Kickoff: Sunday, November 27th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Betting Odds: KC -14.5, 44 total via Oddsshark
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (OUT?), John Wolford/Bryce Perkins (Sit)
For the second time in as many games, Matthew Stafford suffered a concussion in the loss to the Saints and early speculation is that Stafford will miss the Rams’ Week 12 game against the Chiefs. Who will start in his stead is unknown at this point as John Wolford is recovering from his own concussion. If Wolford is unable to go, the start would likely go to Stafford’s replacement last week, Bryce Perkins. Wolford struggled in his lone start in Week 10 as he completed 24 passes for 212 yards with one TD and one INT. Wolford also fumbled twice, losing one. Perkins saw 26 snaps last week after Stafford’s injury, but only attempted 10 passes. He completed five for 64 yards and contributed 26 yards on the ground. Perkins brings a bit more athletic ability to the position but Wolford has the experience edge. Regardless of who starts for the Rams, fantasy managers should stay far away from either this week.
Cam Akers (Sit), Darrell Henderson (Cut), Kyren Williams (Sit)
Trying to decipher how the Rams will use their trio of RBs seems to be an exercise in futility. Darrell Henderson is the “starter”, but that appears to be in name only as he played in a scant six snaps last week. Cam Akers was once thought to be on his way out of Los Angeles just before the trade deadline, but he’s still a member of the Rams and was the most productive of the three last week with 61 yards. Then we have rookie Kyren Williams who saw his first action in Week 10 and then promptly led the team in snaps at the position last week with 35 (55%). If I were forced to predict how these three perform this week, I’d say Akers is going to be the primary RB with Williams serving as the passing-down back and as an additional weapon in the passing game when Akers or Henderson is on the field with him. Henderson seems to be the odd man out here and only sees time when Akers needs a breather. All that being said, we simply can’t trust any of these guys until we have clarity on their roles. Keep all three on your bench in Week 12.
Update: Well, this didn’t age well. Since this was written Tuesday morning, the Rams surprisingly released Henderson, paving the way for Akers and Williams to handle all of the ball-carrying duties. Despite the perceived bump in production for the remaining Rams, I don’t think the absence of Henderson does enough to change my feeling on Akers or Williams. Perhaps one can become an RB2 or FLEX option once the split is determined, but it’s still best to take a wait-and-see approach to the backfield. That being said, both are decent bench options in case one sees more work than the other this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Van Jefferson (Sit, FLEX), Allen Robinson (Sit, low-end FLEX), Ben Skowronek (Sit), Tutu Atwell (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Start, TE1)
It’s going to be hard to recommend any of these guys under the assumption Stafford misses this game, but there is a chance for a couple of these WRs to find a spot in your starting lineup based on late-game volume given the double-digit spread. Both Van Jefferson and Allen Robinson have solid, defined roles in this offense as the two primary outside WRs. In Wolford’s start in Week 10, Robinson led the WRs with six targets and he converted four for 44 yards. Jefferson came away with Wolford’s only TD, however, as he caught all three of his targets for 27 yards. I think either could provide FLEX-level production in a pinch this week, but know that recommendation is based solely on volume and I’d look elsewhere for help as the fantasy playoffs loom.
One of the most added players heading into Week 11 was Ben Skowronek after Cooper Kupp suffered what is a season-ending injury. Skowronek was the “next man up” to replace some of the production Kupp provided, but if his involvement last week was any indication, it was a wasted transaction for many fantasy managers. Skowronek saw just four targets last week and he was able to convert just one for four yards. That production came with Stafford at QB and it’s folly to think Wolford or Perkins will elevate Skowronek to fantasy relevance. It’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for Skowronek, but I’m not convinced it will get much better. Pass on Skowronek this week.
A name some fantasy managers might be researching this week is Tutu Atwell after his electric 62-yard TD for Los Angeles’s first score last week. Said research would unearth that TD was Atwell’s lone target on the game and he saw just six more snaps for the duration. Atwell has speed, but he’s way too far down a depth chart with a backup QB to seriously consider as a fantasy asset this week. Much like the rest of the Rams, keep Atwell on your bench this week.
Hey, look, a startable option! If one player has benefited from the injuries to Stafford it’s Tyler Higbee. Already a solid fantasy TE, both Wolford, and Perkins have found Higbee to be a nice target in the short passing game. Higbee has seen a team-leading 16 targets over the past two games and has converted 12 for 118 yards over that time. I expect the volume to continue for Higbee for as long as Stafford is sidelined and he should bring TE1 value to fantasy managers against the Chiefs this week. Throw Higbee into your starting lineups this week.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
Perhaps you already know this, but Patrick Mahomes is pretty good at football. Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards (3,265) and passing TDs (28) and pilots one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL as the Chiefs also lead the NFL in points scored (300). Despite injuries that kept two of his top four receiving weapons out of last week’s game, Mahomes still posted 329 passing yards and three TDs. Mahomes also brings some additional stat-stuffing with his ability to run when needed. The biggest concern this week is the Chiefs build a big lead and rest starters late, but even in limited time, Mahomes can bring week-winning upside to your squad. Start Mahomes, always.
Jerick McKinnon (Sit, FLEX), Isaiah Pachecov(Sit, FLEX), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (OUT)
Early reports indicate Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s victory and the injury could sideline him for several weeks. The belief is that rookie Isaiah Pacheco will absorb most of CEH’s surrendered workload but Jerick McKinnon will continue to play a role in both phases of the offense. If the game gets out of hand, like Vegas is predicting, it could mean limited work for both players, capping their upside. Pacheco is putting together a nice season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry but the rams have been stingy against RBs this season, surrendering just 81 yards per game on the ground and just five TDs on the season. Receiving backs haven’t fared much better, gaining an average of 39 yards per game through the air and the Rams have allowed just one receiving TD to RBs this season. Despite playing on one of the highest-powered offenses in the NFL, I think both players limit the upside of the other and make both no better than FLEX options for Week 12.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Juju Smith-Schuster (Start, WR1), Kadarius Toney (OUT?), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Sit, low-end FLEX), Justin Watson (Sit), Skyy Moore (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
Before taking a gruesome hit from Andre Cisco in Kansas City’s win over Jacksonville in Week 10, Juju Smith-Schuster was coming into his own as the team’s clear #1 WR. In his past four games, Smith-Schuster has been on the field for 164 passing plays and has seen 29 targets which translates to a target on 17.6% of his snaps. Smith-Schuster was able to convert 24 of those targets for 358 yards and two TDs. Early indications are that Smith-Schuster will be available for Mahomes and the Chiefs this week and should step right back into his WR1 role. Expect another solid performance from Smith-Schuster and drop him in as a fantasy WR1 again in Week 12.
It was unknown who would replace Tyreek Hill in Kansas City’s offense when he left for Miami, but the team seemed to answer that question with the signing of Marquez Valdes-Scantling from Green Bay. MVS hasn’t replaced Hill’s production (who could), but it’s been a bit surprising how much he’s struggled to put up quality numbers in this offense. MVS has just two games of 90 or more receiving yards and has just one TD on the season. MVS has also seen a dip in his snap counts since the first four weeks of the season, and a drop in targets naturally followed. If Kansas City has a large lead late as expected, look for a run-heavy approach to salt away the victory, further diminishing MVS’s upside. I can’t trust him as a viable option this week other than as a low-end FLEX option for fantasy managers.
It looks like Kadarius Toney will miss this game with a hamstring injury (Giants’ fans everywhere: “Big surprise.”) and Mecole Hardman was placed on IR last week, opening the door for both Justin Watson and Skyy Moore to see extended time on the field. Watson led the team in snaps at the position last week with 57 (88%) which led to his best game of the season with three receptions on four targets for 67 yards. Moore saw a season-high in snaps last week with 27 which also provided him with his best game to date with five receptions on six targets for 63 yards. Unfortunately for these two, Kansas City’s Week 12 matchup doesn’t project to be as close as last week’s narrow victory over the Chargers, so I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance from either. Keep both on your bench this week.
Remember when fantasy pundits questioned who the #1 fantasy TE was a few years ago? Those questions have been soundly answered and that answer is Travis Kelce. While injuries have ravaged Kansas City’s WR room this season, Kelce has been a constant once again for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game. Kelce ranks sixth in receptions (69), fifth in receiving yards (855), and leads the NFL with 11 receiving TDs. I would normally mention how the Rams have been decent against opposing TEs, but Kelce is on another level and the matchup doesn’t matter when it comes to production. Look for another TE1 week from Kelce and fantasy managers should start him with confidence in Week 12.