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Ravens vs. Chiefs: Fantasy Football Preview

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In-depth breakdown of all the viable fantasy football options for this week’s match up

This Sunday, the Ravens travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a match up carrying many fantasy football implications. Below is a positional breakdown of every fantasy relevant player for this pivotal AFC showdown.

Quarterbacks:

Lamar Jackson

Jackson is off to a torrid start to the 2019 season, cementing himself as a top-3 weekly play at the quarterback position. While he’s been the beneficiary of a soft schedule to start the season, there is no denying the high level of play Jackson has shown with tight window passes and big chunk plays on the ground. Jackson has thrown the ball 57 times in the first two weeks, completing 71.9 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The most impressive part of this stat line thus far is the 10.5 yards per attempt while maintaining a completion percentage over 70 percent, proving that he has been highly effective driving the ball downfield. After just three carries for six yards in Week 1, Jackson erupted in Week 2 rushing for 120 yards on 16 carries, showing why he might just be the most difficult quarterback to gameplan for in all the NFL. While the Chiefs boast an impressive pass rush with Frank Clark coming off the edge and Chris Jones wreaking havoc from the inside, the secondary leaves much to be desired. Fire up Jackson as a QB1 as you sit back and watch the fireworks show.

Patrick Mahomes

Regression from the 5,097-yard, 50 touchdown MVP performance Mahomes put on in 2018 was inevitable, right? A shoulder injury to pro bowl receiver Tyreek Hill was sure to bring this offense back down to Earth, right? Wrong and wrong. Mahomes has been out of this world, playing at a different level through two weeks in which he has already amassed 800 yards passing and matched Jackson’s total of seven touchdowns. The Ravens defense is not supposed to be a plus match up for passing offenses but after Kyler Murray hung 349 yards on them in Week 2, it is safe to say that Mahomes will be getting his.

In the Week 14 matchup last season, the Ravens defense was hitting Mahomes early and often and he was still able to finish with 377 yards and two touchdowns, leading Kansas City to a victory. The Ravens will be down both Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young for this year’s matchup so don’t be shy about firing up Mahomes as a QB1 in what should be one of the better quarterback matchups of the season.

Running Backs:

Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill

As was the strategy last season, the Ravens will be looking to keep the Chiefs offense off the field at all costs. This shapes up well for Ingram, but if the Ravens down go down early and game script flips to a pass heavy approach, then he will be relying on catching some balls out of the backfield. With rain in the forecast, this could be to the Ravens advantage in hopes of controlling the pace and establishing the run. The Chiefs are allowing an NFL worst 5.94 yards per carry and Ingram should see plenty of opportunity in this one to be considered as a high-upside RB2 with potential to finish as a RB1.

Edwards and Hill currently don’t hold much value aside from being a handcuff to Ingram as each has seen limited action. Through two weeks the snaps have been Ingram with 70, Edwards with 45 and Hill at 35, with Ingram seeing most of the rushing attempts. Edwards figures to be the immediate fill-in if Ingram does go down, but Hill has already been utilized in the passing game and could see that role grow moving forward. It will be interesting to see if his usage is increased in a shootout, which could end up being the case on Sunday.

LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson

The Chiefs backfield is a currently a murky situation with both Damien Williams and McCoy banged up. It became clearer on Friday as Williams was officially ruled out for Week 3 with McCoy practicing in full. The Ravens run defense has been stifling allowing a league best 20.5 yards per game, although they were playing from ahead in both games. McCoy should be active enough to plug in at the RB2 spot but has a low enough floor where I am viewing him as no better than a FLEX play.

Thompson was a training camp standout and viewed as a potential breakout candidate before the Chiefs brought in McCoy. Now, with an injury to the backfield it will be interesting to see if Thompson can get his foot in the door and carve out a role moving forward. If he is available in your league, it is worthwhile to look at him as a speculative add if McCoy is limited by his injury and Williams misses multiple games.

Wide Receivers:

Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, Miles Boykin

After playing just 14 snaps in professional debut, Hollywood put to bed the notion that he wasn’t going to see enough opportunity to be trusted in fantasy lineups. Against the Cardinals, he saw a team high 51 snaps with eight catches for 88 yards on 13 targets. This puts him firmly in the weekly WR2 conversation as his chemistry with Jackson is impressive and will only trend upwards. Now, he gets a weak Chiefs pass defense who was prone to the big play in 2018, allowing more 20-plus yard plays than anyone else in the NFL. With his explosive speed, sure hands and high target share, Hollywood is only scratching the surface and should do work again this Sunday.

Boykin has been on the field often for the Ravens but has yet to make an impact in the receiving game. He is noticeably struggling to gain separation which has resulted in a very low target share. Still, he has all the attributes to be an absolute terror on the outside and in the red zone. A breakout could be coming any game now and with the O/U of 52 points, this one is shaping up to be a shootout. We will need to see it first, but don’t be surprised to see Boykin become a regular contributor very soon.

Working mostly as a possession receiver, Snead is way too boom-or-bust to trust in your lineup on a weekly basis. We saw him score in Week 1 but was extremely quiet last week as the Ravens tight ends have taken most of the possession duties. Snead is a fine player and has a good connection with Jackson but will be tough to predict on a weekly basis.

Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman

No Tyreek Hill? No problem. The Chiefs receivers have been taking turns going bonkers as all three have turned out insane weeks. Watkins is the unquestioned WR1 in this offense after Hill went down, but as we saw last week all three guys will be heavily involved. Going for 198 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions in week one, Watkins cooled a bit in Week 2 as it was his teammates turn to go off. Still, he saw 13 targets in Week 2 - signaling that he is a safe weekly play as a WR2. He will face tough sledding in this one, matching up with Marlon Humphrey on the outside or Brandon Carr in the slot - where he has taken 69 percent of his snaps.

Against the Raiders in Week 2, Robinson had his way against a banged up secondary totaling 172 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. It was a breakout game of sorts for Robinson who has yet to make this kind of impact in any previous games. As the top waiver wire add across leagues following week 2, it’s time to temper expectations as he faces a rough match up this week. He rarely ever finds snaps out of the slot, meaning he will be seeing a heavy dose of Humphrey and Anthony Averett who is solid despite being picked on at times. The Chiefs have yet to play a safety with the abilities of Earl Thomas and he will surely be a force in stopping this passing attack. Robinson will have an impact on future weeks but is nothing more than a WR4 in this match up.

The rookie speedster from Georgia immediately drew comparisons to Tyreek Hill with his stature and explosive speed. The Chiefs have not been shy about easing him into game action and they were rewarded when he contributed 61 yards and a touchdown on 4 receptions. This could have easily been a five catch, 145-yard, two touchdown performance if not for his 74-yard touchdown being negated by a holding penalty. As it is with Robinson, it will be tough to gauge the weekly output you can expect from Hardman, making him a risky play. His upside is undeniable, and he is attached to the best quarterback in the league, giving him the edge over other fringe wide receivers on your roster.

Tight Ends:

Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst

You can make the case that the player who most emulates the Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce is second-year player Mark Andrews. Andrews has been an absolute beast and has a clear connection with Jackson as those two have hooked up for big plays all over the field. After finding the end zone and eclipsing 100 yards in both games this season, Andrews is now a top-three fantasy tight end option any given week. The Chiefs have allowed the most receptions to tight ends (17) this season and with a 94 percent catch rate, sp this matchup does not bode well for Kansas City. With the game script pointing towards a shootout, look for Andrews and Jackson to continue lighting it up as a locked in TE1.

After finding the end zone in Week 2, Hurst is still looking to carve out a bigger role for this Ravens offense. A first round-pick in 2018, Hurst has watched Andrews explode onto the scene and needs to gain back some confidence from his quarterback. On his touchdown play, Hurst initially fell and was able to recover for a wide-open touchdown. With heavy draft capital invested in him and a decent snap percentage the first couple of weeks, The Ravens will continue to try and get him more involved and look to build back up his confidence. Right now, he is not a viable fantasy option and time will tell if there are enough targets to go around.

Travis Kelce

The best tight end in football, Kelce is paying off for all owners who invested a high draft pick on him. In their Week 14 ilt last season, Kelce totaled 77 yards and a touchdown against a Ravens team that struggled mightily against tight ends. With the departure of C.J. Mosley and the infusion of speed into the linebacking core, this will be a good test to see where the Ravens defense stands in those regards. With 195 yards and a touchdown on the season, Kelce trails only Andrews statistically and will look to build upon his strong start in Week 3. He is an elite option and locked in as a TE1 against the Ravens.