Fantasy Futures: Atlanta vs. Kansas City

Last weekends loss to the Jaguars forced the Chiefs to the AFC West basement with slim hopes of climbing the stairs to the top of the division especially considering the way the Broncos are playing.

Credit the Jaguars for showing resilience and fighting back to win the game. Are the Chiefs done? Nope. Is there hope for a playoff berth? Of course there is but you have to keep the faith!

This is a long season that has its ups and downs, but the Chiefs have little room for error now and must refocus and start to string together victories. Remember, five of the last six games of the regular season Kansas City will face an AFC West division opponent. There is still hope. As for your fantasy squad, the playoffs come earlier and week 14 is generally the beginning of fantasy playoffs. Get your team together for a run, because there are only seven weeks remaining before the playoffs start.

On Sunday the Chiefs face a much improved Atlanta Falcons team with perhaps the scariest weapon in the NFL that of course being Michael Vick. The young signal-caller has not been the fantasy stud many owners had hoped, but his presence on the field alters defensive game plans as much as any one single player in the league. Make no mistake, Vick is an unbelievable talent, but this Falcons squad is led by their defense and a commitment to the run.

Kansas City got away from the run last week. Priest Holmes ran the ball five times in the first half. This game was reminiscent of the offensive game plan we saw against the Carolina Panthers. Both games resulted in a loss. Holmes should be the focus and the Chiefs must force teams to stop the run, not assume they will.

Let's take a look at your fantasy options this week, and see how this game will affect your weekend production.

QUARTERBACK:
Trent Green - This week Green gets to fire away at the league's 21st ranked pass defense. The Falcons hide their defensive secondary deficiencies with a strong pass rush. Fortunately, Green has one of the best lines in the league blocking for him. After allowing a season high six-sacks against the Jaguars, the line should be itching for redemption. Green should have an above average day as this is a must-win game for this team. With that said he should pass for over 250 yards and throw a pair of touchdowns.

Michael Vick - As good as he is on the field, Vick is merely a second string fantasy quarterback. This week he may be a good start as the Chiefs will continue to start Dexter McCleon at cornerback. Unfortunately for Vick, his only consistent receiving threat has been tight end Alge Crumpler. Bottom line is the Falcons are a run first team, and not a Michael Vick run first team, but a Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett led squad. Vick's numbers will be average, just like they have been all season and they Chiefs should be able to limit him to 130 yards passing, 45 yards on the ground and one score.

RUNNING BACK:
Priest Holmes - After being shut down last week, in part to the Jags defense and in part to the poor offensive play-calling, Holmes should rebound against an aggressive Falcons defense. The Falcons thrive on forcing teams into turnovers and creating sacks. By running Holmes right at the blitzing ends, the Chiefs should find success moving the football. In Arrowhead, Holmes can feed off the crowd energy and get back to his running ways. Priest should rip off 140 total yards and two scores. Warrick Dunn & T.J. Duckett - The Falcons version of Thunder and Lightning are a fearsome duo. Dunn is a quick downhill runner with deceptive power. Last week Dunn saw very few carries as he gave way to the bigger back Duckett. Who head coach Jim Mora decides to feature this week is still up in the air, but expect to see a bit of both until one proves he can run on the Chiefs defense. Start Dunn as his numbers for the year warrant a starting spot. Starting Duckett is a bit of a gamble but he could also reward with 100 yards and a score.

WIDE RECEIVER:
Eddie Kennison & Johnnie Morton - Well Johnnie Morton showed up last week becoming the first receiver to top 100 yards against the Jaguars. His play gave hope to the coaching staff as a receiver has yet to step up this season and become a consistent target for Trent Green. Kennison has more upside as a starter this week as his speed could find him downfield for some longer pass receptions. One of these two will have rookie DeAngelo Hall covering him and should dominate the rookie. Expect 60 yards for Morton and 80 yards and a possible score for Kennison.

Peerless Price - Perhaps the biggest fantasy wide receiver bust of the year, Price has not shown value for his high contract he received in 2003. There is a chance he could have a breakout game against the Chiefs as Kansas City will look to gain a quick lead on the Falcons. If Atlanta is forced to put the ball in the air, Price will see his fair share of balls thrown his way. But his performance thus far in the season is reason enough to leave him on your bench. 40 yards receiving is probably a fair assessment of his performance this weekend.

TIGHT END:
Tony Gonzalez - Gonzalez is a must start this week. He will see at least eight to ten balls thrown his way and you know Kansas City likes to find him in the red zone. Gonzalez should find himself covered by a linebacker this week and traditionally Tony makes mince meat of linebackers that means at least a 100 receiving yards and a score.

Alge Crumpler - Among the league leaders for tight ends, Crumpler is Vick's favorite target. He has deceptive speed and soft hands. Crumpler is a must start and should reward you with 75 yards and a score.

KICKER:
Lawrence Tynes - Tynes has been shaky the last few weeks and has yet to show consistency. He has lost the confidence of the coaching staff and you may see the Chiefs take a chance on fourth down instead of letting Tynes try a long field goal. Avoid Tynes until he proves he can make field goals on a regular basis.

Jay Feely - With only seven field goals thus far in the 2004 season, Feely has not quite lit the league on fire. He has a leg that can kick the deep ones, but the offenses conservative nature will limit his opportunities. Look elsewhere for a starting kicker this week as neither team fields a quality fantasy kicker.

DEFENSE:
Kansas City - Vick likes to scramble and the crowd noise at Arrowhead is like nothing he has seen in his short career. The Chiefs will mix their defense and create confusion. I like Kansas City's defense this week and this week Dante will return a kick for a touchdown. Start the Chiefs defense this weekend.

Atlanta - The Falcons have surprised this season and the defense has been fantastic. Defensive end Patrick Kerney and the rest of the defense lead the league with 20 sacks this season. Atlanta's defense is a good start this week, but I think they may be in for a long day trying to stop Priest Holmes.


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