NFL Week 8 Fantasy TE Breakdown: Travis Kelce Will Break the Broncos

NFL Week 8 Fantasy TE Breakdown: Travis Kelce Will Break the Broncos article feature image

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Travis Kelce

  • Travis Kelce is in a great spot to dominate the Broncos defense.
  • Jesse James has a favorable matchup against Browns at home.

See the full version of this piece at FantasyLabs. (LABS URL)

The 2018 NFL season rolls on, and we’re still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.0 points per game per team. We could be in for another week of high scoring with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. ET.

With four teams on bye, two in London and six in prime-time games, we are without the following quarterbacks:

  • Thursday Night Football: Dolphins (Nick O’Leary, Mike Gesicki) at Texans (Ryan Griffin)
  • International Series (London): Eagles (Zach Ertz) at Jaguars (James O’Shaughnessy)
  • Sunday Night Football: Saints (Ben Watson) at Vikings (Kyle Rudolph)
  • Monday Night Football: Patriots (Rob Gronkowski) at Bills (Charles Clay)
  • Byes: Falcons (Austin Hooper), Cowboys (Geoff Swaim), Titans (Jonnu Smith) and Chargers (Antonio Gates)

For analysis on the smaller slates, consult Chris Raybon’s premium strategy guides (released throughout the week).

In writing this piece, I’ve relied primarily on the FantasyLabs Models. This breakdown is less of a comprehensive analysis of each wide receiver and more of an introduction to this week’s players via our large suite of analytic DFS Tools. We’ll start with two high-priced tight ends, follow with two guys at the top of our individual Pro Models and finish with the rest of the slate’s fantasy-relevant pass-receivers.

For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.

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Highest-Priced Tight Ends

There are two tight ends at the top of the salary scale this week. The one who warrants the most consideration is Travis Kelce.

Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) vs. Denver Broncos, 53.5 Over/Under

UPDATE (10/27): Center Mitch Morse (concussion) will miss his second consecutive game. The interior depth of the Chiefs offensive line will be tested with backup center Jordan Devey (pectoral) and starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fibula) both on injured reserve. With backups Austin Reiter and Andrew Wylie tentatively expected to start at center and right guard, the efficacy of the Chiefs offense could be diminished.

  • $6,800 DraftKings; $7,300 FanDuel

Kelce is coming off another typical “I’m great; call me Zeus” 5-95-0 receiving performance on five targets. Even though head coach Andy Reid screwed over bettors with his end-of-game decision not to kick a field goal inside the 10-yard line, the Chiefs helped public bettors crush sportsbooks in Week 7. With Kelce dominating safeties and linebackers, the Chiefs are 7-0 (ATS) this season, the league’s only remaining undefeated ATS team.

On a per-game basis, they have …

  • Outscored their implied totals by 10.1 points (No. 1 in NFL)
  • Surpassed their game total by 10.2 points (No. 1)
  • Covered their spreads by 10.1 points (No. 1)

The Chiefs lead the league in scoring at 37.1 points per game and are nearly unstoppable on offense.

After a horrendous 1-6-0 receiving performance in Week 1, Kelce has lit it up, averaging 20.0 DraftKings points per game, and this week Kelce is on the positive side of his home/away and favorite/underdog splits: Since 2016, he has averaged 17.1 DraftKings points per game as a home favorite.

It’s true that under head coach Andy Reid, Arrowhead Stadium has a league-worst 15-28-0 over/under record. No home team since 2013 has lost over bettors more money (-31.2% ROI) than the Chiefs (per Bet Labs). But most of those games were with a different quarterback. With Patrick Mahomes leading the offense, the Chiefs should put up points. Plus, this is the only game on the slate with two top-10 teams in situation-neutral pace.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium.
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87).

Of all the tight ends on the slate, Kelce is first with 60 targets, 38 receptions, 563 yards receiving and 588 air yards. He’s crushing. And now Kelce has a great matchup against the division rival Broncos. While the Broncos have a run-flowing funnel defense, against the pass they have another type of funnel: A tight end funnel.

Overall, the Broncos are second in pass defense with a -17.9% DVOA, but they are weakest against tight ends, rankings 23rd with an 18.0% DVOA. And that ranking isn’t a fluke: Last season they were 31st (19.8% DVOA), allowing tight ends to score a top-three mark of 14.9 DraftKings points per game.

While the Broncos aren’t quite as bad this season against tight ends as they were last season, they’re still bad: They allowed a fourth-round block-first rookie in Will Dissley to score 22.5 DraftKings points against them in his first NFL game.

Other than All-Pro slot cornerback Chris Harris, the Broncos don’t have one defensive back or linebacker in their dime personnel with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade of even 70.0. On top of that, while the Chiefs offense is entirely healthy, Broncos safety Darian Stewart (neck) has been ruled out.

Since developing into his All-Pro self in 2016, Kelce has smashed the Broncos each time he’s faced them.

  • 2016, Week 12: 21.1 DraftKings points, 8-101-0 receiving on 15 targets
  • 2016, Week 16: 36.0 DraftKings points, 11-160-1 receiving on 12 targets
  • 2017, Week 8: 29.3 DraftKings points, 7-133-1 receiving on 10 targets
  • 2018, Week 4: 20.8 DraftKings points, 7-78-1 receiving on 12 targets

In these four games, Kelce has an unthinkably high +13.75 Plus/Minus. Against the Broncos, he goes into full-on Zeus mode.

On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Kelce as a potential option in cash games. He’s expensive, but he might be worth it given his supremacy at the position and matchup.

If you want to roster him in guaranteed prize pools, use our Lineup Builder to stack Kelce with Mahomes. Since 2014, No. 1 tight ends on average have had a 0.47 correlation with their quarterbacks. With Mahomes and Alex Smith before him, Kelce has had a 0.63 correlation.

On Sunday morning, I might look to bet the over on Kelce’s yardage prop. To find the best bets in the props market, use our Player Props Tool, which is powered by our industry-leading projections. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of 10 have gone 152-73-5, good for a 66% win rate.

Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.

Kelce leads all tight ends with his median and ceiling projections on DraftKings and FanDuel, where he respectively has a position-high eight and nine Pro Trends. No tight end has a higher Bargain Rating than Kelce’s 99% mark on FanDuel, where he’s the highest-rated tight end in all our Pro Models. For good measure, he’s also the top DraftKings option in all our Pro Models except two (Freedman and SportsGeek).

Model Tight Ends

Besides Kelce, there are two tight ends atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.

The one I find more intriguing is Jesse James.

Jesse James: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 48.5 O/U

UPDATE (10/27): Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) is out. Backup Matt Feiler is expected to start in his place.

  • $2,900 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel

It’s hard to trust James because he’s splitting snaps and targets with Vance McDonald, but he is cheap, and before the Week 7 bye he had a five-reception game.

It’s a tough matchup for James in that the Browns are first against the pass with a -23.4% DVOA and second against tight ends in particular with a -50.3% DVOA, but James had 11.7 DraftKings points on 5-67-0 receiving and nine targets in Week 1 against these same Browns.

More importantly, the Browns will be without middle linebacker Joe Schobert (hamstring), who leads not just the team but also all NFL linebackers with his 91.2 PFF coverage grade.


His absence is especially problematic since the team is also without backup middle linebacker James Burgess (hamstring). In Week 7, without Schobert and Burgess, the Buccaneers went to town on the Browns with their tight ends, who collectively scored 22.1 DraftKings points on 12-111-0 receiving and 18 targets.

Without Schobert locking down the middle of the field in coverage, James has under appreciated potential and is the No. 1 DraftKings tight end in the SportsGeek Model.

Positional Breakdowns & News

Be sure to read the other Week 8 positional breakdowns.

• Quarterbacks
• Running Backs
• Wide Receivers

For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.