Week 9 DFS Spotlight

Week 9 DFS Spotlight

Nathan Smith

 

With 6 teams on a bye and countless stars injured, week 9 is shaping up to be very interesting in the DFS world. Wide receiver can often be the most volatile position in our lineups, and this week is no different. We’re looking for playmakers that don’t cost an arm and a leg, but still have GPP winning upside. In this week’s DFS Spotlight, I break down wide receivers that I’m targeting in DraftKings tournaments.

T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton is always a threat to score 30 points in any given matchup, even on the road. When we think of Hilton, we usually imagine a long connection on a TD pass from Andrew Luck at home in the dome. Although the Colts play in Houston this week, there is still plenty of merit to playing him. At only 4900, Hilton stands out as an obvious target based on his point per dollar upside and game-breaking ability. The counter argument is that Hilton is expected to be highly owned, with ownership possibly approaching 40%. His slate breaking upside is what will make many DFS players gladly play him, despite the high ownership. If you fade him—although extremely risky—it could pay off in the event that the Colts offense comes out flat on Sunday.

Dez Bryant

Before news broke that Ezekiel Elliot would indeed play this week, Das Prescott and Dez Bryant were expected to be very highly owned. Now that Zeke is back, I expect a lot of people to move off of Dak and Dez, in favor of Elliot. While we can’t quite call ourselves sneaky for playing Dez Bryant, we can at least enjoy the fact that he may be lower owned than he should be. At only 6400, Bryant should be able to exceed price based expectations, and come through with his biggest performance of the year. Kansas City’s defense is not as good as public perception, with cornerback Marcus Peters showing a tendency to get burned by elite receivers on the outside. Do you know any elite receivers on the Cowboys that line up on the outside? I can think of one. Dez Bryant is firmly in play against the Chiefs, in what should be one of the highest scoring games of the week.

Julio Jones

For Julio, it’s really quite simple. You are probably best served to have exposure to him even while he works through this struggle. With the second-best receiver in the world significantly underpriced (7800), play Jones in the hope that he can overcome the inefficiencies of Atlanta’s play-calling and have his 2017 arrival game. After all, it was in this exact matchup last year in which Julio went for 300 yards and torched the Panther’s secondary.

Sammy Watkins

The Clemson product is one of the big-time playmakers in this league at the wide receiver position, but never seems to be valued as so. Coming into this matchup with the Giants, Watkins has several factors in his favor. The Rams are coming off a bye week in which they had plenty of time to emphasize how to get the underutilized Watkins the ball more. That game-plan won’t be as hard to put to use as you might think, with the Giants missing star cornerback Janoris Jenkins. At only 4200, this is the time to hop on the Watkins train. At no other point this year will we get a chance to play Watkins at such a cheap price, with such low ownership, and a clean bill of health. It is worth mentioning that Watkins is also returning to the state of New York, where he began he career with the Buffalo Bills. While that may not be enough reason on its own to play Watkins, it certainly doesn’t hurt his case. It is completely viable to hedge this play with other Rams offensive pieces, but Watkins is the player that stands out most to me. I expect him to absolutely shatter his price tag if he can meet or exceed 6-8 targets on Sunday.

Tyreek Hill

The Kansas City and Dallas game is setting up to be shootout. There is no need to overthink this one. Play Tyreek Hill. In a plus matchup on the fast track turf, expect ‘Ty-Freak’ to give the Dallas secondary fits. As we’ve seen, Hill only needs one big scoring play to justify his price tag, which checks in this week at 6700. This game provides us with plenty of one off tournament players, as well as the possibility of stacking up the whole game. Even though Dallas likes to control the clock and run the ball, there still should be ample opportunity for the Chiefs to move the ball and score. In need of a bounce back game, Tyreek has a great chance to go nuts this week.

Bonus

When there’s a team on the schedule who looks all but guaranteed to obliterate their opponent, it’s obviously a great idea to get exposure to them. With teams like Seahawks and Saints in such clear smash spots, much of the public will be drawn to the same players on these teams. While simply being higher owned doesn’t make someone a bad play, it is important to think outside the box in these situations in order to find the sharpest solution. For Seattle, we would want to first accept the outcome of Seahawks dominance and then identify where the scoring will come from. I wrote up Tyler Lockett last week, identifying him as a player that will improve as the year goes on. Lockett remains in play this week, but faces the likelihood of going up against Washington elite cornerback Josh Norman, who generally patrols the left side of the field. If you want to get frisky, you can spin the wheel with the Seahawks and have exposure to Lockett, as well as Paul Richardson and Doug Baldwin. In the end, I may very well end up having more exposure to Baldwin than either of the other two. The fact that Baldwin normally lines up in the slot is very encouraging, as he will avoid Josh Norman in coverage. The Seattle running game is a complete mess, often forcing the Seahawks to put the game on Russell Wilson’s shoulders. For the Seahawks to put up points in bunches, the passing game has to be successful. More than likely, one or more of their receivers goes off this week, with tight end Jimmy Graham being a strong possibility as well. The Seahawks defense can be stacked with an offensive player, as game flow should allow both to have opportunities to produce points. The with Hawks running game being notably bad, Russell Wilson makes a fantastic GPP this weekend as well, but he does check in with the highest price tag of any quarterback on the slate.

Saints running back Mark Ingram has been on a tear as of late, and now has risen all the way up to 7600. Even after owning up to two fumbles last week, it just seems like a classic Sean Payton move to limit Ingram’s snaps this week in favor of Alvin Kamara. This game could shootout, with Kamara having heavy usage independent of game flow. If you think the game takes the path of a defensive divisional battle, you will definitely want exposure to the Saints defense, who faces off against turnover-prone Jameis Winston. The public is sure to bet on Michael Thomas having a huge game this week, and rightfully so. If you want to hedge this play, you’ll find the idea of playing smaller names from the Saints passing game to be highly intriguing. I will be finding every which way I can to get exposure to this game, as I expect a lot of points to be scored.

Roster Construction

Week 9’s optimal roster build will likely feature wide receivers priced in the mid-range, as so many of the elite guys have a strong chance to bust. I will be going with a complete fade of AJ Green and DeAndre Hopkins and loading my player pool with guys in the 4K-7K range. To win a GPP this week, you’ll need to have at least some element of a contrarian mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised if something such as a sneaky Rams game stack won a tournament. Keep your eyes and ears turned towards injury updates and analysis as you fine tune your lineups. Most importantly this week, don’t overthink playing underpriced playmakers. We’ve identified a few here in the hopes that they help one of you win big on Sunday.

 

Remember to follow us on Twitter: Nathan Smith & The Sports Talk

 

 

Advertisements

Thursday Night Heart Stopper: Raiders Upset Chiefs 31-30

What a finish! I’ve been a Raiders fan for 29 years and this past Thurday Night Football game against the Chiefs had one of the craziest endings I’ve ever seen.

Down 6 points at their own 15 yard line, with 2:25 remaining and just 1 timeout, Raiders QB Derek Carr was looking for his 13th career fourth quarter comeback, which is the most in the NFL since 2015. Ironically, he had his first came against these same Chiefs on Thursday Night Football during the 2014 season. It was a 24-20 victory that ended the team’s 10 straight loses to start the season and marked Carr’s first professional win.

This comeback would not come easy and was full of heart stopping moments. There was a 4th and 11 play where Carr hit TE Jared Cook for 10 yards, 1 short of a first down. However, Cook refused to go down and actually faked like the play was over and when the defensive back eased up, Cook dove for the extra yards and got the first down. The entire drive culminated in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cook with 8 seconds remaining, at least so it appeared. Upon further review the replay officials deemed Cook was down at the 1 yard line before sliding into the end zone.

So, Oakland would have the ball at the 1 with no timeouts remaining and 8 seconds left on the clock. Carr, un-rattled, hit an open Michael Crabtree for the score. Then the yellow flag came out. Crabtree was penalized for pushing off the defender, although on replay it appeared the defender slipped. The points were taken off the board and Carr would have to try again, this time from the 10 yard line with just 3 seconds remaining. This would certainly be the last play of the game, or would it?

On first and goal at the 10, Carr threw a high pass that only the 6’5 Cook would be able to catch, only he didn’t catch it as a Chiefs defender was draped all over him. As time expired the pass sailed high, but the defender was a little too close to Cook and was flagged for holding. Since a game cannot end on a defensive penalty, the Raiders were given another chance.

Now it’s first and goal at the 5 yard line with no time remaining on the clock, one last play, again. This time Carr looked for and found Cordarrelle Patterson at the back of the end zone. Patterson made the catch, but was pushed out of the back of the end zone before getting his feet inbounds. But wait! Another yellow flagged was thrown and again KC was penalized.

Carr would get another last chance with no time left, this time at the 2-yard line. Carr showed some serious stones not getting rattled by everything going on around him. This time he went back to his old favorite Michael Crabtree. Crabtree cradled the ball in his chest got a knee down and that was it, tie game 30-30. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who had missed 2 field goals earlier and missed an extra point the week before which cost his team the game, stepped up and nailed the extra point through the uprights. Game over 31-30 Raiders.

This was a huge win for Oakland (3-4), quite possibly a season saver. Now let’s see if they can carry that momentum into Buffalo next week for a tough road game against the Bills.

Winners and Losers from Steelers – Chiefs

In my preview of the Steelers- Chiefs game, I predicted the Steelers would respond to a week of turmoil and embarrassment with a strong game against the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City. They did exactly that with a huge 19-13 win. The defense dominated at times and the offense…well…Let’s look at the winners and losers.

Winners

Antonio Brown

Talk about redemption! After causing a turnover on a punt and running the wrong route to cause an interception in the first half, Antonio Brown had the play of the game with a 51 yard touchdown on a tipped pass. He had 8 receptions on 10 targets for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Le’Veon Bell / Offensive Line

The Steelers scored 19 points, but they should’ve had more than that. The offensive line dominated at times with Le’Veon Bell rushing for 179 yards on 32 carries. The Steelers have run well the last 3 games against the Chiefs, but we haven’t seen the offensive line and the running game dominate much this year. Hopefully they follow this blueprint the rest of the season.

Defense in the First Half

When you give up SIX YARDS and one first down in a half, it doesn’t get any more dominating than that. To do that to a Chiefs’ offense that has been explosive and dominating all year, and on their home field, is amazing. Everything was working for the defense, Kareem Hunt was shut down and Alex Smith was constantly under pressure.

James Harrison

Nice to see you James! After barely playing all year, James Harrison had a huge sack on the Chiefs’ final drive to cause a 4th and 18 and seal the victory. This defense has a lot of talent, but they are young. Therefore, Harrison still needs to contribute to win.

Losers

Defense in the Second Half

As good as the defense was in the first half, it wasn’t so good in the second half. They gave up 245 yards in the second half, the biggest being a 57 yard touchdown to De’Anthony Thomas. They did come up big in the end with two big stops in the red zone and a stop on the Chiefs’ final drive.

Red Zone Offense

This is still a problem! They did score a touchdown in the red zone on a Le’Veon Bell run, but stalled on a drive that started on their own 1, but ended in a chip shot 24 yard field goal. The Steelers dominated the time of possession this game as they ran effectively, but they didn’t have many points to show for it and the Chiefs almost won. It should’ve never been that close.

Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant had 2 receptions for 27 yards on 3 targets, which is okay. However, that’s still not enough for the guy that’s supposed to be their deep threat. Now there’s word that he requested a trade. Really? The guy that was suspended for a whole year and appears disinterested wants a trade? The Steelers need an effective Bryant for this offense to be effective, so hopefully they resolve this.

Pittsburgh Steelers Game Preview vs Kansas City Chiefs

The Steelers lost to the Jaguars 30-9 last week at home and look to be in trouble. The offense looked terrible, the defense was bad against the run again, and now they face the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City. There’s no way they can win, right? Well…let’s look at the match-ups:

Chiefs Offense vs. Steelers Defense

The Chiefs and Steelers met in the playoffs last year in Kansas City and the Steelers won 18-16 in a game where the Chiefs scored 2 touchdowns, but the Steelers had 6 field goals. What’s different about the Chiefs offense from last year? Two things:

1) Kareem Hunt – The 3rd round pick from Toledo leads the league in rushing with 609 yards and 6.3 yards per carry. The Steelers defense has not been good against the run.

2) Alex Smith – For most of his career, Smith has specialized in throwing short passes and having a high completion percentage. This year, he’s throwing deep and is still accurate. He has a completion percentage of almost 77 percent and is 3rd in the league with 1,391 yards. The Steelers pass defense has been good, but they haven’t faced a good quarterback yet.

If the Steelers hope to stop the Chiefs attack, they have to put pressure on Alex Smith and hope they can stop the run. That will be a tall task. If the Chiefs are without tight end Travis Kelce, that will hurt their offense.

Edge: Chiefs

Steelers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

Let’s review what happened in the Steelers last game against Jacksonville:

1) Ben Roethlisberger threw for 5 interceptions in what could be the worst game of his career. After the game, he said “Maybe I don’t have it anymore”. He has looked bad all year, prompting talk that he is ‘washed up’. He is due for a big bounce back game to prove to everyone that he still has it.

2) The running game wasn’t much better. Le’Veon Bell ran for 47 yards on 15 carries. The Steelers have only run well one game this year. We can’t blame Bell being rusty because of missing training camp, so the blame has to go on the offensive line.

The Steelers were supposed to be one of the most explosive offenses in the league and that hasn’t been the case this year. It’s time to put up or shut up. With the Chiefs ranked 27th in defense and the Steelers having something to prove. I’m predicting this will be their breakout game.

Edge: Steelers

Game Prediction

The Steelers were embarrassed last week and have been facing criticism and turmoil all season. They’re too good of a team to just fold and will look to prove all the doubters wrong. Will be it enough to beat an undefeated team in one of the toughest stadiums in the league? Sure!

Steelers 26, Chiefs 16

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings and Week 2 Recap

  1. Kanas City Chiefs 2-0 (Up 5)
  2. Oakland Raiders 2-0 (No Change)
  3. Atlanta Falcons 2-0 (Up 1)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-0 (Down 1)
  5. Green Bay Packers 1-1 (Down 4)
  6. New England Patriots 1-1 (Down 1)
  7. Denver Broncos 2-0 (Up 2)
  8. Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (Down 1)
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Up 1)
  10. Detroit Lions 2-0 (Up 3)
  11. Tennessee Titans 1-1 (No Change)
  12. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (Down 4)
  13. Carolina Panthers 2-0 (Up 3)
  14. Baltimore Ravens 2-0 (Up 3)
  15. Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (Down 1)
  16. Miami Dolphins 1-0 (Up 5)
  17. Minnesota Vikings 1-1 (Down 2)
  18. Arizona Cardinals 1-1 (No Change)
  19. New York Giants 0-2 (Down 7)
  20. Los Angeles Chargers 0-2 (No Change)
  21. Los Angeles Rams 1-1 (Up 3)
  22. Buffalo Bills 1-1 (Up 3)
  23. Washington Redskins 1-1 (Up 4)
  24. Houston Texans 1-1 (Up 2)
  25. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-1 (Down 3)
  26. New Orleans Saints 0-2 (Down 3)
  27. Cincinnati Bengals 0-2 (Down 8)
  28. Cleveland Browns 0-2 (No Change)
  29. Chicago Bears 0-2 (No Change)
  30. Indianapolis Colts 0-2 (No Change)
  31. San Francisco 49ers 0-2 (No Change)
  32. New York Jets 0-2 (No Change)

Week 2 Recap

The New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals offensive woes continue. The Giants have only been able to put up 13 points in their first two games. Odell Beckham Jr. returned last night, but it did not make a difference. Eli Manning was hit all game and there were no holes for the running backs to hit. Brandon Marshall dropped a key pass that was the difference in the game. The Bengals look even worse, as they have only been able to muster 9 points in their first two games. They have already fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after just the second week. However, I think the problem lies within Andy Dalton. He has looked horrible as he has turned the ball over 5 times and has yet to throw a touchdown pass. Rookie John Ross fumbled on the first touch of his career and was quiet after that. The “three-headed monster” of Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, and Jeremy Hill has been non-existent.

The Colts almost pulled off a huge upset over the Arizona Cardinals without their start QB, Andrew Luck. Speaking of Luck, he has not had much of it yet. He has already been ruled out for week three. The Minnesota Vikings have a huge problem at quarterback as well. Sam Bradford missed week two’s game as he had a knee injury and Teddy Bridgewater is not ready for game action. They hope to get Bradford back this week, or else they will have to throw Case Keenum out there once again.

The Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball. They have not played high quality opponents, but they still have looked very good defensively. In week one the Ravens shut out the Bengals and then only allowed 10 points to the Browns in week two. The Panthers have only allowed 3 points in each game so far this season. Both teams looked fantastic in terms of defense, but if they want to take the next step they are going to have to improve their offensive game. Cam Newton does not look like the quarterback that the Panthers expected. He is going to have to step up if they want to be true contenders. The Ravens are still trying to find their identity on offense. They ran the ball like crazy in week one, but then relied more on the pass in week two. Joe Flacco seems to be healthy and if the Ravens’ offense can stay healthy, this team can surprise a lot of people.

The AFC West looks like the toughest division in all of football. The Kansas City Chiefs dominated the Patriots in week one, then went onto beat the Philadelphia Eagles in week two. Those are two quality wins for the Chiefs. They seem to have found their star running back in Kareem Hunt as well. The Raiders look like the team everyone was expecting them to be. The seem a bit improved on the defensive side of the ball, while it seems it is going to be extremely hard to stop their offense. They have a top 5 offensive line and weapons galore. Derek Carr is becoming one of the top QBs in the league, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are becoming one of the best WR duos and Marshawn Lynch is well, doing Marshawn Lynch things. The Broncos are the team that has surprised me the most. Their defense is one of the best in the league, which was expected. They absolutely shut down Ezekiel Elliott and dominated the Cowboys’ offensive line, as they held Elliott to only 9 rushing yards. What shocks me the most about the Broncos is Trevor Siemian. Through the first two weeks he has thrown for 450 yards and 6 touchdowns, while completing 65% of his passes for a 106.9 QB rating. If he can keep up this play, the Broncos are serious Super Bowl contenders.

 

Fantasy Football Waiver Targets (Week 2)

Fantasy football waiver wire pickups are the difference between winning a championship, and failing to make the playoffs. It is important to be vigilant each week, especially when major injuries or suspensions can rid someone of a top pick. This week is especially important because of how many top fantasy stars failed to produce. It is too early to drop a top pick because of a disappointing performance, but adding a potential stud is a good insurance policy just in case. Below are eight players that everyone should be targeting.

1. Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears

Tarik Cohen provided the Bears with a big spark in his NFL debut. He seriously cut into Jordan Howard‘s touches after being used on 43% of plays, compared to Howard’s 56%. He carried the ball five times for 66 yards, an astonishing 13.2 YPC. Cohen also caught eight passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. In PPR leagues, Cohen is even more valuable after leading the team in targets with 12. He is not owned in many leagues, but will be after this week. (Percent owned: 1.5 NFL, 2.3 ESPN)

2. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Alex Smith has long been described as a game manager, not the guy to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns. However, that is exactly what Smith did in the season opener. He made the reigning Super Bowl championship defense look foolish, and while doing so, locked up his status as a great waiver wire pickup. He is still not in the upper echelon of fantasy quarterbacks to start regardless of weekly matchups, but as of week two he is the top scoring fantasy quarterback. (Percent owned: 16.6 NFL, 9.7 ESPN)

3. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Nelson Agholor looked bound to be labeled a bust after a disappointing two seasons to start his career, but he looked like a different receiver week one. He led the team in targets, and finished with 86 yards and a touchdown. If he and second year quarterback Carson Wentz can build chemistry together it could be a very successful season for the young receiver. (Percent owned: 1.8 NFL, 1.6 ESPN)

4. Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens

After Danny Woodhead went out with a hamstring injury, Javorius Allen
led the running backs in snaps. With Woodhead expected to be out at least a month, Allen’s stock skyrockets. The Ravens love to target backs on passing routes, so his value is even higher is PPR leagues. He still is splitting carries with Terrance West, but Allen is a quality waiver wire addition. (Percent owned: 1.6 NFL, 0.4 ESPN)

5. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Kerwynn Williams‘usage is in for a major uptick after star running back David Johnson
suffered a wrist injury that could sideline him for several months. He came in immediately for the injured Johnson and scored a touchdown. Williams was declared the number one back moving forward by head coach Bruce Arians. Williams has a very high ceiling as the number one back in Arizona. (Percent owned: 0.3 NFL, 0.7 ESPN)

6. Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Jesse James was the top scoring tight end in week one. This is no doubt because he caught two red zone touchdowns and will not be the norm. However, if James can become Big Ben’s favorite red zone target there will be many more touchdowns in James’ future. The team’s recent addition of Vance McDonald was thought to hurt James’ targets, but he beat McDonald 8 to one in that respect. (Percent owned: 3.9 NFL, 2.5 ESPN)

7. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Cooper Kupp is a good option in PPR leagues with 12 or more people in them. He had a solid week one, but his production depends on the Rams’ offense, which was lackluster last season. That being said, he led the team in targets last week and secured a touchdown pass from Jared Goff. (Percent owned: 4.7 NFL, 16.6 ESPN)

8. Mike Tolbert, RB, Buffalo Bills

The backup running back in Buffalo has consistently poached touchdowns from LeSean McCoy over the past three years, and Mike Tolbert has already began down that road. He scored a one yard touchdown in week one and ran the ball 12 times for 42 yards. His bruising downhill running style should do his fantasy value well as he looks to score many short yardage touchdowns this season. (Percent owned: 0.1 NFL, 0.5 ESPN)

 

Photo Credits: FanRag Sports

Kansas City Chiefs Season Preview 

The 2016-2017 Season; A rollercoaster ride for Chiefs fans. Following a heartbreaking 18-16 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs brass had major decisions to make. Was it time to start thinking about Alex Smith’s replacement? Would resigning All-Pro Safety Eric Berry to a long term extension be the right move? Well, we got their answer.

On February 28th, the Chiefs inked Berry to a monster 6 year, $78 million dollar contract. The move showed their loyalty to Berry, as well as the fanbase. However, the Chiefs were not done with their offseason additions. Following the departure of DT Dontari Poe, the Chiefs signed former Eagle Bennie Logan to a 1 year deal. Logan, 27, played for head coach Andy Reid back in Philadelphia, so a reunion will undoubtedly maximize his talents. The off-season spending did not stop there, as the Chiefs signed veteran RB C.J. Spiller to a 1 year deal, allowing him to compete for a job. The Chiefs biggest addition, with future implications, was the first round selection of Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In his final season at Texas Tech, Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards, on top of 41 touchdown passes. While Alex Smith‘s job is still safe this year, there is no doubt Mahomes is the Chiefs Quarterback of the future.

The last two additions the Chiefs made were trades with the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs started by acquiring young linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland missed the entire 2016 with a knee injury, but is healthy and ready for the Chiefs season. He will be making his NFL debut with Kansas City, as he was a top pick out of Alabama just two years ago. The second addition Kansas City made was acquiring center Cameron Erving. Erving, 25, is another former first round pick. With this move, the Chiefs are getting depth and physicality. They are also hoping they catch lightning in a bottle, as Erving has untapped potential.

While the Chiefs made some significant splashes this offseason, they still sustained a couple of significant losses. Back in July, the Chiefs parted ways with veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs run a red zone offense that isn’t highly reliant on Wide Receivers, but Maclin was the rare exception. Prior to an injury derailed season in 2016, Maclin had a career year. In 2015, Maclin hauled in 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. A healthy Maclin was a difference maker for Kansas City, but his injuries, as well as the emergence of Tyreek Hill, shortened his tenure.

Perhaps the most significant loss Kansas City sustained occurred just days ago. Following multiple tests, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported leading running back Spencer Ware tore his PCL and LCL, an injury that would sideline the young star for the entire season. In his breakout season last year, Ware averaged 4.3 yards a carry on the season. Losing a player of his caliber will hurt the Chiefs. Ware’s replacement will be rookie Kareem Hunt. Fans of the Chiefs are very excited about the young back for all the right reasons. One being his 141.0 Elusive rating, per PFF. A rating that ranks 2nd among 29 active running backs.

In the opinion of many, the Chiefs are one of the most well rounded teams in the NFL. They don’t have any glaring weaknesses. There is stability and depth at nearly every position. Alex Smith may not be great, but he’s definitely good enough to take the Chiefs back to the playoffs. There is young talent at running back and offensive line, and Travis Kelce is a big time threat at the tight end position. The defense has multiple All-Pro caliber players on it, ranging from Eric Berry to Tamba Hali to Marcus Peters. The key to the chiefs is health and closing out games. If they can do that, Chiefs fans should be very optimistic about their team. Now, let’s take a look at their schedule…

The AFC West plays the NFC East and AFC East this season, presenting travel concerns. However, the Chiefs will travel less miles than the rest of their division opponents. Their schedule is highlighted by road games against the Patriots, Cowboys and Giants, all in the first half of the season.  It is key the Chiefs stay afloat after those games, because they finish with 4 out of 6 games at Arrowhead.

Record Prediction: 11-5, 1st in AFC West

Reasoning: Like I said before, the Chiefs don’t have any glaring weaknesses that scare you away from predicting them from winning 11 games. They have a somewhat difficult schedule, but taking care of divisional games will be key for the team. I have them finishing with a 5-1 record vs the AFC West (Loss @ Oakland). All in all, it should be a very exciting season for the Chiefs Kingdom!

 

Photo Credits: CBS St. Louis