We saw the unexpected on the opening night of the NFL season. The Kansas City Chiefs exploded in the second half and won 42-27 against the defending champion New England Patriots.
From a fantasy football perspective, we saw quarterback Alex Smith and rookie running back Kareem Hunt go out on a tear along with wide receiver Tyreek Hill. While this gives hope for fantasy owners to start Chiefs offensive players more then they did in the preseason, I warn those owners not to expect this on a weekly basis. For those who are worried about the Patriots offense, don’t panic.
Patriots Defense most of the Blame
As I say again, the Patriots were looking like the typical Patriots in the first half. Then things changed in the second half. Part of that is because of the Patriots defense.
Their defense isn’t anything special, unlike their offense. They finished 19th in fantasy points in 2016.
They added cornerback Stephon Gilmore this offseason to play alongside Malcolm Butler. They also have Dont’a Hightower at linebacker. It’s not a great defense, it’s a good defense.
They were liked by many this week because of the matchup. The Chiefs aren’t known for an explosive offense, especially in the passing game, which finished 19th in yards per game.
They had a rookie running back starting the game. The Pats made defensive plays in the first half getting a fumble recovery. Then the Chiefs made big plays, including two deep passes for touchdowns. This made the offense play catch up with a group Brady hasn’t played with much.
Don’t panic about the patriots offensive players
I don’t think the Patriots playing catch up is the reason for some of the struggles. They did it down 28-3 in the Super Bowl. I think some of it is because of Brady having different targets he’s not used to yet.
He didn’t have Julian Edelman, someone he relies on. Brady did have Rob Gronkowski, who was a non-factor with two catches for 33 yards. He did do well with Danny Amendola, who had six catches for 100 yards and Brandin Cooks caught three passes for 88 yards. Cooks proved he can be a dependable WR1. As for Amendola, he suffered a concussion, which seems repetitive because he does well and gets hurt all the time.
As for the running backs, Mike Gillislee was the man, scoring three times on 45 yards. Rex Burkhead got the first two snaps, but he only played eight more snaps the rest of the game. James White had a decent performance, rushing the ball 10 times for 38 yards while hauling in three of his five targets for 30 yards.
All in all, four running backs combined for 34 touches in Week 1, and that could be reality all season. Gillislee is the one to own, but White should be a must-own too, especially after getting 10 rushing attempts.
Keep in mind they have a guy named Bill Belichick. The genius will find a way for this not to happen again. I also stress the fact they did play a defense who finished second in fantasy points for defense/special teams.
Don’t expect this from the Chiefs offensive fantasy players every week
I think this is understood, saying the Chiefs won’t play like this every week. But let’s give credit where it’s due. Smith, Hunt and Hill were dominant this week. Again, don’t expect this week in and week out.
Smith may have had the best game I’ve seen a quarterback have against the Patriots in a while. He completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns in Thursday’s win. He also completed two 70-plus-yard touchdown passes and rarely seemed flustered the entire night.
This doesn’t make Smith a must-start every week, so don’t get your hopes up. All you need from players is one good week and he gets more looks. This makes receivers like Hill and Travis Kelce more dependable given Smith’s play. Given the right matchup, he could be a start for teams with quarterback troubles.
Hunt owners were frighted when he fumbled on his first run, something he didn’t do at all in college. He didn’t let that rattle him like many other rookies though. He went on a tear and racked up 246 yards of total offense: 148 rushing yards on 17 carries with a touchdown and 98 receiving yards with two more scores on five receptions.
It’s safe to say running back by committee is toned down a bit. This is his job now. Though this might end up Hunt’s best game of the season, so we shouldn’t overreact and expect him to be an elite back just yet. Hunt should be a high flex play or RB2 play for weeks to come.
Hill had seven receptions on eight targets for 133 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. He also carried the ball twice for five yards. It’s safe to say Hill exploded in the first game. He looked impressive, burning corners to get open deep down the field and hauling in passes in traffic. Hill is a solid WR1 for now as he has silenced his critics for the time being.
It’s just Week 1
In conclusion, it’s just week 1. We see players who we expect to do well struggle and the unexpected from some players. Don’t read too much into what you saw from Thursday’s game. There’s many weeks still to go.
There’s many things still to come for the 2017 fantasy season. One bit of advice that I can give is enjoy it.
Featured image from si.com.
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