The Kansas City Chiefs will play the Tennessee Titans Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in a game that has as much mystery from a fantasy football standpoint as just about any other game in the league. Well, one thing is not a mystery – start Jamaal Charles no matter what scoring system your league uses!
Every week, your Chiefs Examiner will break down the fantasy prospects of your Chiefs players for the upcoming game and hopefully keep you from banging your head against the wall because you started the wrong Chief or left points on your bench.
The reason this game is clouded in a bit of mystery is two-fold. For one, the Chiefs looked absolutely miserable throughout preseason. The starting offense never found the end zone and even though Jamaal Charles barely saw the field in four games, the other offensive players left plenty of scoring chances on the field. And the defense? Outside of a handful of brilliant moments throughout preseason, they were terrible.
Secondly, the Titans have a new coaching staff and a new direction with one of the more underrated coaches in the league, Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl a few years ago, so he knows how to coach. The question is whether the Titans will take to his system as quickly as the Chiefs took to Andy Reid’s last year?
So fantasy owners are heading into the season with the same questions Chiefs fans have rolling through their minds. Exactly what can we expect out of the Chiefs this year?
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith has a new contract and a solid grasp on Reid’s offense, which are two huge positives for the quarterback heading into his second year with the team. Unfortunately, he has a brand-spanking new offensive line that is being put together on the fly and a group of receivers whose veteran leadership consists of Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano – not exactly Rice and Taylor or Stallworth and Swann as far as pass catchers go. Throw in the fact that the Titans were actually a top-10 pass defense last year means that it’s probably best to skip playing Alex Smith this week. He won’t be terrible, just so-so, and in Week One of your fantasy year, you want more than so-so.
RUNNING BACK: There are two truths in fantasy football. One is that every league will have one owner who was a sleezy riverboat gambler in a former life and will send the worst trade offers your way hoping that you’ll bite. The second is to lock down Jamaal Charles in your starting line-up every week no matter who the Chiefs are playing. This week you have a fresh and healthy Charles playing against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL – who also gave up seven touchdown catches to running backs last year – and it will be the biggest shocker in the league if Charles doesn’t lead fantasy running backs in points.
Knile Davis would be a humongous reach to start for your fantasy team in Week One, but has a chance to get a garbage touchdown on about 7 carries. However, he’s more likely to get you zero fantasy points. I keep feeling that De’Anthony Thomas is going to be a fantasy factor at some point in the season, but it’s too early to start him.
WIDE RECEIVER: Ummmmmmmmm … just don’t do it. Until any of these guys step up in a real game against the other team’s best corners and safeties, you shouldn’t be starting any Chiefs wide receiver until Dwayne Bowe returns next week.
TIGHT END: Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh, you all want me to tell you that Travis Kelce is the next Rob Gronkowski and that he will come right out of the box putting up 100-yard games and touchdowns, but I can’t. Kelce has some serious talent, but has never done it against a real NFL defense in a real game. He’ll be a solid #2 fantasy tight end this week and you might be starting him every game in a couple of weeks, but you shouldn’t depend on him now.
DEFENSE: Titans QB Jake Locker has played well this preseason, but … well … that was preseason. Playing in Arrowhead with a vocal crowd and a healthy Chiefs pass rush with Eric Berry back patrolling the middle of the field will hopefully get the unit back on track. More importantly, the Chiefs special teams and De’Anthony Thomas could make some noise in the return game. When you consider the impact of special teams in this game, and the fact that Jake Locker is a mediocre QB at best, the Chiefs D/ST is – dare I say it – a decent start for your fantasy team.
KICKER: Unless your bedroom is decorated in red and arrowheads – or maybe the yellow and green of the Brazilian national soccer team – then you shouldn’t have a rookie kicker in your starting line-up in Week One of the fantasy season. Brazilian-born Cairo Santos is a really cool story, but trusting a rookie kicker in fantasy is insane. Having said that, he’ll probably score around 10 fantasy points for you this week.
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