The Kansas City Chiefs and their 5-0 start to the season has their fans pinching themselves … media experts scratching their heads … and fantasy owners living and dying with them each week.
While the Chiefs defense/special teams, kicker Ryan Succop, TE Sean McGrath, and WR Donnie Avery have been pleasant surprises, WR Dwayne Bowe has been a huge bust. Luckily RB Jamaal Charles and QB Alex Smith have done just about exactly what fantasy owners were expecting.
This week, the Oakland Raiders stroll into their home away from home, Arrowhead Stadium, where they inexplicably have won six straight games, for a Sunday afternoon contest. Before the season began, the so-called media experts were calling the AFC West the worst division in football (minus Peyton’s Broncos, of course) and they predicted the Raiders wouldn’t win more than three games this year.
However, the Raiders have been sparked by a reinvigorated defense that is playing better than what was expected, and QB Terrelle Pryor, who has settled down the quarterback position and is making plays with his arm and his legs all over the field.
Two surprising teams and lots of fantasy potential all over the place. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has brought back the venom and vitriol of “Raider Week” in Kansas City and there are about 75,000 rabid, red-clad fans who will have an effect on the fantasy prospects on both sides of the field.
Here is how I project this week going for the Chiefs in fantasy football:
Quarterback: Alex Smith is proving to be a wonderful real-life quarterback and a very, very, very, very, average fantasy quarterback, which is fine for real life Chiefs fans and expected for 95% of fantasy owners out there. The Raiders have given up the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this year, so if you’re in a bind at QB with injuries, benchings, or bye weeks, Smith won’t kill you in your fantasy league. Play him if you need him.
Projection: 235 yards passing, 1 touchdown, 25 yards rushing.
Running Back: Jamaal Charles has blisters on his feet and the heart of a lion, but he had to sit out practice so far this week. He is expected to start Sunday and the blisters didn’t stop him from getting 100+ yards rushing on the road against a very good Titans defense. Being at home will help, but Charles has only one 100-yard rushing game against the Raiders since 2008. I think Reid and Doug Pederson come up with a plan to get Charles more room to run, so he could easily be a Top-3 fantasy back. If Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray are still on your roster, they’re just taking up space for now. Don’t play either.
Projection: Charles – 85 yards rushing, 1 touchdown, 55 receiving yards; Davis – 25 yards rushing; Gray – 10 yards rushing, 10 yards receiving.
Wide Receiver: Donnie Avery left the Titans game after making a spectacular catch and was hindered by a bruised shoulder. Before that, however, the hooked up with QB Smith for two 40+ yard catches that were both things of beauty. Avery has been limited in practice, but he is expected to play. The Raiders have been giving up lots of points to opposing receivers, so double-check his injury status early Sunday morning just to make sure he is going to play. If he plays, he is worth starting. For one more week, I’ll recommend Dwayne Bowe as a low-end #3 fantasy receiver only because he has to break out of the season-long slump at some point, doesn’t he? Yeah, you’re right. Only play Bowe if you have no other decent options, even though he will probably catch a TD pass this week. Dexter McCluster has a little bit of value in PPR leagues because he’ll catch a few passes on third downs. Otherwise, don’t expect much.
Projection: Bowe – 5 catches, 45 yards, 1 touchdown; Avery – 7 catches, 85 yards; McCluster – 4 catches, 25 yards. .
Tight End: Sean McGrath has quickly become one of Alex Smith’s favorite targets, but is limited talent-wise. Anthony Fasano is a huge injury risk this week if you were planning on playing him. Rookie Travis Kelce had microfracture surgery on his knee this week and will probably be lost for the season. You can safely drop him if you had him stashed on your roster. If Fasano is able to start, he will be a sneaky sleeper play if your starting fantasy TEs are on a bye week. McGrath might struggle against Oakland’s pressure defense, but still might get loose for a few catches. This is probably the week to skip the Chiefs TEs.
Projection: McGrath – 4 catches, 35 yards. Fasano (if he plays) – 5 catches, 45 yards.
Kicker: Ryan Succop is on a hot streak and is probably on your league’s waiver wire. If your starting kicker is on a bye, pick up Succop for a spot start. He should get a few FG tries against the Raiders and at least a couple of extra points too. He has nine FGs in the last three games and the Raiders
Projection: 2-3 FG attempts, 2 extra points.
Defense: The Raiders rushing game might be hampered by the sore hamstrings of Darren McFadden (who has three straight 100-yard games against the Chiefs) and back-up Rashad Jennings. Terrelle Pryor is more likely to hurt the Chiefs with his legs than his arm and KC has already seen Mike Vick and Ryan Fitzpatrick this season and Pryor is not that much better than them, if at all. The Chiefs D will probably give up a couple of big plays and some rushing yards, but they are creating a ton of turnovers and lead the league in fewest points allowed. 75,000 crazed Chiefs fans filling Arrowhead wanting to put an end to Oakland’s six-game winning streak makes the Chiefs one of the top fantasy defenses to play. Justin Houston’s status is still up in the air due to concussion symptoms, which might cause a few problems, but overall the Chiefs D is solid.
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