Fantasy Football Week 9: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers
One of the new wrinkles set up for 2012 is that every week of the season, two teams are called upon to cram a week's worth of planning into three short days so they can suit up and play on Thursday night.
My guess is that most of the players/coaches don't like it, but it certainly spices up the week for the majority of fans—especially those who play fantasy football.
Not every owner will have a player from the game on their team, but there are usually a few fantasy-relevant players that might be going against you, so every game is worth reading up on.
With that in mind, here is the analysis of each of those players and what they might do for (or against) your fantasy team this Thursday night.
Quarterbacks: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to not have a lead—even for one second—during their first seven games of the season. Who do you blame when something like this happens?
Is it the defense’s fault for not being ready to play and allowing the other team score so quickly? Is it the offense for putting up just two first-quarter field goals in seven games? Is it the coaching staff?
I believe it’s a combination of them all, but whatever the case, the quarterback that DID get those six first-quarter points for the Chiefs is back under center this week, Mr. Matt Cassel.
Cassel actually had a decent fantasy game against the Chargers back in Week 4—if your league doesn’t take away points for interceptions, that is.
Putting up 251 yards and two touchdowns isn’t bad, but his three interceptions certainly didn’t help matters in a 37-20 Chiefs loss.
Matt came in for the concussed Brady Quinn last week and actually played pretty well, throwing for 218 yards and a TD in a close KC home loss to the Raiders.
Strangely, Cassel owns a 24-14 road record as opposed to being 18-20 at home, but his fantasy stats wouldn’t lead you to believe it, as he’s thrown for less than a touchdown and just under 160 yards per game in those 38 games.
The Chargers, however, have allowed two passing TDs per game this year, so you never know.
Actually, you kind of do know, so don’t get cute and think about starting him this week unless there are no other QBs out there and your other guys are on a bye.
Quinn has been ruled out of this game (thank goodness for Chiefs fans) with a head injury that’s believed to be a concussion.
If Brady Quinn is on your fantasy team, I can only assume you’ve recently been concussed as well.
Quarterback: San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers has been one scary SOB to have as your fantasy QB this season.
He’s been more off than on in 2012 and enters Week 9 with his second-worst fantasy points per game average since he became a starter back in 2006.
One of his better games of the year, however, came against the Chiefs back in Week 4 when he threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-23 passing (78.3 percent).
Obviously, these are not the greatest of numbers, which shows you just how bad his season has been.
That being said, the Chiefs allow over two passing TDs and the sixth-most fantasy points a game to QBs, so Rivers should be able to put up some pretty decent numbers this week.
With Ryan Mathews back in full force and demanding defensive attention, Rivers should be able to pick apart the Chiefs secondary for most of the game.
Thursday happens to be his favorite day of the week to play as well, as he’s averaged over 253 yards and nearly three touchdowns a game in his three career Thursday contests, so if you need a spot-play due to byes or whatever, Rivers should be able to turn in at least mid- to high-end QB2 stats this week.
Running Backs: Kansas City Chiefs
What in the world are the Kansas City Chiefs doing on offense?!
Coming out of their bye last week, you would have thought that Jamaal Charles would be rested enough to take on a full load, but much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners, Charles received just five carries on the day to go along with three receptions for a total of 10 measly yards.
As down as owners must be on him right now, don’t look for that sort of atrocity to happen again in this game.
In Week 4, Charles put up his second-best fantasy day of the year rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown while also catching three more passes for 23 yards and another TD.
The Chargers are pretty stout against the run, allowing just 3.6 yards per carry and the second-fewest yards per game (79.9) on the season.
However, with Matt Cassel back under center instead of Brady Quinn, they won’t be able to put 8-9 men in the box like the previous two defenses did against the Chiefs, so Charles should have a few more holes to exploit throughout the game.
With his explosive playmaking ability, I’m expecting borderline RB1 numbers this week as the Chiefs coaching staff wises up and gets the ball in his hands around 25 times.
Hillis looks like he’ll be back playing in his normal backup role this week, but I’m not expecting a whole lot of fantasy action out of him.
He wasn’t seeing many touches before his injury, and I doubt they give him more than 10 or so in this one.
If you’re strapped and need to take a chance on someone as a flex in a deep league, Hillis isn’t too bad of a call, as there’s always the threat of a goal-line TD for him.
Draughn did pretty well backing up Charles while Peyton was healing himself, but now that he’s back, Draughn will be relatively invisible.
Drop him now if you still have him on your team for some reason.
Running Backs: San Diego Chargers
This fumbling problem of his simply won’t go away, but at least the Chargers aren’t messing around and taking him out of their lineup anymore, as they’ve come out to admit that they need Ryan Mathews to be successful in order for their team to be successful.
The guy is simply the most athletic player on the team and needs to have the ball in his hands to make things happen, which is why they’ve given him 26 touches in each of the last two games.
The Cleveland Browns were able to contain him last week, holding him to just 104 yards on those 26 touches, but the Chiefs won’t be able to do the same.
Considering they allow the sixth-most yards per rush this season (4.6 YPC) along with the seventh-most fantasy points per game, Mathews should be in for a real nice fantasy day on Thursday.
The Chargers are going to feed Mathews the ball all day long, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that you can’t get fantasy points without the ball in your hands.
In fact, it wouldn’t shock me to see Ryan have the most touches of anyone in the league this week, and if so, you can bet on him putting up some RB1-type stats for your team.
The Chargers sure are showing a lot of faith in Ronnie Brown as a receiver out of the backfield this year—and for good reason, as he currently ranks fifth in receptions for running backs and second in receiving yards.
However, that’s about the extent of it, as he has yet to score a touchdown or receive more than five carries in a game this year. In PPR leagues, he’s a decent flex option, but that’s about it.
Battle has 11 touches in the Chargers' last three games combined.
If those 11 touches were turned into 60-plus yards and a couple of TDs, then maybe, but they weren’t. They only went for 26 yards.
Wide Receivers: Kansas City Chiefs
As much as I’m sure Dwayne Bowe would like to be playing for another team right now, he isn’t, and won’t be until next season.
Until then, he’ll have to cope with his situation and try to make the best of it, which he’ll at least have a chance to do fantasy-wise now that Matt Cassel is back under center.
Cassel can at least pass the ball (yes, that was a knock on Brady Quinn), and does so to Bowe on a regular basis, as Bowe was in the top five in targets and top-10 in WR fantasy points before Cassel went down in Week 5.
Back in Week 4, with Cassel at the helm, Bowe caught seven of his 12 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown for his second-best fantasy week of the season.
San Diego can be beaten through the air, and because I believe it’ll be down in this game, I expect the Chiefs and Matt Cassel to throw Bowe’s way quite a bit by the end of the game.
His fantasy points might not come until garbage time, but he should end up with double-digit targets, six to eight catches, somewhere close to 100 yards and maybe a touchdown.
With the ineptitude of the Chiefs coaching staff, I can’t guarantee this happens, so I’ll call him a high-end WR3 for this game with upside ranging up to a low-end WR1.
In his 17-game career, two of Baldwin’s three best fantasy weeks came against this San Diego Chargers team.
His lone career touchdown was grabbed against them last year, while back in Week 4 of this season, Jon snatched four of his five targets for 50 yards.
One of these days, Jonathan Baldwin is going to show the NFL world why he was a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL draft.
However, it won’t be in this game, though if you are desperate enough, he could be slotted in your flex position on the chance he just happens to love playing against this Chargers team.
Dexter McCluster is such an enigma that I hardly even know what position he plays anymore, so I’m slotting him in as a wide receiver this week.
Not only is he a mystery in real life, but he’s also a complete crapshoot as a fantasy player and should only be started on your team if you feel lucky…punk.
Ten targets, four catches, 44 yards. It’s nice to see that line from your flex player in some weeks—but that’s Breaston’s entire season.
Wide Receivers: San Diego Chargers
As usual, Malcom Floyd has had an up-and-down season, with most weeks edging towards the downside of things.
On his behalf, Floyd has never been a true WR1 even though the Chargers continue to play him as such.
They really don’t have a choice, however, at least not until Vincent Brown returns in a few weeks, so fantasy owners are stuck dealing with the decision of whether to actually start him or not for the time being.
In their first matchup of the season back in Week 4, Floyd managed to grab just two of his three targets for a paltry 23 yards, mostly because the Chiefs stuck CB Brandon Flowers on him all game long.
Kansas City has given up 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season, one of only nine teams in the league to do so.
On the flipside, its also allowed BY FAR the fewest receptions to WRs (59, next fewest is 70).
With Flowers likely shadowing Floyd once again and Floyd never being a high-volume guy in terms of catches in the first place, I don’t expect him to put up better than WR4 type of numbers in this one.
Meachem has officially been listed as questionable for the game tonight, and though I tentatively expect him to suit up, everyone might be better off if he didn’t with the way he’s been playing this season.
One of the three times Robert has been held without a catch this season came back in Week 4 against these Chiefs, and though the odds may say he’ll do better this time around, for some reason, I wouldn’t take that bet.
Meach actually had NEGATIVE fantasy points last week against the Browns catching zero passes while taking one rush for negative six yards.
I know it’s painful to drop him from your roster with all the hype he was given in the offseason, but you should do it and do it now.
Royal has missed practice all week and is officially listed as doubtful for this game.
Not that you’d consider playing him anyway, but an even better question would be why you have him on your fantasy team in the first place?
Tight End: Kansas City Chiefs
Moeaki had eight targets this past week and caught four of them for 57 yards.
Not exactly mind-blowing stats, but for a guy that had some real promise before his season was lost to injury last year, they at least show that he's heading in the right direction.
If he gets another bunch of targets this week, it's a nice trend to consider using a pick-up on him.
Fellow tight end Kevin Boss is done for the season, and at least for the moment, Matt Cassel is back under center, so if you need tight end help this week, Moeaki could be worth a flier.
Tight End: San Diego Chargers
Gates has been about as underwhelming as one could have imagined him to be before the season started, especially considering how much hype there was surrounding him and how he was back to full health and all.
As it turns out, fantasy owners have been scrambling all year long either trying to find a reasonable replacement for his ineptitude or else riding out the funk and taking hits along the way.
Back in Week 4, Antonio actually put up his second-best fantasy performance of the season, which, suffice it to say, wasn’t very good. He caught all of his season-low three targets and turned them into 59 yards for a disgraceful 5.9 fantasy points.
The pain of owning this guy and having to trot him out there in your starting lineup every week with the hope that he turns it around must be agonizing.
I can’t say I’m expecting much yet again this week, as the Chiefs have allowed the second-fewest receptions and fourth-fewest yards to tight ends this season, but Gates has a ton of pride and just might show up in an inter-division game like this.
If you have a better option, I’d probably go with it, but Gates shouldn’t be a bad play this week.
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