Fantasy Futures: Kansas City vs. Jacksonville

With the bye week behind them, the Kansas City Chiefs face a Jacksonville Jaguars team that hopes to erase a two game losing streak. The Jaguars return home after a tail whipping by the suddenly surging San Diego Chargers. Kansas City's offensive unit is as healthy as it's been all year as wide receiver Eddie Kennison returns to the starting line-up.

The Jaguars defense has kept them in most games this season with the exception of last weeks debacle where they gave up 34 points and nearly 200 yards rushing. The Charger hardly has the same fire-power as the Chiefs offense and that means Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez should thrive in Jacksonville on Sunday.

Hopefully the Chiefs bye week didn't alter your fantasy roster too much and you found some suitable bench players, but fear not fantasy GM's as the Chiefs return this week with a must win game. The Chiefs find themselves in last place in the AFC West and must expound on their Monday Night victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs played with purpose against the Ravens and got back to the basics by running the football.

This week should be no different, as Kansas City will look to control the clock and chew up yards on the ground. The Jags are reeling after two consecutive losses and are searching for answers offensively. Look for Kansas City to blitz the young Byron Leftwich, as his mobility is not exceptional.

Let's take a look at how this game should play out statistically.

QB:
Trent Green - Now that Eddie Kennison is set to return to the starting line up, Green will have a full arsenal at his disposal. Though the focus will be on the running game, Green will have his opportunities downfield to Kennison and over the middle to Tony Gonzalez. If the Chiefs run the ball well, Green may only throw the ball 20-22 times. Not many opportunities to put up fantasy points, but the Jacksonville offense has had problems scoring this year and its doubtful Kansas City will be playing catch-up. The Chiefs must win the turnover battle to win games. Expect 225 yards and a score or two.

Byron Leftwich - Leftwich is coming off his best game statistically of the season as he entered the 2004 the 300-yard passing club. However, the Jaguars also lost that game and have yet to find a rhythm that compliments both the run and pass. Leftwich has weapons all over the field with rookie receivers Reggie Williams, Ernest Wilford and veteran Jimmy Smith. Running back Fred Taylor continues to be a mystery on offense but he still provides a solid option out of the backfield. What Leftwich lacks is a security blanket in the middle of the field, tight end Kyle Brady has battled injury and current starter George Wrightster is more of blocking end. I think the Chiefs get up early and force Jacksonville to throw the ball to get back in the game. Expect similar numbers to last week, he will throw at least one interception, 250 yards and a score or two.

RB:
Priest Holmes - Start him. It's not that hard. He's the best running back in football. He has the best offensive line in the NFL blocking for him. Last week, the Chargers backup ran for over 100 yards. The Chiefs will stick to their guns this week and continue to feed Priest the ball. In an attempt to tire the big guys up front for Jacksonville, Priest should see close to 30 carries. He'll get 140 yards and two scores.

Fred Taylor - Expected to really break out this season, Taylor has been held in-check thus far. Defense are keying on the run against Jacksonville and forcing Leftwich to throw the ball. This week should be no different. After shutting down the Ravens run game a couple weeks ago, Kansas City's defense is oozing confidence. The loss of defensive tackle Ryan Sims to a hamstring injury will hurt, but this team is beginning to become the defense many expected when Gunther took over. Allowing an average of 78 yards rushing the last two games, Kansas City should limit the Jags possessions and continue shutting down the run. Taylor has the ability to break a long run, but I doubt he will. He will share goal line duties with rookie back Greg Jones. Expect 70 yards.

WR:
Eddie Kennison/Johnnie Morton/Chris Horn - Horn will take over the slot receiver spot from Dante Hall and provides a more viable weapon downfield than Hall. His emergence will garner focus from the Jags safeties opening up play-action opportunities downfield for Kennison. Morton is more of a possession guy who had his best game of the year against the Ravens. If Kennison can limit his drops, he's a marginal starting option for your fantasy team. Sit both Morton and Horn and start Kennison in a deep league as your second or third receiver. Kennison is good for 75 -100 yards receiving with a good chance to score a touchdown this weekend.

Jimmy Smith/Reggie Williams/Ernest Wilford - Smith is a guy that should be starting in deep leagues every week. He is a veteran with great hands that finds ways to get open. No longer a consistent deep threat, Smith can still get behind a defense and score. I doubt the Chiefs will let him, as Warfield is likely going to blanket him all day. First round pick Reggie Williams has yet to prove he can run crisp routes and catch the football consistently. He is still a year away from being an impact receiver. Wilford has been a target of Leftwich's early on this year and has outplayed the 1st rounder, specifically in the red zone. Both rookies are big targets as they stand at 6'4" tall each. Fade routes in the end zone are likely play calls especially if the shorter McCleon finds himself on either. Neither rookies are worth a start unless you want to take a chance on them possibly catching a touchdown. Jimmy Smith is a solid choice to start as a number two receiver in all leagues as he could catch eight balls for 80 yards against the Chiefs. One of these receivers will catch a touchdown; it's just a crapshoot on deciding which one will do it first.

TE:
Tony Gonzalez - Ok, the Chargers Antonio Gates is good, but Tony Gonzalez is better. Gates had a coming out party last week for San Diego and it was at the expense of the Jaguars defense. The Jags know Gonzalez is going to get some looks, but double-teaming him will open up too many options on the outside. Linebacker Mike Peterson will likely spend most of the day covering Gonzalez. Peterson is good, but if Gates can get loose I expect Gonzalez to do the same. Tony is a must start as he is good for 90 yards and at least one score.

Kyle Brady/George Wrightster - Wrightster is not a down the field threat and shouldn't factor much between the 20's. Leftwich does look his way in the red zone and could catch a ball or two. In larger leagues, Wrightster is worth a look with the tight end position so thin early this year but don't expect much more than 15 yards and a possible score. Brady is coming off a finger injury that has forced him to miss the first five games for the Jaguars. He is expected to play but he's a risk to play this weekend.

Kicker:
Lawrence Tynes and Josh Scobee are both mediocre starts, but there are better options out there. Tynes is a better start than Scobee.

Defense:
The Chiefs defense may be worth a start this week. The Jags should be playing from behind most of the game and might be forced to throw the ball more often than they like. With rookie receivers and a second year quarterback, turnovers are likely. Plus Dante Hall is bound to take one to the house, right?

The Jaguars are far from where they were in the first two games of the year but are still a stout group. They haven't done much from a turnover standpoint, and I don't see many sacks in their future against the Chiefs. If you have the Jags D, look elsewhere as there are better match-ups and options out there.


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