Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrabbles away from Cleveland Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. (4) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Leave it to Sammy Watkins - who has played for both teams recently - to set the stage for this weekend's Ravens-Chiefs matchup.
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson can downplay it all they want, but this game is first and foremost a clash between two MVP quarterbacks.
''I think those guys definitely view it that way,'' said Watkins, now a receiver for Baltimore. ''You can say you're not, but the world is watching two of the best, youngest MVPs in the league, and very talented guys. I'm definitely looking at it that way. Like, man, Lamar needs to win.''
This is the fourth straight season Baltimore and Kansas City will face off, and Jackson has yet to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Baltimore quarterback is 30-5 as a starter in the regular season against everybody else.
The Ravens will be at home for Sunday night's game, but Kansas City won 34-20 at Baltimore last year, and the Chiefs have 11 straight regular-season road victories overall.
''When two good teams play each other, there's always going to be a lot of hype and a lot of buildup to the game,'' Mahomes said. ''Seeing Lamar and all the success that he's had with that team, you know two of the top teams in the AFC, so we're going to have to battle every year it seems like in the playoffs or whenever it is.''
The Ravens still have to show they can measure up against Kansas City - and now there's added pressure on Baltimore, which is trying to avoid an 0-2 start. The Ravens dropped their opener for the first time since 2015, losing 33-27 in overtime at Las Vegas on Monday night.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, haven't lost in the month of September since 2016. Mahomes is 11-0 in September as a starter, with 35 touchdown passes and no interceptions in those games.
Watkins played three seasons with the Chiefs before signing with Baltimore this offseason. He says he can be a resource for defensive coordinator Don ''Wink'' Martindale.
''I'm trying to win,'' Watkins said. ''Snitch or no snitch, anything I can give Wink and the defense, that's what I'm going to do. Not particularly giving up plays, but, `Hey man, do this on this guy, and do this on that guy.'''
The Ravens traded tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City in the offseason.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The Ravens and Chiefs rank last and next-to-last in the NFL in total defense after one week. They allowed a combined 948 yards in their openers.
The Chiefs are certainly the healthier team. Baltimore lost running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to serious knee injuries before the season started. Defensive back Marcus Peters is also out for the season.
The Ravens were still able to run the ball against the Raiders. Ty'Son Williams rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. The injuries led Baltimore to bring in veteran running backs Latavius Murray, Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, although only Murray played in the opener.
Freeman was promoted to the active roster Thursday.
''We have four good guys in here, and those guys are all going to be a big part of what we're doing going forward,'' coach John Harbaugh said.
The injuries keep mounting, though. Tackle Ronnie Stanley has ankle issues, and cornerback Chris Westry an injured knee.
Mahomes, the league MVP in 2018, has had a passer rating of 100 or better in 29 games in his career, one shy of Len Dawson's franchise record. He had a rating of 131.4 in last weekend's win over Cleveland - and 133.5 in last year's win over Baltimore.
CARRYING THE LOAD
Jackson is a big reason Baltimore can still rack up big rushing numbers despite all the injuries in the backfield. The 2019 MVP ran for 86 yards against the Raiders, although he did lose two fumbles.
Jackson also threw for 235 yards and a touchdown.
''You can tell he has a better understanding of the offense, just like I have,'' Mahomes said. ''When you first get out there, me in my first year and him in his first year, you have to rely on your playmaking capability. But as you kind of continue to learn and evolve as a passer and you learn different things in this league and you see different defenses, you understand little tricks of the trade.''
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones stepped up and delivered versus the New York Jets in Week 7. The rookie quarterback completed 24-of-36 passing attempts for 307 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions in the win. It was a breakout game for the young quarterback against a horrendous defense. There might've been even more value, but backup Brian Hoyer came into the game in the fourth quarter. Fantasy managers and Patriots fans are certainly glad to see Jones finally coming alive. Sadly, there won't be a ton of upside for Jones against the Chargers next week.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder hasn't been able to find much success since his season debut in Week 4. Since then, Crowder has failed to surpass the 34-yard receiving mark in either game he played. In Week 7, Crowder finished with four receptions on six targets for 34 yards in the loss. The veteran wideout is expected to see his value decrease with backup quarterback Mike White likely to take over. He'll be a desperation flex option in deep leagues for next week against the Bengals.
New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore hadn't registered a catch since Week 3 coming into the matchup with the New England Patriots in Week 7. The rookie receiver hauled in one of his six targets for 13 yards in the blowout loss. The only thing that somewhat salvaged his value was a 19-yard rushing touchdown. There isn't much upside with Moore right now since backup quarterback Mike White will likely be asked to start a few games. Moore has seen an inconsistent volume of targets this season. He is worth holding in dynasty formats, but won't have much value over the next few games.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was forced to exit early during the Week 7 matchup with the New England Patriots. The rookie quarterback was originally expected to miss some time, but the organization didn't have a timetable until they could do an MRI. Now, it has been announced that Wilson is going to miss two-to-four weeks of action. The Jets offense was already struggling heavily, but things are likely only to get worse now. It's assumed that backup quarterback Mike White will take over the starting duties until Wilson returns. That means, basically all Jets players are going to be avoidable in fantasy formats without Wilson available.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The 26-year-old had one less carry than starter Joe Mixon (12) and churned out his best performance of the season. In the fourth quarter, he busted out a 46-yard touchdown run to give the Bengals a 41-17 lead. Perine was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week and is expected to serve as Mixon's backup over the rookie Chris Evans. The veteran is a boom-or-bust flex against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins caught 7-of-15 targets for 62 yards in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He led the team in targets (15) but was only able to haul in seven of them on Sunday. Bengals QB Joe Burrow looks Higgins way in most games, but it hasn't generated much fantasy success. The 22-year-old has a catch rate of 41.9% on 43 targets in 2021. Higgins hasn't found the end zone since Week 2 and has only eclipsed 50 yards receiving just three times this season. The Clemson product is a boom-or-bust WR3 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
New York Jets running back Ty Johnson put together arguably his best game of the season against the New England Patriots in Week 7. He rushed five times for six yards, but also hauled in six of his seven targets for 65 yards in the loss. It was an active day for the Jets running backs in this game. Both Johnson and Michael Carter were the two leading receivers for New York on Sunday. However, neither player carries much fantasy value through the rest of the season. Carter has a bit more upside because he gets a significant amount of carries. Johnson can remain on the waiver wire for their battle with the Cincinnati Bengals next week.
New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis has been starting to heat up with his new team. Sadly, most of his momentum is gone with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) expected to miss some time. In Week 7, Davis hauled in four of his six targets for 47 yards and one touchdown in the blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Fantasy managers can usually count on Davis as a solid WR3, but those days might be numbered. Backup quarterback Mike White is likely to take over, which means Davis could see his value take a significant hit.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for 59 yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He salvaged his fantasy day by busting out a 21-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. The 25-year-old has rushed for 539 yards and four touchdowns while catching 13 passes for 90 yards and over seven games in 2021. Mixon continues to lead the Bengals backfield and is a solid fantasy option against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah caught all three targets for 92 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The 28-year-old exploded for two scores, including a 52-yard touchdown reception. He has now hit pay dirt in three of his last four games. The Bengals' tight end has reeled in 17 catches for 256 yards and five touchdowns across seven games in 2021. Uzomah is a boom-or-bust low-end TE1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase caught eight passes on 10 targets for 201 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 rout of the Ravens. He led the team in catches and receiving yards in Week 7. Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Chase showed great chemistry on Sunday, connecting for an 82-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The 21-year-old has had an impressive rookie campaign, hauling in 35 receptions, 754 yards, and six touchdowns over seven games. Chase is a borderline WR1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23-of-38 pass attempts for 416 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He connected with tight end C.J. Uzomah for two touchdowns and fired an 82-yard score to wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. In his sophomore campaign, the 24-year-old has been excellent, throwing for 1.956 yards and a 17:8 TD: INT ratio over seven games in 2021. Burrow is a borderline QB1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (head) spoke to reporters after the game Sunday, Oct. 24, which means that he's not in the concussion protocol. He left the game in the fourth quarter and didn't return.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes isn't having a great year by his standards, but he's still the second quarterback in fantasy football. He should ball out against the New York Giants next week.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins caught seven of his nine targets for 53 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins has yet to top 87 yards receiving in a game this season, but he remains firmly in the WR1 discussion because he has scored in five of seven outings. It has not helped his fantasy bottom line that Arizona has rarely been in a negative game script situation, but the Cardinals seem to be prioritizing balance across the board offensively this season. He should remain a top 10 receiver option for fantasy purposes in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk hauled in four of his five targets for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 versus the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: Spreading the wealth seems to be the name of the game for the Arizona passing attack in 2021 and such was the case again in this one as four pass-catchers reached at least 50 yards receiving but none topped 66. Kirk's score was a 5-yard grab near the end of the first half and was his second TD in as many games after going scoreless in the previous four. Kirk is a solid WR3/4 most weeks and could have a bit of more upside than that in Week 8 versus the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner ran 10 times for 64 yards and a score against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: After having his three-game scoring streak snapped in Cleveland last Sunday, Conner found his way into the end zone against the Texans in Week 7 while also averaging a season-best 6.4 yards per carry. Don't get overly excited about the YPC aspect, though, as Conner is much more of a bruiser most weeks. He could fill an RB3/flex slot against the Packers this Thursday.
Arizona Cardinals WR A.J. Green caught all three of his targets for 66 yards in Week 7 versus the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: Green did most of his damage on a 41-yard catch late in the first half on a blown coverage by the Texans. While his involvement in the offense has been meager for most of the season, he has benefited from being attached to an elite offense quarterbacked from Kyler Murray. That alone usually guarantees he will perform at a WR3/4 level at the very least and gives him decent upside just about every week. Fantasy managers should view him in that range in Week 8 versus the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz caught three of his five targets for 66 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: The Cardinals made a concerted effort to get the new guy involved after acquiring him from the Philadelphia Eagles just over a week earlier, and he came through midway through the third quarter when he got open over the middle of the field and outraced the Houston defense for a 47-yard score. In doing so, he became the first player in NFL history to catch a touchdown in consecutive games with two different teams. Ertz should be considered a TE1 moving forward, including in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds carried the ball 15 times for 81 yards against the Houston Texans in Week 7. Edmonds added a nine-yard catch on three targets.
Fantasy Spin: With the Cardinals rolling, Edmonds saw a season high in carries and his second-best output in yardage. Obviously, Thursday figures to be a bigger test, and even though Green Bay gave up 195 yards rushing in Week 7, keep in mind that most of that came on trick plays and QB scrambles -- Washington's RBs managed 73 yards on 18 carries. He should be an RB3/flex type here.
San Francisco 49ers CB Josh Norman registered 10 tackles - seven solo and three for loss - and broke up one pass in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts.