged 15.8 yards under the old regime.
Jared Cook finished with just 3/28 receiving on five targets and 57% of the snaps last week, but he did have a touchdown taken off the board against the Cowboys in Week 2 by a procedural penalty. Cook has run 60 routes and seen 13 targets through two weeks while Donald Parham has seen just one target without a catch on 24 routes through two weeks. Mark Andrews caught all five of his targets for 57 yards against the Chiefs last week.
Austin Ekeler went from not seeing a target in Week 1 because of his hamstring issue to catching all nine of his looks for 61 yards last week. He also converted a goal-line carry for the second straight week, this time on a two-point conversion run. Ekeler posted 148 scrimmage yards against the Chiefs in Week 2 last season.
Brolley’s Chiefs Stats and Trends
The Chiefs continued their absolutely dreadful play against the spread in Week 2 when they blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in their road loss to the Ravens. They’ve dropped their first two contests ATS in 2021 and they now sport an 2-11 ATS mark in their last 13 games.
Patrick Mahomes is averaging 340.0 passing yards per game with three TD passes in each of his first two games. The Chargers have allowed the second-fewest FPG (9.9) to QBs through two weeks under HC Brandon Staley. Mahomes posted 302/2 passing in his only matchup against the Chargers last season against the old regime.
Travis Kelce has posted a ho-hum 23+ FP in each of his first two games of the season, and he’s now posted 20+ in nine straight games (postseason included). He has scored in 8-of-9 games with 10 scores overall in that stretch. Kelce hung 9/90/1 receiving on 14 targets in his lone matchup against the Chargers last year.
The Ravens shut Tyreek Hill’s butt down last week with just 3/14 receiving on four targets. The last time he saw four or fewer targets came in the Divisional Round of the 2019 postseason and he hasn’t finished with 14 or fewer yards since Week 11 in 2019. Hill posted 5/99/1 receiving on 11 targets in his only matchup against the Chargers last season.
Mecole Hardman has been the clear #2 WR with the second-most routes (59) through two weeks, but it’s translated into just 8/74 receiving on 11 targets (16% share). Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson also scored touchdowns against the Ravens. Hardman managed just 4/55 receiving on five targets against the Chargers last season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is testing the patience of Andy Reid and fantasy owners after he cost the Chiefs a victory with his late fumble in Week 2. CEH finished with 13/46 rushing without a single target and Darrel Williams stole a goal-line touchdown. The concern this week is that Reid will punish CEH for his costly fumble by giving Williams and Jerick McKinnon more touches. Edwards-Helaire had six catches and 70 scrimmage yards in his only matchup against the Chargers last season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1-2 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.8 (8th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 76 (1st)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 67.3% (7th) | Run: 32.7% (26th)
Week 1-2 – Pace: 27.8 (19th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 56.5 (29th)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 62.8% (14th) | Run: 37.2% (19th)
Even though the Chargers-Cowboys game flopped for fantasy last week, L.A. is in another prime spot to be involved in a shootout here in Kansas City. There is no other way to put it: the Chiefs defense has been atrocious so far. The Chiefs have hemorrhaged yards (7.6 yards per play allowed – most) and points (3.30 points per drive allowed – most) and it’s led to both of their Week 1 (vs. Browns) and Week 2 (vs. Ravens) matchups cruising over the total with 62 and 71 points, respectively. OC Joe Lombardi has leaned heavily on the pass so far, going 70.3% pass-heavy in neutral situations (game within a score in quarters 1-3) which is the third-highest rate behind the Buccaneers (70.4%) and Jaguars (75%). Either way this game goes, the Chargers are going to either throw to build a lead or be forced to throw a ton to keep up with the Chiefs on the scoreboard.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Chiefs are allowing opposing offenses to score the fifth-highest PPG (32.5), much of which is in an attempt to keep pace with their high-powered attack. During the first two weeks, I was all about Charger WR Keenan Allen. That worked out well after he eclipsed 100 yards in both games. And new OC Joe Lombardi has remained true to his word in getting Mike Williams the ball as his starting flanker (15/173/2 on 22 targets). They are quickly establishing themselves as a formidable WR duo. I particularly like the matchup for Williams, who will draw coverage from the beatable Charvarius Ward on about half his snaps, and that’s even if Ward — who picked up a quad injury on Friday — is able to play. Williams against a dinged-up Ward or a backup is juicy. (Allen’s draw with Mike Hughes is a bit tougher.(
In Week 3, Justin Herbert faces a Steve Spagnuolo scheme that suits his strengths — in two career games against these Chiefs, Herbert has averaged 24.8 FPG. We can count on Herbert bringing his A Game to do everything he can to prevent falling to 1-2. He also likely won’t see the resistance of EDGE Frank Clark, who injured his hamstring in practice this week and is doubtful.
It’s not like you’re ever going to sit Tyreek Hill, but Charger S Derwin James has had success covering him when the two have matched up. To get the ball rolling, the last time these teams met with James on the field, Derwin limited Hill to a 2/7/0 line inside his personal coverage. If not for Tyreek breaking free from James’ coverage into that of WILL LB Drue Tranquill’s for a 47-yard gain, the Chargers would’ve held Hill to a 3/14/0 receiving line on four targets. Since returning from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, James has not missed a beat.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Really, the only questions we have about Kansas City are what to do with the run game and any secondary receivers — you’re starting Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill every week. Mahomes’ task gets even easier if Joey Bosa (foot), who didn’t practice all week, can’t play. (Bosa is questionable.)
The backfield hurts. Clyde Edwards-Helaire played a distant third fiddle to Hill and Travis Kelce in the passing game last season and not only has that been the case once again, he’s now an afterthought near the goal-line. Kansas City has run 18 plays inside of the red-zone so far this season, and CEH has only been on the field for 10 of them. And, on those red-zone plays, CEH has exactly 2 touches. He also had zero targets last week. CEH looked good as a runner for most of the game against Baltimore, but ended up costing the Chiefs a come from behind win after fumbling as Mahomes was marching the team down the field. We now have a 17 game sample size that shows us Edwards-Helaire is capped as a receiver because Mahomes doesn’t check it down and capped in the TD department because Hill, Kelce, and now even Darrel Williams are getting touches near the goal-line instead of him. Plus, who knows if his fumble will cost him snaps in Week 3 and beyond. CEH is a low-end RB2, and it might be worth a speculative add of Williams in the event Andy Reid doghouses CEH.
It is potentially worth considering WR Mecole Hardman as a dart-throw WR3 given Charger CB Chris Harris (shoulder) won’t play this week. Hardman runs 56% of his routes from the slot, and managed 5/55 on 8 targets last week. But.. it’s Mecole, the forever disappointment. At least he’s played about 75% of the Chiefs’ snaps this year.
In a game with an implied total of 55, the Chargers are a fantastic team for fantasy — all of Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and RB Austin Ekeler need to be in your lineup. It was fantastic to see Ekeler get targeted 9 times (catching all 9) last week against Dallas after not being targeted once in Week 1, when he was potentially limited by a hamstring injury.
The other Charger to consider is TE Jared Cook. Cook is the TE14 with just 16.4 FP so far, but he lost a TD to a penalty last week, and he’s run 58 routes, tied with Mark Andrews for 4th-most among all TEs. (Donald Parham too lost a TD last week, but has run just 20 routes.) In a game with 55 projected points, Cook looks every bit the part of a valuable streaming option.