In real life, the Kansas City Chiefs win last week in San Diego was about as big as it gets. It put the team back at .500 with a 3-3 record through a brutal opening stretch of the season and a season’s worth of injuries to key starters. However, in fantasy football, if you didn’t own Jamaal Charles or play Dwayne Bowe as your flex player, you were probably disappointed in the results.
Charles was his normal fantasy self (finally!) with 95 yards rushing and a touchdown, with 12 receiving yards on two receptions. His pass-catching output was a little disappointing, but the Chargers defense had more to do with that than any problem on the Chiefs side.
Bowe apparently felt like showing up this week with 5 catches for 84 yards. He easily could have had 100+ yards and a touchdown without a critical couple of drops, but at this point in his career, you expect that from Bowe.
The biggest fantasy victim of the day was quarterback Alex Smith, who finished the game with 221 passing yards and a touchdown. He added another 29 rushing yards, but the drop by Bowe could have added at least another 20 yards to Smith’s total. Another mind-numbing drop on third down by receiver Junior Hemingway would have added at least 30 yards and a touchdown to Smith’s total because it was a perfect play call and there was only one Charger defender to beat to the end zone.
Lastly, in the “What’s a guy gotta do?” category for Smith, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins caught a short pass on second down, juked his defender, and then sprinted down the sidelines with nothing but 65 yards of green grass between him and the end zone. Too bad he never made it there.
Jenkins, in a weird act of self-destruction, ran too close to the sidelines even though there wasn’t a defender within five yards of him. When he accidentally stepped out of bounds after an 18-yard gain instead of a 70-yard touchdown catch and run, Smith’s fantasy stud day was officially cursed. Sorry Alex.
This week, the Chiefs take on the St. Louis Rams at Arrowhead Stadium. It is only the third home game of the year for KC and it is almost November. To say they might like some home cooking is an understatement.
The Rams have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL this year. Not just from game to game, but even within the same game. Two weeks ago, they utterly dominated San Francisco in the first half, but with one minute left in the half, let Colin Kaepernick complete an 80-yard TD pass to cut the Rams lead to 14-10. Frisco blew the game open in the second half and won 31-17.
Last week, they couldn’t do much on either side of the ball, but played just well enough to beat a struggling Seattle team 28-26. They also allowed Russell Wilson to have the fantasy game of his life (313 yards passing for 2 TDs, 106 yards rushing on 7 carries for another TD). Only the craziest special teams play ever let St. Louis get the win.
So which Rams team heads into Arrowhead this week? Dominant or doormat? Here is a look at how things could go for the Chiefs players and their fantasy owners Sunday:
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith is playing much more confident these days and gets back home to Arrowhead in time to face a Rams defense that is giving up the second-most points to quarterbacks in the league (25.15 fppg). Only Tampa gives up more (25.25). The weather forecast for KC on Sunday is nice for this time of year, but there’s expected to be a 25-30 mph wind blowing through the stadium. If Smith’s game was long passes downfield, that might be a problem, but the short and controlled passing game the Chiefs and Smith excel at is perfect for beating those conditions.
Smith is not quite a top-10 fantasy QB this week, but he’ll be an excellent #2 guy or someone to plug in if your starter is on a bye week. Look for Smith to throw for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns with another 40 yards rushing.
RUNNING BACK: Jamaal Charles did not appear on the injury report for the first time since training camp and was a full participant in practice all week. For the first time all year, he looked like the real Jamaal Charles last week when he became the Chiefs all-time leading rusher. The Rams have played decent against the run, but that’s probably because they have been so bad against the pass. Luckily for you, Charles excels at both parts of the offensive game. A must-start, Charles should approach 100 yards rushing and easily top 40 more yards receiving while being the best bet on KC to score a touchdown.
Knile Davis has taken a back seat to Charles now that the Pro-Bowler is healthy, but the second-year back is still a big part of the KC offense. For most fantasy teams, Davis won’t do a ton of damage against a decent Rams run defense, but if your starter is hurt or on a bye, he’ll be a decent low-end #3 fantasy back that has a chance to get you a touchdown. He should add around 50 yards rushing.
De’Anthony Thomas only got 3 touches on offense last week so he is not worth starting at this point. His role should keep increasing as the season goes on so if you can stash him deep on your bench, he might have value during your playoffs.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Donnie Avery has already been ruled out for this game and Junior Hemingway is doubtful with a hamstring injury. The potential game-changing drop he had against San Diego might have put him on the bench for the Chiefs anyway. That leaves only Dwayne Bowe as a potential starter for your fantasy team. He might give you around 60 yards this week on 6 catches, but he also might give you 23 yards on 2 catches. It’s hard to recommend Bowe as more than a flex player with upside because he is so wildly inconsistent.
TIGHT END: Travis Kelce was held to almost nothing against the Chargers, but is too good to bench. The Rams are the seventh-best in the league at holding fantasy TEs down (only 10.72 fppg) but Kelce can explode at any time. Look for him to get 60 yards on five catches. Anthony Fasano is too risky to play considering how many TEs are making bigger impacts in games this year.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: The Rams have said that they will try to run the ball more, but if the Chiefs get out to an early lead, Rams QB Austin Davis will be forced to throw. That leaves him open to sacks by the Chiefs excellent front seven. The Rams do have some game-breakers on offense but the Chiefs have excelled at keeping big plays to a minimum. With De’Anthony Thomas returning kicks, there is always a chance at a big play on special teams. The Chiefs are a sleeper D/ST for fantasy owners this week.
KICKER: Rookie kicker Cairo Santos has completely reversed his struggles from early in the season, but is still not a fantasy factor yet. If the weather reports for wind are accurate, chances are he may only get a couple of shots at kicking field goals. Look somewhere else for kicking points.