Kansas City, under head coach Andy Reid, is largely considered a disciplined and fundamentally sound team. But every year, they seem to have one or two games where everything goes wrong. They may have gotten one of those games out of the way in preseason.
Multiple penalties and dropped passes helped derail any chance at gaining control of last night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Throw in a significant injury to arguably their most important player and the night was a total loss for the Chiefs.
Their defense gave up its first touchdowns of the preseason, although they practically scored the first one themselves, contributing four penalties and a dropped interception to Seattle’s drive.
Traditionally, this is the game that shows fans the best picture of what to expect from their team in the regular season. Fortunately, Kansas City fans know better than to accept this performance as any indicator of how 2017 will go.
With all that went wrong in the game, the hardest thing to watch was Spencer Ware getting carted off. KC’s “do-it-all” running back could be out anywhere from two weeks to eight weeks unless today’s MRI reveals something more serious than his initial diagnosis of a PCL tear. This will scramble a few draft boards.
What did we learn?
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith serves the role Andy Reid wants him to serve. That is, he hands the ball off a lot and occasionally tosses a short pass to a back or tight end. He can be efficient and effective when everything else is clicking, but he can not carry an offense when pieces start falling apart.
Fans have been clamoring for rookie Patrick Mahomes to take the starting job after two impressive games. Seattle’s defense knocked him down a peg, keeping him out the end zone for the first time over four possessions. He did get KC to the 2-yard line at one point, but a fumbled snap resulted in a field goal.
Spencer Ware will be missed, but his fantasy ADP was already slipping a bit on the conjecture that rookie Kareem Hunt would take a portion of the workload or possibly even win the starting spot. Well, Hunt is no longer a sleeper and will probably rocket to Ware’s present RB20 spot.
Much had been made of Charcandrick West’s running this preseason. Last night’s three rushes for negative yardage did not add to that discussion.
Tyreek Hill had three of the Chief’s dropped passes. With a drop rate of around 2% last season, we suspect that is an anomaly. Chris Conley said he couldn’t see the ball well. Tight end Travis Kelce had another “running-before-catching” type of drop.
Fans upset that Tyreek Hill is not returning kicks this year may be calmer today after De’Anthony Thomas took a kickoff 95 yards with a good burst of speed and a juke. Andy Reid probably wants to discuss his muffed catch and a bad decision to bring out another kick which left the offense starting at their 4- and 12-yard lines respectively.
The injury report on Spencer Ware will determine how far he falls in fantasy drafts. Even the best-case scenario of two weeks will be significant as Kareem Hunt could hold onto the lead role, or at least a shared load, with a good performance in Ware’s absence. From what we have seen in preseason, there is no reason to expect Hunt not to run well. Hunt is worth a reach, even if it looks like Ware will miss minimal time. A 50/50 mix upon Ware’s return could put both into fantasy relevance each week.
Charcandrick West and C. J. Spiller will also see some action in Ware’s absence. West has shown some big-play potential, earning praise from Reid. For his part, Reid reminded reporters that Kansas City has always rotated running backs in and out of games. If Ware is going to miss most of the season, West may be worth a late-round sleeper pick, but Spiller remains a desperation move at this point.
The Chiefs’ depth at running back will keep Ware’s injury from impacting the passing game. Alex Smith remains a non-draftable entity running a mostly dink-and-dunk offense.
Tyreek Hill is being drafted as a 4th round WR17 after his WR15 finish of 2016. His workload will not increase appreciably from last year as he splits Jeremy Maclin’s targets with Chris Conley, the tight ends, running backs, and whoever makes the cut among Kansas City’s troupe of rookie and second-year receivers. He will also draw the top cornerback this season, which might keep him out of the top 25 receivers.
Conley becomes an intriguing late-round sleeper if defenses take away KC’s number one receiver. But I will not be reaching for that pick.
Those other fantasy guys
Tight end Travis Kelce will again be the primary receiver in Alex Smith’s limited arsenal. His overall ADP is currently number two behind Rob Gronkowski. On my draft board, Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham are also ahead of him.
Kicker Cairo Santos is drafting at PK10, which is exactly where he ended up last year. It makes sense to assume Kansas City will have enough field goal opportunities for Santos to maintain that position.
Seattle’s offense is playing very well. Quarterback Russell Wilson connected on receptions of 25+ yards to four different receivers. It still took a total meltdown on the part of KC’s defense for Seattle to score the first touchdown against the Chiefs this preseason. On a “bad” night for the defense, they held Seattle starters to field goals the rest of the night.
Kansas City is rightfully coming off the board as a top-three defense around the tenth round. Believe the hype.
So… that’s that.
The Ware injury won’t hurt as bad as it could have with Kareem Hunt in the mix. KC’s defense will keep them in the playoff conversation. As far as fantasy contributors, I am more excited by the DST, kicker, and tight end than the more glorified skill positions.
But a good tight end or defense can win you some close games, so go for it and be sure to check back here at RealSport for fantasy updates all season long.
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