Week 1 TNF Fantasy Preview: Lions @ Chiefs

  • Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs Best Lines Available

    Lions(+205) @ Chiefs(-250): O/U 53.0
    Chiefs -5.0 (-110), Lions +5.0(-110)

    Football is back! The Kansas City Chiefs begin their title defense at home against a Lions squad that barely missed the playoffs last year, but won five of their final six. The latest news surrounding a knee hyperextension for star TE Travis Kelce may leave Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes without his favorite target. Furthermore, Chiefs DT Chris Jones is currently holding out and his status is in doubt for the season opener, greatly hampering the KC defense. The Lions’ defense was horrendous in coverage a year ago but added DBs in the offseason to help remedy the situation. This game currently has the highest over/under point total of all Week 1 games. The point spread was as high as -6.5 in favor of the Chiefs, but has fallen 1.5 points mostly thanks to the Travis Kelce news.

    Main Storylines to Watch

    What do the Chiefs do without Travis Kelce? It’s looking like Kelce won’t suit up, though his MRI did come back clean, which is good news for him and Chiefs fans. It will be interesting to see how Noah Gray does trying to fill the Travis Kelce role. Blake Bell will also be there, but he’s not really on the fantasy radar in any way. It will be even more interesting to learn how the Chiefs wide receivers and starting running back Isaiah Pacheco operate without the focus Kelce demands. Will Kadarius Toney step into a larger role? Will Skyy Moore? Kelce gets such a large volume of targets from QB Patrick Mahomes, that there will be plenty of opportunities for others on the roster.

    Lions Running Back Room. It’s rumored that Jahmyr Gibbs may be a deep threat for the Lions in the passing game, but the question remains how involved he’ll be in the rush game as the RB1. Who will operate as the goalline back, Gibbs or David Montgomery? The talent is undeniable with Gibbs, but we have to see what his workload looks like to see if he’ll live up to his lofty draft-day expectations.

    Detroit Lions


    Jared Goff: The Lions QB has a chance to get off to a hot start against a KC defense that will likely be without centerpiece DT Chris Jones. Jones is disruptive to all facets of an opposing offense and without him, Goff will certainly see cleaner pockets and have more freedom to allow routes to develop. Goff was not drafted as a QB1 lock week in and out, but he will look to start hot by finding Amon-Ra St. Brown early and often while working in rookie TE Sam LaPorta and the rest of the Lions’ talented receivers. Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed is nursing a knee injury which can only further boost confidence in Goff’s season debut.


    Jahmyr Gibbs & David Montgomery: The timeshare at RB for the Lions remains a mystery until we see them in action. Detroit elected to use the twelfth overall pick on Gibbs, a rookie out of Alabama, and will likely give him a hefty dose of work in his debut. Gibbs profiles to be useful in the passing game, giving him a boost in value in PPR formats, but Montgomery is the bigger, power back who may receive the goal line work and take the top off what would otherwise be a tremendous ceiling for the rookie. Gibbs still has big play capability keeping his upside intact. Montgomery, on the other hand, should receive some carries but is likely a more risky play until we can confirm he has the TD upside currently projected. If DT Chris Jones does not elect to play, both RBs values rise drastically as the middle of the line of scrimmage opens up.


    Amon-Ra St. Brown: Coming off a WR7 finish in PPR a year ago, St. Brown is poised for another exciting year. With Jameson Williams suspended to begin the year, he remains the only elite target in the offense until another player can step forward and earn more targets. For now, Amon-Ra should be locked and loaded as a high-floor WR1 play week in and week out. If L’Jaruis Sneed, KC CB, is unable to go or is hampered on Thursday, the ceiling of ARSB will shoot through the roof. Start him comfortably and watch the points roll in.


    Sam LaPorta: Another rookie to the Lions offense, the Iowa product will look to make a statement to start his career. Iowa has produced great TEs in the past, George Kittle for example, and LaPorta is a quality prospect. Rookie TEs in general typically take a while to get moving, often not getting truly going for fantasy purposes until their second year, but LaPorta has the opportunity to demand targets immediately with WR Jameson Williams suspended to begin the year. The rookie represents a low-floor play with upside and has the biggest frame out of the team’s receiving options, perhaps giving him the opportunity to be a red-zone threat.



    Patrick Mahomes:  What more can be said of the two-time MVP, two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP? Mahomes is the best at his position in the league and will continue to be consistent in fantasy. Facing a Lions secondary that struggled massively against the pass a year ago leaves Patrick ready to dice them up and put up a head-turning point total. The only issue coming down the pipe is the health of TE Travis Kelce. Mahomes is the type of QB who will create regardless of his weapons, but Kelce is special and certainly impacts the ceiling of Mahomes. He remains a high floor play, just know that if Kelce is unable to go, Mahomes may not finish as the QB1 this week. He is absolutely still startable and should be trusted until he flops.


    Isiah Pacheco: After a strong season last year, Pacheco has been nagged by minor injuries throughout the offseason but is ready to roll for Week 1. Pieces of the Chiefs’ offense are coveted in fantasy leagues due to the sheer output of points by this team in recent years. Pacheco could be a beneficiary of TE Travis Kelce’s injury as many targets would be vacated should he not suit up. The Chiefs’ offense will likely be pass-focused, but Pacheco will be a nice change of pace and should see a solid enough volume of work to finish as an RB2 on the week with TD upside.


    Kadarius Toney & Richie James: News broke recently of both Toney and James being limited in practice with knee injuries on Monday. With Thursday looming, it will be hard to trust either to be meaningful for fantasy purposes with the KC WR room having been a game of roulette for several years. The ceiling is always there for these players but no floor is safe. Trend away from these two if the news does not drastically improve before TNF.

    Skyy Moore: After a lackluster rookie campaign, Moore has a chance to make a huge impact with injuries plaguing most of the receiving options in Kansas City. To start him this early in the season would surely be risky, but it could be his best chance to get comfortable with Mahomes and establish a rapport for his coming sophomore season.

    Marquez Valdes-Scantling & Rashee Rice: Similarly to Moore, MVS and Rice have opportunities to shine while others are banged up. high ceiling, low floor is the name of the game for Chiefs WRs. Start them at your own risk, but most fantasy rosters should have better options in Week 1 with no players on bye and minimal injuries. MVS has the advantage of being the veteran and has worked with Mahomes before, while Rice is more of a wildcard as he makes his NFL debut and we have no idea what his snap count will look like.


    Travis Kelce: Trouble. Tuesday’s practice brought about a hyperextended knee for the quintessential TE1 of the NFL. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but reports lean towards Kelce being doubtful to suit up for the regular season opener on Thursday. Fans and managers alike will hope for the best, but with the game approaching rapidly it is time to pivot so you are not caught standing in the rain.

    Noah Gray: While Gray is not normally considered an important fantasy asset, he may see a massive increase in volume if Kelce sits. With nearly no injury history for Kelce dating back to his rookie year, we can only infer how the Chiefs will alter their gameplan. While Gray is certainly not the player Kelce is, it is likely they will try to run a similar gameplan and Gray will be counted on to make some plays. Mahomes loves to look to the TE position in an offensive playbook that revolves around Kelce. Starting Gray would be risky but could pay off big for a week or longer if Kelce remains out.

    Betting Insight

    While the line has been fluctuating on this game due to the injury news, I find myself leaning Lions +5 (-110), with a strong temptation to throw down on the Lions moneyline for the plus money (+205). The Chiefs are still one of, if not the best team on paper again this year, but if both Chris Jones and Travis Kelce miss, the Lions have a great opportunity to win or keep within a field goal to cash against the spread. Detroit was 12-5 against the spread in 2022, covering over 70% of the time. While they were a bit of a dark horse last year compared to being division favorites this season, there is still money to be made on what should be a powerful offense and improved defense after the addition of DBs CJ Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. The only factor holding me back from declaring a lock for the Lions ATS is one man: Patrick Mahomes.

    Lean: Lions +5 (-110) – DraftKings
    Lean: Lions ML (+205) – FanDuel

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