*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
As high-end quarterbacks around the league lose games in big spots and/or radically disappoint for fantasy the last two weeks -- one top quarterback has kept up his numbers and has come through in the clutch each of the last two weeks to stave off a bad loss threat…and that quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. And for that reason, I would put Mahomes ahead of Drew Brees and Andrew Luck for the MVP race today. Brees got squashed by the Cowboys two weeks ago (and handled by TB for about a half+ Sunday). Luck got squashed by the Jaguars two weeks ago. Patrick Mahomes brushed off the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense here and led his team to victory…and it was all on him.
Some defenses have slowed down Mahomes, like the Denver Broncos, but ultimately no one has come close to shutting down Mahomes -- not like Brees has been shut down recently, or like Luck, or like Goff. Mahomes is the most bulletproof fantasy football and NFL talent that exists right now – he cannot be stopped. You can beat his team, you can slow his numbers down a hair, but you cannot crush him out of nowhere. He has to be deemed the single best player in the NFL right now…and with that fact alone the Chiefs have to be Super Bowl favorites.
All that Mahomes stuff aside, it looked like the Baltimore Ravens might pull this victory late into the 4th quarter…leading 24-17 with 4 minutes remaining. The Ravens continually answered the Chiefs throughout the game, but in the end Mahomes put the team on his back and made some plays that are out of this world. When Lamar Jackson had to keep up, he did a good job and almost pulled it off -- but he couldn’t do what Mahomes did in the end for the OT win.
It’s a huge win for the Chiefs, because the Patriots and Texans and Steelers all lost. KC jumps two games (really, one because of the NE tiebreaker) ahead of New England for the critical #1 seed. If KC wins on TNF and dispatches of the Chargers’ threat and the Patriots lose to the Steelers – the Chiefs would not need Week 16 or Week 17.
If KC and NE win this week, then Week 16 is the clincher game for KC and they’d have to play it straight up and face Seattle at Seattle on SNF. Win that Week 16 game (if they win Week 15) and then Week 17 is meaningless only.
We see KC and NE both winning their next two games and thus KC needs to play Week 16 to win the #1 seed…critical for FF. KC could lose a game (Weeks 15 or 16) and then they for sure have to play Week 16 to win. It’s mostly good odds the Chiefs will need Week 16, but not a lock.
Baltimore falls to 7-5 and needs to win 2 of their next 3 to finish 9-7 and have a strong case for a wild card…but 9-7 would also likely push the Ravens as AFC North champs -- as the Steelers are likely to finish 8-7-1 right now. A lot on the line for the Ravens…who aren’t sure who their QB will be this week.
Get this…it’s possible Week 17 is Cleveland at Baltimore for the division title. Yep, the Browns can win out and possibly get this division. Wouldn’t that be something?
Our projection is the Ravens finish 9-7-0 and win the AFC North, but it’s a very shaky/low odds prediction…but the highest odds of them PIT and CLE.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- What happens if Tyreek Hill (8-139-0/14) is out for TNF?
He won’t be. He’s already practicing. He’s sore, but fine.
If it comes down to it…it looks like Chris Conley keeps his role as a dull WR3.5 hoping for a TD. Demarcus Robinson kinda jumps into a Tyreek-ish role, but really it’s not even close in capabilities and output potential between them – but I’d put my FF money on Robinson over Conley if Tyreek was gone.
Kelvin Benjamin is the wild card #1 option lurking as a sleeper (if Tyreek out). Signed a week ago – he’s an interesting big catch radius WR option. Probably only good for the red zone at this stage.
De’Anthony Thomas would be the other wild card sleeper…the only guy who looks and moves like Tyreek but is no Tyreek.
My money is on Robinson over all of them in a one-game pinch.
-- You own Travis Kelce (7-77-1/9)? What happens if he goes down? You’re screwed right?
You may want to just bite the bullet and add Demetrius Harris (3-28-0/3) as a handcuff. Harris would start/play most all the snaps if Kelce were out. It wouldn’t be Kelce like, but it would be as much a TE1 projection as anything else roaming around out there.
-- I’d buy Kenneth Dixon (8-59-1, 1-21-0/1) more if Joe Flacco jumps back as starter. The offense changes back to traditional and that makes Dixon a more versatile, experienced weapon for Flacco.
The wild card/flyer RB pick up of the week is Dixon banking on a Flacco return…and it’s all speculative. They’ll probably just split up situationally, but I’d bet on Dixon in that three-way race IF Flacco is there. Maybe useful as an RB3 if Flacco isn’t there. RB2.5 if Flacco is back.
Dixon jumped right back into key touches since returning from injury. No managed snaps or ignoring…it was right back in.
My guesstimate right now is Flacco 55% likely to start this week.
-- Spencer Ware (15-75-0, 5-54-0/5) gave you RB1 work in this game…20 touches, critical 3rd-down conversions, the main workload -- all he lacked was Damien Williams (8-14-1, 4-16-1/5) stealing a goal line run and later Williams scored on a short TD pass.
I don’t believe the plan is for Ware to be out in the red zone as a primary thing, but we have to watch it. Ware carried the backfield in this hard-fought game against a defense everyone was pissing their pants over nervous for Ware – but Ware averaged 5.0 yards per carry and tallied 129 total yards. He’s fine…a solid RB1.5.
-- Reggie Ragland (7 tackles) has jumped back ahead of Dorian O’Daniel (1 tackle) on the IDP front…51-12 snap counts edge.
-- Fantasy Playoff Notes from these two teams…
Baltimore has TB and @LAC the next two weeks. Solid enough for offensive performance, but we don’t know who the Ravens QB, main RB, or favored WR, or favored TE is this week or the following. It’s chaos I’d rather avoid if I could. The Ravens-DST vs. TB should be OK and so-so vs. LAC.
KC…well, we might have some real problems here. We’re going to need players stepping up huge. This week vs. LAC is fine, but cold and possibly rainy is not favorable conditions for the passing game in a must-win for both teams. Week 16 at Seattle is no layup either and it’s an SNF game where KC may know by kickoff that they don’t need the game for the #1 seed…and then we’re all hanging in the breeze. We may be very studied on Seattle things and KC backups for last second things.
If you need a tie-breaker items on any waiver pickups this week…looking ahead to a ‘what if’ on KC not needing Week 16. In Week 16 it’s DEN-OAK on MNF…you may need a Hamilton-Sutton-Keenum-Carr-Jordy-Martin-Ateman-Richard in a pinch if you’re all-in on KC and they suddenly don’t need Week 16, and you find that out at 4pm (after 1pm NE-BUF game). I don’t think Week 16 will be a KC issue, but it’s on the table as a problem if NE loses a game the next two weeks.
Snap Counts of Interest:
31 = Edwards
23 = Dixon
19 = Ty Montgomery
39 = Boyle
25 = Andrews
22 = Maxx W
18 = Hurst
85 = Kelce
28 = Dem Harris
85 = Conley
65 = Tyreek
56 = Dem. Robinson
09 = Kemp