More offense where that came from? Fantasy outlook for Chiefs clash with Steelers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re a Chiefs fan, you’re elated about starting the season on the road and with a win. If you’re the owner of a Chiefs player on your fantasy team, it’s not so easy.
Studs and duds was the theme of Week 1. Fantasy owners of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill may have been carried to victory single-handedly by their performances, while owners of Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce are banging their heads in frustration.
Fantasy football truly is a beautiful, brutal game. Now it’s on to the Steelers.
The first true game of the Patrick Mahomes era showed why Chiefs fans are excited about the future of this team. Fantasy owners had to revel in it, too.
The QB showed that fabled “arm talent” but also touch en route to his 256 yards, 4 TD passing performance. There’s a lot to like. I’d feel I’m being irresponsible if I didn’t point out the concerns, though.
Despite the great stat line, looking a level deeper suggests there could be problems down the road. For starters, Mahomes completed just 55% of his passes against the Chargers. It didn’t matter in Week 1, but those incompletions could turn into interceptions easily against a different opponent.
In addition, two of Mahomes’ four touchdowns on the day came on passes that traveled maybe a combined one foot in the air, suggesting his accuracy was even worse.
I can’t fault any fantasy owner who will keep playing him as a starter until he proves otherwise, but have a backup you can count on for steady points if he’s on your roster.
Owners of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell hoped this would be the week his holdout ends. If you have him, I’d say hope is not a strategy.
The chances of him playing this week effectively went from slim to none when the Steelers removed Bell from their depth chart Tuesday. Pittsburgh franchise-tagged the perennial top-3 pick this offseason, but Bell hasn’t signed his one-year offer yet in the hopes of staying as healthy as possible to land a more lucrative contract next season. Bell could wait until Week 10 to make his debut and still be eligible for a deal next year, and all indications are he’s going to sit out at least the first month of the season.
If you’re a Bell owner, hopefully you were able to pick up James Conner as your handcuff. He’s going to be the most sought after waiver wire pickup in leagues where he’s still available.
The Steelers reserve had a strong showing against the Cleveland Browns, putting up a Bell-esque stat line of 135 rushing yards, 57 receiving yards and two touchdowns. I wouldn’t anticipate him carrying the ball for 30 times against the Chiefs, but he’s got no competition for reps and is a viable pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He’s a must start against a Chiefs defense that struggled to contain Melvin Gordon and his pass-catching ability.
Travis Kelce is too talented of a tight end to put up another stinker like he did in Week 1. You can’t expect a repeat performance of one catch for six yards, good for a goose egg in standard scoring leagues.
If there is a silver lining, Kelce still had six targets against the Chargers, but he’s still going to have a tough match-up against the Steelers, who gave up the third fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2017.
The Steel Curtain got off to a similarly strong start against TEs by limiting the Browns David Njoku to 3 catches for 13 yards in Week 1. I simply can’t advocate benching a top-flight tight end no matter how difficult the matchup, but be prepared for Kelce to perform below his usual expectations in this one.
If you’ve got a wide receiver going in this game, there’s a good chance you’re going to be counting on some big-time production.
Tyreek Hill owners have to be giddy after his all-around showing against the Chargers. Of course, that game-breaking speed showed itself again on two long touchdowns, but don’t overlook the 7 catches (matching a career-best) on 8 targets either. It’s a strong indication Hill is becoming a true focal point of the offense and not just a deep threat.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have a pair of wideouts to start this Sunday. Antonio Brown is a fantasy first-rounder for a reason. He showed it again in Week 1 with a steady 9 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.
You drafted him early for a reason… he’s good, so good it doesn’t matter which secondary you’re going up against.
The Steelers receiver who could win you your league if he keeps it up is JuJu Smith-Schuster. There’s no reason to think he won’t. The 2nd-year pro led Pittsburgh with 119 receiving yards in their opener. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; he led all receivers in yards over the last three games of 2017.
While JuJu was a solid bench or streaming option as a rookie, he’s firmly in the category of “must start” now. Even as Pittsburgh’s second receiver, in a powerful offense (and against a porous Chiefs defense), there’s no reason not to expect big points.
If there’s one Chief who you should sit if you can, it’s kicker Harrison Butker. With the swirling winds coming off the Allegheny, coupled with notoriously shoddy conditions, Heinz Field is hell on kickers. The likelihood of him kicking any long field goals is lower than usual.
He may be a solid to strong play for the rest of 2018, but I would expect below season averages against Pittsburgh.
Vegas oddsmakers have the over/under line for the Chiefs-Steelers game set at the highest of Week 2 by a full three points; that seems about right. This should be a day to feast for your offensive stars, so plan accordingly.