The Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll in real life, but they are driving their fantasy owners crazy. Jamaal Charles has been gone for weeks … Travis Kelce is barely hanging on to his top-10 fantasy tight end status … and Jeremy Maclin is a decent flex player, but not the strong #2 WR we thought he would be in fantasy. The only unit on the team that is performing about where we thought they would is the D/ST, who are on track to being a top-5 defense after struggling early in the year.
In fact, they struggled so much that you probably dropped them around Week 5 or 6 and no one would have blamed you at that point. Last Sunday against San Diego, the Chiefs defense put on their fifth-straight strong showing. Unfortunately, running back Charcandrick West started off the day in a promising way, catching a 47-yard pass on the second play of the game, but suffered from a tight hamstring and was pulled from the game. He was replaced by Spencer Ware, who simply pummeled San Diego for 97 yards on 11 rushes and scored two touchdowns. Not bad for the guy that was on the practice squad a little over one month ago.
This week, the Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time in a month to face the Buffalo Bills in a key matchup that could determine which team makes the playoffs. The Chiefs do have some injures that could affect your fantasy team. Guard Ben Grubbs has been declared “Out” for the game, but defensive end Allen Bailey, linebacker Dee Ford, wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas, and Charcandrick West all missed practice on Thursday and are currently considered – but not officially listed as – “Doubtful” to play Sunday.
Here is my take on what you can expect out of the Chiefs for fantasy this weekend:
QUARTERBACK: In real life, Alex Smith had one of his best games as a Chief, dissecting the Chargers with his arm and his legs. He even went downfield more than usual, completing several passes of more than 10+ yards. That may not sound like much to fans of Ben Roethlisberger, but for Smith, it’s like he was channeling Daryl Lamonica, the former Oakland Raider great known as The Mad Bomber. But that was against the Chargers and this week, he’s playing the Bills. Find someone other than Smith to play in your fantasy league.
Projection: 230 yds passing, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 45 yds rushing.
RUNNING BACK: Charcandrick West is still nursing that sore hamstring and considering how important he is going to be during the playoff chase, I could see the Chiefs giving him a week off to heal up and let him get going next week. However, he could easily wake up Sunday morning feeling good and play. If he doesn’t, Spencer Ware would get the start and the majority of carries. If West is ruled out early, Ware has a decent match-up, but it’s still not great. Either guy is a flex play at best. But it all comes down to how West’s hammy feels. Knile Davis should be active and get some carries but considering he has been a healthy scratch the last few weeks, don’t overthink it and play him.
Projection: Whoever starts – 65 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, 1 touchdown.
WIDE RECEIVER: Jeremy Maclin left last week’s game with a head injury but returned and played so he did not have a concussion. He will be the #1 guy in the passing game but against the Bills secondary, that’s a dubious endorsement at best. The Bills seem to be feast-or-famine this year when it comes to covering people. They either shut down the passing game or get shredded. The Chiefs don’t inspire much confidence in exploiting bad pass defenses, so skip everyone but Maclin. De’Anthony Thomas will probably miss the game with concussion protocols so Chris Conley will take his place. Albert Wilson will make one or two big catches, but you can’t afford to start him.
Projection: Maclin – 6 catches, 70 yards, 0 touchdowns; Wilson – 3 catches, 35 yards; Conley – 2catches, 20 yds.
TIGHT END: Every week I keep thinking, this is the week Travis Kelce pulls a Baby-Gronk impersonation out of his back pocket and has a great game. Unfortunately, Buffalo just doesn’t give up much to TEs in fantasy and they’re coming off a game where they held the real Gronk to a season-low in fantasy points. Play Kelce but don’t expect a ton of points.
Projection: Kelce – 5 catches, 55 yds receiving.
KICKER: Expect a low-scoring game so Cairo Santos should get a few field goal attempts. Temps are supposed to be in the mid-to-high 30’s with a chance of rain. Not the greatest weather in the world, but Santos is used to kicking in bad weather by now and shouldn’t be affected too adversely.
Projection: 4 FG attempts, 1-2 extra points.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: There’s always a chance LeSean McCoy could go off on KC, but the Chiefs have faced the NFL’s best running backs and have generally shut them down. Buffalo is struggling on offense and QB Tyrod Taylor is banged up so everything points to another big game by the Chiefs D/ST. Another factor is the painful struggles the Bills are having fielding punts and Dustin Colquitt’s left-footed kicks can drive Pro Bowl caliber punt returners crazy. Look for the Chiefs to get multiple turnovers on Sunday.
Projection: 12 points given up, 4 sacks, 3 forced turnovers.