Kickoff: Monday, November 20th, 3:05 PM CDT
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
Betting Odds: KC -2.5, 45.5 total via Odds Shark
Writer: Adam Sloate (@MrAdster99)
Jalen Hurts (Start, QB1)
Jalen Hurts went into the bye with a banged-up knee, which hampered his speed and the Eagles’ play-calling in several ways: they couldn’t move the ball nearly as well as in Weeks 1-3 with D’Andre Swift and Kenneth Gainwell, Hurts was getting chased down by defensive linemen on scrambles, and Philadelphia abandoned the run (relative to their usual playcalling), which could have helped them ice the game against Dallas more easily. I expect that two long weeks without games should help Hurts get over some of that knee pain, and he should look more like his normal, mobile self in this matchup.
Even if he doesn’t look fully back to his rushing self, Hurts has shown tremendous growth as a passer, even when forced to dissect defenses from the pocket. His strength as essentially an exclusively pocket/passing QB (for fantasy purposes) is exemplified through the following:
- His total QBR over the last 4 weeks ranks second among all passers.
- Top 5 in PFF’s passing rating from Weeks 7-9.
- 5 straight Top 5 finishes in QB fantasy points.
Whether Hurts is strictly limited to passing or allowed to run, he will be a valuable fantasy asset and will likely turn in a high-end QB1 performance this week.
Note that Hurts has struggled with ball security lately; even though he’s cut down on interceptions (just 1 in his last 3 games), he’s still lost fumbles in 2 of his last 3 and nearly lost a fumble last week against the Cowboys. I’m not particularly concerned that this is a trend for Hurts since he lost only 2 fumbles all of last season and lost only 2 in 2021. He’s no Daniel Jones; ball security issues shouldn’t persist for much longer, if at all.
D’Andre Swift (Start, Flex/Fringe RB2), Kenneth Gainwell (Sit)
D’Andre Swift is a puzzler this week, since he’s really struggled over the past couple of weeks, but still has the lion’s share of opportunities between the 20-yard lines and the lion’s share of talent among Eagles RBs. His fantasy production lately has settled in the Flex range, but Hurts’ injury and corresponding lack of QB rushing threat have allowed opposing defenses to key in on and stop Swift on the ground. Accordingly, his yards per carry numbers have plummeted over the last 3 weeks, reaching rock bottom with an abysmal 2.4 yards per carry against Dallas. But even with Hurts confined to statue duty in the pocket, Swift’s receiving workload hasn’t really picked up, either. There is minimal difference between Swift’s receiving workload with a presumably healthy Hurts and the injured Hurts, so unfortunately, Swift’s production seems to hinge on whether Hurts is healthy enough to add another rushing dimension to the Eagles’ offense.
Now that we’ve gotten that grim assessment out of the way, I think Swift will be closer to RB2 production this week because of a favorable rushing matchup and improved health in the run game. Firstly, Kansas City is beatable via the run. They rank as one of the worst defenses in terms of ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate, are the 6th-most favorable defense in terms of yards allowed per rush attempt, and rank comfortably in the bottom half of PFF’s run defense rating. Swift (and maybe Kenneth Gainwell, who exists only to the delight of Nick Sirianni and to spite Swift’s fantasy investors) should have some newly-schemed looks that will allow him to take advantage of this below-average run defense.
I also mentioned improved health in the run game, and while that absolutely includes Hurts, it also includes OG Cam “The J is a G” Jurgens. In the past 4 games, with Jurgens on IR, Philadelphia was starting a combination of second-string guard Sua Opeta and third-string guard Tyler Steen. In case you’re not familiar with Tyler Steen’s exploits so far this season:
6. Tyler Steen v. Micah Parsons: pic.twitter.com/yGJ38QqdHO
— Nikhil (@NotTheNC) November 10, 2023
Moving from Opeta, who ranked as one of the worst offensive guards in run-blocking by PFF’s RBLK rating, back to Jurgens, who was ranked a respectable 25th among guards in the same stat, should provide both cohesion in the offensive line and additional strength in run blocking for Swift.
Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia’s leader in xDAWG and Vulturing Per 60 Mins., will continue to siphon off goal-line and short-yardage carries from Swift, as he did against the Dolphins in Week 7 and the Cowboys in Week 9. These touchdowns have pushed him into Flex production recently. However, the lack of legitimate rushing or receiving work (8, 2, and 3 carries, respectively, in his last three games) makes Gainwell, at best, a risky dart throw. You’ll need him to get into the end zone and see a target or two to make it worth your while.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), DeVonta Smith (Start, WR2), Albert Okwuegbunam/Jack Stoll/Grant Calcaterra (Sit)
WR1 AJB is about as easy a start decision as you can get.
Gauging DeVonta Smith’s production has been a particularly tough challenge this season, as he’s faded behind Brown and even Dallas Goedert at times, though not for lack of talent. There are simply so many talented mouths to feed in this offense, between Swift, Brown, Goedert, and Smith.
Smith has finally gotten back into good fantasy graces the last few weeks, and that should continue this week because of a favorable game script and less competition for targets. This week is projected as one of the highest-scoring games of the week — and a close one at that — I expect Philadelphia to be passing the ball often to keep up with Kansas City, which means more targets in the passing game.
In games past, that hasn’t necessarily meant more production out of Smith, but with Goedert likely out for at least this week, Smith should be more heavily featured in the passing game. One thing to note is that Goedert and Smith see different types of targets; Goedert saw a lot of short and intermediate targets (his aDOT is a full 7 points lower than Smith’s), while Smith sees a heavier dose of downfield targets, so don’t expect Smith to vacuum all of Goedert’s targets. But the Eagles’ offense will have to be a little bit different this week, and it should feature — if Hurts is comfortable — a little more downfield passing attack, which benefits Smith.
I would pass on starting any of the TEs expected to see more action while Goedert is out until we see what the passing game looks like without him. Grant Calcaterra and Albert Okwuegbunam are pass-catchers first and blockers second, while Jack Stoll is the opposite, so Philadelphia will probably roll with a combination of all three.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
The short answer here is that you’re not going to sit Patrick Mahomes. But if you want another reason to get excited about starting the league’s best quarterback, look no further:
Mahomes and KC haven’t reached the heights of last year’s hyper-efficient offense, which has hurt his fantasy output, but he gets a nice opportunity this week against a beatable Eagles pass defense. Philadelphia could not stop Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb whatsoever in Week 9, nor could they counteract Sam Howell’s quick passing game in Week 8. They looked outright dysfunctional for stretches at a time against Washington, and the repeated victimization of the poor souls forced to guard CeeDee Lamb in the slot (Rookies Eli Ricks and Sydney Brown, and a sprinkle of Kevin Byard) should inspire confidence in fantasy managers.
Philadelphia’s ugly pass coverage is borne out in their fantasy points allowed to opposing WRs (most favorable of any NFL team against wideouts), though their defensive pass EPA is towards the middle of the pack thanks to a ferocious and talented defensive line. It’s unclear to whom Mahomes will throw the ball since most KC wideouts have been doing a really good Jose Canseco impression lately, but rest assured, he will have plenty of opportunities to tear this secondary apart.
Fun facts: Andy Reid is 21-3 as a coach following a bye week. Nick Sirianni is 2-0 after regular season byes. Unstoppable force, immovable object.
Isaiah Pacheco (Start, Flex), Jerick McKinnon (Sit)
Isaiah Pacheco completely disappeared last week against the Dolphins, producing a meager 6.6 fantasy points, thanks to just one target and a forgettable 66 yards on 16 carries. He should be better this week, as the target numbers were puzzlingly low relative to recent weeks (averaging over four targets per game in his previous three games), and he maintained a regular workload on the ground in Frankfurt, comfortably leading all Kansas City RBs in carries.
However, Pacheco’s matchup isn’t particularly favorable this week, which is why he sits in Flex territory for this one. Philadelphia is 4th in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate, has an above-average EPA against the run, and ranks first (least favorable) in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. Pacheco presents a classic case of trusting volume over matchup this week, and I would start him, hold my nose a bit, and hope he gets those receiving targets back.
Jerrick McKinnon got into the end zone last week through the air, ending a 5-week scoring drought. However, his receiving workload is too tenuous to trust in all but the deepest of leagues. Like with Gainwell, you’re hoping for an appearance in the end zone to hit Flex value.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Travis Kelce (Start, TE1), Rashee Rice (Start, WR3), Everyone Else (Sit)
Travis Kelce will almost certainly be the first and last topic of conversation for the MNF crew this week, thanks to some recent comments made by an unnamed pop singer in Buenos Aires. Fortunately for fantasy investors, he should also feast on Philadelphia’s weak interior secondary. If we go all the way to February 2023, we can see that Kelce had a terrific game against a largely similar Eagles secondary, but the Eagles are now missing slot corner Avonte Maddox. Philadelphia has turned to — and been burned by — inferior options in Kevin Byard (who gets a pass for slotting in and playing two full games immediately after being traded) and Sydney Brown in recent weeks, and they have been obliterated by elite TEs like Logan Thomas (6 receptions, 44 yards, 1 TD) and Jake Ferguson (7 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD) as a result. Philadelphia will now roll with a not-quite-as-good-as-you-remember Bradley Roby in the slot, and they should have ironed out some of the kinks in the secondary with the bye week, but this is still as good a smash spot as any for Kelce.
Rashee Rice seemed to be separating himself from the pack of other questionable KC wide receivers in recent weeks, as he has now reached Flex value in 7 straight weeks, although he was fairly lackluster in Frankfurt last week; his two-catch, 17-yard day was salvaged by a TD to push him back up to Flex status. He’s up to WR3 status this week, thanks to a lackluster Philadelphia secondary that should struggle to defend Rice’s terrific speed. CB1 Darius Slay and CB2 James Bradberry are excellent defenders overall, but they’re a little long in the tooth — thus, slow — and have struggled recently with some of the speedier receivers in the sport, like Tyreek Hill. I would expect some of those struggles to continue against Rice.
Everyone else in this passing offense is too inconsistent to trust. Mahomes did a nice job of truly spreading the workload around against Miami in Frankfurt, as no receiver, Kelce included, had more than 3 catches (or more than 5 targets). While the passing game should open up a bit against a weaker passing defense, where Mahomes will look to beat this defense is beyond my understanding.