Thu Oct 14 10:34am ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid talks to Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Jarran Reed (90) before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) runs with the ball in front of Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Milton Williams (93) and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Eric Wilson (50) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Just when the Kansas City Chiefs finally got their ground game going, they had to anxiously watch from the sideline Sunday night as Tyreek Hill helped carry running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire off the field with a knee injury.
It wound up being a sprained knee ligament that landed Edwards-Helaire on the injured reserve list 48 hours later.
Now, the trick for the Chiefs is to keep from reverting to an air-it-out approach that has sometimes caused their offense to stagnate. They are at their best when they are able to get their ground game going, and it will be up to Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon to provide that much-needed balance when they head to Washington on Sunday.
''We've got great players. We've put (Derrick) Gore up, too - he was productive during the preseason,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''We have trust in the other two guys, particularly Darrel. He's been productive for how many years now?''
The answer is four, including 39 games in a Chiefs uniform. But the former undrafted free agent out of LSU has never had a chance to start in the NFL until now, and Williams knows it's an important opportunity for him on several fronts.
He wants to prove to all the naysayers he can do it. And he wants to help Kansas City get on track after losing three of its last four games to fall into last place in the AFC West, a division the Chiefs have dominated for years.
''I've worked my whole life to be a starter in the league. I finally get this chance, finally get this opportunity, and just have to make the most of it,'' Williams said. ''Come here each and every day willing to work and put in the work.''
Edwards-Helaire left some big cleats to fill. He was coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and had scored through the air each of the previous two games before hurting his knee against the Bills. But the reality is Williams has been beyond capable even before Edwards-Helaire arrived, averaging about 4 yards a carry during his career.
That included work in the Super Bowl in February, when Edwards-Helaire was dealing with a high-ankle sprain.
He has carried the ball 29 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns this season. And even though McKinnon is known for his catching ability out of the backfield, Williams has seven catches for 45 yards in limited opportunities.
Speaking of McKinnon, he'll also be in line for more chances after signing with the Chiefs in free agency. McKinnon started 18 games in Minnesota and four in San Francisco, and he has appeared in 79 games over six seasons in the league.
''They've done it before,'' Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. ''Darrel has stepped up in big spots his whole career here, filling in and running tough. Jerick has been a guy that's made plays at a lot of different spots and I have trust that he's going to make plays here as well.''
It would be nice if one of them was the Chiefs' leading rusher this weekend. Mahomes had that dubious distinction against the Bills, when he was flushed from the pocket so much that he wound up with 61 yards rushing.
The importance of offensive balance can be boiled down to two very different games this season. Against the Ravens, the Chiefs threw for 343 yards and ran for 67 in a 36-35 shootout loss. Against the Eagles, when the Chiefs threw for 271 and ran for 200, they put up a season high in points in a 42-30 rout in Philadelphia.
''For us, we try to score every time we touch the football,'' Mahomes said. ''That's how it's been my entire career. That was the precedent set before I got here. When we get an opportunity to have success and be successful, we have to capitalize.''
New York Giants wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) is likely to suit up for Sunday's outing against the Panthers. Ross has been dealing with a hamstring issue, although he managed to practice sparingly on Thursday and Friday, which is always a good sign regarding a player's anticipated availability. The former Bengal received an uptick in snaps over the last few weeks. However, with Darius Slayton (hamstring) andEvan Engram (calf) expected to play, andSterling Shepard (hamstring) labeled as a game-time call, Ross should be avoided in all fantasy formats in Week 8.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (calf) has been progressing in the right direction after being injured during the Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots. Prescott spent most of his bye week in the pool, and he should be ready to practice by Wednesday. Nonetheless, fantasy managers should continue to monitor his status and await his official designation ahead of the Week 8 outing in Minnesota.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) is out for Week 7 versus the Panthers. However, while he has a slight chance to make it back for Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs, fantasy managers realistically shouldn't expect him back until Week 9 versus the Oakland Raiders. Nonetheless, until Barkley is ready to return, Devontae Booker will likely continue to handle duties out of the backfield and has plenty of appeal in all formats.
Washington Football Team QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) is still relying on crutches to get around and is not close to returning to action, according to multiple sources. He is expected to undergo an MRI exam in the next few weeks and appears unlikely to return before the team's Week 9 bye on Nov. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick's rehab process has not moved as quickly as initially hoped and there is a possibility that he won't return to the field this season. Taylor Heinicke will continue to serve as Washington's No. 1 quarterback in the interim and can be a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will start Week 7's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had been sidelined recently because of a calf injury but is no longer listed on the team's injury report after logging two limited practice sessions and one full session during the week. Although he won't have to worry about sharing offensive snaps with injured QB Trey Lance (knee) this weekend, Garoppolo is only worthy of being a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (calf) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Engram had been listed as questionable on the injury report after missing practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and participating in a limited practice session Friday, Oct. 22. If he is declared active for the game, he should be viewed as a low-end TE1 option in deeper fantasy leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) is considered a game-time decision for Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard sustained a hamstring injury during practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and was officially designated as questionable after participating in the following day's practice session on a limited basis. If he is declared active, he should be viewed as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy leagues.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring) are likely to play Sunday against the Panthers. ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that the two should be good to go unless they suffer a setback in pre-game warmups. Engram and Slayton have had limited roles so far- but could be pivotal players against Carolina with the Giants already down Saquon Barkley (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Kadarius Toney (ankle). The Panthers have a stingy pass defense, ranking seventh in pass DVOA, though Engram and Slayton could see enough volume to make an impact this week.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring), listed as questionable, is looking iffy for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Parker seemed to take a step in the right direction, as he was a limited participant at practice after not taking the field for any sessions the previous week. Fellow wideout Preston Williams (groin) is also questionable for the contest. If Parker misses another game, look for rookie Jaylen Waddle, coming off of a 10-catch, 70-yard, two-touchdown game, to command a large number of targets once again in an excellent matchup against Atlanta. Mike Gesicki should also continue to see his fair share of work in the passing game. Both are strong plays Sunday.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (shin), dealing with a nagging injury, is expected to suit up Sunday against the Packers. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gibson was dealing with a hairline fracture in his shin earlier in the year, an injury that seemed to pop back up during last week's contest. Bothered by the injury, the star halfback has yet to exceed the 100-yard scrimmage mark since Week 3- though he does have three touchdowns in his last three games played. Gibson remains in starting territory thanks to his talent and a favorable matchup against a Packers defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA. He will likely continue to be more touchdown-dependent than usual.
Philadelphia Eagles LB Genard Avery was fined $5,111 by the National Football League for getting in the face of Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette late in Week 6's game and taking a critical penalty.
Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Sean McVay.
Fantasy Spin: Michel had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. He should see a decent number of offensive snaps this afternoon and can be considered as a flex option in deeper fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars S Rayshawn Jenkins was fined $10,300 by the National Football League for his actions in Week 6's game against the Miami Dolphins.
There is optimism that Tennessee Titans WR Julio Jones (hamstring) will play in Week 7's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. Despite the favorable matchup against the Kansas City defense, he should be viewed as a risky WR3 or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) expressed optimism that he would be ready to play against Kansas City, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noting that that is the team's expectation. Jones suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, sidelining him for two games- though he aggravated the injury during his team's win over the Bills on Monday night. Still, it seems like Jones, who will take on a Chiefs defense that ranks 31st in pass DVOA, will be out there for a big game Sunday. His recent injury track record makes him a risky play, but it could pay off if Sunday's game becomes high-scoring.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt was fined $10,815 by the National Football League for committing unnecessary roughness in Week 6's game, when he punched at the football in an attempt to strip Seattle Seahawks RB Alex Collins.
There is optimism that Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder, hand) could play in Week 7's game against the Chicago Bears, even though he did not practice at all during the week, according to head coach Bruce Arians. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (ankle), who popped up on Saturday's injury report, is looking like a game-time call. The Raiders won't know the status of Waller until pre-game warmups after he strained his ankle and inner heel while being unintentionally tripped by a teammate at Friday's practice. With the game scheduled for the late afternoon slate, it sounds like fantasy managers should have a backup plan in the increasingly likely event that Waller is limited or out for the game against Philadelphia. Foster Moreau would step in as the starting tight end sans Waller. Henry Ruggs III and Hunter Renfrow could both see boosts in targets.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II (ankle), listed as questionable, is expected to play against the Buccaneers in Week 7. Robinson appeared on the team's injury report with the ankle issue before ultimately suiting up last week, so while his availability hasn't been in question, his production has lately. He has just one game with double-digit targets and has exceeded the 50-yard mark twice through six weeks of play, leaving him in the WR2/3 range. Robinson does have a chance for a good game this week against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to receivers.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (shin) is listed as questionable in Week 7 but is expected to play in Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. He was limited in practice this week due to a stress fracture in his shin. The 23-year-old logged a season-low 23 snaps (39%), finishing with 44 yards on 10 attempts and a fumble in a Week 6 loss to the Chiefs. Gibson is an RB2 in Week 7 as the team could be playing catch up and is a game script that favors top-pass catching RB J.D. McKissic more. Fantasy managers should check back on Sunday morning to ensure Gibson is officially active before inserting him into their starting lineups.