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.
|DERWIN JAMES AGAINST TIGHT ENDS|
|2018||K.C.||L 28-38||Travis Kelce||6||1||6||0|
|2018||at Buff.||W 31-20||• Charles Clay||3||2||29||0|
|2018||at LAR||L 23-35||• Gerald Everett||2||1||3||0|
|2018||S.F.||W 29-27||George Kittle||8||6||125||1|
|2018||Oak.||W 26-10||Jared Cook||6||4||20||0|
|2018||at Clev.||W 38-14||David Njoku||12||7||55||1|
|2018||Ten.||W 20-19||• Jonnu Smith||3||2||11||0|
|2018||at Sea.||W 25-17||• Nick Vannett||8||6||52||1|
|2018||at Oak.||W 20-6||Jared Cook||9||4||52||0|
|2018||Den.||L 22-23||• Jeff Heuerman||5||4||20||0|
|2018||Ariz.||W 45-10||Ricky Seals-Jones||2||1||5||0|
|2018||at Pitt.||W 33-30||Vance McDonald||7||4||28||0|
|2018||Cin.||W 26-21||C.J. Uzomah||3||3||37||0|
|2018||at K.C.||W 29-28||Travis Kelce||9||7||61||0|
|2018||Balt.||L 10-22||Mark Andrews||2||2||83||1|
|2018||at Den.||W 23-9||• Matt LaCosse||8||5||33||0|
|2018||at Balt.||W 23-17||Mark Andrews||7||3||31||0|
|2018||at N.E.||L 28-41||Rob Gronkowski||1||1||25||0|
|2019||at Den.||L 20-23||Noah Fant||3||1||5||0|
|2019||at Jac.||W 45-10||• Nick O'Leary||5||4||31||1|
|2019||Min.||L 10-39||Kyle Rudolph||3||3||48||0|
|2019||Oak.||L 17-24||Darren Waller||4||4||37||0|
|2019||at K.C.||L 21-31||Travis Kelce||5||3||24||0|
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.