2022 Week 2: Chiefs 27, Chargers 24 (Dynasty/Fantasy Analysis Game Report)
We’ve now moved into a ‘the way the Chargers are run/managed is a problem’ world, but because they are good+ and Justin Herbert is great the facts are likely to be ignored…a la the Green Bay Packers wasting the prime of Aaron Rodgers because of Mike McCarthy and the team construct. Rodgers help up/stood between a team that won a lot of games and division titles for a decade+ after winning a Super Bowl and making fans generally happy…and total collapse if Rodgers wasn’t there. Rodgers kept that Green Bay team of the 2010-2019 era afloat but when I look back, all I see is lost opportunity and falling short of what could’ve been. But they had a great record and run…but could it have been better, much better with different management?
Usually, in the NFL, if you have a great/elite QB…you make the playoffs easily (especially in this expanded playoff era) and then pray you get lucky in the tournament. The Chargers, possessing arguably the single most talented QB in the NFL last season…didn’t even make the playoffs. A season filled with missed opportunities, dumb losses, going for it on 4th-downs (which is good) but then calling the worst plays to convert and/or asking limited weapons to try and ‘make a play’. Jared Cook alone cost the team two wins last year -- but the offensive coordinator knew him from their days with the Saints, so it’s OK.
The Chargers, possessing this amazing QB talent, a generational talent, is now (2-4) in their last 6 games with two losses to KC in games where they’ve outplayed KC for 45+ minutes before flopping down the stretch.
The Chargers are (2-4) in their last 6 games, uber-critical games at that/big games at that…and (6-8) in their last 14 games. And Justin Herbert is absolutely not the problem…and if he isn’t, then what is? I could write 1,000 words about that but if I were announced as the GM tomorrow, I would fire/replace the offensive coordinator my first day…a guy whose best feature is ‘is related to Vince Lombardi’ and then I’d have a Manhattan project going to find speed WRs to acquire next week or the week -- I’d try to get one elite speedster from teams likely to be ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline, and 1-2 other slick maneuverings for lost #5-6 speed WRs hiding on depth charts to poach them from teams for late round draft picks.
The Chargers could very well ‘get it together’ and gel behind Justin Hebert, who can carry a weak offense otherwise -- but the win-loss record says this team is not getting better under Brandon Staley’s regime…it’s getting worse, more disappointing, WAYYYY underperforming -- and that’s with one of the five best 53-man rosters in the league. A good-to-great roster + an elite QB + a losing record in your last 14 games and your last 6 games = coaching problem, no? What else is there to blame?
The Chargers were controlling the Chiefs all game, as they are the better team/roster…but they, once again, found a way to lose. A 99-yard pick-six when about to take a lead and take over the driver seat in the game. Watch this play…just the first 5 seconds, and you’ll need to watch it 2-3+ times to really see it…the pass play is totally designed to #7 (Gerald Everett), watch the play and you’ll have the same reaction I did…what the hell is #7 doing? Link to video: https://youtu.be/ZSbnRXiVnJk
Gerald Everett has been a sucker’s bet, an offensive albatross that three NFL teams have now tried (and failed) with…all because ‘was with McVay’. He’s a terrible tight end and whatever route that was he was ‘running’ (drifting/standing) on that game changing pick-six was a summary of his useless NFL career. The Chargers have a great overall roster with two star/stud offensive weapons (Keenan and Ekeler) with absolutely terrible/mismatched offensive weapons around the two stars that the coaches insist on using in key spots because of ‘clever’ spreading it around.
How in 2022 Sony Michel is taking key carries on a team with Austin Ekeler…or Josh Kelley, for that matter, is inexplicable -- but that’s the Chargers management in action in 2022. They are so clever!
Kansas City is working their way towards the same problem -- weak weapons around an elite QB, trying to draw strength from rotations and overcoached/with a bunch of ’too clever’ short play concepts…but the Chiefs aren’t as talented man-to-man/across the board in weapons as the Chargers…but the Chargers help out by getting key carries and targets to their worst options at the most critical of times. KC tends to lean on their best in times of need…at least more than LAC does.
For two teams possessing two of the four ultra-elite QBs in the game now…this wasn’t an offensive showcase. Herbert walked on water with a rib issue the final few minutes but it’s always too little too late with the Chargers under Staley.
The Chargers are, and were, the better ‘team’ here…but they are being coached/managed downward. It’s sad to watch such an opportunity wasted in Herbert’s prime, and at his lowest salary cap time opportunity. I keep thinking/hoping the Chargers are going to flip a switch…but I’m the sucker in that equation for their last 6 games (2-4)…their last 14 games (6-8).
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The fact that Justin Herbert (33-48 for 334 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT) is pulling great numbers out of this offensive setup…a setup whose best player is a 200 +/- pound RB who thrives on screen passes…a setup with a bunch of slow, stiff receivers at WR and TE…that Herbert is racking numbers within all that is the real true miracle -- not what he did with his injured rib late in the game, which was also a true miracle on a level of his final drive in the LV-LAC game to end 2021 season, and end of the LAC season short of the playoffs.
Herbert somehow produces big numbers working with this group…I can only imagine what he’d do if he had any speed at all among his WR group. Herbert will be FF-fine regardless, but he has a huge upside in the future if they ever get real playmakers in…and replace the O-C.
-- Speaking of awful offensive coordinators, I think there will be mild Patrick Mahomes (24-35 for 235 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT) underperformance issues ahead because they are putting him into the Alex Smith model offense of controlled quick hitters…playing opposite of Mahomes’s strength…but for a bit it will be heralded as something incredible because he’s ‘spreading it around’, as if that’s never been done before. Spreading it around to mediocre weapons could catch up to this offense when defenses stop planning against them like it’s 2019-2021 and realize Tyreek Hill is not there and you don’t have to drop into a deep protective zone every play to make sure Mahomes isn’t dropping a bomb on you…so you just die via a thousand paper cuts/short passes.
Mahomes was held to 235 yards passing in this game, and nothing really looked great besides anything to Kelce and a broken pass play where Mahomes escaped pressure and scrambled for more time to allow for a surprise moment of Justin Watson beating coverage deep. Most of the night Mahomes didn’t have time to see anything deep because he was under pressure or was not looking deep in favor of a short pass play call. Mahomes being Mahomes is their best weapon, but the 2022 offense is mostly Mahomes being Alex Smith…with a couple off-script/broken scramble plays where Mahomes is Mahomes and makes a big play.
I won’t swear to any tail-off because Mahomes is great, but I think he’s going to have a minor FF letdown this year. Not as productive as Allen-Herbert because play call design (i.e. O-C and QB coach), not his own skills issue. I’m not trading/dumping Mahomes in FF at all because he seems to find a couple opportunities within the restrictions, but it’s on my mind to see if the media turns from ‘such clever spreading it around’ to ‘they’re keeping Mahomes in a box for no reason’ in a few weeks. But that would require defensive coordinators to wise up…but they usually run a year behind on adjustments/catching up to real time trends. I guess if the choice is ‘play up on receivers and force Mahomes to beat us’ or ‘play back and let KC neuter Mahomes with a short passing game’…you let the KC coaches do your dirty work for you (as a defense), and you try and get a lead and sit on it the whole game (which LAC almost pulled off before their pick-six) while KC dinks and dunks too much.
-- Big Mike Williams (8-113-1/10) finally had a big game, but did you see what I saw…what I mentioned last week on the Q&As? He’s never open. Of his 8 catches, he had one open with space catch…and 7 contested/fight-for-it catches.
Typically, Williams gets 5-8 targets and they are almost all him ‘not open’ and you hope he makes a contested win/catch…but that works about 50% of the time, maybe less.
After his blazing hot start in 2021…three weeks (Weeks 1-3) of dominance, Williams slipped into a 50% catch rate the rest of the season, as his targets fell down.
2021 Weeks 1-3 = 8-7-8 catches, 67%, 70%, 78% catch rate on targets and he was a top 3 FF WR.
2021 Weeks 4-17 of 2021, catch rates by game in order starting Week 4 = 25%, 50%, 40%, 40%, 40%, 67%, 83%, 50%, 71%, 100%, 33%, 75%, 53%...a WR3 in this span…a 55.1% catch rate.
His FF disaster Week 1 of 2022 = 50% (caught 2 of 4 targets). But he hit on an 80% catch rate in this one.
The Chargers came out firing at Mike Williams in a new way to start the 2021 season, under the new regime, caught teams by surprise a little…and then teams saw/adjusted, and Williams went back to being Mike Williams…a WR2-3 you hope snags a TD.
Keenan Allen fully out this game, so they tried to attack with Williams, and Big Mike caught everything, somewhat miraculously.
1) When Keenan is back…Herbert will not force it to Williams like this…but Big Mike will have moments.
2) I’m a buyer of Keenan as Herbert’s full guy…no Allen/Williams split. The price is down a tick with Allen out of sight last week and had the injury cloud over him. Buy low…or don’t buy.
3) I’m a seller of Mike Williams off this event -- everyone SAW it on internet television, so he’s back to ‘a star’ for the moment…sell it as a WR1-1.5 for all it is worth. 2021 proved…Williams’ big games are random, not consistent or emerging.
Williams 2021 Weeks 1-3 = 7.3 catches per game
Williams 2021 Weeks 4-17 = 4.2 catches per game.
Williams 2021 Weeks 4-16 (exclude Week 17) = 3.8 catches per game.
Williams 2022 Week 1 = 2 catches…with Allen out half the game.
Williams 2022 Week 2 = 8 catches…an outlier…with Keenan out.
-- The other non-Allen/Williams receivers for LAC…
Josh Palmer (4-30-1/8) did not step up with Allen out…he looks stiff and not inspired. I’m a seller taking advantage of this stat line…a redraft and Dynasty seller, but he only has like throw-in value. He’s not a must-sell, just he has a blip of value increase this week. No more slow/stiff receivers with Herbert please!
Gerald Everett (6-71-0/10) is the absolute worst. When Donald Parham returns, and Allen returns, it’s back to 3-30-0 lines for Everett as a norm.
DeAndre Carter (3-55-0/3) still looks like the best ‘speed’ and ‘competent’ option for the Chargers. If I were the O-C/HC, I would consider benching Palmer and going with Carter as an outside speed threat who can also work inside. But that won’t happen. If you own Keenan, you gotta own Carter to go-with…all year, if you have expanded roster sizes.
-- Then there’s the flop known as the Chiefs’ WRs…
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2-13-0/7) led the Chiefs WRs in targets, but rare few of them connected…because this has turned into an Alex Smith offense and MVS is the deep ball threat/decoy being sent running face-first into a constant deep drop defensive zone and Mahomes’ throws are happening fast/quick/short that MVS isn’t even into his route and the ball is elsewhere. There will be games/moments where when the defenses change plans, MVS hits some bombs…but we have no idea when/where that is gonna be.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (3-10-0/3) fell to 3 targets this week. Why? In part because the Chargers pass defense on WRs is so good…and JuJu is so weak a WR that he can’t get open on real coverage. He was much cooler when they played Arizona Week 1 and their absentee secondary last week. Context.
Justin Watson (2-50-1/2) looked like the team’s best WR this game…but he’ll be a backup, but is in the constant rotation…his presence just pulls more stuff away from MVS-JuJu-Mecole.
Skyy Moore (0-0-0/0) is their most talented WR…and he works for this short/quick hitter game. But he’s also the guy getting the least amount of looks right now. It will change…and when he arrives, you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t get in early enough, cheaper, when you had the chance…I just don’t know if that’s going to be Week 4…Week 9…or 2023. I just know that ‘it is’. You’ll see.
-- Later in the game, Clyde Edwards Helaire (8-74-0, 4-44-0/4) reeled off a 52-yard run against a desperate defense trying to halt a drive/to get the ball back. Had he not made that run, CEH would have posted a 7 carry, 22-yard rushing day as the lead back of a high functioning offense.
The KC ‘rotate everything’ offense is smart…and a killer for FF.
What do you think will happen when Isiah Pacheco (2-6-0) makes his move? Part of a rotation…but the lead/good part of it. But still ‘sharing’.
-- The Chiefs scored that 99-yard defensive TD, which means the KC offense, at home, scored all of 20 points. KC was 4-of-12 on 3rd-downs. The KC run game was squashed until that late CEH run. This game was a ‘thumbs up’ for the LAC defense.
There are two elite defenses in the NFL emerging/arrived…Buffalo and the Chargers.
Wanna know the LAC schedule from here through Week 10? This was the moment I was planning for since August!
Here it is by QB…
Russell (now down with the bad QBs/offenses)
You don’t know what gold you are possessing with the LAC defense.
-- Two IDP notes…
A couple of rookies to discuss from KC: SAF Bryan Cook (1 tackles) tried to lose this game for KC with penalties from pushing/shoving after the whistle. He got suckered into things a couple of times. I suspect he won’t be seen for a while until they wash that out of him.
KC did play rookie CB Jaylen Watson (4 tackles, 1 PD) for a spot-start due to injury…and he accounted for himself pretty well. KC has some good young defensive talent that will really pop in another year or two, as a group…and may show signs of it this year. You want KC later in the season when they hit Weeks 14-17: DEN-HOU-SEA-DEN…a potentially great FF playoff DST, IF Russ is still flopping.
Snap Counts of Interest:
45 = MVS
42 = JuJu
31 = Mecole
14 = J Watson
02 = Skyy
27 = McKinnon
25 = CEH
05 = Pacheco
47 = Ekeler
19 = J Kelley
09 = Michel
08 = Horvath