Look at how Kansas City’s defense played down the stretch and in the playoffs last year. Chiefs defenders made plays to get the ball back to Patrick Mahomes. And really, that’s how this defense will be defined.
1 Kansas City Chiefs
Previous rank: No. 1
Damien Williams’ decision to opt out of the 2020 season has cleared the runway for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the rookie first-rounder who becomes the apparent clear-cut starter at running back for an obscenely loaded Chiefs offense. There is, of course, the not-so-inconsequential matter of CEH proving to Andy Reid and associates that he has a firm grasp of the offense and can be trusted with handling the assignments necessary to protect Patrick Mahomes, K.C.’s half-a-billion-dollar man. Speaking of Mahomes, the quarterback recently said that Edwards-Helaire has “incredible vision” in the backfield. You get why fantasyheads out there believe he can have a Saquon-like rookie impact.
All season-ticket holders who have opted to have their 2020 payment carry over to the 2021 season will be contacted about claiming a spot to one of the two events, the Chiefs said. Those selected will receive four tickets and a parking pass. The tickets cannot be transferred.
Fans will be required to wear masks, matching the policy outlined Monday, when the Chiefs announced their reduced capacity guidelines for the first three home games of the 2020 season. Those guidelines also including social distancing measures and a cashless payment system at points of sales locations at concession stands.
That was enough for Philadelphia; while they didn’t fire Reid, who had an expiring contract, they didn’t bring him back either. Reid, one of the most successful head coaches in the NFL at the time, was suddenly a free agent. He eventually chose the Kansas City Chiefs, who had just moved on from Romeo Crennel, a former interim head coach that ownership had decided to hold onto at one point. Seven years later and Reid is the reigning Super Bowl champion and he has yet to post a losing record in Kansas City.
Those are the expectations for McCarthy in Dallas, except without having to wait a full seven years to reach that peak. Part of that is because of the standard Reid has set, and part of it is because Cowboys fans (and ownership) expect a ring every year. But it’s also due to the fact that McCarthy inherits a much better roster than Reid did back in 2013.
Running backs I love in 2020
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs: BE. STILL. MY. BEATING. HEART! That’s what I was screaming into my phone as I recorded videos for ESPN on draft day. Edwards-Helaire, the first player in SEC history with more than 1,000 rushing yards and more than 50 receptions in a single season; the player who forced the second-most missed tackles in the FBS; the versatile and elusive player who was going to an Andy Reid offense. The perfect fit for player and offense, CEH was going to be my “fantasy ride-or-die” this year and I talked him up extensively on social and on the post-draft episodes of Fantasy Focus and The Fantasy Show on ESPN+. And then Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season, hype for CEH went over the top, he vaulted into the first round of drafts and there went making him my ride-or-die. Way too obvious now. But I still put him in here because there are a lot of questions about whether a rookie, in a season with no preseason games and just 14 padded practices, is worth a mid-first-round pick. That’s what it’s going to cost, at a minimum, on draft day. I’m here to plant my flag on yes. The talent is undeniable, but I’m actually not sure that matters that much. If you are the lead back in an Andy Reid offense, you will have fantasy relevance. I mean, Andy made guys like Charcandrick West, Correll Buckhalter, Spencer Ware … the list of, let’s call them, inconsistent talents that Reid has turned into fantasy factors is long, not to mention elite players such as LeSean McCoy and Brian Westbrook. In fact, on draft day Reid compared Edwards-Helaire to Westbrook. Westbrook was a top-seven RB for five straight years, including two as the No. 1 guy in fantasy. Look, here’s all you need to know: In the past 15 seasons, Reid’s lead RB has averaged 18.0 PPG, which would have been RB8 last season (just ahead of Alvin Kamara) on a PPG basis. And, of course, most of those seasons were without Patrick Mahomes. At CEH’s price point, you’re either all-in or you’re not. I’m in.
Around the NFL
During a conference call with reporters, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton suggested instituting a postseason bubble during the latest competition committee call.
Per Vincent, the NFL isn’t ruling out the possibility of using a playoff bubble, noting all things are being considered.
Any sort of “bubble” scenario would need support from the players’ union.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers asked during an NFLPA conference call last month about a player testing positive during Super Bowl week. Instituting a bubble for the playoffs could be a method to ensure the fairest postseason for all teams. We’ve seen the NBA and NHL have great success with the bubbles they’ve created to conduct their postseason competitions.
Less than two years after everyone wanted their own Sean McVay, the real Sean McVay is rarely described as a genius anymore. Criticism of him is rare, but the glowing praise has dulled. The Rams missed the playoffs in 2019, becoming one of just two Super Bowl losers to miss the playoffs the following season in the past 10 years. Entering 2020, they’re tied with Kingsbury’s Cardinals for the lowest odds (6-1) to win the NFC West. McVay—who is still the youngest head coach in the NFL—was an unprecedented hire who almost delivered a Super Bowl within two years. But to get back, McVay is going to have to do more with less.
QB · Age: 32
Hard to imagine a better place for Kaepernick to resurrect his NFL career than in Baltimore. With the Ravens, the former Super Bowl quarterback would reunite with former 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman in a system that fits Kap’s skill set as well as any in the league. The organization boasts an incredibly strong and tight-knit front office, as well as a Super Bowl-winning head coach, the league’s reigning MVP and the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year. If any franchise could withstand the media circus that will inevitably follow Kap’s signing, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. It’s fair to wonder what the 32-year-old, who hasn’t taken an NFL snap since 2016, has left in the tank. But it’s hard for any organization to know for sure until it brings him in for a workout. If he outplays backup Robert Griffin III, the team would only need to eat $500,000 in dead money to move on from the former Washington QB, per Over The Cap. And if Kap doesn’t come out on top in that battle, but at least shows familiarity and capability within the offense, then Baltimore has yet another insurance policy at the most important position.
I think there’s a lot of value backing the Steelers in general after winning eight games in 2019 despite some of the worst quarterback play in the league. The Giants are a team that we should expect to start slowly as a new coaching staff finds its feet, and this is a team that has not played well at home in recent years. I’d have this line at Steelers -6.5
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Mathieu also reflected on his rapid rise to fame as “The Honey Badger.”
“To be honest, I really couldn’t handle it,” recalled Mathieu. “It really became overwhelming for me. I couldn’t really prioritize fame — whereas before, I thought I had it all together. Then, in comes this fame, but I thought that it taught me a lot of lessons.
“Yeah, it was tough getting kicked out of LSU and having those experiences, but I’m grateful for it. I was 19 years old and I was able to have that experience. I thought it really put me on the path that I am on today.
“For a moment there, I thought I was the Honey Badger. All day, every day. I thought that’s who I was — and that was never my heart. That was never my intentions. I definitely don’t play for fame. I always play for my teammates. I always play to be a part of a family.”
A tweet to make you think
#Chiefs Andy Reid said he supports the plan for Arrowhead Stadium to have 22 percent capacity starting the season.
“That’s a tremendous thing for our city here moving forward … There’s got to be a certain discipline that takes place with the fans.”
— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) August 19, 2020
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