What We Saw: Raiders at Chiefs

Adam Sloate recaps the AFC West fireworks from the Raiders and Chiefs Monday night matchup.

Raiders @ Chiefs

Final Score: Chiefs 30, Raiders 29

Writer: Adam Sloate (@MrAdster99 on Twitter)

 

Monday Night Football was a far better experience for primetime viewers than Thursday Night Football (and probably Sunday Night Football?), with the Raiders and Chiefs battling it out in a classic AFC West showdown.

The first half was full of fireworks from the Raiders’ offense, as Josh JacobsΒ ran like a man possessed behind Las Vegas’ offensive line.

 

 

Here’s another look at the play:

 

 

Jacobs was an absolute battering ram, steamrolling through the first and even second levels of tacklers with ease in the first half.

All of that running led to an incredible stat line after two quarters:

 

 

It also led to a nice Raiders lead to close out the half. Las Vegas led 20-10 on the back of a Jacobs TD and this gutsy call by the Raiders to go for it on a fourth and 1 in their own territory.

 

 

(Ignore the fact that this is slightly underthrown and appreciate that this was a gutsy call by the Raiders)

The Chiefs started quite slow, falling behind 17-0 through the first quarter and a half. They began their comeback attempt in earnest with a nice 11-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated with a Travis Kelce TD:

 

 

This TD was almost courtesy of a catch by RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who fell/was ruled down at about the 1/2 yard line. CEH needed that TD to put up a fantasy-relevant stat line this week, but ultimately couldn’t get it done.

On the Raiders’ subsequent drive, leading 17-7, the Silver and Black were backed up to a 3rd-and-8 in their own territory. Carr looked to be cleanly sacked by DE Chris Jones, but the refs had something to say about it:

 

 

The Raiders were able to convert their new first down into a longer drive, leading to 3 points and a 20-7 lead after their final drive of the half. KC was able to quickly move the ball up field and into FG range on their final drive of the half, and Vegas walked away with a 20-10 lead at the end of the first half.

In the second half, Kansas City was able to answer right away with yet another TD pass to Travis Kelce:

 

 

TD passes from Mahomes to Kelce until the heat death of the universe.

Oh yeah, and there was a third TD pass from Mahomes to Kelce to give Kansas City the lead:

 

 

Zero-RB nerds should’ve been focused on a better fantasy strategy this preseason: Draft Travis Kelce.

 

 

Travis Kelce pulled off quite the fantasy performance, totaling 4 TDs on 7 catches for 25 yards. All in all, it was a solid day for Kelce fantasy-wise, but for those bettors hoping for a great yardage performance out of Kelce, this wasn’t it.

The Raiders fought back eventually, showing some mettle after coughing up a 3-possession lead, thanks to this Derek Carr/Davante Adams connection:

 

 

That made it two (2!) long TDs from Carr to Adams. Unfortunately, the Raiders couldn’t finish the job on a two-point conversion, keeping KC in the lead. And that’s the way it would end, with the Raiders failing to convert on a 4th and 1 from their own territory to extend the potential game-winning drive. The final play of the drive was blown up by Hunter Renfrow, who crashed into his own teammate, Davante Adams, on what could have been a huge gain for the Raiders.

 

 

KC fans chopped the night away after that play, as the Raiders dropped to 1-4 and Kansas City improved to 4-1.

 

Las Vegas Raiders

Quarterback

 

Derek Carr: 19/30, 241 Yards, 2 TDs, 2 sacks | 1 carry, 3 yards

 

There’s not much to say about Carr in this one. He was fine, and I don’t think his play especially helped or hampered the Raiders’ offense this week. That’s about all you can ask for, right? Especially when he’s throwing for 2 TDs and living up to that low-end QB1/high-end QB2 status.

Carr looked pretty cool under pressure all night, and even though he didn’t face a ton of it, it looked like Carr was more than up to the task against the Kansas City pass rush. He took two sacks — and had a third negated by the Chris Jones “Roughing the Passer” call — including a brutal one that took the Raiders out of the red zone late in the third quarter, but it didn’t seem like Carr was skittish or felt hurried in his playmaking.

It sure helps when you have the safety blanket of Davante Adams to throw to, and Carr made pretty good use of Adams today with plays like this:

 

 

Here’s NGS’s view of the same play:

 

 

Carr only targeted Adams 7 times today, well below his average of 12ish targets per game. Playing without Darren Waller today, who left the game after about 20 seconds with a hamstring injury, Carr was able to spread the love (and targets) a little more, feeding Josh Jacobs, Brandon Bolden, Hunter Renfrow, and Mack Hollins with at least 3 targets each.

Moving forward, if Waller is out again, I don’t think it’s worth starting Renfrow or expecting Jacobs to explode for receptions, especially because this game was basically Waller-free and no one else took charge of those targets.

 

Running Backs

 

Josh Jacobs: 21 carries, 154 yards, 1 TD | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 39 yards

Brandon Bolden:Β 1 carry, 5 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 29 yards

 

As you can already tell from the game recap above, Josh Jacobs showed out against the Kansas City run defense. He looked virtually unstoppable every time he got the ball and was able to rip off several big gains on the ground throughout the matchup because it took 2-3 KC defenders to take him down each time. Much of the focus on the Raiders offense will be devoted to the Adams/Carr connection (deservedly so), but Jacobs was the proverbial straw that stirred the Raiders’ drink tonight, taking some pressure off of Carr in the passing game and moving the chains consistently for Las Vegas.

The threat of Jacobs ripping off a big game seemed to help open up the play-action passing game for Carr; the Raiders took advantage with a play-action TD pass to Davante Adams for his first TD and nearly took advantage again on the last play of the game with another play-action call.

The 5 targets/5 receptions are great news for fantasy investors, as this marks the third consecutive game for Jacobs with at least 5 targets and 5 receptions, so it looks like Jacobs will have a nice little bump in his fantasy floor from those extra targets. Don’t expect Jacobs to become the next CMC, though, because most of those targets were low-quality targets that aren’t going to garner a ton of yards unless Jacobs turns into the Beast Quake version of Marshawn Lynch. It’s still nice to have those extra receiving points, though.

Don’t waste your time with Brandon Bolden. This is the Josh Jacobs show.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Davante Adams: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 124 yards, 2 TDs

Hunter Renfrow:Β 4 targets, 4 receptions, 25 yards

Jesper Horsted:Β 3 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards

Mack Hollins:Β 4 targets

Jakob Johnson:Β 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

 

A grim night for receivers not named Davante Adams. There’s simply no one worth owning in this WR/TE unit except Adams and Waller, not even Hunter Renfrow. Even though Renfrow was a fantasy superstar and target hog last season, that goodwill between him and Derek Carr seems to have been swallowed up into the target vacuum that is Davante Adams.

Adams didn’t convert the majority of his targets into receptions, but as we can see, the receptions he did make counted for big plays and big fantasy points, so fantasy managers can’t really be upset with this one. I wouldn’t worry too much about Adams only seeing 7 targets, given the chemistry he’s accumulated with Carr, a substantial number of targets for the season, and Josh Jacobs’ brilliant output this week. Adams will probably see more targets when the Raiders can’t move the chains on the ground as freely as they did today.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Quarterback

 

Patrick Mahomes: 29/43, 292 yards, 4 TDs, 3 sacks| 4 carries, 28 yards

 

Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good from Patrick and the Mahomies. It wasn’t perfect, as Mahomes overthrew a couple of receivers further downfield, including a missed pass to Travis Kelce late in the second quarter. But, there were no substantive issues to worry about in Mahomes’ performance once KC got going in the second quarter. Of the four KC drives in the second half, the Chiefs punted just once, and scored touchdowns on the other three drives, and Mahomes finding a variety of receivers downfield was a key part of that. There’s not much else to say; Mahomes made my job easy!

 

Running Backs

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 9 carries, 15 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards

Jerick McKinnon:Β 8 carries, 53 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards

Isiah Pacheco:Β 1 carry

 

This isn’t the ideal stat line for CEH owners, but perhaps they can take some consolation in knowing that he was half a yard short of a much better fantasy day. It just didn’t look like CEH’s day today, especially when he was responsible for this:

 

 

CEH is bound to have some rough fantasy weeks, given how sparingly Kansas City seems to use him. He’s a touchdown-dependent player and this is the first week that he didn’t score a touchdown or total over 100 rushing and receiving yards. As a CEH investor, I won’t panic, but this week was a nice reality check and a reminder that last week’s output against the Bucs isn’t something you should look for from CEH regularly.

Jerick McKinnon looked like the better back in pretty much every facet this week, running a lot like Josh Jacobs when he had the ball:

 

 

And, Head Coach Andy Reid likely felt comfortable keeping McKinnon out there more than CEH because he was out there blocking Dudes:

 

 

McKinnon’s 53 rushing yards on 8 attempts marked a season-high for the 30-year-old, but I don’t think this is emblematic of some larger trend in usage for KC, based on the overall sample of data we have so far. McKinnon simply had “it” tonight, and CEH didn’t. Don’t recalibrate your expectations too much.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 90 yards

Mecole Hardman:Β 5 targets, 4 receptions, 73 yards

Juju Smith-Schuster:Β 8 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards

Travis Kelce:Β 8 targets, 7 receptions, 25 yards, 4 TDs

Skyy Moore:Β 3 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards

 

Well, I think I’m chalking this week up to “weird fluctuations in stat lines that are bound to happen over an ultra-small 17-game season/sample.” It’s not very often you see Travis Kelce total just 25 receiving yards on 7 receptions and combine that withΒ four TDs.Β Kelce saw a season-low 3.6 yards per reception and a season-low 25 receiving yards, but recovered plenty of value with his 4 easy receiving touchdowns. Don’t worry about the yardage and just appreciate the fact that Kelce is the only TE — except maybe Mark Andrews — who you can comfortably start every week.

It’s also not often you see Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the leader in yardage for the KC receiving corps. I can actually guarantee you’ve never seen that before because MVS totaled season-high amounts of targets, receptions, and yardage this week, becoming the third unique player to lead KC in receiving yards in a game this season in the process.

 

 

MVS didn’t come by this stat line through a couple of deep bombs downfield. In fact, MVS racked it up on solid looks just past the sticks. His longest reception of the day was just 23 yards, and his Air Yards per Target this week was 10.3, which was behind Mecole Hardman and in the neighborhood of Juju Smith-Schuster’s AY/Target, indicating that he’s not being used as the deep threat he was for the Packers in years past. While the change in target depth could lead to a more sustainable fantasy floor for MVS, he hasn’t shown enough this season to be worth significant fantasy capital yet.

Speaking of deep bombs downfield, Mecole Hardman caught a couple to get the Chiefs into scoring position. He also set season-highs in receptions and receiving yardage, but his 73 receiving yards doubled his previous season total, so I wouldn’t hold my breath on a Hardman WR2 or even WR3 campaign this season. He’s just too inconsistent to trust week-t0-week.

Juju Smith-Schuster’s targets were encouraging, but the fact that he really didn’t do much with them isn’t a promising sign. And, even with the 8 targets, I didn’t feel as though Smith-Schuster was heavily involved in the game plan and didn’t deserve a bump in fantasy stock as a result. We’ll need a larger sample size from Juju before making a determination on his fantasy campaign, although it’s worth noting that we are only 5 weeks into the season, and Kansas City is a far different offense than the one Juju was working with in Pittsburgh.

 

 

Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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