Your Kansas City Chiefs Examiner spent many hours this week sitting and contemplating his personal “chicken and the egg” situation as he developed the most wicked case of intestinal flu he has ever had in his 53 years on Earth. It started during the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 16-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings which led me to question whether the Chiefs performance made me sick or if my sickness made the game seem even worse? Much worse than your Examiner’s irritable intestines is the fact that Jeremy Maclin suffered a concussion during the loss and is highly doubtful for the upcoming game against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
With Jamaal Charles out and the usual fantasy suspects having sub-par years so far, the fact that Maclin may be sitting this one out reminds me of the days when I was Editor-In-Chief of a fantasy website and Tony Gonzalez was literally the only good fantasy player on the Chiefs. This week has the same feeling now. Yes, this could be the shortest fantasy article I have ever written: “Play Travis Kelce. That is all ….”
But judging by the emails I get every week – both good and bad – you actually read my fantasy insights, so here goes for one more week, at least. As of the Wednesday practice/injury report Alex Smith (thumb), Travis Kelce (facial laceration) and Cairo Santos (right foot) were practicing in full and all three are expected to play with no problems. Justin Houston (elbow) was limited and his availability for Sunday is in question. Tamba Hali (knee) is not practicing as well as Maclin and Mike DeVito (concussions) who have not cleared concussion protocols and have yet to be allowed to practice. At this point, those two are considered unlikely to play.
Here is my take on what you can expect out of the Chiefs for fantasy this weekend:
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith got off to an ice-cold start against the Vikings but got it going in the second half to salvage a semi-decent game, fantasy-wise. Under normal circumstances, this match-up against Pittsburgh would have raised his fantasy value to that of a decent #2 fantasy QB because the Steelers defense is getting absolutely abused in the passing game. Without Maclin he’ll have to depend on a very raw group of receivers to move the ball downfield and with smith’s reluctance to take chances, expect a lot of dinking and dunking. I would only start Smith if all your QBs were either hurt or on bye.
Projection: 260 yds passing, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 15 yds rushing.
RUNNING BACK: Thud! That’s the sound the Chiefs running game made last week without Jamaal Charles as neither Charcandrick West nor Knile Davis could do much of anything. It probably won’t get any better this week because while Pittsburgh is getting killed through the air, their run defense still remains stout. They are giving up the fourth-fewest points to fantasy running backs in the league. I can’t recommend starting any KC running back this week even in a flex situation. If you are absolutely desperate, De’Anthony Thomas might … might … mig … awwww, forget it. Even I can’t be that much of a homer.
Projection: West – 40 yds rushing, 20 yds receiving, 0 touchdowns; Davis – 20 yds rushing, Thomas – 10 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving.
WIDE RECEIVER: Jeremy Maclin would have been a solid #2 fantasy WR without the concussion but chances are he will miss the game. Keep an eye on the practice report because if he plays, he’ll have fantasy value even if he only gets in one practice this week. Albert Wilson did get a 41-yard touchdown catch last week when Smith caught the Vikings in an all-out blitz and hit Wilson with a short pass to the left that ended up going all the way. Chris Conley got seven targets but only converted three of them for a paltry 16 yards so he is not ready for prime time in your fantasy line-up yet. Jason Avant would have upside with Maclin out if he wasn’t anything other than a mediocre WR on his best day. Wilson may have the best chance for a decent day and Conley definitely has the most upside, but I can’t recommend any Chiefs wide receiver for a start on your fantasy team because there simply isn’t enough tequila in the world to get me that drunk.
Projection: Wilson – 4 catches, 35 yards; Conley – 4 catches, 30 yds, De’Anthony Thomas – 3 catch, 35 yards.
TIGHT END: Yeahhhhh, this might be Kelce’s “Rob Gronkowski” performance of the year. The Steelers have been mauled all year by fantasy tight ends and Smith has no one else reliable to throw the ball to so the upside to playing Kelce is huge. Double-digit catches from a tight end is rare outside of New England, but this might be Kelce’s day to shine. A definite “must-start”.
Projection: Kelce – 9 catches, 110 yds receiving, 1-2 TDs; O’Shaughnessy – 1 catch, 20 yds.
KICKER: If Roethlisberger were starting for Pittsburgh, I would avoid Santos like the plague because KC won’t kick field goals down by 28 points. But with Landry Jones probably starting for the Steelers, this could be a close game which means Santos is a solid #2 fantasy kicker. Worth starting if your #1 kicker is on a bye.
Projection: 3 FG attempts, 2 extra points.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: The defense held Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the league, to career-low type statistics last week and only gave up 16 points on the road, which is pretty good. Unfortunately the Steelers aren’t the Vikings and have multiple offensive weapons. Even with Landry Jones at QB, the Steelers will put up some numbers across the board. Expect Le’Veon Bell to not get too much on the ground but shine catching passes out of the backfield. Skip the Chiefs defense this week.
Projection: 24 points given up, 2 sacks, 2 forced turnovers.