Thu Nov 14 6:49pm ET
By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers waits to take part in a drill during an NFL football practice Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The Chargers are training at Air Force, which is at an elevation of 7,200 feet, to prepare for Monday night's game against Kansas City in Mexico City. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Everyone hopes the playing surface at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca will not be the main story of Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Both coaches said they have received favorable updates about the turf going into the game. Last year’s game between the Chiefs and Rams was moved back to Los Angeles less than a week before the game when the field was deemed unplayable because of rain and the stadium hosting concerts less than a month before the game.
"Everything that I've been told has been positive," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
The teams have taken different approaches to preparing. The Chargers have spent the week at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to get acclimated to the altitude. The Chiefs have kept their same routine with the only adjustment being to hydrate more according to quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
It is an important AFC West matchup for both teams. Kansas City (6-4) won its first four games but has dropped four of its past six, allowing Oakland to get within a half-game of the division lead. Los Angeles (4-6) has struggled for most of the season but remains only two games out.
This is the first of two straight crucial division games for the Chiefs. After their bye week they will host the Raiders on Dec. 1.
“To say you are in control of your own destiny at 4-6 is pretty rare,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.
Here are other things to watch as the Chargers play an international home game for the second straight season:
Rivers leads the league in passing yards (2,816) but is also third in interceptions (10). He had three last week against Oakland, including a pick-6 that loomed large in what turned out to be a 26-24 loss to the Raiders.
The Chargers were among the league’s better teams in not committing turnovers the past two seasons, but their 16 giveaways this season are tied for seventh in the league. Five have occurred in goal-to-go situations.
“We’ve made some critical mistakes and not being able to overcome them,” Rivers said.
Mahomes returned to the lineup last week after missing two games because of a knee injury. He threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s loss to Tennessee but said on Thursday that this is the best he has felt since early September.
“I would say going into the Jacksonville game,” he said. “Just not having to worry about the ankle or not have to worry about the knee and just being able to go out there and play football the way that I have been able to play it my whole career so far.”
Los Angeles defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have been a handful for opposing offensive lines lately. They have combined for nine sacks over the past four games.
Bosa is third in the AFC with 8½ sacks on the season while Ingram has added 4½. Ingram had 1½ sacks against Mahomes in Week 15 last season.
ON THE MEND
Kansas City is beginning to get some of the pieces back on its offensive and defensive lines. Offensive tackles Eric Fisher (groin), Cam Erving (ankle) and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) have been full participants this week while Mitchell Schartz (knee) is limited. Defensive end Frank Clark (neck) has also been a full participant.
The Chiefs though are likely to be without defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah (pectoral) and Alex Okafor (ankle).
KEEP AN EYE ON
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. He rushed for a season-high 108 yards last week and seems to be regaining his stride after missing the first four games because of a contract dispute. He had 166 scrimmage yards (102 receiving, 64 rushing) the previous time he faced Chiefs, who are ranked 31st in the league in run defense.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison had 14 carries for 46 yards in Week 14, adding two receptions for 18 yards in the win. The 16 touches were a new career-high for the rookie as he got a lot of late-game run with the Vikings holding a sizeable lead. Mattison likely won't offer standalone value in the fantasy playoffs, but he remains valuable as a priority handcuff to starter Dalvin Cook.
The Washington Redskins Defense played well enough to hold the Packers to 20 points on Sunday, but the bigger story is that they straight-up could not stop Aaron Jones on the ground. Jones rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and added six receptions for 58 yards. Jones' big day on the ground offset the fact that this Washington defense was largely able to hold Aaron Rodgers in check, as they sacked the Packers quarterback four times, held him to 195 yards and one touchdown through the air, and forced him to lose a fumble. The Redskins remain a risky option for any fantasy owner contending for a league championship, but they're not without upside.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara carried the ball 13 times for 25 yards and caught four of six targets for 18 yards in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It's fair to wonder if something is wrong health-wise with Kamara, who's been a bust in fantasy this year. It could also be a play-calling issue, as he was seemingly stopped dead in his tracks every time he touched the ball. Whatever it is, he's now gone without a touchdown in eight straight games- an inexplicable streak for someone with his talent. Kamara will look to rebound from this in Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts, who possess a strong run defense.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson caught his only target for a nine-yard score in the first quarter of Week 14's win over the Detroit Lions. The touchdown was Johnson's third of the year in what has been a productive campaign for the seventh-round rookie out of Colorado State. Adam Thielen (hamstring) is expected to be back for Week 15's contest against the Los Angeles Chargers, which would result in Johnson's standalone value completely disappearing. He's off the redraft radar for the fantasy playoff home stretch as he simply doesn't receive enough volume.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught six of nine targets for 92 yards in a Week 14 win over the Detroit Lions. Diggs was able to burn Darius Slay for 44 yards on a great sideline grab to set up a Dalvin Cook touchdown before halftime. He did most of his damage in the first half as the Vikings went run-heavy with a big lead in the final two quarters. Diggs will have borderline WR1 appeal in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers, regardless of the status of Adam Thielen (hamstring).
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard totaled nine stops with a tackle for loss, two passes defensed and two interceptions, including one for an 80-yard touchdown, in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) left the Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Rams due to a left knee injury. He left for the locker room and will have X-rays, according to NBC Sports sideline reporter Michele Tafoya.
Fantasy Spin: With Penny sidelined, Chris Carson figures to see a majority of the workload with C.J. Prosise figuring in on passing downs and as a blocker.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed 33-of-45 passes for 456 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in the Week 14 game against the Indianapolis Colts. He also rushed for five yards and a score.
Fantasy Spin: It was a big game for Winston despite the interceptions, and the rushing score was a nice bonus. He faces another fantastic fantasy option against the leaky pass defense of the Detroit Lions in Week 15.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones rushed 11 times for 36 yards in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts and he had four grabs for 23 yards on five targets.
Fantasy Spin: Jones is more of a danger in the pass game than on the ground. He remains a decent low-end RB3 or flex fantasy play in PPR leagues heading into Week 15 in Detroit with lesser appeal in standard formats.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon couldn't get anything going in a road loss to the Packers on Sunday. After three straight games of emerging as a preferred option for Dwayne Haskins, Harmon caught just one of four targets at Lambeau. He took the lone reception for 30 yards, but this game has to be viewed as a step back for a young receiver who was starting to carve out a role for himself. There isn't enough time left in the season for Harmon to gain much PPR momentum, likely rendering him a deep-league dart throw at the very best for the final three weeks of 2019.
New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray rushed seven times for 69 yards vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8. He added two receptions for 25 yards on three looks.
Fantasy Spin: The Saints face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. A defined role, and the way Alvin Kamara has played in 2019, makes Murray a reasonable play for gamers seeking a touchdown opportunity. The disparity in efficiency is becoming too large to ignore, and Murray has worked his way into weekly flex territory.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle ended up with just two catches for 27 yards on six targets in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: Doyle had a giant performance last week, but he fell back to Earth in this one and was a bit of a fantasy disappointment. He can still be a low-end TE1 heading into New Orleans in Week 15 on MNF.
San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders caught seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown on nine targets at the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8. He also threw for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Fantasy Spin: Sanders has not missed a beat -- in fact has become more dangerous -- since joining the Niners, and he's a must-start option vs. the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15. Don't get to caught up in the idea of trick passes and possible rushing attempts, as Sanders' nine targets alone should be the draw.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin rejoined the ranks of the fantasy-relevant on Sunday, catching four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Packers. It's worth mentioning that the touchdown itself--a 13-yard catch with just over a minute to go in the game--salvaged what otherwise would've been a low-end fantasy day. But his investors will take it, and the fact that McLaurin continues to see a healthy share of opportunity (seven targets) in an admittedly low-octane offense keeps him on the flex bubble. Consider him a matchup-dependent option, but he can clearly still provide value in lineups.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hit all three field goals and both extra-point attempts in Sunday's 23-17 win over the Cardinals. The 28-year-old has missed just twice all season, and while he doesn't always boot 50-plus yard field goals, his consistency has made him a fantasy asset for leagues that use the position. In Week 15's home game against the Bills, Boswell should have much of the same opportunities, thus making him a start-able fantasy option.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams failed to do much on his four targets as the Titans rolled to a 42-21 Week 14 victory on Sunday. He hauled in three catches for 35 yards as he's now been held to under 50 yards in five of his last six contests. With Derek Carr failing to utilize Williams' deep threat ability, he's been a fantasy non-factor over the past month and a half. Owners can afford to cut bait on the veteran, if they haven't already, as the passing offense just doesn't have enough volume to keep him afloat. Williams will be a TD-dependant WR4 next week when the Jaguars come to town for the final home game ever played in Oakland.
San Francisco 49ers FS Jimmie Ward posted six solo tackles and two assists at the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees completed 29-for-40 passing for 349 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: The Indianapolis Colts are ahead, and while they have played pretty well vs. quarterbacks of late, Brees is capable of decimating the best of 'em. He remains a strong fantasy option in all settings.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson hauled in seven of a team-high eight targets on Sunday against the Packers. He only produced 43 yards, but the sudden uptick in opportunity is a welcome change of pace for the pass-catching back. It's worth noting that Thompson's increased role coincides with an injury that knocked Derrius Guice out of this game, so if the latter is unable to go in Week 15, Thompson may emerge as a fringe flex play in PPR leagues. It may be worth grabbing him off the waiver wire if Guice's outlook for Week 15 is grim, just in case this opportunity is set to continue in a matchup with the Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 24-of-30 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown in Week 14's win over the Detroit Lions. Cousins rebounded from a tough Week 13 by completing 80% of his passes and finding 11 different receivers in a very efficient outing. He found rookie wideout Olabisi Johnson in the first quarter for his lone touchdown. Fantasy owners were surely expecting a bit more scoring from Cousins in this one, but the Vikings got up early and were in complete control from the get-go. Start Cousins with confidence as a QB1 in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.