Last updated: December 5th at 8:15am ET
Team Totals: Patriots 26, Chiefs 23
Although last week’s QB1 overall score by Deshaun Watson inspires faith Patrick Mahomes can similarly shower the Patriots in elite fantasy production, several factors suggest Mahomes’ road to success will be more difficult. Watson caught the Pats beneath Houston’s NRG Stadium dome, while Mahomes is in Foxboro. The Patriots haven’t allowed more than 14 points in an at-home regular season game since November 4, 2018, when they gave up 17 to the Packers. Mahomes’ yards per attempt nosedive from 10.2 with a 7.6% touchdown rate versus zone coverage to 7.5 YPA and a 2.6% TD Rate against man; the Patriots play man at the NFL’s highest rate. Mahomes hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with QB16 (Chargers) and QB13 (Raiders) scores in his last two starts. Yet Andy Reid’s club has mustered point totals of 31, 40, and 42 in these teams’ last three meetings. His supporting cast at nearly full strength, I’m riding and (hopefully not) dying with Mahomes in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. … Kansas City’s backfield is tougher to parse with LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson, Spencer Ware, and potentially Damien Williams (ribs) all in the hunt for touches. Reid continues to reiterate McCoy’s usage will be limited based on his age – Shady hasn’t reached a 50% playing-time clip in a single game all year – while Thompson’s outlook is almost entirely dependent upon Williams’ availability, which probably won’t be determined until late in the week. Beat writers believe Ware was an “emergency signing.” The Pats have allowed two running back touchdowns all year, and that includes both rushing and receiving.
Mahomes’ Weeks 10-13 target distribution: Tyreek Hill 29; Travis Kelce 26; Sammy Watkins 15; McCoy 9; Damien, Darrel Williams, and Demarcus Robinson 6; Mecole Hardman 5; Deon Yelder 2; Thompson and Byron Pringle 1. … Hill’s last three receiving lines against the Pats are 1/42/0 > 7/142/3 > 7/133/1, while Tyreek’s short-area quickness and ability to go zero to sixty in a blink make him capable of causing less-twitchy Stephon Gilmore fits. Hill’s floor is lower than usual, but his ceiling remains sky high. As Golden Tate (6/102/1), Randall Cobb (4/86/0), JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/78/0), Cole Beasley (7/75/0), Jarvis Landry (5/65/0), and Kenny Stills (3/61/1) can attest, the Patriots are more vulnerable to slot men than any other receiver position. Hill has run 50.2% of his routes in the slot since returning from his shoulder injury in Week 6. … The Pats had an easier time bottling up Kelce in the aforementioned games (3/23/1 > 5/61/0 > 5/40/0), bumping him at the line of scrimmage and boasting one of the NFL’s top man-coverage tight end stoppers in SS Patrick Chung. This year’s Patriots have allowed the league’s sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to Kelce’s position. Kelce remains a high-end season-long TE1 play, but we may need to lower expectations for a true difference-making week. … Watkins played in two of said games, delivering uneven results (4/114/0 > 2/18/0). Invisible in the Chiefs’ offense lately, Watkins is a tough sell beyond WR4/flex scenarios against a Pats defense permitting the NFL’s fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. … Hardman is always a big-play threat, but he’s drawn one target or fewer in three of Kansas City’s last four games with Hill, Watkins, and dirty-work third WR Robinson all healthy.
Albeit largely from what amounted to a furious garbage-time rally, Tom Brady banked his first top-12 fantasy score since Week 6 in last Sunday night’s loss to the Texans and now catches an unimposing Chiefs defense back home in Foxboro. Kansas City ranks a slightly above-par 13th in sack rate (7.4%) and decidedly sub-par 14.8% in QB Hit Rate, while high-priced DE Frank Clark is battling a recurring shoulder injury he aggravated in last week’s win over Oakland, and did not return. The Chiefs have allowed the NFL’s 13th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, including top-ten QB1 weeks to four of their last seven signal callers faced. Brady’s matchup is above average, but his own performances for the most part have not been. He’s a fringe season-long starter at best. … While a Sony Michel game might make sense on paper since Kansas City’s swiss-cheese run defense permits 5.08 yards per carry to enemy backs, the Pats showed their continued lack of faith in Michel by turning away from him in last week’s loss despite early success. And Michel has been an abject disaster in virtually every game for which Rex Burkhead has been active this season with double-digit fantasy points in all three of Burkhead’s missed games, and double digits in 1-of-9 games played by Rex. With just three receptions since Week 6, Michel is an entirely touchdown-or-bust flex option despite the Chiefs’ up-front softness. … Kansas City is just as giving to pass-catching backs like Week 13 superstar James White, having coughed up the NFL’s second-most running back receiving yards per game (63.6). I’d feel much more comfortable flexing White here.
Brady’s Week 13 target distribution: White and Julian Edelman 11; Jakobi Meyers 7; Phillip Dorsett 6; Mohamed Sanu 5; Matt LaCosse 2; Burkhead, Ben Watson, and N’Keal Harry 1. … With double-digit targets in seven straight games, Edelman projects as one of Week 14’s safest fantasy plays in the slot against Kendall Fuller. Since the Chiefs acquired him as part of last year’s Alex Smith trade, Fuller has been torched for 93 completions on 133 targets (69.9%), 1,085 yards (8.16 YPA), and four touchdowns. … Especially after Brady spent much of last Sunday night’s loss ripping them on the sideline, the rest of New England’s separation-lacking wideouts are low-floor sells. In an unlikely turn of events, UDFA rookie Meyers may be the Pats’ next-best bet after he finished second behind Edelman in routes run (40) and targets against Houston. … Dorsett ranked third in routes (39) but hasn’t cleared 50 yards since Week 3. … Harry caused Brady’s interception by letting Texans CB Bradley Roby run Harry’s route for him and was barely heard from again. … Sanu finished fifth in the Patriots’ Week 13 receiver corps in routes run (10) and remained utterly ineffective trying to play through a high ankle sprain. … Watson and LaCosse are canceling each other out as streamer options. Watson has two targets over the last two games.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 23, Patriots 20