Game Predictions & Player Projections - KC vs. HOU

Game Predictions & Player Projections - KC vs. HOU


Game Predictions & Player Projections - KC vs. HOU


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Prediction: KC 20, HOU 13 (Line: HOU by 2)

The Chiefs ended 9-7 last year but were only 3-5 on the road. Andy Reid enters his third season along with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. The only personnel changes of note was losing Dwayne Bowe and picking up Jeremy Maclin and drafting Chris Conley for what will be a significant upgrade. The Chiefs famously never threw a touchdown to a wideout in 2014 but that will change and likely in this first week.

The Texans also ended 9-7 and were 5-3 in home games. That speaks about their defense and Arian Foster since they spun through four different quarterbacks and ranked only 28th in passing yardage for the year. This game should be lower scoring and it won’t have Arian Foster. Starting out with a new quarterback and without Foster makes this game hard to win.

Kansas City Chiefs

1 @HOU —— 10 @DEN ——
2 DEN —— 11 @SD ——
3 @GB —— 12 BUF ——
4 @CIN —— 13 @OAK ——
5 CHI —— 14 SD ——
6 @MIN —— 15 @BAL ——
7 PIT —— 16 CLE ——
8 DET —— 17 OAK ——
9 BYE ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
KC @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 220,1
RB Jamaal Charles 70,1 3-20
WR Chris Conley 4-40
WR Jeremy Maclin 6-90,1
WR Albert Wilson 2-30
TE Travis Kelce 4-30
PK Cairo Santos 1 FG 2 XP

The Chiefs’ offense sputtered last year outside of Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce. That will change with the addition of Jeremy Maclin as a true #1 wideout that the Chiefs have missed since Dwayne Bowe started trailing off three years ago. Jamaal Charles remains the core of the offense and at 29 years of age he has at least one more good year left in him. But the offense desperately needs to pass better and has made changes that should pay off immediately.

QUARTERBACK : Alex Smith remains a game manager and only threw for 3265 yards last year which was actually his second best season ever. But he threw very few interceptions and not many long passes either. Bringing in Jeremy Maclin as an underneath receiver makes tremendous sense and the pair have already looked very sharp in the preseason. Smith won’t be much more than a bye week filler in fantasy but he’s what this offense wants.

RUNNING BACK : Jamaal Charles enters his eighth season but comes off a slightly down year with only 1324 total yards. He scored 14 touchdowns so his fantasy value remained high but he only topped 100 rush yards once and his role as a receiver was also down with just 40 catches for 291 yards. The Chiefs want to use Knile Davis more to keep Charles fresh but he’s rarely had more than 250 runs in any season and only carried 206 times in 2014. Charles is still an elite running back and adds receptions to help maintain good weekly numbers. But his age could be starting to become a factor.

WIDE RECEIVER : As noted, Jeremy Maclin has brought a sense of optimism to the Chiefs after last season’s embarrassing lack of wideout touchdowns. Maclin caught seven passes for 65 yards and a score in the third preseason game and looks like he has played with Alex Smith for years. Albert Wilson is the other starter after a very quiet rookie season with just 16 catches. Wilson suffered a mild AC sprain in his shoulder last week but is still expected to play in the opener.

The Chiefs used their third round pick on Chris Conley and the 6-3 product of Georgia brings size and speed to the position. He had a knee sprain earlier but is healthy now and will figure in as the third receiver. He’ll start if Wilson is unable to play and may end up beating him out for the starting job sometime this season. This is not a passing offense but Conley is still worth tracking.

TIGHT END : It was only his first year playing, but Travis Kelce was a nice surprise when he led all Chiefs’ receivers with 67 catches for 862 yards and five scores. He caught four of his touchdowns by midseason and was consistent at around 50 yards per week. While he has been a darling in fantasy drafts, the upgraded wideouts should dig into his action and render him less of a difference maker than his overall stats from 2014 would suggest.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans may actually get to use Jadeveon Clowney but he won’t play too much in his first game back anyway. Charles faces an above average rush defense but he’s a must start every week anyway and has a chance to score in this one. Smith is never a recommended start because his stats will almost never be more than average and Travis Kelce is also facing one of the best defenses against tight ends. Only Coby Fleener scored in Houston as a tight end last year and only three tight ends managed more than 20 yards there. But Albert Wilson/Chris Conley takes the tougher matchup versus Jonathan Joseph while Maclin gets the easier side. This is a great spot for Maclin to catch a score and get the Chiefs’ wideouts back on track.

Gaining Fantasy Points KC 27 1 32 5 19 19
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 17 12 30 2 4 9

Houston Texans

1 KC —— 10 @CIN ——
2 @CAR —— 11 NYJ ——
3 TB —— 12 NO ——
4 @ATL —— 13 @BUF ——
5 IND —— 14 NE ——
6 @JAC —— 15 @IND ——
7 @MIA —— 16 @TEN ——
8 TEN —— 17 JAC ——
9 BYE ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Alfred Blue 60 1-10
RB Lamar Miller 70,1 2-10
WR DeAndre Hopkins 6-80
WR Cecil Shorts 4-60,1

The Texans were saddled with quarterback problems last year and now that they have settled on Brian Hoyer (assuming he really is the answer), they are now facing at least the first month without Arian Foster who was the glue that kept the Texans from complete implosion in 2014. This will be the first time in 13 years that Andre Johnson won’t be playing and they’ve tried to replace him with Cecil Shorts and rookie Jaelen Strong. Shorts already has an accomplished injury record. The second season for Bill O’Brien looks to be off to a shaky start on offense. At least the defense is better than most.

QUARTERBACK : The Texans named Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback after he beat out Ryan Mallett but it’s hard to see how much help Hoyer is going to bring to the team. He’s 30 years old and been in the league for five years. But his only significant playing time was last year when he started 14 games in Cleveland and posted just 3334 passing yards and 12 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. It’s hard to see how he could be anything more than the journeyman quarterback who is on his fourth NFL team. But he will be instrumental in how well DeAndre Hopkins plays and how well the Texans can compensate for the temporary loss of Arian Foster.

RUNNING BACK : Arian Foster needed groin surgery and will miss three or more weeks in the best of all outcomes. He’s been less than durable for most of his career and now at the age of 29 is less likely to hold up. But the offense goes through him and he’s been elite when healthy. Just last year he ended with 1573 total yards and 13 scores over 13 games. The Texans were not happy with their other rushers in preseason games. Alfred Blue will be the main replacement for Foster though he only managed a 3.2 yard per carry average as a rookie last year. Chris Polk could also help out.

For week one, I’ll project for Blue as the starter and he could take a heavy load. No need yet to consider anyone else in the backfield.

WIDE RECEIVER : Andre Johnson will be hard to replace and his absence makes DeAndre Hopkins the #1 object of attention for every defense – that will be a change. Despite the shaky situation at quarterback, Hopkins still broke out last year when he ended with 76-1210-6 mostly from Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Texans added Cecil Shorts as well. He’s always had talent but never played more than 13 games in any of his four seasons. Shorts has looked good in the preseason but it’s only a matter of time before he gets injured. Keshawn Martin and Nate Washington will figure in as well but the expectation is that only Hopkins will post fantasy relevant stats on a consistent basis.

TIGHT END : The Texans ranked dead last in tight end receptions (32) during O’Brien’s first year as head coach. Garrett Graham is the best receiver here but he only managed 18 catches last season. There is no fantasy value here.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Playing without Foster is hard enough but the Texans are starting out with a new quarterback with surprisingly little experience and without Andre Johnson. That is a tall order even with a very good defense at home. The Chiefs are above average on defense and that alone is enough. The only attractive start is with Hopkins and even that is risky against a defense that allowed less than one wideout score per week and big yardage only to receivers with elite quarterbacks – not the case here. Blue is a moderate play at best since the Chiefs only gave up four rushing touchdowns in all of 2014. Blue might be a consideration in two weeks when the Buccaneers visit, but this will be a touch matchup.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 24 8 19 31 9 5
Preventing Fantasy Points KC 2 9 12 9 22 7

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