It’s Week 15 and if you’re reading this article, you are still in your league fantasy playoffs, so congratulations! Last Sunday’s 10-3 win over the San Diego Chargers was a disappointment for the Kansas City Chiefs in fantasy as only Albert Wilson found the end zone and the Chiefs defense had a strong game going into the fourth quarter. But then Philip Rivers put 88 extra yards on the board in the final drive of the game and put a small dent in what had been a great day by the defense. Other than that, it was largely forgettable for everyone involved.
This week should be better as the Chiefs travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, who are having a terrible year. Baltimore has been a model franchise since the late 90’s, but age, injury, retirements, and free agent losses have taken their toll this season. The Ravens can’t move the ball on offense without injured quarterback Joe Flacco and they definitely cannot stop anyone with even a decent passing attack.
On the Chiefs injury report from Wednesday’s practice, the big name that fantasy owners want to know about is Spencer Ware, who missed practice due to a rib injury. Given the nature of his pounding style of running, rib injuries can be trickier for backs like Ware because they tend to run into people and not around them and if the pain is too sharp, fumbles can follow.
Three other Chiefs – Husain Abdullah (concussion), Justin Houston (knee), and De’Anthony Thomas (concussion) – did not practice either, but word is that Abdullah and Thomas might be back later this week. Thomas would be a huge boost to the special teams because he is one of the top punt returners in the league and Frankie Hammond Jr. has had trouble holding onto the ball on his returns. Linebacker Tamba Hali got his usual veteran’s day off for practice, but will start Sunday.
On the positive side, Jeff Allen (ankle), Mike DeVito (concussion), and Travis Kelce (groin) practiced in full and should be OK for Sunday’s game. Allen is a huge piece of the puzzle on the offensive line and if he can start, it will greatly benefit the Chiefs running game and provide better security for Alex Smith in the pocket. DeVito’s return will add depth on the defensive line and allow the line to be fresher in the fourth quarter.
Here is my take on what you can expect out of the Chiefs for fantasy this weekend:
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith has only thrown for 300 yards once this year (386 yards in Week 4 @ Cincinnati) and this could be the second time he passes that mark. The fact that I even typed that sentence tells you all you need to know about the Ravens pass defense. They have given up the fifth-most touchdown passes in the league (27) and if you saw any game film of their 35-6 loss to the Seahawks, you saw Seattle QB Russell Wilson tossing five touchdown passes to wide open receivers all day. I don’t think Alex Smith will do that, but this could be one of his better stat days of the year.
Projection: 270 yds passing, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 30 yds rushing.
RUNNING BACK: Charcandrick West will get the majority of carries this week because of Ware’s sore ribs and if Ware should happen to miss the game, our old friend Knile Davis will get the call to get a few touches as well. Despite their shortcomings on defense this year, the Ravens have actually been very good against the run, although that might be partially because teams have elected to throw against them more than pass. West should be a decent flex play but if you have better options, you should play them.
Projection: West – 65 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving; Ware – status still up in the air.
WIDE RECEIVER: For weeks, I’ve been saying that Jeremy Maclin is the only Chiefs receiver worth playing on your fantasy team but it looks like you might be able to add Albert Wilson to the mix now. Now in his second year, the undrafted free agent seems to be building better chemistry with Alex Smith every game and that was emphasized last week when both players saw the Chargers with nine men in the box and Smith audibled from a run to what became a 44-yard touchdown pass. Maclin is a must-start every week, but Wilson might be worth the risk to play this week because of the chance he’ll pull in a long pass or two and maybe even score.
Projection: Maclin – 7 catches, 110 yards, 1 touchdown; Wilson – 4 catches for 70 yards.
TIGHT END: I keep waiting for Travis Kelce to have an amazing day receiving but it’s just not happening but at this point of the season it’s a little late to start making roster moves. I don’t think Kelce will kill you with another 3-catch/18 yard performance like he had last week, but you also can’t count on double-digit catches and 100 yards either. Kelce is a mid- to low-end #1 fantasy tight end this week with a high ceiling.
Projection: Kelce – 5 catches, 65 yds receiving.
KICKER: Cairo Santos has had a rough couple of weeks as his long snapper and holder have had problems getting the ball where it’s supposed to be on placekicks and extra points. Santos also completely shanked a kick which happens from time to time. Chances are that this game in Baltimore will be a close one so points will be at a premium. Look for Santos to be a top-12 fantasy kicker this week, so start him if you have him.
Projection: 3-4 FG attempts, 2 extra points.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS: A great match-up this week for the Chiefs D/ST as Baltimore will be starting either Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. The Chiefs have been one of the best teams against the run for most of the year, so it’s hard to see where the Ravens will get their scoring outside of their freakish ability to block kicks this year. Definitely start the Chiefs D/ST this week.
Projection: 10 points given up, 5 sacks, 3 forced turnovers.