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NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight: Week 15 Thursday Night Football DraftKings & FanDuel | Chiefs vs. Chargers

Eric MacPherson



For each of the featured games, typically Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football slates, this column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 15 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Los Angeles Chargers.

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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 15 Thursday Night Football

Kansas City will be without cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (personal), while linebacker Willie Gay, defensive lineman Chris Jones and receiver Josh Gordon are all in the health and safety protocol. Los Angeles fans are crossing their fingers with Austin Ekeler, who is a big question tonight, as he is dealing with an ankle injury and has been limited in practice during the short week. The latest word is that he will be a game time decision but is expected to be available. Keenan Allen has cleared the health and safety protocol after missing the last game and is expected to play tonight. Asante Samuel is dinged up and questionable, though most of the other defenders who have played over the last month are good to go tonight.

Kansas City Chiefs: 27.5 Points


Kansas City has been on the prime-time stage half a dozen times this season, so DFS gamers are quite familiar with the recent struggles of Patrick Mahomes. Across his last seven games he has managed only passing nine touchdowns. Seven of them have come in two games against the Raiders, while in the other five games he has managed only a paltry pair in total. Mahomes had a trio of touchdowns when these two teams squared off in Week 3, though that can be considered a lifetime ago in an NFL season. Los Angeles ranks ninth in pass DVOA, and they have yet to allow an opposing quarterback to throw for over 305 yards. Even with his struggles, Mahomes is sixth in the league in yards passing with 280.2 per game, seventh in touchdowns with 27 and third in attempts with 502.

Running Back

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has scored three touchdowns in his three games since coming off the injured reserve. The knee injury seems to be behind him, and it looks like, even though he is splitting snaps with Darrel Williams, Edwards-Helaire is getting the first crack at the rushing workload, even from a target perspective. Williams is still in play, as it will only take one miscue such as a fumble or missed block from Edwards-Helaire before coach Andy Reid may turn to Williams in this crucial AFC West matchup. Derrick Gore resurfaced last week in mop-up duty, though he is well down the pecking order. Fullback Michael Burton is usually on the field for a handful of snaps each game, though he has just five carries and one target in his 63 snaps this season.

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Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill is second in the league in targets per game with 10.1, fifth in touchdowns receiving with eight, and his 79.2 yards rank eighth. Josh Gordon is in the health and safety protocol, and while he does not seem many targets, this opens up around 25 snaps that will be distributed to the non-Hill receivers. Byron Pringle (11) and Mecole Hardman (nine) have had similar targets over the last month, while Demarcus Robinson is on the field running wind sprints, with two targets over the last three matchups.

Tight End

Travis Kelce is just outside the top 10 in targets per game with 8.4, and he is on pace for a sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Blake Bell and Noah Gray will each be on the field for 25-30% of the snaps, though over their last three outings they have one lonely target apiece.

Defense/Special Teams

Kansas City has 10 of their 24 sacks on the season in the last three games, which is a major improvement. They are also sixth in takeaways per game with 23. Los Angeles is allowing just over two sacks per game and one turnover.

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Los Angeles Chargers: 24.5 Points


Tonight will be the 29th career start for Justin Herbert, who has a 14-14 career record. This is a crucial game for Los Angeles, as they trail Kansas City by one game in the AFC West standings, and both teams would prefer to stay out of the Wild Card scrum. Herbert is fourth in yards passing per game with 294, and he is third in touchdowns with 30 while posting the second-highest QBR and a top-10 passer rating. Kansas City has allowed only nine touchdowns passing in its last eight games, and no quarterback has more than 270 yards passing.

Running Back

Austin Ekeler (ankle) is on track to play, though pay close attention for any clues about him being limited in any fashion. Fortunately, Los Angeles does not waste plays with Ekeler, and he typically does not see the field more than 65-70% of the time. In the event that Ekeler is out, Joshua Kelly and Justin Jackson are likely to split the workload. Rookie Larry Rountree III has been inactive the last few games, last seeing the field in Week 11 when Kelly was dinged up.

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Wide Receiver

The return of Keenan Allen will push Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer back into tertiary roles. Each are live for a couple targets, though there really is no salary discount, so this play is spending to be contrarian, which is best left for the 150-lineup crowd. Though he has only one touchdown in his last eight games, Mike Williams is squarely in play for his ability to score from anywhere on the field and being one of the Chargers key red-zone targets.

Tight End

Jared Cook continues chugging along in his 13th season, and he is the clear top tight end for Los Angeles, with nearly 40 more targets than Donald Parham. Parham himself is in play as a punt option and is live for a couple targets each game.

Defense/Special Teams

Los Angeles has logged 12 of their 29 sacks and seven takeaways in the last four games. Kansas City has seen Mahomes sacked more than usual this season, though they are still among the top 10 teams at protecting their quarterback.

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Thursday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.

Week 15 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Justin Herbert: Gets the slight nod over Mahomes for the discount and being at home.
  2. Patrick Mahomes: Apex salary; fingers crossed he builds on the success from Sunday.
  3. Tyreek Hill: Volume has been there this season, which is a nice bonus.
  4. Keenan Allen: Discount gives him the edge over Ekeler on FanDuel, and full-PPR format provides the nod on DraftKings.
  5. Austin Ekeler: If he were coming in at full health, he would be the top option; still a core play in all formats.
  6. Byron Pringle: Solid discount, and he seemingly is always in the mix on prime time in some fashion.
  7. Harrison Butker: The savings provided by kickers will be important, and Butker has been solid from long range this season, going 10-for-13 from beyond 40 yards.
  8. Dustin Hopkins: Midseason waiver claim from Washington is 12-for-13 on field goal attempts in his seven games with the Chargers. However, his lone miss was also his only attempt from beyond 50 yards.
  9. Travis Kelce: Game log watchers will be dismayed by his last two games, with twin performances of three receptions for 27 yards.
  10. Darrel Williams: Dramatic savings on DraftKings at half the salary cap hit compared to Edwards-Helaire; only a $2,000 respite on FanDuel.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Needs touchdowns to support this salary, as his volume is not reliable.
  2. Jared Cook: Playing for a touchdown, though Los Angeles has plenty of red-zone options.
  3. Mecole Hardman: Even in full-PPR formats he has double-digit fantasy points only twice in his last 10 games.
  4. Los Angeles D/ST: Solid discount for the homefield advantage.
  5. Kansas City D/ST: Really picked things up over the last six weeks.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Justin Jackson and Josh Kelley: Punt options; move to the top of the next section in the unlikely event Ekeler is out or not starting tonight.
  2. Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton and Donald Parham: Each has had their moments, though with Allen back and if Ekeler is healthy, they are dart throws in the 25- to 50-lineup range.
  3. Stephen Anderson, Blake Bell and Noah Gray: Extreme tight end punt plays for DraftKings; over/under for this group is 2.5 targets collectively.
  4. Demarcus Robinson: No fantasy points for routes run, at least not on the conventional DFS sites.
  5. Derrick Gore, Tre’ McKitty, Marcus Kemp and Michael Burton: Over/under is 10.5 snaps combined for this motley crew.

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Take a look at our starting line-ups, NFL depth chart list and inactives list. We also have NFL DFS showdown projections and DraftKings showdown ownership projections. If you’re interested in other NFL DFS picks for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and NFL DFS stacking. View our DraftKings DFS NFL ownership rankings and our FanDuel DFS NFL ownership rankings.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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