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FFL: Playoff Week 2 | NFL: Week 15

Chiefs' run defense making opposing backs look like stars

Mon Oct 14 3:02pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

Players: Travis Kelce, Carlos Hyde, Sammy Watkins, Phillip Lindsay, Tyreek Hill, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Byron Pringle, Josh Jacobs

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (21) hangs on to the jersey of Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Houston Texans won 31-24. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) ��� The past few weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs have made Carlos Hyde look like Earl Campbell, Marlon Mack resemble Eric Dickerson and Kerryon Johnson look a whole lot like Barry Sanders.

No wonder they've lost their last two games, both of them at Arrowhead Stadium.

Injuries have mounted on the Chiefs' defensive line, middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens also is hobbled and coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's switch from a 3-4 system to a 4-3 has failed to produce any noticeable improvement from a defense that has been lousy for most of Andy Reid's tenure.

When it comes to stopping the run, lousy is putting it mildly.

"After six weeks, we haven't been good at it," said defensive end Frank Clark, whom the Chiefs acquired in a trade and signed to a $105 million, five-year extension in part to help stop the run.

"Some running backs are more well-known than others," Clark said, "but we're just making every running back we play look awesome. We haven't really shut down an offense this year and that's something we got to do in order to win. We kept keep putting the pressure on our offense to do everything."

No matter how good that offense might be.

The Chiefs had the ball for a mere 5:25 in the second quarter of their 31-24 loss to Houston on Sunday. They had it for 4:29 in the third and 1:25 in the fourth, which means league MVP Patrick Mahomes was on the field for less than six minutes total in the second half.

A big reason for that is that Houston kept churning the ball on the ground, running for 192 yards to become the fifth straight team with 129 or more. Hyde finished with 116 yards and a touchdown against the team that traded him to Houston in the offseason, when it decided there was no place for him in its own backfield, and became the fourth running back in consecutive weeks to top 100 yards.

It would be 5 for 5 if the Raiders' Josh Jacobs managed just one more yard in Week 2.

"You've got to bow up. That's why we're here and that's why we're professionals," linebacker Darron Lee said. "You got to go out and make a stand, make the plays. Teams are going to try and come here and run so you got to get your mind right."

Along with Hitchens, the Chiefs' defensive front is missing tackles Xavier Williams and Chris Jones. But they struggled even before they went down with injuries, and their backups have been no better.

"We have to fix it. That's what has to take place," Reid said, "and I think there's a lot that goes into it. At times you can sit here and try too hard. It's not an effort thing, it's a maintaining-your-position thing, and we have to do a better job of that, getting ourselves working together, not overcompensating and giving up lanes, and communicating better."

As the Chiefs prepare to visit Denver on Thursday night, when Phillip Lindsay is relishing the chance to look like Terrell Davis, here is one last look at their loss to Houston:

WHAT'S WORKING

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a couple of touchdown catches in his first action since Week 1, when he hurt his collarbone against Jacksonville, and gave the offense an early boost.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Just about everything else. Along with poor rush defense, the pass defense allowed Deshaun Watson to throw for 280 yards on Sunday. On offense, the running game has produced 89 yards combined the past two weeks, and Mahomes has played below par - for him - while hobbled by a sore ankle.

STOCK UP

Wide receiver Byron Pringle has played well while getting more snaps with Sammy Watkins sidelined by yet another injury. Defensive back Morris Claiborne also flashed more in his second game back from a four-game suspension, and he could become more helpful at plugging holes the more he plays.

STOCK DOWN

The obvious answer is everyone on defense, but tight end Travis Kelce has had a couple of difficult weeks. He caught four passes for 58 yards against Houston, but he's also had a few drops in back-to-back losses, and the officials have nailed him for some costly penalties.

INJURED

One of the Chiefs' best cornerbacks, Kendall Fuller, needed X-rays on his hand after hurting it against the Texans. It's the same hand that Fuller hurt late last season, when he was forced to wear a cast during Kansas City's playoff run.

KEY NUMBER

Zero - That's the number of punts the Chiefs forced on Sunday. They did force a trio of turnovers, including a pair of interceptions in the end zone, but it didn't do.

NEXT STEPS

The Chiefs have a short turnaround before visiting the Broncos on Thursday night. They had a walk-through Monday and will practice Tuesday before heading to Denver.

Player Notes
Bo Scarbrough Dec 15 10:00am ET

Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs) is a game-time decision for Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 23-year-old is trending in the wrong direction, with two DNPs on Thursday and Friday after practicing in limited fashion on Wednesday. Even if healthy, Scarbrough is hard to trust against the Buccaneers' league-best run defense. Fellow backs J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson will shoulder the load if Scarborough is ultimately unable to suit up.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 15 9:50am ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) is optimistic about his chances of suiting up against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15. The 33-year-old didn't practice on Wednesday but has been trending in the right direction, with two limited sessions to close out the week. Edelman has seen at least 10 targets in eight straight games, making him a must-start if healthy. Fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is questionable for the contest.

From RotoBaller

Noah Fant Dec 15 9:40am ET

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (hip, foot) is good to go for Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Fant is coming off his second career 100-yard game and will take on a Chiefs secondary that ranks 12th in the NFL against the pass. It is a tough matchup, but the rookie could be a decent streaming option in a road game where Denver may be playing from behind against one of the league's better offenses.

From RotoBaller

Damien Williams Dec 15 9:30am ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (rib, illness) is expected to be inactive against the Denver Broncos in Week 15. Williams got in two limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday before downgrading to a DNP on Friday. His absence means the Chiefs will roll with a backfield of LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware. McCoy and Thompson are probably the best fantasy options, with Thompson getting a slight upgrade in PPR formats for his work in the passing game.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Dec 15 9:20am ET

Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) is good to go for Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacobs missed last week's game with his shoulder fracture but is returning at the perfect time with a good matchup on hand. Jacksonville's defense has allowed 141.1 yards per game on the ground, third-most in the league. Jacobs should be locked in lineups, despite the slight risk of re-injury. Backup Deandre Washington was a popular waiver wire pickup, though he won't see much run with Jacobs active.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Dec 15 6:20am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) is expected to play against Buffalo on Sunday night. Conner has been dealing with the injury for a while now, but his return is good news for a team that will be without JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Vance McDonald (concussion). With the 24-year-old back in the lineup, Jaylen Samuels should remain semi-relevant catching passes out of the backfield, while Benny Snell Jr. will likely be relegated to a few carries as the No. 2. All three backs are risky options, however, against a tough Bills Defense in Week 15 as the Steelers look to remain in the playoff picture.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Dec 15 6:10am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) will play on Sunday in a crucial matchup against the Texans. Henry has been dealing with the injury over the last several weeks but has been able to play, so his status for Week 15 isn't a huge surprise. The 25-year-old has been on a roll as of late, compiling nine touchdowns over the last five games, while also rushing for at least 149 yards in three of his previous four outings. Even with the lingering effects of the ailment, he is a must-start across the board in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Dec 15 5:40am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) won't play against the Bills on Sunday night. Schuster practiced in full on Wednesday, but after aggravating the injury on Thursday, he will now miss another one as the Steelers look to remain playoff relevant. In his absence, Diontae Johnson will likely get the most catches for those in PPR formats, with James Washingtonserving as the biggest threat on deep routes in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Taylor Gabriel Dec 15 5:30am ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) will be out again and will not play against the Packers in Week 15. Gabriel has already missed a few games, and after making not practicing during the week, it will be Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller serving as the primary receivers for Mitch Trubisky as the Bears look to remain in the playoff picture.

From RotoBaller

Adam Humphries Dec 15 5:20am ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries (ankle) will not play on Sunday in a critical matchup against the Texans. This will be Humphries second-straight absence, and while he does have the potential to have the occasional effective performance, this isn't a huge fantasy loss as he is likely listed as a free agent in most leagues anyway. Nonetheless, it should be business as usual for the Titans in Week 15, with Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis getting the bulk of the opportunities on the offensive side of the ball.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Dec 15 5:10am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) will not play against New England in Week 15. Green has yet to play this season after sustaining an ankle injury during training camp, and while the veteran hopes to suit up at some point over the final two games, it is also realistic to assume that he may not play at all in 2019. With Auden Tate (knee) recently landing on injured reserve, look for Tyler Boyd and John Ross to serve as the primary wideouts for Andy Dalton on Sunday against a tough Patriots Defense.

From RotoBaller

Greg Olsen Dec 15 5:00am ET

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (concussion) will not play against the Seahawks. Olsen did practice, albeit in a limited fashion, during the week, but is still not ready to make his return. With Carolina having already been eliminated from playoff contention, it is possible that the 36-year-old may not return this season, making Ian Thomas, who caught five of his 10 targets for 57 yards and a score against the Falcons in Week 14, a suitable streaming option on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Dec 15 4:50am ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) will not play against the Dolphins. Engram was able to practice in a limited capacity during the week, but with the team having virtually nothing to play for, it is realistic to assume that he may not return this year. With the team also down No. 2 Rhett Ellison (concussion), rookie Kaden Smith, who had two catches (five targets) for nine yards against the Eagles in Week 14, should draw the start. For fantasy managers in deeper formats, Smith does have streaming potential in Week 15, but only for those willing to take a chance.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Dec 15 4:30am ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle) will not play against Miami in Week 15. Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion during the week, but the team will take it slow as he works his way back from the high ankle sprain that he suffered during the matchup against the Packers a few weeks back. In his place, Eli Manning, who threw two touchdowns, while completing 50 percent of his passes during the overtime loss to the Eagles, will get the start against the Dolphins, with the potential for a solid outing against one of the worst defensive units in the league being a realistic possibility.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Dec 15 4:20am ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) will sit out once again and will not play on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Stafford is progressing, but still doesn't feel well enough to play, with the potential for a return this season unlikely, albeit still possible. Nonetheless, David Blough, who has thrown three touchdowns and three picks this season, will get another start against a weak Buccaneers Defense. For those in need of a quarterback in Week 15, the rookie does have upside, but also an equally low downside.

From RotoBaller

Jacob Hollister Dec 15 2:10am ET

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister has been a revelation this season, but he's come back to Earth recently. He'll be facing another uphill battle this weekend when Seattle visits Carolina, one of the stingiest defenses in the game versus opposing tight ends. Hollister has been held without a TD for three straight weeks, and he hasn't cracked 50 yards receiving during the stretch either. Meanwhile, the Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and they haven't allowed a tight end touchdown in nearly a month. Hollister is still a talented receiver, but other teams have caught on to some of his moves and he'll be in for another challenge in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Jason Myers Dec 15 2:10am ET

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has cranked it up recently, and he'll look to continue his stellar ways in the cool, crisp air of Charlotte on Sunday. Myers hasn't missed a field goal in over a month, he's been better on the road than in his wet and windy home stadium, and he'll be facing a Carolina team that does an excellent job of locking down opposing offenses only after they've gotten in field goal range. Carolina has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this year, and it should be a perfect day for booting the ball on Sunday. If there was ever a day to roll the dice on Myers, this is probably going to be the day.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Dec 15 2:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson is set to face a Carolina Panthers Defense that has been plagued by the run all year. Carolina is the most generous run defense in the game for opposing running backs, and Carson will now shoulder nearly the entire load since Rashaad Penny has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. With Seattle's defense being beat up and their wide receivers still recovering from a flu epidemic that spread through the locker room, it's a perfect situation for Carson. Owners should be confident starting him, and he could be looking at a huge week.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Dec 15 2:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf stepped into the primary role quite well while Tyler Lockett was banged up and ill, and he'll look to continue that growth this weekend as he faces a Carolina squad that has allowed the third-most yards to opposing wide receivers this year. The Panthers have proven quite adept at limiting touchdowns, but their bendy secondary has allowed some big weeks on the outside. Expect Metcalf to push the field and look for the home run ball, and his improved catching should keep him on the scoreboard even if he can't land the big one.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Dec 15 1:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a rough game last week against the improved Rams Defense as he was held to zero touchdown passes for the first time in a year. Now he'll face off against another strong defense in Carolina. Though Wilson has usually found a way to have success against the Panthers, they always present a solid defense and make the games close. Wilson has won three of their last four matchups, but the games have only been decided by more than four points once. Wilson will have his full complement of receivers, and hopefully Tyler Lockett will finally be fully healthy and ready to resume his role as Wilson's favorite target.

From RotoBaller