What We Saw: Week 2 2018
Chiefs vs. Steelers
The Chiefs broke a 6 game losing streak in Pittsburgh, dating back to 1986. The monkey was on the back for decades but there’s a new hero under center for Kansas City and his name is Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes threw six touchdown passes today and set an NFL record by becoming the first QB to pass for 10 touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. What’s more is the Chiefs found more of their weapons Sunday, and it’s looking like a historic fantasy offense of a year ago could be even better in 2018.
Patrick Mahomes continues his early season tear.
Heading into the season I thought Patrick Mahomes would become a star, I just never imagined it’d happen so quickly. Mahomes carved up the Steelers defense in the first quarter, throwing three touchdown passes before Pittsburgh knew what hit them. Mahomes threw three more second-half touchdowns for a total of 6 on the day. But what was more impressive was how hyper-efficient the young QB was. He finished 23 for 28 for 326 yards. What’s more is he push the ball downfield, 4 for 6 on passes traveling 20+ yards with 3 TDs. Incredible performance for the young star. He should be started moving forward, without hesitation and likely before any other QB in the league.
Kareem Hunt grinds out a solid RB2 performance.
Hunt finished the day with 18 carries for 75 yards, a solid yet unspectacular performance for any RB. Hunt added one catch for 5 yards, a shifty touchdown along the sideline just crossing the pylon. He showed all of what I love about his game on this one catch, powering through a tackle and using that ridiculous body control to get in the end zone. Huge games are coming for Hunt, they will need him during this long season, but so far he’s produced just enough as an RB2 early in the year.
Patrick Mahomes spreads the wealth.
If Mahomes has shown us anything this young season it’s that it doesn’t matter who he throws the ball to, they are going to be productive. It felt as if Andy Reid scripted his first quarter to feature players who Mahomes didn’t get involved in Week 1, namely Travis Kelce (7 for 109) and Sammy Watkins (6 for 100). Watkins caught quick passes early in the first, one screen for 10 yards and another deep ball down the sideline for 40. He finished for 4 catches and 80 yards just in the opening quarter. Kelce was also involved early catching three passes including a 19-yard strike to put the team up 14-0. Kelce later added a second 25-yard strike in the third to put the team ahead after Pittsburgh tied it the up. Mahomes added a quick strike to Demarcus Robinson and early in the 4th, he put the game away with a 29-yard touchdown to his main man Tyreek Hill. Hill seemed quiet all day but he finished with 5 catches for 90 yards on just 6 targets. What’s clear is that Mahomes can support multiple weapons in an offense but can he remain efficient enough to feed all of these mouths for fantasy? Mahomes threw for just 326 yards yet two receivers finished with 100 yards receiving and a third with 90. Watkins is going to be the wild card, even after this big game we don’t know yet what his weekly role will be. Hill, Hunt, and Kelce should be started every week without hesitation.
Start your players against this Kansas CIty defense.
Week 2 and same result, this Chiefs defense is bad. For the second straight week, they allowed 33 first downs and they couldn’t get off the field on two fourth down attempts. The defense allowed 442 yards passing, just one sack and no interceptions. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 4 TDs. For fantasy owners looking to capitalize on matchups, feel free to start any players against the Chiefs. In IDP leagues, Anthony Hitchens continues to be a sneaky value, finishing with 7 tackles including one nice stuff behind the line. He should lead this team in tackles and be sure to check your waiver wire this week to see if he is available.
60 Pass Attempts for Big Ben
A matchup of explosive offenses did not disappoint, as the Chiefs held on for a 42-37 victory in Heinz Field. The Steelers found themselves down 14 before they could settle in, and a missed field goal by Chris Boswell led to another Chiefs touchdown, as the Steelers found themselves down 21-0 after the first quarter.
The Steelers would storm back, but trailed nearly the whole game, leading to a high volume pass attack as Ben Roethlisberger threw a whopping 60 times in this game. This affected the fantasy days of the whole offense, which will be covered later. For Ben, it meant 452 yards passing, three passing touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 6-yard rushing touchdown for good measure.
Ben was the QB1 in many leagues this week, and once again showed that he is an elite quarterback option at home, especially in projected shootouts. With Le’Veon Bell still holding out, this has become an even more pass-heavy offense, leading to elite volume for Roethlisberger’s top options. This is one of the top passing offenses in the NFL.
Elite Target Volume
JuJu Smith-Schuster saw a massive 19 targets in week two and turned them into 9 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. He’s filling Bell’s volume role behind Antonio Brown and is a legit WR1 for fantasy purposes. He may have an occasional down week on the road, but he has both high floor and ceiling in this explosive passing game.
Brown was a close second in the passing game, with an equally impressive 17 targets. Brown, however, had a “disappointing” 9 catches for 67 yards. He was battling a calf injury in the second half, so that might be the explanation. This is the second time he has dealt with a calf issue in the past year, and he also dealt with a quad issue this summer. While it’s worth keeping an eye on his health, Brown continues to be a top 5 WR in all leagues.
Conner Crashes Back to Earth
Although James Conner produced a top five running back performance in week two, his stat line paints a slightly different picture. Conner rushed for a measly 17 yards on 8 carries with the Steelers playing from behind all game. He caught all 5 of his targets for 48 yards but was the clear number three option behind Brown and Smith-Schuster. Conner may not be as matchup-proof as Bell was if the Steelers keep throwing early and often. Yet Conner still scored a touchdown and his pass game involvement made him an excellent running back option for the second straight week. He remains an RB1 with Bell out, but we have now seen the running game struggle in a shootout at home. He may be human after all.
5 Targets or Less
Jesse James, Vance McDonald, James Washington, and Conner all tied with 5 targets behind JuJu and Brown. The tight ends were the most productive, as they had room to operate all throughout the game. Jesse James had a second straight surprising game, with 5 catches for a team-leading 138 yards and a touchdown. McDonald returned from injury with 3 catches for 26 yards. It may be hard to predict tight end usage going forward, and while James is not an explosive athlete, it’s hard to ignore his production so far this year. If you are hurting at tight end, James certainly has the trust of Roethlisberger in an offense that will frequently visit the red zone. For now, McDonald can remain on waivers in most leagues, although he is worth keeping an eye on.
While James Washington only caught one of five targets, he did make his lone catch count by scoring his first career touchdown. With Justin Hunter inactive for the game, Washington is following a similar path as Smith-Schuster did last year as his playing time is increasing game by game. Washington doesn’t have as clear of a path to targets as JuJu did last year, however, and is a clear secondary option. He may be capable of playing as a spot starter as the year progresses, and an injury to one of the top two passing game options might make him immediately startable. For now, put him on your watchlist.
Stevan Ridley operated as the backup, but only saw one carry and one target in the game. Outside of the fullback, Conner has handled every other backfield touch through two games. If Conner went down, it would most likely be a full-blown committee, making Ridley an unnecessary handcuff. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer saw two carries and one catch in a gadget role.
Steel Curtain No More
After surrendering 42 points to the explosive Chiefs at home, the Steelers defense clearly is not an every week fantasy football defense. They only contributed one sack, one fumble recovery, and a safety on a stuffed run up the middle. They should only be played against below average offenses at home, and only on the road in extremely good matchups. The Steelers D should be left on waivers until their next obvious streaming matchup.
The Steelers now find themselves 0-1-1 on the year and looking for their first win. The defense will be under heavy scrutiny this week in practice, as their offense scored 37 and they lost. While there are some concerns with the team as a whole, this is an elite fantasy offense. Their next matchup is on the road for Monday Night Football against Tampa Bay, in what projects as yet another shootout. Despite Big Ben’s negative road splits, all main Steelers will be good fantasy plays again next week.