NFL Week 9 Fantasy TE Breakdown: Travis Kelce Will Dominate the Browns
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87).
- Travis Kelce is the highest-priced tight end among the players in the Pro Models.
- David Njoku is looking to bounce back this week after a quiet game in Week 8.
See the full version of this piece at FantasyLabs here.
We’re officially in the second half of the 2018 NFL season, and we’re still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.1 points per game per team. The action continues with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
Ordinarily in my positional breakdowns, I touch on every fantasy-relevant player, but starting now, I’m going to focus only on the players at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
I’m doing this for a few reasons.
- I’m lazy. I just freed up 20 hours in my schedule. Someone’s about to get back on #TeamSex.
- I’m hoping to make the breakdowns easier to consume, more actionable and less noisy.
- I’m looking to create more value for FantasyLabs members. To this point, I’ve provided as much information as I can for free to everyone. By being more judicious in what I share, I’ll ensure that Labs subscribers maintain their edge.
- I’m lazy. Really lazy.
Plus, on the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, guest Evan Silva and I jokingly made a beer-backed wager as to whose treatise would be longer this week: His matchups column or my four-volume positional analysis.
I don’t want to brag — because it’s nothing to brag about — but the win was already mine by the time I started the third piece.
From now on, I’m just taking victory laps.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
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Model Tight Ends
This week, there are four DraftKings and FanDuel tight ends at the top of our individual Pro Models.
Here are the two who stand out the most to me.
- Travis Kelce: $6,600 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel
- David Njoku: $4,600 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel
Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (-9) at Cleveland Browns, 52.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (11/4): Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (groin) isn’t listed on the injury report and is fully expected to play.
Kelce is coming off another typical “I’m great; call me Zeus” 6-79-1 receiving performance on 10 targets. Yawn.
Although they suffered their first defeat against the spread last week, the Chiefs have dominated this season. On a per-game basis, they have:
- Outscored their implied total by 8.7 points (No. 1 in NFL)
- Exceeded their game total by 8.9 points (No. 2)
- Surpassed their spread by 8.6 points (No. 1)
The Chiefs lead the league in scoring at 36.3 points per game, and Kelce is a key contributor to their success, leading the team with 70 receptions, 44 yards yards receiving and 297 yards after the catch. He ranks second with 642 yards receiving and 687 air yards. Within the slate, Kelce easily has position highs with all of those marks.
After a horrendous 1-6-0 receiving performance in Week 1, Kelce has lit it up, averaging 19.9 DraftKings points per game, and since 2016, Kelce leads all tight ends with his per-game average of 16.1 DraftKings points. In the short term and especially the long term, Kelce is crushing.
Additionally, Kelce has a great matchup against the Browns. It might not look that way at first, but he’s in a smash spot.
Although the Browns just fired head coach Hue Jackson, they are no laughing matter on defense under coordinator and now interim head coach Gregg Williams.
The Browns are first in the league with 22 takeaways, and have top-three marks in time (2:16), plays (5.1) and yards (27.7) per drive. Their defensive ranks first against the pass with a -20.6% mark in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, which is remarkable considering that just last season they were 26th (21.6%).
This marked improvement in pass defense is due in-part to the development of 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett as an edge rusher (1.0 sack per game) and especially the reconfiguration of the secondary.
No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward has replaced Jason McCourty as the No. 1 cornerback. Jamar Taylor has been supplanted on the outside by cornerback E.J. Gaines.
David Njoku: Cleveland Browns (+9) vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 52.5 O/U
UPDATE (11/4): Wide receiver Antonio Callaway (ankle) suffered an injury in the Thursday practice and sat on Friday. He is officially questionable but seems unlikely to play. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee) got in limited practice sessions on Thursday and Friday and could play through his questionable tag after missing the past three games.
Oh, my. Last week, Njoku was one of the most popular tight ends in DraftKings tournaments, and he responded with a big zero.
It’s not as if he wasn’t on the field. He played 82.8% of the snaps.
Entering the game, Njoku had exhibited a strong connection with quarterback Baker Mayfield, leading the team with 22 receptions, 228 yards, 87 yards after the catch, two touchdowns and 14.2 DraftKings points per game in the No. 1 overall pick’s four starts.
And then he got zero targets in Week 8.
With Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley gone, what can we expect out of Njoku this week?
Running backs coach-turned-interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens is now overseeing the offense. He has no play-calling experience at any level, so he could be a stone-cold disaster, but he’s a Bruce Arians disciple who has eight games to show 32 teams what he can do.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see him take a nothing-to-lose YOLO approach with the offense, which could result in extra opportunities and enhanced production for Njoku. Of Mayfield’s favorite targets, Njoku has unquestionably been the most efficient (per the RotoViz AY/A app).
You can read the full version on FantasyLabs.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 9 positional breakdowns.
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.