Chiefs fantasy focus: Mahomes emerges as a ‘must-start’ QB with another shot at history

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At this point, I just want to call Patrick Mahomes “Peter.” As in the Peter Principle.  After his incredible start to the 2018 season, you have to start Mahomes until he falters.

It’s worth putting the Chiefs signal-caller’s 2018 in some historical context. No quarterback in NFL history has thrown for more touchdowns through the first two games. Only 10 quarterbacks ever have thrown 10 or more touchdowns in a two-game stretch. He could tie Peyton Manning’s record for most in three consecutive games with a five touchdown performance against the 49ers.

Predicting such a game would be bold, but it doesn’t seem impossible.

If it weren’t for the “who saw that coming?!” performance of Ryan Fitzpatrick filling in for Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, Mahomes would be the runaway fantasy football MVP.

I’m still not convinced he won’t fade at some point this year, but for now, he’s in your starting lineup.

You’re also starting the quarterback going up against the Chiefs, and in this case, that’s Jimmy Garoppolo.

While Mahomes has been outstanding thus far, putting up 28 and 38 fantasy points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the NFL season, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have matched him point-for-point on the fantasy scoreboard in those contests.

Simply put, a high-powered Chiefs offense has the opposing team playing catch-up most of the game, which means throwing the ball more often. That leads to racking up garbage time yards and touchdowns that fantasy lovers eat up.  Couple all that with a weak Chiefs defense, and you’ve got a recipe for scoring.

Garoppolo doesn’t have the same supporting cast as Rivers or Roethlisberger, and I don’t expect him to equal Mahomes’ fantasy output on Sunday.  That said, I still think he’s a strong play to put up above average numbers for him.

I think you stay away from the 49ers backfield in this one. After Jerick McKinnon went down with a season-ending injury, the Niners have been operating a timeshare in the backfield with Matt Breida and Alfred Morris. So far the speedster Breida has been the better back in the young season and is coming off of a 138 yard rushing performance against the Lions. I just think San Francisco is going to be playing from behind too much for either to get meaningful carries. I’m sitting both except in deep leagues, where Breida is a worthy RB3 or flex play.

I said I would never sit Kareem Hunt, and I stand by that, but I do think you have to temper your expectations this Sunday. San Francisco’s defense has been stingy so far on running backs this season, and the Chiefs have shown the inclination to air it out. It may take a true blowout for Hunt to get significant carries. Fortunately, he’s a capable pass-catching back who already has a receiving touchdown this season. I think that’ll help him recoup some of what I project to be a down game by his standards, particularly in PPR leagues.

San Francisco’s secondary’s faced a tough draw with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay in the early goings. It doesn’t get any easier against the Chiefs.

After torching the Chargers for 41 points in Week 1, Hill “only” put up 20 versus the Steelers. I hope the sarcasm there was obvious enough. Hill continues to draw heavy targets from Mahomes and is a must-start every week.

While he’s one of the few Chiefs yet to get in on the touchdown party, Sammy Watkins showed signs of why he’s getting paid $16 million a year last week against the Steelers.  He cracked the 100-yard mark in receiving and will look to build off of that this Sunday.

I think Watkins is an interesting play and arguably the biggest “boom or bust” prospect of this game. He’s versatile enough to move around the field to make plays from anywhere. He’s also more often used in the underneath passing games than in the vertical system, so it will all depend on whether he can get away from 49ers defenders.

San Francisco’s receivers are… well, they’re less interesting. Marquise Goodwin is Garoppolo’s most trusted receiver, but he’s also coming off injury that needs to be monitored in the days leading up to game day. Goodwin is a solid if unspectacular play against a Chiefs defense if he goes.

Pierre Garcon has been known to fantasy football players for what feels like ages (it’s really only been 11 seasons.) He’s gotten off to a slow start through two weeks with just six catches for 78 yards and is really only a bench player at best.

After a dud in Week 1, Travis Kelce was back to a stud against the Steelers, leading all Chiefs players with 109 yards and two touchdowns.  That’s the kind of production you’re used to seeing from one of your top picks. While San Francisco’s only allowed three catches to tight ends all season, two have gone for touchdowns, and they haven’t played anyone of Kelce’s caliber yet.

I like San Francisco’s George Kittle as a sleeper start for this game. Kittle was kept in check against the Lions in Week 2, but he racked up 90 yards in his first game against the Vikings. After allowing the Steelers’ Jesse James to get loose for 138 yards and a score, it’s apparent it doesn’t take elite tight ends to put up points on the Chiefs.

Here’s to hoping your fantasy players don’t Patrick… err, Peter, out.

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