It’s hard to predict the way the wind is blowing in the NFL. Consider the Chiefs…5-0 start, Kareem Hunt and Alex Smith early MVP favorites, most analysts proclaiming them the best team in football. Six games later…with no major injuries as a catalyst…utter collapse – five losses in their last 6 games, and their one win was them being slightly less awful than their awful opponents (Denver).
What’s happened? What’s wrong with the Chiefs? How do you fix it?
Kansas City is in a tough predicament. They know it was only a few weeks ago that they were on top of the world…the supposed ‘best team in football’. No need for wholesale changes; just a tweak – they have to be thinking about that…we were there before we can get there again.
However, the media pressure is going to be insane and that drives teams more than we think. The talk of a quarterback change will be relentless, and with every loss the natives get more restless. The human side of coaches and the owner will crave to make changes…some effort to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic – you can’t just sit by and do nothing, right? It takes a lot of ‘will’ for a team/coach to ‘hold’ steady to their plan during this assault from all angles. If they don’t do ‘something’ and lose again…they’ll get destroyed for yet another week in the press.
It’s one of the fatal flaws of fantasy owners/human beings – the desire to ‘do something’ to ‘fix’ things. We lose a fantasy game, and we hate any of our underperforming for the week players and they all ‘have to go’. We win, and everything is fine…even if we just beat an opponent who had a bad luck week. Wins don’t call to us to tinker…but losses mean working overtime tinkering. Someone on your team scored a TD last week…into the lineup the next week. Someone had a down game or two, but is a decent hand in a good situation – you want to bench them for recent woes delivered, and you inevitably miss out on the bounceback…but you’ll never live with yourself if they have three bad games in a row on your watch so those guys tend to sit with other options. We have no patience under duress.
Because patience is a virtue that rarely exists…I wonder what KC is going to do under this current duress. My guess is they’ll do a lot of talking and then do the same thing Andy Reid does every week…try to run the ball more.
I forget who said it, but some pregame reporter mentioned they were talking to Andy Reid (earlier in the week) and asked him what he needs to do ‘right the ship’. He reported that Reid (essentially) said that it was ‘his fault’ that they got away from the run and they need to run more.
Need to run more? That’s been the problem…running to the point the other team plans for it and doesn’t fear the other weapons like they should.
So, what IS wrong with Kansas City?
The problem is…you’re asking the wrong question.
Everyone looks at KC and says…”What do they need to do to get back to that 5-0 team?” I say -- they ARE more like the current 1-5 in their last 6 games team…reality has set in. This is the real Kansas City Chiefs happening now. Game manager QB from a bygone era. Solid RB who got overused after a hot start. A passing game that gets worse every week. Two years inability to stop the run. One good cornerback, who is sloppy at times…and the other CB a playground for opposing QBs and a team with an inability to generate a pass rush.
The question is not “What happened? (of late)” it should be “How did KC start 5-0 when they are not that good?”
The answer to the question is – the Kansas City Chiefs are a .500 team/talent, coached by a guy in love with childish gadget plays (that don’t work) and who uses his best weapon (Tyreek Hill) as a decoy so as to run clever plays for lesser talented guys like Albert Wilson. This is a .500 team and OK/mediocre coach that just happened to get back to where they should (around .500) by going 5-0 and then 1-5. Just a strange path to even-steven results.
There is no easy answer for KC…the bigger issue is getting all of us to adjust to this reality…give up the notion the media sold us when they were 5-0.
Kansas City has regressed to the mean…where they should be. And Andy Reid is not going to change a thing…he’s staying/arriving at his mean. There is no answer and no change coming. The Chiefs are going to bleed out.
KC will likely go 1-1 in their next two games (because they are a .500-type team) with at NYJ and OAK. They would then be 7-6 getting ready to host the 7-6/6-7 Chargers for the AFC West title. KC wins that game, very possible, and they go on to win the AFC West, essentially. Lose that game, and they’ll likely be the #6 seed wild-card at 9-7 in the end.
Chiefs as a #4 seed or #6 seed…it doesn’t matter they aren’t going far at all in the playoffs.
Buffalo would now pose a tie-breaker problem for KC, should it come down to it…but that would assume Buffalo can get to 9-7. They won’t. They are 6-5, but have two games with New England ahead…so the Bills would have to beat IND-MIA-MIA to get to 9-7…easy schedule but the Bills are not strong enough to do that. If the Bills can somehow rise up and beat the Patriots once, then they Bills might actually get to the playoffs. Don’t bet on it.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- What’s wrong with Kareem Hunt (11-17-0, 1-9-0/1)? Sorry, I am having a chuckle as a close friend asked me that same question late in this game – because it made me think he was one of the people who were lamenting several weeks ago that they didn’t draft Kareem Hunt because I didn’t rate him high enough in the preseason. I’m also laughing with joy as well because I can recall some clients who took my advice to trade Hunt in Weeks 2-3-4…to trade him for the moon. Some of them got (hurt) David Johnson + another real/quality player for the then ‘greatest RB of our lifetime’ Kareem Hunt in dynasty leagues. A dynasty changing event for those who sold ‘high’.
So, what’s wrong with Hunt?
Hunt is reverting back to his mean. He was never as good as he was being portrayed.
This is typical football media/analysis – the guy is a rookie (and we all LOVE rookies) who had an epic game out of the gates, and THEY saw that and made an entire scouting fable out of it. NFL defenses adjusted. Hunt was shown to be ‘just a solid RB’…a guy who got his value inflated because he had some nice holes opened for him to have untouched long runs early and had a lucky catch/long TD on opening night/national TV. He had flaws. He isn’t a great in his lateral movement. He needs holes opened for him…which is no crime…it just makes him mortal/solid – not better than David Johnson or Leonard Fournette, etc.
What’s wrong with Hunt? Nothing. The media warped everyone’s perspective and now they’re trying to find solutions to something unsolvable. Jeremy Hill had a similar spurt, and hype, his rookie season…and now look at him.
Hunt is an RB2…that’s the answer. He's good. He's not great. Only our perspectives need to be fixed.
-- I won’t hear of any…’Tyreek Hill (2-13-0, 7-41-0/11) is killing me’ talk. He has 7 catches in each of his last two games. He’s getting the looks. He’s scoring solidly in PPR…he just hasn’t had the spike-scoring bolstered by his patented long TD in a game the past two games
Why isn’t Hill putting up WR1 numbers of late? That’s a legit gripe and question.
If you’re watching any KC games during the losing streak – you’ve seen part of the problem, glaringly so…Alex Smith drops back to pass, he looks Hill’s way, and you know Hill’s streaking downfield, and Smith starts to wind up to go deep but then he’s either flushed from the pocket or chickens out and pulls it down for a shorter dump pass.
25% of the problem is that Alex Smith is a bygone era QB. He’s good, solid, can win a Super Bowl…but he’s not good for fantasy. He’s the ultimate ‘play it safe’ QB. Every once in a while you get a moment where you’re impressed…and then Smith reverts to his personal mean of being an average/good QB.
75% of the problem is – how hard is it to just bubble screen the hell out of Hill? Since Hill took that short pass and ran through 11 Dallas Cowboys including 1995 Deion Sanders for the ‘play of the year’ TD before the half of the KC-DAL game…since then I don’t recall Hill getting a bubble screen. He’s mostly getting ‘real’ WR work…because Andy Reid us awful at his job. I don’t have to say it…1-5 in his last 6 games with losses to NYG and BUF speak loud enough.
Andy Reid is dumb…I can’t put it any more plainly. He’s not setting Hill up to succeed…and thus the team has no real weapons…and thus KC is going to fall towards .500, instead of being a Super Bowl threat. It’s not complicated. Have you seen the Steelers play? Brown and Bell, Bell and Brown, Brown and Bell…surprise to Jesse James…Bell and Brown, Brown and Bell….redrum, redrum, redrum. Hill should have 10+ touches a game, easy ones. He never does.
This is Tyreek Hill’s cross to bear. He can’t be a WR1 with Andy Reid and/or Alex Smith…and therefore, I’ve lead you astray in 2017 thinking he could overcome all of it. He’s a WR1.5 with WR1 spikes some weeks.
-- All this Tyreek stuff could change IF and WHEN Patrick Mahomes is named starting QB. One of three moments ahead is when Mahomes will start the new era as the franchise QB…
1: If Smith is seriously hurt
2: If KC loses 2 or 3 of their next 3 games and one of those games is to the Chargers Week 15 – then Mahomes would start Week 16.
3: Opening day 2018 because Alex Smith’s ass will be elsewhere/Jacksonville.
-- Buffalo also played in this game, believe it or not…but nothing really fresh happened for fantasy. Tyrod Taylor (19-29 for 183, 1 TD/0 INT) was his usual efficient/mediocre Alex Smith-like self. LeSean McCoy (22-49-0, 4-30-0/4) ran a lot, and no wide receiver stood out.
Zay Jones (3-33-1/10) did get the TD pass from Tyrod, as that relationship develops more, but there’s not enough with this passing game to play Zay confidently in 2017 fantasy.
-- Two IDP players making a move in output…
Chiefs LB Reggie Ragland (9 tackles, 3 TFLs) is getting more time as KC cannot stop the run and he’s making tackles because of so much running up the gut. 9 tackles in each of his last two games and 4 TFLs as well in that span.
Bills CB E.J. Gaines (8 tackles) is back from injury and racking up tackles – 8.5 tackles per game the past two games back from injury. In his last 6 games – 4.8 tackles and 1.0 PDs per game…he also has 2 forced fumbles and an INT on the season.
Snap Counts of Interest…
51 = Demarcus Robinson
48 = Tyreek Hill
46 = Albert Wilson
57 = Zay Jones
56 = Deonte Thompson
42 = Jordan Matthews