Another Thursday Night Football has come and gone and this might have been the ugliest one of them all. The injury to Patrick Mahomes’ knee is a bummer for all football fans, not just Chiefs fans. Mahomes is so clearly the best quarterback in the league right now when he’s healthy and his absence virtually locks the Patriots into yet another SuperBowl appearance. Let’s recap last night’s game with my five biggest takeaways from this tragic mess.
Charizard Has Fainted
If you listen to the Expert-less Fantasy Football Podcast, you know that Streetz and I have nicknamed Patrick Mahomes, Charizard. When Charizard has full energy cards, he has the most powerful attack in the game. Unfortunately, those energy cards have run out and now Charizard has fainted. Matt Moore is not the worst backup in the league, but Mahomes is so good that the drop off in talent at the quarterback level is steep and if not for a winning record in a bad division, this would be a major risk to the Chiefs’ playoff chances.
The Chiefs Offense Going Forward
The Chiefs entire offense takes a major hit with the Patrick Mahomes injury. Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle have lost virtually all value, Mecole Hardman remains a fringe bench stash due to his playmaking ability and the only wide receiver you can trust is Tyreek Hill. Even with Hill, your expectations should be tempered. Travis Kelce is the only one who might receive a slight boost, as I expect Matt Moore to look for his star tight end often. We’ll see if Matt Moore checks down to his running backs more often, but given the timeshare Shady McCoy and the D Williams-es are in, they’re likely downgraded as well.
RBBC = OMFG
Speaking of LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams, both Denver and Kansas City are absolutely infuriating to fantasy football owners right now, as you have four relatively good players whose value is being reduced by their teammates. Lesean McCoy looked okay last night, but the Chiefs still insisted on running out Damien Williams 9 times for 7 yards instead of riding the hot hand with Shady. On the other side of the ball, Phillip Lindsay owners are pulling their hair out because this somehow turned into a Royce Freeman game. They had almost exactly the same amount of carries, 11 for Lindsay and 10 for Freeman. What’s truly maddening is that Royce Freeman thoroughly outworked Phillip Lindsay in the passing game, catching 4 balls for 32 yards on 5 targets compared to Lindsay who had 1 catch for -4 yards. Both of these backfields are fantasy soul crushers right now.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense got a massive boost last night, but they aren’t actually that good. Heading into the game, the Chiefs had 11 sacks on the season as a unit. Last night they racked up 9 sacks against a hapless Denver Broncos’ offensive line trying to protect a literal statue in Joe Flacco. Flacco’s stats belie an ugly truth, which is that he is cooked as a starting NFL quarterback. The game has evolved far beyond Flacco’s skill set and he is now a Goldilocks quarterback in which everything must be just right for him to have success. The Broncos are dead in the water now and the only real thing to monitor from this team is trade talks for some of their older players like Emmanuel Sanders.
John Elway’s Journey Continues
It’s become a running joke, but last night was a stark reminder that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time has failed spectacularly at evaluating quarterback talent. Aside from the obvious acquisition of Peyton Manning, Elway has missed by a mile on every quarterback he’s hired since. The most egregious error came at the beginning of his tenure when the Denver Broncos would select Brock Osweiler 18 picks ahead of a potential Hall of Famer in Russell Wilson. This went under the radar though, as they signed Manning and the offense exploded at a record-setting pace, leading to a SuperBowl humiliation at the hands of the Seahawks. In 2016, they took Paxton Lynch in the first round while Jacoby Brissett and Dak Prescott went in the 3rd and 4th rounds respectively. 2018, they select Bradley Chubb instead of selecting Josh Allen or trading back and acquiring Lamar Jackson. With Drew Lock looking like an early bust candidate and Joe Flacco unable to move this offense, it seems the Achilles heel for Elway continues to be his inability to find a player to fill the role he once mastered.