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One and Done - FFL: Week 4 | NFL: Superbowl

Chiefs' Mahomes leads way with his legs, not just his arm

Sun Jan 26 1:59pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

Players: LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Derrick Henry, Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates with Tyreek Hill (10) and Demarcus Robinson after running for a touchdown during the first half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes participates in a drill at NFL football practice Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 at in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes addresses the media at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes celebrates after the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won 35-24 to advance to Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Patrick Mahomes was just trying to run out of bounds, not make the kind of shake-your-head, what-did-he-just-do play that will be shown on highlight reels for as long as the Kansas City Chiefs are in existence.

It was late in the third quarter of the AFC championship game, and the Chiefs were trailing Tennessee 17-14. Mahomes had already marched them nearly the length of the field, giving Kansas City at worst a chance for a tying field goal, when he scrambled from the pocket and headed toward the sideline with every intention of avoiding any kind of hit.

Then he made a defender miss and saw nobody in front of him, so he turned upfield instead. Mahomes barreled toward the goal line and right over one defender, then spun away from two more, and crashed into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

The momentum of his TD run would spur the Chiefs to two more fourth-quarter touchdowns and a 35-24 victory, and into their first Super Bowl in 50 years. And the play itself showcased why defending Mahomes is so difficult: Even when his pass catchers are covered, the young quarterback can still beat opponents on the ground.

''They have the ultimate respect for him,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of defenses, ''and they're doubling our guys. You're not just getting one guy double but two, and the defensive line is trying to sack him. So if he makes one guy miss, it's over. He has all this running space. We've seen that the last couple weeks. For him to be able to see it, decipher it and go - it's just part of the game for him. You don't have to tell him anything that he doesn't already know.''

Except maybe to slide. That has been a work in progress, and Mahomes has been much more savvy about getting down before taking a big hit. But he wasn't going to do that last Sunday, when a trio of Titans were all that stood between Mahomes and the end zone after a 27-yard highlight-reel scramble.

''As I got to the sideline,'' he recalled last week, ''I realized I could cut up. I was running down the sideline and I knew we had two timeouts, so I might as well try to cut it back. I cut it back, and luckily I was able to hold on to the ball and get into the end zone.''

It was the kind of improvisational play that could come in handy against the San Francisco 49ers' stingy defense in the Super Bowl, and the kind of play that Mahomes might not have been able to make for much of this season.

The reigning league MVP sprained his ankle in a season-opening win at Jacksonville, and that caused him to hobble a bit for the next few weeks. Then in Week 7, on a benign quarterback sneak, Mahomes dislocated his kneecap and missed the rest of that game and the next two. And when he returned, he still wasn't close to 100%.

But the Chiefs' bye this season didn't come until Week 12, and that turned out to be fortuitous. Mahomes got a chance to more fully recover, and he came back for the stretch run the healthiest he'd been all season.

It has shown in the playoffs, too. Mahomes has led the Chiefs in rushing in each of their two wins, setting career highs each time. The big run against the Titans was about half of his 53-yard total, and his total was just 16 yards shy of what bruising Titans star Derrick Henry managed against the revamped Kansas City rush defense.

''I think his running ability adds a lot,'' Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. ''First of all, it tells a lot about how Pat sees things. I know Pat recognizes the coverages that teams are playing, and doubling (Travis) Kelce and (Tyreek) Hill, and the thing he recognizes is nobody is on him, so he takes off and runs.''

Bieniemy did pull Mahomes aside after his TD run against Tennessee, but it wasn't to admonish him for refusing to slide or step out of bounds. Instead, it was to provide the kind of advice one would expect from a former runner back: ''I just said, `Hey, if you're going to keep running for us, let's talk a bit about ball security.'''

The Chiefs certainly would prefer their running backs - Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and LeSean McCoy - did most of the heavy lifting in the ground game against San Francisco. But they aren't about to curtail Mahomes' competitive fire, even when it manifests itself in running the ball - and especially when it seems to be working.

''His understanding of space and understanding of coverage is incredible,'' offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. ''Most guys look at a play, `Oh, that's good. Let's do that.' But he understands coverages and, `We can do this because this guy is here and we can exploit him.' It's pretty awesome.''

Player Notes
C.J. Mosley Jan 26 1:00pm ET

New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), who is six weeks removed from groin/abdominal surgery, said he is jogging "a little bit" and is on track to take part in "spring football." Mosley has also started a vegan diet after playing in just two games last season because of his injury in his first year in New York. The 27-year-old should be ready for a full training camp heading into the 2020 season, and he should give Gang Green a steadying presence in the middle of the field next season. Mosley recorded 100-plus tackles in four of his five seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Jets in free agency last offseason.

From RotoBaller

Eric Berry Jan 26 1:00pm ET

Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who did not play at all in 2019, plans to play in 2020 after intentionally taking the season off to rest his body and mind. Berry was cut by the Chiefs in 2018 and has only played in three games since 2016 due to injuries and a bout with cancer. The former first-round pick in 2010 has 14 career interceptions and five touchdowns and could provide a team with a veteran presence in the secondary in 2020. However, it remains to be seen if any team will take a chance on the veteran moving forward. Berry is unlikely to be an asset in IDP leagues if he gets picked up by a team.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Jan 26 12:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will become a free agent in March, said he is still waiting to decide if he will play a 20th season in the NFL. "Then, I'll kind of lay low for a little bit, get away and then assess. I kind of have a process in mind. And I'll give it a month or so," Brees said. If the 41-year-old does decide to return, it'll be for the Saints. General manager Mickey Loomis also said that the team would welcome him back if he decides to keep playing. Brees' arm strength is starting to deteriorate, but he still put up great numbers when he came back from a fractured thumb last season, and he should remain in play as a QB1 if he returns for the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller

Will Fuller Jan 26 12:50pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hernia) underwent sports hernia surgery recently to fix a lingering groin injury that he suffered during the season, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. The 25-year-old aggravated the injury in the Divisional loss to the Chiefs. Fuller missed five games with a chronic hamstring injury in 2019, and the Texans were 8-3 with him and 2-3 without him. He has 94 catches for 1,452 yards and 14 touchdowns in just 22 regular season games with quarterback Deshaun Watson, yet Fuller continues to struggle to stay on the field with regularity. Fuller is an excellent deep threat but is a frustrating player to own as a boom-or-bust WR3. He should be fully recovered in time for training camp this summer.

From RotoBaller

Reshad Jones Jan 26 9:33am ET

Miami Dolphins SS Reshad Jones is unlikely to return to the team for the 2020 season under his current contract but a restructured deal isn't out of the question, according to The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. If Jones does not come back, the team is expected to use DBs Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe at safety.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Jan 25 4:43pm ET

Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (groin) underwent sports hernia surgery, according to sources Saturday, Jan. 25. He's expected to make a full recovery.

Fantasy Spin: Fuller was limited to 11 games in 2019. He managed to catch 49 of 71 targets for 670 yards and three touchdowns, but he's now four years into his career and has yet to play more than 14 games. He'll again be a risky but high-upside WR3 in 2020 drafts.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Jan 25 2:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle in 2019 received the highest-ever full-season grade given to a tight end by Pro Football Focus, and has been named the site's 2019 Dwight Stephenson Award winner as the best player regardless of position.

Fantasy Spin: In catching 85 of 107 targets for 1,053 yards and five TDs, Kittle finished as fantasy's No. 3 tight end in both standard and PPR leagues. He's made more of an impact with his run blocking so far this postseason, but he'll be near the top of fantasy TE wish lists this summer once again.

From TheHuddle

Eric Berry Jan 25 2:13pm ET

Free-agent S Eric Berry (Chiefs) sat out the 2019 season but plans to play in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Jameis Winston Jan 25 1:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston is coming off an up-and-down season in which he hit career highs in yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) but also interceptions (30), including seven pick-sixes, and former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said it's time the Bucs and Winston part ways. 'I would be surprised if they pay him,' Dominik told PewterReport.com. 'Maybe they will. It's their decision, but I would be shocked if the Bucs franchised Winston -- or transitioned him. I think the decision they have is certainly difficult because there has been some production there, but I don't know how you could justify paying Jameis Winston more money this year than he made last year.'

Fantasy Spin: Unless your league deducts heavy penalties for turnovers, Winston was fantasy gold last season, finishing only behind Lamar Jackson in total fantasy points. The interceptions and miscues, though, are a little more unforgivable in real football, and whether or not Winston is retained by the Bucs promises to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the offseason.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Chark Jan 25 12:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark doesn't expect his role to change going into next season under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Chark became the team's No. 1 receiver under John DeFilippo in 2019, and he expects Gruden to do the same to utilize his playmaking abilities. The second-round pick of 2018 had a breakout year in 2019 and thinks Gruden's West Coast offense is a good fit for him. Chark is in his first Pro Bowl after catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 14 catches for 174 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie. He'll have WR2 upside going into 2020, but the uncertainty at quarterback will make him a bit volatile in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Albert Wilson Jan 25 12:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson won't have any of his $9.5 million salary guaranteed for the 2020 season unless he's on the roster for Week 1 of the regular season. The Dolphins are likely to discuss a restructuring of his contract in the weeks ahead. There will be $1.3 million in dead money but $9.5 million in salary cap savings if the Dolphins cut him. The 27-year-old slot receiver missed three games due to injury last season and caught 43 passes for 351 yards and just one touchdown in his second year in Miami. He could never really get on track after his slow start because of injury, and Wilson will be an afterthought in redraft leagues going into the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jan 25 12:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes reminds retired QB Brett Favre of himself with some of the traits he has displayed on the field. 'I see the comparison,? Favre said. 'He may not admit this but he probably feels there is no throw he can't make or no angle he can't make it from. Whether he's flushed left or to the right, his vision always is down the field. I was always looking for the big play first and knew I could always react underneath if I needed, too. You have to have a certain confidence or air about you that you can make any throw, and it has been proven he can make any throw.'

Fantasy Spin: Mahomes is off to a particularly impressive start in the postseason with 13 total touchdowns (including two rushing), 1,313 total yards (125 rushing) and no interceptions in four playoff contests over two seasons. He'll challenge Lamar Jackson for first-QB-off the-board fantasy honors this summer.

From TheHuddle

Tom Brady Jan 25 6:43am ET

The New England Patriots want to know if impending free-agent QB Tom Brady will return to the team for the 2020 season before the legal tampering period for free agency begins March 16, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Fantasy Spin: Schefter reasoned that the Patriots want a quick decision so they can pursue other quarterbacks in free agency in case Brady chooses to leave the only organization he has ever played for. New England wants to avoid a situation similar to last season when Rob Gronkowski waited until late-March to announce his retirement, meaning that the best free-agent tight ends had already been signed by other clubs. From a fantasy standpoint, Brady should be viewed as a QB2 in most formats at this stage of his career but he could merit consideration as a low-end QB1 if he has plenty of offensive weapons surrounding him.

From TheHuddle

Dee Ford Jan 24 6:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral) and DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) were limited during practice Friday, Jan. 24, but are not listed on the injury report for Super Bowl LIV. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle), S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) and WR Dante Pettis (illness) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Chark Jan 24 6:13pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. said he expects to have a similar role in the offense next season under offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Fantasy Spin: Chark was one of the breakout players this season and finished with 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He likely will be the main target in the passing game again next season and could be at least a No. 3 fantasy receiver.

From TheHuddle

Tevin Coleman Jan 24 6:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) did not participate in practice Friday, Jan. 24, and is considered questionable for Super Bowl LIV.

Fantasy Spin: Coleman probably will need to practice at some point next week if he wants to play in the Super Bowl. He will share playing time with Raheem Mostert and Maatt Breida if he is active and could be a flex option.

From TheHuddle

Tevin Coleman Jan 24 5:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman's (shoulder) MRI results were positive, but Coleman did not participate in any practices this week, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on Coleman's practice participate next week to see if he has a chance to play in Super Bowl LIV. Coleman will be part of a committee if he is active and should see some touches during the game. He can be considered a flex option.

From TheHuddle

Albert Wilson Jan 24 5:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson likely will be asked to restructure his contract this offseason if he wants to remain with the team. The Dolphins would save $9.5 million in salary cap space if they release Wilson.

Fantasy Spin: Wilson had a disappointing 2019 season with 351 yards and one touchdown. The Dolphins likely will look to upgrade at the position so Wilson probably would drop down the depth chart if he stays. He probably can be avoided in fantasy leagues next season.

From TheHuddle

Morris Claiborne Jan 24 4:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs S Jordan Lucas (illness) did not participate in practice Friday, Jan. 24, and is considered questionable for Super Bowl LIV. DT Chris D. Jones (calf) was limited during practice and is considered questionable. WR Demarcus Robinson (illness), WR Mecole Hardman (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Jan 24 4:13pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 24, and is not on the injury report for Super Bowl LIV.

Fantasy Spin: Kelce appears to be on track to play and probably will see more practice time next week. He is a must-start option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle