Stacks of the Week
Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Clyde Edwards-Helaire)
Kansas City travels to Los Angeles this Sunday, taking on the Chargers in their brand-new stadium. Los Angeles will have its work cut out for them trying to stop Kansas City’s deadly passing attack, especially without star safety Derwin James. Last weekend, the Chargers suffered another devastating loss due to injury. This time it was to their linebacking corps, as rising star Drue Tranquill was carted off the field with a broken ankle. Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be the prime benefactor of this, and in a big way. The Chargers defense already is predicated on stopping their opponents passing offense first and running game second. Being down their best linebacker is not good news, especially with rookie sensation Clyde Edwards-Helaire coming to town.
Edwards-Helaire was electrifying in his NFL debut last Thursday and received almost all of the rushing work for his team. He was nimble behind his offensive line, showed good vision and was explosive out of his cuts. The one area he disappointed in was his lack of production in the passing game. Only two targets went his way, though that can be attributed more to game script than his talent or ability. Stacking a running back with a quarterback is unconventional, but is more than viable in this situation. More than likely, Kansas City will be leading for large portions of this game. With a plus matchup and favorable game script, Edwards-Helaire should see a similar workload as last week.
How Kansas City obtains that lead will undoubtedly come from the arm of Patrick Mahomes. The absence of Derwin James cannot be overstated, as he is the glue that holds the Chargers secondary together. Forgotten in Joe Burrow’s late game heroics against Los Angeles last week will be the points that were left on the board. On multiple occasions, Burrow missed some open receivers for touchdowns. Mahomes will not make the same mistakes as the young rookie, and Tyreek Hill is much better than any Cincinnati receiver. Hill had a quiet game last Thursday, but bailed himself out with a late touchdown. He should be targeted heavily in this contest, as there should be no issues for him getting behind this ailing defense. Hitting a ceiling game of 30 points is within the realm of possibility, especially with Mahomes set to have a monster day.
Andy Reid is well established as one of the best coaches when given extra time to prepare. He will have had 10 days to get his offense ready come this weekend, and Patrick Mahomes will be the beneficiary of that. At this point, everyone who watches football knows what a Mahomes ceiling game looks like. With the added time to get ready for a familiar opponent, that type of performance is certainly on the table. Adding to his chances are reports from the Chargers about Joey Bosa. The stud pass rusher has missed two practices this week with some kind of triceps injury. Even if he does play Sunday, he certainly won’t be at 100 percent strength. Without him, Los Angeles will stand almost no chance of disrupting Mahomes.
The planets are beginning to align for a spectacular offensive outing by Kansas City this Sunday afternoon.
Indianapolis Colts (Phillip Rivers, Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton)
Indianapolis suffered the most embarrassing loss of Week 1 by falling to lowly Jacksonville. Many people were eliminated from survivor pools and had to toss out losing tickets. For this reason, expect the Indianapolis players to have deflated ownership. Of course, rookie running back Jonathan Taylor will be the exception. Starting running back Marlon Mack went down with a season ending Achilles injury against Jacksonville, giving Taylor a chance to prove his worth. Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich implemented a strange game plan, opting to only run the ball 22 times in a close game. As a result, Taylor only got nine carries in the contest. However, he was very impressive in the receiving game. He caught all six of his targets for 62 yards, looking very explosive and powerful in open space. Expect Reich to rectify his game plan this Sunday at home against Minnesota. Taylor should be the primary ball carrier, and will see plenty of check-down targets from Rivers.
Speaking of Phillip Rivers, he is in a nice spot to bounce back against Minnesota. Simply put, this Minnesota defense is not even close to what it’s been in years past. Red flags of this secondary’s decline flashed last season, and Aaron Rodgers happily exposed all of its faults in Week 1. Minnesota does have a good pass rush, but Indianapolis should neutralize that with its excellent offensive line. This will allow Rivers time to settle in the pocket and comfortably find his receivers downfield. In the event he is pressured, the option of dumping the ball to Taylor or Nyheim Hines will pad his passing yardage. Last week, Rivers surpassed 350 yards but it took him a sickening 46 attempts to do so. Even more disappointing was that this incredulously high number resulted in only one touchdown. This should improve, given Minnesota’s lack of talent at the cornerback position.
With this crucial weakness in Minnesota’s defense, there is no excuse for T.Y. Hilton not to have a good game. Hilton looked rusty and frustrated this past Sunday. Rookie cornerback CJ Henderson gave him problems all day long, and Hilton struggled to get separation. He also had some uncharacteristic drops, most notably in the fourth quarter. This can be attributed to it being the first game of the season with a new quarterback , at least for now. Hilton should rebound nicely and will make up for those dropped passes. Minnesota couldn’t cover Green Bay’s secondary receiving options last week, so it’s tough to see how it would fare better against Hilton. One hundred plus receiving yards and at least one score is well within his possible outcomes.
As mentioned before, the primary reason for using this stack would be ownership. Jonathan Taylor will be one of, if not the most, popular players on the main slate. This should bring down the ownership of Rivers and Hilton even though they have plus matchups. Combining them all into the same lineup gives you a nice combination of good chalk and natural pivot plays.