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2023 NFL Week 1 DFS Thursday Night Showdown: Lions vs. Chiefs

Welcome to this DFS Showdown article, where we’ll delve into the key players and strategies for the coming matchup between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams bring exciting talent and intriguing storylines, making it a showdown you don’t want to miss. 

We'll break down each team's offense and defense, highlight player matchups and provide a multiplier and flex pool to help you build your winning lineup. Whether you're a seasoned DFS player or just looking to get into the action, we've got you covered.

Vegas Line: Chiefs -6.5

Over/Under: 54.5

>> READ: Lions vs. Chiefs Betting Preview, Predictions

Lions vs. Chiefs Showdown Strategy

Showdown slates are simplistic in strategy. Pick a game script you want your lineup to mirror and a score that goes along with that script. The implied score for this game has the Chiefs winning 30.5 to 24, which presents ample opportunity for both teams to find the end zone. 

Lions Offense

The Lions' offense showcased its dominance last season, standing out as one of the NFL's best. According to Tru Media, it ranked in the 90th percentile in various key metrics, including yards per play and red zone efficiency. Remarkably, this success came despite the offense's non-elite performance on third downs, leaving room for improvement.

A pivotal move during the offseason was retaining offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, widely regarded as one of football's top play callers. Johnson's strategic play calling should be on full display on Thursday, and the Chiefs will face challenges without DT Chris Jones.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is the only Lions pass catcher who will certainly have a major role. While the Chiefs boast an underrated cornerback group, St. Brown will be schemed open enough to receive ample targets. 

The Chiefs' primary defensive look will likely involve two deep safeties, a formation St. Brown excelled against last year. He averaged 2.1 yards per route run and was targeted on 32 percent of his routes against that look.

Wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Josh Reynolds are expected to see significant playing time. While they understand their roles and responsibilities well, it's uncertain if they can consistently get open. Keep an eye on two intriguing players for this showdown slate: Kalif Raymond and Antoine Green.

Raymond is known for his speed and is involved in the types of plays designed to exploit the Chiefs' primary defensive look. Meanwhile, Green, a rookie wide receiver out of North Carolina, had an impressive preseason and earned his spot on the active roster. 

In college, Green excelled at vertical routes, averaging three yards per route run and ranking in the upper 70th percentile in this category. His role is well-defined and won't draw safety help over the top.

The tight end group comprises three notable players: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright and James Mitchell. Each of these tight ends is expected to see playing time and has potential in this showdown slate.

LaPorta, a rookie tight end, possesses strong pass-catching abilities, averaging more than two yards per route run from both in-line and slot alignments, according to Sports Info Solutions.

Wright is a reliable blocker entering his third year in the NFL. Due to his size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), he's a valuable target for Jared Goff, particularly in goal-line situations. Wright is likely to lead this group in snaps.

Mitchell’s above-average athleticism could lead him to steal snaps from LaPorta. However, Mitchell is primarily an option in a tournament with thousands of entries.

David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are poised for significant roles. Montgomery will be the go-to, between-the-tackles runner, particularly in goal-line situations. He is expected to fill the void left by Jamaal Williams, who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season with 17.

Gibbs is a versatile chess piece. Much like Alvin Kamara, Gibbs can line up in the slot or out wide to create mismatches in coverage. Anticipate Gibbs getting the second-most targets on the team, potentially equaling his rushing attempts.

These two dynamic backs will be key contributors to Detroit's offensive strategy, with Montgomery anchoring the ground game and Gibbs bringing a multidimensional threat to the passing attack. 

The Chiefs’ defensive line doesn’t have the players to match up without Jones, and both Lions’ running backs can play together.

Chiefs Defense

The loss of Jones is on the level of losing Aaron Donald, Dexter Lawrence or Jeffery Simmons. Jones is one of the best pass-rushing interior defensive linemen in football and is a top-end run defender. The Chiefs already lost safety Juan Thornhill, DT Khalen Saunders, DE Carlos Dunlap and DE Frank Clark to free agency, all of whom had important roles last season. 

CB L’Jarius Sneed is questionable for this matchup. If he can’t play, the Chiefs will be without their two best defenders. CB Trent McDuffie should travel with St. Brown, which is a great matchup. However, when St. Brown goes in motion, it will be difficult for McDuffie to stay on him.

The Chiefs gave up the most passing touchdowns in the NFL last season, but that was a product of being in the lead and teams throwing against them. Last season, Kansas City gave up 33 passing touchdowns, and 33 percent were in the second half while the team was winning by two or more scores. 

Overall, this is going to be a difficult matchup for the Chiefs. The best defense against Patrick Mahomes is keeping him off the field, and the Lions’ run game will be the key.

Chiefs Offense

Andy Reid's dominance as a play caller was on full display last season, even when faced with the challenge of losing Tyreek Hill. Mahomes showcased remarkable growth as a quarterback. 

In 2021, he often forced deep throws, leading to interceptions. In 2022, he demonstrated maturity by favoring shorter, methodical passes, resulting in efficient drives. While the Lions have improved their secondary, their pass rush could struggle to disrupt this high-powered Chiefs offense.

Travis Kelce is questionable for this game after hyperextending his knee in practice, and the Chiefs' pass-catchers will all be popular at their price. I do not expect Kelce to play, and according to TruMedia, only 4.9 percent of Mahomes’ dropbacks have been without Kelce or Tyreek Hill. Only TE Noah Gray has more than 100 yards from Mahomes with Hill and Kelce off the field.

The player I expect to step up is second-year WR Skyy Moore. Moore had a disappointing rookie season, but he should be full-time in the slot, where he averaged 2.43 yards per route run last year and was targeted on 29.8 percent of his routes.

The Lions don’t have a great pass rush, so I expect Mahomes to extend plays and find Marquez Valdes-Scantling as his deep threat. The boundary corner is the weakest part of the Lions’ secondary right now, and Valdes-Scantling should be able to win deep.

Emmanuel Moseley could miss this game, meaning Jerry Jacobs would be the boundary corner opposite Cameron Sutton. Last year, Jacobs had many defensive pass interference calls, and teams targeted him down the field. 

Lastly, look at Gray, who exclusively played as the in-line tight end and contributed 228 yards from that look. There is no direct replacement for Kelce, but his potentially being out creates an opportunity for leverage off of how popular Gray will be for this slate. Blake Bell is the only other tight end on this roster; he can outscore Gray with a red zone touchdown and won't be as popular.

Kadarius Toney, Richie James, Rashee Rice, Justin Watson and Justyn Ross make the pool, but whoever becomes active will get rotated plenty. Watson played the most reps with Mahomes this preseason, and out of this group, he is my favorite because his role doesn’t interfere with the two confident plays.

The running back room will be a three-person rotation among Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. All three will see snaps, but Pacheco is the most interesting.

He missed the offseason because of surgeries on his hand and shoulder, but he’s in the most positive matchup for this game. The Lions' run defense was much worse against a gap running scheme than a zone scheme. Among running backs with 50 rushing attempts in this scheme, Pacheco was in the top 10 in yards per carry.

The Lions covered running backs out of the backfield well and only improved at linebacker this offseason. They shouldn’t have issues defending McKinnon or Edwards-Helaire.

Lions Defense

The Lions are not the same defense as last season. They have multiple new starters who are talented and will help correct the wrongs of the previous season. Four defensive backs who played more than 40 percent of Detroit's defensive snaps are no longer with the team. Also, a few players who played a prominent role aren’t starting anymore.

Every stat found on stopping slot wide receivers should be thrown out the window because the Lions have a completely new nickel package with way better slot corners.

These two players will be C.J. Gardner-Johnson and rookie Brian Branch. Both players will also help in the run game, and Detroit added a great linebacker in Jack Campbell. Campbell came from Iowa and was a complete prospect at the linebacker position. 

Moseley probably won’t play due to his knee injury, but if he does, the Lions will have improved starters on defense. This defense isn’t going to be shutting down a Mahomes-led offense, but solely focusing on what the defense struggled with last season is misleading.

Multiplier Pool

QB Patrick Mahomes
WR Amon-Ra St.Brown
RB Isiah Pacheco
RB David Montgomery
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
WR Skyy Moore

Flex Pool

QB Jared Goff
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
TE Sam Laporta
K Harrison Butker
K Riley Patterson
WR Josh Reynolds
TE Noah Gray
WR Kaliff Raymond
WR Justin Watson
TE James Mitchell
WR Antoine Green
TE Blake Bell

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