Most fantasy experts knew that outstanding fantasy performances might be hard to come by last week when the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Houston Texans at Arrowhead. And for three quarters, unless you owned Jamaal Charles, you weren’t seeing many points from anyone else.
But then in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs D/ST came alive fantasy-wise and rewarded their owners with four sacks and a turnover and kept the Texans under 300 net yards. In real life, Derrick Johnson’s fumble recovery on the Houston one-yard line with 1:30 left in the game after Tamba Hali’s sack and strip of Houston QB Case Keenum was a great play. It allowed the Chiefs to kill the clock and leave the stadium with a one-point win, 17-16.
However, for those of us that start the Chiefs defense every week, we would have preferred DJ to roll into the end zone for another touchdown and an extra six points for our fantasy teams. The Chiefs fan in your Chiefs Examiner would have preferred kicking off to Houston and taking a chance that Houston wouldn’t have scored a TD and 2-point conversion in the last minute with no time outs left. Oh well, that’s life in fantasy football.
This week, the Chiefs welcome the Cleveland Browns to Arrowhead to close out a pivotal three-game homestand. Offensively, the Browns are … well … terrible. Journeyman Jason Campbell becomes the Browns third starter at QB this year – and yes, it’s only Week 8 – and no matter what the reason for him starting is, that’s bad news against the Chiefs defense.
The Browns have the 9th-ranked defense in the league and CB Joe Haden is the best defensive player in the league that most fans have never heard of, so assume it will be a close game. Hey, it’s the Chiefs … what else would you expect?
Here is how I project this week going for the Chiefs in fantasy:
Quarterback: My first thought when Alex Smith missed an open Sean McGrath in the end zone on 4th-and-1 last week was a line from one of my favorite flicks, “The Right Stuff”. When a pilot messed up in the movie, the other characters said, “He screwed the pooch” and that was what went through my mind – Smith just screwed the pooch by holding the ball too long before throwing it. Honestly, when I watch Smith play in 2013 (and I am a HUGE fan of Smith’s in real life), I keep thinking about Trent Green’s struggles in his first season in KC when he was getting comfortable with his receivers. Green was slightly below average that first year, but then became a Pro Bowler and the leader of the franchise’s greatest offense ever afterwards. Hopefully, the Chiefs front office will bring in PLENTY of competition for Smith through the draft or free agency and not repeat the mistakes of the last regime.
But that’s a real-world thing and you only care about fantasy. This week, I see Smith continuing to attack down field a little more like he did last week. The Browns corners aren’t appreciably better than Houston’s corners, so he should be taking some shots to Donnie Avery on the outside. But where Smith normally shines is throwing to the tight ends, and the Browns have been vulnerable this year to giving up fantasy points to TEs. Smith sits in the top half of fantasy QBs this week, so he is worth a start in leagues where you can play two QBs.
Projection: 250 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, 30 yards rushing.
Running Back: Jamaal Charles is the only RB worth playing for fantasy. It appears that Coach Reid and Doug Pederson might start using Dexter McCluster more at RB to give Charles a breather, but he probably won’t get more than 5-6 carries, so it’s hard to fully endorse him as a viable fantasy starter on a weekly basis. Charles, on the other hand, is on pace to touch the ball nearly 400 times and must be started every week. Cleveland is very good against the run, but has been vulnerable to backs catching passes, so it’s not much of a stretch to see Charles leading the team in rushing yards and receptions – again! There is ONE situation where fantasy owners might see Knile Davis get more than one carry. IF the game turns into a blowout in the fourth quarter, Charles might get a rest and Davis might get a chance for double-digit carries. But … I doubt this game will be a blowout, so don’t expect to see much of Davis.
Projection: Charles – 75 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns, 7 catches, 60 receiving yards; Davis – 3 carries, 2 yards, four fumbles.
Wide Receiver: The nicest part about the Houston game – other than the win, of course – was that Dwayne Bowe was targeted nine times and became part of the game plan. This week, expect Bowe to have Joe Haden on him for most of the game, which means this could be another week of being a decoy. It’s still a strange feeling to NOT recommend Bowe week after week, but with all the injuries and bye weeks decimating the wide receiver position, Bowe is a deep sleeper as a #3 or flex player. Donnie Avery has high risk/reward potential this week and if QB Smith can connect on one or more of these long passes to him, Avery’s production will definitely be a reward. While Haden has been nails for Cleveland on his side, the other CB, Bustin Skrine, can get torched from time to time. Just ask Green Bay. Finally, McCluster gained 70 yards on his catches last week and if you are desperate, could be a nice flex play for you if your roster has been gutted with the bye week.
Projection: Bowe – 5 catches, 45 yards; Avery – 4 catches, 55 yards; McCluster – 4 catches, 45 yards.
Tight End: Sean McGrath was a nice story while Anthony Fasano was on the sidelines injured. But in Fasano’s first game back, McGrath was targeted only twice against Houston. Of course, ONE of those targets was the ill-fated fourth down pass that Smith blew. Fasano, on the other hand, picked up right where he left off before the injury and he came within an eyelash of scoring two TDs. Fasano, when healthy, could be a sleeper tight end to have for the rest of the season if your starter goes down. (I’m looking at you, Jermichael Finley owners)
Projection: McGrath – 3 catches, 25 yards; Fasano – 5 catches 45 yards, 1 TD.
Kicker: Ryan Succop has quietly become a top-10 fantasy kicker and the feeling here is that this game could turn into a field goal-fest for both teams, so Succop is definitely worth a start.
Projection: 2-3 FG attempts, 3 extra points.
Defense: The Chiefs are on an NFL record-setting pace for QB sacks. The Browns give up the second-most sacks in the league and their starting QB has completed one pass in four attempts this year for 6 yards. Browns fans point out that a lot of their problems were due to benched QB Brandon Weeden holding the ball far too long – and then when he did throw it, turnovers mounted. Jason Campbell generally does not turn the ball over and as a Raider, he’s won a couple of games at Arrowhead. However, Cleveland is terrible on offense outside of WR Josh Gordon and TE Cameron Jordan, so look for the Chiefs to take those two players out of the mix. Unless you have the San Francisco D/ST who are playing Jacksonville Sunday, play the Chiefs.
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