This Thursday night matchup features two AFC West rivals who are both looking to get back on the right track. The Chiefs look to right the ship after suffering their first loss this past Sunday, while the Raiders hope to halt their four game losing streak. In a season that started with such great promise, there is a real possibility this serves as a season altering for the Raiders.
No matter what metric you’re going to look at, the Raiders secondary has struggled so far in 2017. Sounds like a great opportunity for Alex Smith to go back to playing the way he had in the first five games of the year. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smith is one of the ten highest scoring quarterbacks of the week.
When Smith throws, the primary target has been tight end Travis Kelce who now faces a banged up linebacker corps which has struggled against the position. As usual, Kelce should be locked into start in all formats. Other than Kelce, you don’t know what you get from Chiefs pass catchers on a weekly basis. The only one from a fantasy standpoint who would be worth starting is Tyreek Hill. Hill’s production is very dependent on big-plays, but against this Raider secondary the potential payoff is too much to ignore. If Albert Wilson remains sidelined, Demarcus Robinson is a player who could see extra throws his way but it likely won’t be enough to suddenly become fantasy relevant.
The Raiders entering this one ranking among the league’s worst in both rushing and receiving yards allowed to running backs through six weeks. Now they have to face Kareem Hunt who has been an all-purpose back and then some to this point. With a concussion holding out Charcandrick West tonight and Hunt seeing just nine rushing attempts on Sunday, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chiefs make sure to have Hunt involved early and often.
With the arsenal to be one of the league’s more potent offenses entering the year, the Raiders after a hot start have come to a halt. Now playing with fractures in his back, Derek Carr has a better matchup than you’d initially think, but I’d understand why someone would be hesitant to start him in fantasy leagues. Teams have been able to pass on the Chiefs (even with some of it in garbage time), but Carr with his supporting cast struggles is a high-risk high-reward play this week.
As excited as many of us are to have Marshawn Lynch back in our football lives, does it make sense to bring him out of retirement if he isn’t going to get the ball? So far Lynch has had one week where he has received more than 13 touches. Like last week, the Raiders are going up against a defense that has struggled of late against the run. If the score allows, this would be a perfect time for the Raiders to get Lynch going and take pressure off of the injured Carr. While it sounds logical, there is no guarantee that’s what happens so Lynch is probably a running back two or flex option depending on your roster situation.
Through six games, Amari Cooper has just 146 yards and has had a well documented issue with drops to this point. While his season long stats may not show it, there is just too much talent for Cooper to not bounce back at some point. Cooper figures to run the majority of his routes away from Marcus Peters, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this is a spot where he bounce back. Michael Crabtree figures to see more of Peters, but he has clearly been Carr’s most reliable target. He should be at least a third receiver or flex option in all formats this week, as the potential is there to exceed expectations. Despite being third in total targets, Jared Cook isn’t targeted enough near the endzone or racking up the yards (just one game over 50) to count on him for fantasy purposes.
With the Raiders having their season to play for, this should end up being a highly contested game that has the potential to be a shootout. At the end of the day though, I figure the Chiefs will just have too much offensively for the Raiders to handle. My prediction is Chiefs 26 Raiders (+3.5) 23.