Welcome to Stealing Signals, your look at snaps, touches, game flow, efficiency and everything in between. Stealing Signals is a game-by-game breakdown of everything you saw in your Fantasy box score, identifying what is signal and what is noise to help you make decisions for future weeks.Week 7
Chiefs 30 - Broncos 6
Snap Notes: Tyreek Hill: 87% (+34% vs. Week 6 return from injury), LeSean McCoy: 43% (+4% vs. season average), Darrel Williams: 30% (+18% vs. last week) , Damien Williams: 28% (-10% vs. last week's season low), Royce Freeman: 63% (+1% vs. previous season high), Phillip Lindsay: 40% (-5% vs. previous season low)
Key Stat: Patrick Mahomes — league-leading 9.0 yards per attempt, 15 passing touchdowns
This season feels cursed.
It's the most important position in sports, and Fantasy is wildly reliant on it. First it was Andrew Luck, who retired after his body failed him. Then Cam Newton and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Sam Darnold got mono. For every Gardner Minshew uncovered, there are five Chase Daniels replacing injured starters.
But at least we had Mahomes. The old adage is there aren't 32 people in the world good enough to play quarterback at an NFL level, but in just 24 career starts Patrick Mahomes has already established he plays it at a level that makes one wonder whether he could someday be considered the best to ever do it. He already has one of two 5,000-50 passing seasons in league history. He can throw a mile or without looking at his target, both accurately.
And now we await an MRI after a knee injury last night being described as a kneecap (patella) dislocation. Three weeks is reportedly a best-case timeline. The Chiefs have a Week 12 bye, which means if they hold him out four games, they could buy him a month and a half of recovery time.
I'm tentatively not expecting to see him until Week 13 on Dec. 1, at the earliest. A scheduled MRI Friday will determine more, including the possibility for surgery that could potentially end his season.
I gave an initial reaction during the game last night that basically goes like this: Matt Moore is a relatively capable backup, you start Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill while we see how things play out, LeSean McCoy is a low-end bye-week RB2 or Flex, and you probably can't start anyone else right now, with the possible exception being a healthy Sammy Watkins.
As far as what to expect, the situation is still Fantasy-friendly. Moore steps into a role with plenty of talent around him and one the league's most creative offensive play-callers — both were on display on a long touchdown to Tyreek Hill last night where Hill ran a drag route then cut up the opposite side of the field that had been cleared out. That may have been a read to break it up field as Troy Aikman suggested on the broadcast, but the timing was so on point with a backup quarterback that it looked to me like something that had been practiced.
And for as great as Joe Flacco and the Broncos made the Chiefs' defense look last night, it's struggled to stop teams, which could put Moore in passing situations. We did see more running back involvement last night, with LeSean McCoy's 12 rushes setting a season high. He continued to lead the backfield and also caught two passes, but his touchdown-scoring potential takes a significant hit with the quarterback change. It's also quite notable that the Chiefs ran the ball four times in the green zone, and Darrel Williams led the backs with two attempts, while McCoy had just one and Damien Williams got the fourth. McCoy still leads the team with 10 touches in that area of the field for the season, but Darrel has six and Damien four; McCoy's only seen half of the team's opportunities down there.
After playing just seven snaps last week, Darrel Williams was far more involved in Week 7, and Damien Williams played a season-low snap share and frankly didn't do much to look like he deserved more time, gaining 6 yards on 11 touches, many of which came in garbage time. Neither Williams is startable, though both are worth stashing where you can as potential upside Fantasy playoff options if Mahomes does return. For as frustrating as the situation has been, it's worthwhile to target backs in good offenses that utilize the position in the passing game as much as the Chiefs do.
Hill was mostly quiet outside his long touchdown as the Broncos made him a focus. Travis Kelce led the receiving corps with an 8-6-44 line. The Chiefs had a season-low 271 yards of total offense and 191 yards of passing offense, and the overall volume getting split among the receiving weapons substantially decreases without a 5,000-yard passer under center.
Courtland Sutton continued to be the lead receiving option for a Denver team that struggled throughout and mounted little in the way of a comeback attempt. He produced early and finished with an 8-6-87 line, but didn't have a catch in the fourth quarter as Flacco frankly quit pushing the ball downfield, taking underneath throw after underneath throw when the Chiefs backed off with their lead. Flacco also took eight sacks.