Lions vs Chiefs Start/Sit: Fantasy Decisions on David Montgomery, Skyy Moore, More

Lions vs Chiefs Start/Sit: Fantasy Decisions on David Montgomery, Skyy Moore, More article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Skyy Moore.

Thursday Night Football between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs kicks off the marathon that is the NFL season. For fantasy football managers, it's more like a series of sprints where making as many correct decisions is rewarded.

Lions vs. Chiefs features the highest total of the Week 1 slate and is only one of two games with an over/under greater than 50 points. Since Patrick Mahomes took over as Kansas City's franchise quarterback (2018), the Chiefs have averaged 37 points per game in their opening game of the season. There is a high likelihood we see a shootout.

The Lions' defensive personnel largely remains the same, which isn't great for a defense that surrendered the most fantasy points per game in 2022 to the quarterback position. The only thing holding us back from starting as many players as possible is the ambiguity in the roles for some of the skill players.

To lay some ground rules for this start/sit column moving forward, I am operating under the following framework:

  • 12-team leagues
  • Format starts a total of 5-6 RBs and WRs, with only one QB and one TE

Using wide receiver as an example, a "WR1" would be ranked in the top 12 at the position in that given week. A "WR2" would rank 13th-24th and a "WR3" would rank 25th-36th. A player deemed a WR3 or flex means he is in consideration for both the third WR slot in leagues that only start three WRs, but more than likely would find a spot in your starting lineup in a format that requires three starting WRs and a flex position.

Obviously, the no-doubt fantasy starters in this contest are Patrick Mahomes, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs. But there are several difficult decisions you may have to make beyond that depending on your league format.

Let’s dive in.

Lions Week 1 Start/Sit

QB Jared Goff

There are not many scenarios in which you should be starting Goff in a 1-QB format, but it is worth noting the Chiefs were directly behind the Lions in fantasy points allowed to the position last season (31st in the NFL).

Simply put, it is a combination of the defense lacking a pass rush beyond Chris Jones — who is still holding out — and the propensity for teams to fall behind the explosive Chiefs offense. With Jones on the field, the Chiefs pass rush had a 35.5% pressure rate, which was fifth in the league. Without Jones, that rate tanked to 29th (Sharp Football).

As Goff became more comfortable in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson’s scheme, his production increased. In Weeks 12-18, Goff was only behind Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen in fantasy points per game.

I would play Goff in this specific spot, but I would also keep him on the bench in favor of high-floor rushing quarterbacks like Daniel Jones and Deshaun Watson.

RB David Montgomery

Montgomery is a strong RB2 play. The only situation you wouldn't play him is if you drafted two elite RBs and happen to play in a league without a flex. Lions running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift combined for 84 red-zone carries in 2022, with Williams leading the league with 60.

While rookie Jahmyr Gibbs is a sure-fire fantasy starter from Day 1, and is likely to get a lot of work in the passing game, Montgomery ranked third in both catch percentage (85%) and yards per reception (9.3) out of all running backs in 2022. He is a significant upgrade over what Jamaal Williams brought to the receiving game in the past iteration of the Lions’ backfield split.

Montgomery should be starting in nearly all formats.

TE Sam LaPorta

LaPorta is a good athlete who had a target share greater than 20% in his last three seasons at Iowa. If you opted for the late-round TE approach, this could be a good opportunity for a spot start. He could finish second on the team in targets in a game where their team total is the 10th highest in the league.

If the decision is between LaPorta and fellow rookie Dalton Kincaid, I would start the player I expect to be on the field more — LaPorta. Otherwise, it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach with LaPorta on your bench.

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Chiefs Week 1 Start/Sit

RB Isiah Pacheco

Pacheco became the leading man in the Kansas City backfield in Week 10 of last season and never looked back. From Weeks 10-18, he ranked 23rd in points per game in both half- and full-PPR formats.

If you implemented the ever-popular zero or hero RB strategies in your draft and you have Pacheco, you almost assuredly will be starting him.

The Lions ranked seventh in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing RBs in 2022. Pacheco can be touchdown dependent, as he only caught 13 balls as a rookie.

Jerick McKinnon will be the third-down back for the Chiefs once again and Clyde Edwards-Helaire may not be totally out of the picture in the eyes of the coaching staff.

I tend to rank Pacheco as a strong RB3/Flex play in Week 1. There's some uncertainty in his workload early in the campaign.

WR Skyy Moore

The reports over summer have been overwhelmingly positive for the second-year receiver. There aren't many data points to point to when it comes to projecting an increase in production for Moore, but he is now second in the pecking order for targets — behind only Travis Kelce (who's status is in doubt for Week 1) — and he is likely to play in most 2-WR sets.

During the preseason, Moore played in 61% of formations that featured 11 personnel and 100% of the snaps in 12 personnel (when Mahomes was in the game). Moore is in line to play a similar slot role as JuJu Smith-Schuster did a year ago. In that role, a healthy Smith-Schuster received at least eight targets in six of the Chiefs’ first eight games.

It’s an important piece in Andy Reid’s scheme that provides both a high floor and a high ceiling. With Kelce's status still undetermined, Moore should receive an even larger piece of the target share in the passing game.

Feel confident playing Moore as a WR3.

Chiefs WRs: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Rashee Rice, Richie James, Justyn Ross

At various points of the offseason, there's been real hype behind each of these players … outside of the one who is actually going to see the field the most on Thursday night.

Valdes-Scantling has a secure role stretching the field, and that will not change any time soon. Even with a snap count hovering around 45 per game and running the second-most routes, he averaged fewer than five targets and only reached 50 yards receiving in seven of the Chiefs' 20 games played (postseason included).

Toney is going to be mixed in and may see some valuable targets, much like he did a season ago after the Chiefs traded for him. Starting him in fantasy is a leap I am not willing to take. He just returned to practice from a knee injury that sidelined him for training camp.

One of these players, maybe even a couple, will make a big play on Thursday night, but with the ambiguity surrounding the rotation, I can't accurately project enough volume to recommend a desperation flex play. Out of this group, Valdes-Scantling would be my dart throw if Kelce is ruled out

It is best to keep the rest of the Chiefs wide receivers on your bench unless you play in a deeper league (14-16 teams) and have some banged-up receivers (like Cooper Kupp, Jerry Jeudy or Terry McLaurin).

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