The Kansas City Chiefs rebounded in fantasy last week in their surprising 23-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend with running back Charcandrick West being the unquestioned fantasy stud for the team. The Chiefs will need a repeat performance by West and the rest of the offense this week as they travel to London, England to take on the Detroit Lions early Sunday morning in the third installment of the NFL’s International Series of games.
These London games are tricky when it comes to forecasting fantasy production because you’re never sure how a team will react to the travel and disruption of the players’ normal weekly routine. The Lions left for London on Monday and have been practicing there all week. The Chiefs chose not to leave until Thursday, preferring to keep the weekly practice schedule as normal as possible. In effect, other than the exceptionally long plane ride, the Chiefs routine will be much the same as it is for most away games.
As far as injuries are concerned, all of the Chiefs players you would think about starting for your fantasy team have practiced in full this week including Alex Smith, Charcandrick West, Travis Kelce and most important, Jeremy Maclin. Only OL Ben Grubbs and DE Mike DeVito have been officially declared “Out” for the game.
Here is my take on what you can expect out of the Chiefs for fantasy this weekend:
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith lost his best receiver last week when Jeremy Maclin was declared out of the game Sunday morning after warmups. Considering he had just been cleared from concussion protocols the Friday before the game, it was a good call by head coach Andy Reid and the training staff to hold him out one more week. Smith responded well, throwing for 251 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions which, for him, is a typical week.
Detroit is giving up the 10th most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and lest you think it’s all because of Aaron Rodgers, they haven’t even played Rodgers yet. Philip Rivers got 404 yards in Week 1, noodle-armed Peyton Manning got 324 in Week 3, Jay Cutler got 353 in Week 6, and Teddy Bridgewater of all people nailed them for 316 last week. That makes Smith a decent back-up or #2 fantasy prospect this week. He won’t kill you if your regular guy is on a bye or hurt and might have surprising upside.
Projection: 275 yds passing, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 15 yds rushing.
RUNNING BACK: After crashing and burning the two previous weeks, the Chiefs found a running game against one of the best rush defenses in the league last week. Charcandrick West burned Pittsburgh for 110 rushing yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. West is a definite low-end #2 back at worst this week. Reid loves the way he runs and he is definitely the #1 guy in KC now. Spencer Ware seemingly has surpassed Knile Davis on the depth chart as he was the first guy off the bench when West needed a breather last week. I’m not sure what is going on with Davis, but you can safely cut him if you have been stashing him on your roster.
Projection: West – 80 yds rushing, 25 yds receiving, 1 touchdown.
WIDE RECEIVER: Jeremy Maclin would have been a solid #2 fantasy WR last week, but is a low-end #1 guy this week against Detroit and their horrible secondary. He is a must-start at WR or even at a flex if your line-up is stacked at WR. Two months ago, I said to keep an eye on Chris Conley who I thought would become a decent WR as the year wore on. He is starting to click with Smith after missing most of training camp with an injury and his size and speed might move him past Albert Wilson on the KC depth chart. The problem fantasy-wise is that Conley and Wilson will split targets and catches so I don’t think either one is worth starting at anything other than a flex right now. But the prospects this week against Detroit are pretty good.
Projection: Maclin – 8 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD; Wilson – 3 catches, 45 yards; Conley – 4 catches, 40 yds, De’Anthony Thomas – 2 catches, 25 yards receiving, 25 yards rushing.
TIGHT END: The way the first half was going last week, Travis Kelce was easily on his way to his best day of the year, but give Pittsburgh credit, they shut him down in the second half. He finished the game with 5 receptions on 6 targets for 73 yards, but failed to get a touchdown. I think he changes that this week against a bad Detroit secondary. Kelce is still a must-start every week
Projection: Kelce – 7 catches, 77 yds receiving, 1 touchdown; O’Shaughnessy – 1 catch, 20 yds.
KICKER: Last week, I predicted three FG attempts for Cairo Santos and two extra point attempts. He got three field goals on four attempts and two extra points. This week, expect fewer field goals and one more extra point.
Projection: 2-3 FG attempts, 3 extra points.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: The Lions offense is going so bad that they fired their offensive coordinator this week and replaced him with Jim Bob Cooter. No, that’s not a character from “Dukes of Hazzard”, but the name of the former Tennessee Vols quarterback that will get his first chance to call plays in the NFL. To be honest, all of the Lions coaching staff will be looking for jobs once this disappointing season is over and unless Jim Bob Joe Willy Skeeter McCountry is the reincarnation of Bill Walsh, the Lions will continue to struggle on offense. There’s a chance that the Lions will put up some yards, but the Lions give away turnovers like Halloween candy and Justin Houston is practically foaming at the mouth to get some more sacks. The Chiefs D/ST is a nice sleeper play this week.
Projection: 17 points given up, 3 sacks, 2 forced turnovers.