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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Broncos-Chiefs Preview

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Players: Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, LeSean McCoy, Spencer Ware, Brandon Allen, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Courtland Sutton, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Lock

In this Dec. 8, 2019 file photo Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston. After each of his three touchdown throws in Denver's 38-24 win at Houston, Lock impersonated Buzz Lightyear firing his laser beam. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller, left, breaks up a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes grabs the face mask of New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, right, as he rolls out to pass in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. Mahomes was penalized on the play. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Drew Lock grew up about 15 miles from Arrowhead Stadium in suburban Kansas City, and his family has bled the red and gold of the Kansas City Chiefs for just about as long as the young quarterback can remember.

They'll be trading in their usual colors for orange and blue on Sunday.

Lock will attempt to continue his dazzling rookie run when he leads the suddenly hot Denver Broncos into the stadium where he once dreamed of playing. His task? Take down the Chiefs, who are coming off a victory in New England that sealed their fourth consecutive AFC West title.

''You think about it,'' Lock said, ''that's my home. I've been there a thousand times. Nothing new about it.''

Except that he'll be the visitor in one of the NFL's hostile environments.

Making it an even more intriguing homecoming, Lock's father Andy played for Chiefs coach Andy Reid when they were both at the University of Missouri. Andy Lock was good enough to warrant some NFL attention before a leg injury near the end of his senior season caused the offensive lineman to go undrafted. He wound up signing with the New York Giants as a free agent, but he never made his mark in the NFL - he wound up becoming a successful restaurateur.

''In his heart he was really a quarterback. I used to joke with him about that,'' Reid said with a grin.

Well, his kid has turned into a heck of a quarterback.

Drew Lock became the first NFL rookie to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start when he led the Broncos (5-8) to a surprising win over the Texans last weekend. His total of 309 yards was third-best by a rookie in franchise history, giving Denver fans some hope that the organization has at long last found a franchise quarterback.

He's the seventh quarterback to start a game for the Broncos since midway through the 2017 season.

''I don't put ceilings or floors on guys. They can go as high as they want, hopefully not too low,'' Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. ''I think overall he's had a good two-week start to his career.''

The trick now is to carry it into their game against the Chiefs (9-4), who have their own superstar quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and a rapidly improving defense that caused Tom Brady and the Patriots all kinds of trouble.

The task facing Lock is daunting: The Broncos have won just three of the 17 games they have played at Arrowhead Stadium in December. John Elway won one of those games in seven tries, and a long list of other quarterbacks have struggled with the raucous crowd and often-ugly weather - snow showers are in the forecast for Sunday with temps in the 20s.

''I think it was good that we got (Lock) his first start at home so when he got his first start on the road it wasn't his overall first start,'' Fangio said. ''We have to go play another really good team this week. He's going to have to deal with the hometown stuff that you guys and they will want to write about. I feel good where he's at.''

As the Broncos visit the Chiefs, here are the things to know:

FRANK'S MISFORTUNE

Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark has been dealing with a stomach situation the last couple of weeks that the team thought at first was just a virus. He was well enough to play against the Patriots but it flared up again, so the team sought an expert to figure out what is going on. If he's sidelined down the stretch, it would mean the Chiefs lose their best chance of consistent quarterback pressure at a crucial juncture of the season.

SPEAKING OF THE PASS RUSH

The Chiefs finally showed progress under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo during a 30-6 rout of Denver in Week 7, when their defense had nine sacks and held the Broncos to just 71 yards rushing. The Broncos need to give Lock more time than they afforded Joe Flacco if they have any hope of moving the ball against Kansas City.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF RUSH

The Chiefs hope to have Damien Williams back from a rib injury this week. He will join a running back corps that has been leaning on veteran LeSean McCoy, rookie Darwin Thompson and journeyman Spencer Ware since losing Darrel Williams to a season-ending injury. None of them have been particularly effective on the ground.

AIRING IT OUT

The biggest bright spot for the Broncos - other than Lock's emergence - has been the play of wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who is 10th in the NFL in yards-per-catch and is closing on 1,000 yards. Sutton has put up those numbers while catching passes from Lock, Flacco and Brandon Allen - not exactly the elite of the elite.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

The Broncos are mathematically still alive in the playoff chase, though realistically they are trying to build some momentum for next season. And while the Chiefs have wrapped up their playoffs spot with a division title, they still harbor hopes of climbing past the Patriots to secure a first-round postseason bye.

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Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Football Season!

Player Notes
Josh Reynolds Mar 8 5:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams impending free-agent WR Josh Reynolds is not expected to re-sign with the Rams this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Reynolds posted a career-high 618 yards this past season and should receive interest from multiple teams. He could be a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy receiver next season depending on his situation.

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Cody Core Mar 8 4:53pm ET

Free-agent WR Cody Core (Giants) could re-sign with the New York Giants later in the offseason, according to a source.

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Carlos Dunlap Mar 8 4:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap was officially released Monday, March 8.

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Gerald McCoy Mar 8 4:23pm ET

Free-agent DT Gerald McCoy (Cowboys) said he would be interested in signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.

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Cody Core Mar 8 4:13pm ET

New York Giants WR Cody Core was released Monday, March 8.

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Pat O'Connor Mar 8 3:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers exclusive rights free-agent DE Patrick O'Connor agreed to terms on a new one-year contract with the Buccaneers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Terrance Mitchell Mar 8 3:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns impending free-agent CB Terrance Mitchell and CB Kevin Johnson are players the Browns likely will try to re-sign this offseason.

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Montravius Adams Mar 8 3:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers impending free-agent DE Montravius Adams is not expected to re-sign with the Packers this offseason.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick Mar 8 3:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins impending free-agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick plans to play next season.

Fantasy Spin: Several teams will be looking for a starting quarterback this offseason, and Fitzpatrick could find a job as a bridge quarterback. He can be considered a No. 2 quarterback in deeper fantasy leagues if he is a starter in 2021.

From TheHuddle

Christian Jones Mar 8 2:43pm ET

Detroit Lions C Russell Bodine and LB Christian Jones were released Monday, March 8.

From TheHuddle

Zach Ertz Mar 8 1:23pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz (ankle) underwent ankle surgery after the season.

Fantasy Spin: Ertz is expected to be traded or released this offseason, so he will have to learn a new offense this season. He has struggled over the last few seasons but was one of the top tight ends a few years ago. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some fantasy leagues depending on his situation.

From TheHuddle

A.J. Bouye Mar 8 1:23pm ET

Free-agent CB A.J. Bouye (Broncos) is scheduled to meet with the Las Vegas Raiders Monday, March 8, according to a source.

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Geno Atkins Mar 8 12:23pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins' (shoulder) future is up in the air after having surgery on a torn rotator cuff in January that director of player personnel Duke Tobin said greatly hampered Atkins. Atkins is expected to be cleared in time for the season if he continues playing.

From TheHuddle

Zach Ertz Mar 7 11:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz could be on the move in the coming days, and NFL Network's Michael Silver reports 'multiple teams' have called about trading for him.

Fantasy Spin: Ertz never appeared to be quite right in 2020 even before suffering an ankle injury in mid-October that cost him five games. There was some thought that he was pouting over the Eagles' refusal to extend his contract, while others are concerned the 30-year-old had lost a step. With Dallas Goedert ready to take over as the top tight end, Philly has the luxury of moving on from Ertz as it attempts to get under the salary cap. While it would be far from surprising if Ertz bounced back in 2021, fantasy owners should probably view him as a high-end TE2 in drafts.

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Chase Daniel Mar 7 11:33pm ET

Detroit Lions QB Chase Daniel has been the focus of trade discussions with some teams in recent days in part because he is considered an ideal mentor for young quarterbacks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

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Will Fuller Mar 7 8:23pm ET

Houston Texans impending free-agent WR Will Fuller's 'downfield speed' could make him an appealing target for a Cincinnati Bengals offense that ranked 31st in the NFL with 470 deep passing yards in 2020, according to Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus.

Fantasy Spin: Health has been a constant issue, but Fuller his been a big-play weapon and a touchdown machine when on the field. Fuller would add another dimension to the Cincinnati passing attack, but with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins already in the mix, Fuller would probably be more a high-upside WR3 than a high-volume, go-to option.

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Anthony Harris Mar 7 8:23pm ET

Minnesota Vikings impending free-agent S Anthony Harris has forced an incompletion on 25.9 percent of his targets since 2018, the best rate among safeties in that span, according to Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Hunter Henry Mar 7 8:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent TE Hunter Henry could be pursued by the Carolina Panthers to upgrade a passing attack that generated a total of 204 receiving yards from the tight end position in 2020, according to Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus.

Fantasy Spin: Henry has battled injuries throughout his career, but he has delivered TE1 production when he has been on the field. Any team that signs him would presumably use him in a featured role, but landing with a team like Carolina that offers zero competition at the tight end position would raise his floor.

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Melvin Ingram Mar 7 5:53pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent DE Melvin Ingram is not expected to re-sign with the Chargers this offseason.

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Jurrell Casey Mar 7 5:33pm ET

Free-agent DT Jurrell Casey (Broncos) could receive interest from the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason if the team does not re-sign DT Johnathan Hankins, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez.

From TheHuddle