2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Preseason Wk2 Game Analysis: Chiefs 17, Cardinals 10 (By Ross Jacobs)
--Arizona's defense rising?
You want to know why Patrick Mahomes (10-18 for 78 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) looked human here? Because this defense is playing with speed, aggression, and energy I haven't seen matched this preseason. They are swarming, and it's not just the starters. I don't think this is a Kingsbury thing. It's a Vance Joseph thing. RC and I love to bash on Joseph's time as a head coach for good reason, but he's had some real success as a D coordinator. I think we may be onto a sneaky top 5 fantasy defense here. From what I see they are going to give up some yards at times, somewhat like the Bucs last year, but they are going to cause so much havoc that the ball is going to get turned over which is great for fantasy. And keep in mind this is without Chandler Jones and JJ Watt on the field, Arizona's two most disruptive defenders.
Last week RC covered rookie Zaven Collins (4 tackles) and I was hoping to see more of that, but Collins was a bit more muted here, possibly due to the pass-heavy nature of the Chiefs offense. Instead it was his partner Isaiah Simmons (4 tackles) that impressed but for different reasons.
Collins is going to be the enforcer and tackle machine in the middle. He's the guy you want for IDP. Simmons is the coverage linebacker, and he looks like he might finally be ready to start shutting down opposing TE's.
Two plays in particular stood out for Simmons. The first he got some help from Budda Baker (2 tackles). Simmons was down near the line and looked like he didn't know what to do, which is definitely still a concern, but Baker yelled at him to move to a different spot and cover the slot, and Simmons responded by defending the middle of the field then tackling Mecole Hardman (4-39-1/8) in the open field on an out route.
The second play Simmons simply turned and ran with Travis Kelce (1-8-0/1) and made it look easy. He looked like he was jogging but stayed right on Kelce's hip the entire time. Simmons is still figuring out what he's supposed to be doing, which is concerning, but with a little help you can see the physical gifts shining through. If he's able to completely shut down TE's over the middle that will fix a huge problem that's plagued Arizona's defense for years.
The second player I noticed the most was backup OLB Devon Kennard (2 tackles). He didn't light up the score sheet, but he was around the ball an awful lot and caused some problems for the Chiefs offensive line. He's been an underrated favorite of mine going back to his time with the Lions where I thought he was one of their best defenders. He's a great depth piece to rotate in off the edge.
Two more random notes on the Cardinals defense: 1) LB Evan Weaver (4 tackles) can't tackle. He got four here, but he might have had 8 if he could actually bring somebody down. He was usually in the right place and looks like he's got decent athleticism, but I saw him miss tackle after tackle. Not good. And 2) right in the middle of the re-watch I suddenly had a thought. “Where the heck is Dennis Gardeck??” I hadn't seen him at all so far. A quick check revealed he is still on the PUP list from his torn ACL. If he's back and healthy that gives Arizona a very deep rotation of talented edge rushers to go along with Watt. Fingers crossed.
--Skill position notes
Once again rookie Rondale Moore (3-15-0/5, 1-9-0) looked like a key part of this offense. The Cardinals went to him early and often and with a variety of looks. He's taking short passes, screens, sweeps. Still haven't seen a deep ball but they'll come. I'm trying not to get too excited, because I just know they'll break my heart by feeding him during preseason and then he'll be running 4th behind Hopkins, Green, and Kirk, but so far when he's on the field with Green and Kirk he's been the obvious go-to guy. Even if Moore isn't a big part of redraft this year, we definitely want him for dynasty.
Mecole Hardman (4-39-1/8) was the top look for Mahomes here, and I have to say it wasn't all bad work by Hardman surprisingly. Hardman looked like maybe he was filling in the Tyreek role in the offense, but Mahomes was just a little off target all day due to the Arizona defensive pressure. He did have a really nice grab in the endzone after Mahomes left the game where he made a nice adjustment and caught the ball well behind him while falling to the ground with a defender in his face. How Hardman caught that ball when he normally can't catch a cold is beyond me. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come. Maybe, just maybe, he can step up this year into a decent #2. The Chiefs could really use a third target to supplement Tyreek and Kelce.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (3-13-0, 1-10-0/1) was in early and looking good. They even sent him out wide and then threw him a nice tunnel screen. Everything was looking promising for him, but then all of a sudden Darrel Williams (2-2-0) was in for three straight plays inside the 20 and I started panicking because of RC's concerns that Williams was a trusted option for Reid. Shortly after though I noticed Darwin Thompson (8-49-0, 2-7-0/2) in and realized that CEH must have gotten hurt. He tweaked his ankle, but it sounds like it's minor. He'll sit out the last preseason game and should be ready to go week 1. I have no concerns about his workload this year. I think he's a mid-to-late RB1. RC is more skeptical.
RC is definitely correct that Eno Benjamin (3-18-0, 2-16-0/2) is the handcuff for Chase Edmonds (1-3-0) not James Conner (2-1-0). Were Edmonds to go down Conner would take the majority of carries but they wouldn't be worth much. Benjamin would take the passing game work which is where the money's at. Conner looks like his usual slug self. He tried jump cutting a defender and it was pathetic. Every play that goes to him is a wasted opportunity. Do not fear a Conner uprising against Edmonds.
Another Cardinal receiver flashed a little here. Antoine Wesley (1-5-0/2), a former Texas Tech player with Kingsbury, finished with only a single catch but nearly had a very impressive grab after going completely over the top of his defender and snatching the ball. The ball was knocked out of his hands as he was coming down but he nearly brought it back in. Wesley stands 6'4”, a little thin although he's muscled up a bit since coming out of college, and showed some nice hops here. He can hang and would make a great jump ball redzone target for Kyler. The Cardinals are absolutely loaded at receiver.
Two 3rd string QB's looked plausible here. Kansas City's Shane Buechele (9-11 for 115, 1 TD/1 INT, 3-8-0) and Arizona's Chris Streveler (5-6 for 74, 1 TD/0 INT, 2-4-0) both played well. Apparently our “every young QB is good” theory applies even to 3rd stringers because neither guy looked frazzled at all. Buechele calmly marched the Chiefs down the field and his interception wasn't even totally his fault. The WR fell down and the ball went straight to a waiting defender, but if Buechele hadn't been just firing blindly to a spot that would have never happened. Either way he looked comfortable and in control.
Streveler also looked comfortable, although with a completely different style. His touchdown throw was a beautiful touch pass over his TE's shoulder on the right sideline. He's a street ball player with a weird throwing motion, but it can work in spurts like it did here. He wasn't running nearly as much as last week and looked like he was trying to work through his reads. Not bad. RC hit the nail on the head calling him a poor man's Taysom Hill.
Chiefs WR Marcus Kemp (1-36-0/1) looks like he's finally put on some weight. I thought he was a TE at first because he looked so big, but his long play was actually a catch and run where he looked fast and smooth. If he can continue to play like this he might actually carve out a small role on this offense.
-- by Ross Jacobs
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