Travis Kelce might be the best tight end in the league, but he’s tended to play his worst games against the Chargers. Is this a week to get clever and start some other tight end ahead of Kansas City’s No. 87?

Kelce has scored in only 1 of his 12 career games against the Chargers. That came in the win at Mexico City last year. In his last three games against the Chargers in the State of California, he’s caught only 1 pass. That’s 3 catches for 15 yards in three games – an average of 1.3 yards per quarter.

Of course, Patrick Mahomes wasn’t at quarterback in most of those games. With Mahomes, Kelce caught 7 passes for 61 yards in a home game against the Chargers two years ago. And in Mexico City, he caught 7 for 92, with a 23-yard touchdown catch.

Kelce caught only 3 passes for 24 yards in his last game against the Chargers; that was fueled in part by Kansas City running the ball really well (Damien Williams went for 124 yards, with 2 TDs).

Also note that the Chargers don’t have Derwin James. He’s one of the best safeties in the league, and a big part of that is his ability to cover tight ends. I skimmed through the numbers. By my count, James has played 16 games against what I would call notable tight ends. (That’s including three games against Kelce, and two each against Jared Cook and Mark Andrews.) Those tight ends in those 16 games (a season’s worth of work) combined for a modest 54 catches for 642 yards, with 3 TDs.

The chart below shows how starting tight ends have performed against Derwin James. Some of the guys I don’t consider to be notable (they finished with were the 30 catches in the season in question), and I’ve got them tagged with black dots. When I talked about the 16 games and 54-642-3, it’s for the better tight ends.

2018K.C.L 28-38Travis Kelce6160
2018at Buff.W 31-20• Charles Clay32290
2018at LARL 23-35• Gerald Everett2130
2018S.F.W 29-27George Kittle861251
2018Oak.W 26-10Jared Cook64200
2018at Clev.W 38-14David Njoku127551
2018Ten.W 20-19• Jonnu Smith32110
2018at Sea.W 25-17• Nick Vannett86521
2018at Oak.W 20-6Jared Cook94520
2018Den.L 22-23• Jeff Heuerman54200
2018Ariz.W 45-10Ricky Seals-Jones2150
2018at Pitt.W 33-30Vance McDonald74280
2018Cin.W 26-21C.J. Uzomah33370
2018at K.C.W 29-28Travis Kelce97610
2018Balt.L 10-22Mark Andrews22831
2018at Den.W 23-9• Matt LaCosse85330
2018at Balt.W 23-17Mark Andrews73310
2018at N.E.L 28-41Rob Gronkowski11250
2019at Den.L 20-23Noah Fant3150
2019at Jac.W 45-10• Nick O'Leary54311
2019Min.L 10-39Kyle Rudolph33480
2019Oak.L 17-24Darren Waller44370
2019at K.C.L 21-31Travis Kelce53240

With James out with an injury this time and Kansas City having the game’s best quarterback, I wouldn’t be too interested in moving Kelce too far down my list for Week 2. Maybe project him just a little lower than usual, but it would be tough to find more than maybe one or two tight ends I would rank ahead of Kelce this week.

—Ian Allan