Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Chiefs-Broncos

Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Chiefs-Broncos article feature image
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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Courtland Sutton

  • Sean Koerner is here to help you make your Thursday Night Football fantasy start/sit decisions.
  • See which Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos players are must-plays (or stay aways).

There’s more strategy to Thursday Night Football fantasy sit/start decisions than people realize.

The No. 1 rule? Don’t use your Flex spot (if you can). It offers you flexibility come Sunday, so blocking the utility of this lineup spot on TNF only hurts you.

Now let’s run through whether to start or sit key fantasy players tonight. For more specific sit/start decisions, you can use my updated rankings.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Mahomes is all the way down to No. 3 in my QB rankings this week.

If you have him, you’re starting him, but you need to lower expectations.

I took the under on his 2.5 passing touchdowns prop — which you can read more about here — but I still think a 300- to 330-yard game with two touchdowns is likely for Mahomes. The key here will be for his ankle injury to not become more of an issue on the short week, then hopefully the 10 days off before Week 8 will allow him to get 100% healthy.

Joe Flacco, Broncos

It might seem tempting to take a flier on Flacco in what should be a matchup that forces him to throw more, but I still have him ranked as my QB22 in a week with four teams on bye, so ideally you aren’t in a position in which you need to play him tonight.

The Chiefs have been gashed on the ground this season, and with Chris Jones already ruled out, they’ll continue to be vulnerable there. The running game is the Broncos’ offensive strength, so I expect them to lean on Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman even more.

Flacco will still be in his game-manager role.

Running Backs

Damien Williams & LeSean McCoy, Chiefs

While Williams and McCoy have formed a dreadful and unpredictable committee over the past two games, we have to treat both as RB3/flex plays. Still, in reality, one is likely to have a great game while the other puts up a dud. The problem is that it’s hard to really pinpoint which way it will go.

I’d rather leave either RB on my bench for this tough matchup and see how the committee shakes out.

There’s a bit of psychology when it comes to sit/start decisions in that some people are more worried about having a player go off on their bench than they are of a player having a dud in their starting lineup, but it’s more important to avoid a dud in your starting lineup. Still, let’s face it, this is an urge we all face and I’m here to remind you that the process is what’s important.

LeSean McCoy
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeSean McCoy

If you have to sit McCoy because you have a slightly better option, do it without worrying if he goes off on your bench. If he does, it would likely mean you have the undisputed lead RB for the Chiefs and a solid fantasy RB2, so the overall value of your team would just go up.

If you have a sit/start decision between McCoy and a RB like Jordan Howard, ask yourself: “Is anyone on my bench backing up a starting RB who is a game-time decision?” If the answer is yes — like it would be if you had Wayne Gallman, who could shoot up the rankings if Saquon Barkley is expected to sit out — and you have a close sit/start decision ahead of that back, lean toward benching the TNF player since, in theory, locking them in would be capping your team’s upside.

Phillip Lindsay & Royce Freeman, Broncos

Both backs are in a smash spot tonight.

The Chiefs have allowed a 100-plus-yard rusher in four straight games (and it would’ve been five if Josh Jacobs could’ve tacked on one more to his 99 yards in Week 2).

Lindsay has averaged a bit less than 50% of the snaps, but Denver runs enough that it still guarantees him 15-20 touches most weeks, and he should break off a big run or two tonight. He’s also been the preferred goal-line back, which are the most valuable touches in fantasy.

Freeman is a breakout game waiting to happen, and that could be as soon as tonight. He’s out-snapping Lindsay and has become the main pass-catching back, which will make him very active tonight. It’s also a bit bizarre that he has yet to score this season as his frame and running style make him a better option around the goal-line, so I’m speculating we could see him split those touches with Lindsay going forward.

Freeman is a mid-RB2, so you can lock him in.

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

He’s back!

While we have to temper expectations due to the tough matchup and with shutdown corner Chris Harris Jr. likely chasing him down most of the game, Hill needs to be in every lineup. If there’s one WR who is pretty much matchup-proof, it’s him.

Demarcus Robinson & Mecole Hardman, Chiefs

Robinson and Hardman are essentially in a situation similar to McCoy and Williams — one could end up putting up WR2 numbers (or better) while the other could bust.

I’d be cautious trusting either if you’re heading into this week as a decent favorite, but if you’re an underdog, you definitely want to take advantage of their upside. And if I had to lean toward which WR will have the better game, it’d be Robinson. Despite his zero-catch game a week ago, he led the WR group in snaps (86%) and has carved out his own role in this offense with Sammy Watkins out.

Hardman was much more of a Tyreek Hill replacement, so he should see the biggest drop in value with Hill’s return.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos

Sutton is a rock-solid WR2 and can be safely started until further notice.

If using my rankings to make your sit/start decisions at WR this week points to him being a sit, then congratulations — you’re stacked at WR right now.

Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

Sanders is a tricky call as a low-end WR3 as he’s a bit banged up.

Despite leaving the Week 6 game early, he appears healthy enough to suit up on the short week. I’d lean towards sitting him in close sit/start decisions, but would wait for pre-game warmup updates before making any final call.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce, Chiefs

I have Kelce as being roughly a 50/50 chance to finish top-three at the position this week. While we have yet to see anything close to a ceiling game from him this season, he’s still considered my top TE by a mile.

Noah Fant, Broncos

Fant has the potential to become a top-five TE in fantasy over the next few seasons. It always takes TEs a season or two before they adapt to the NFL and become consistent enough to rely on as a TE1.

He’s my TE20 this week so is still off the 1TE-league radar, but he’s certainly worth a look in one-game DFS slates as he has massive upside and could break out any week.

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