September 9, 2022, 6:13 pm
Chiefs (-240) at Cardinals (+6); Total of 54
These two teams were tales of two halves last season, except each with the opposite half. The Cardinals started off red-hot with a seven-game win streak before stumbling into the playoffs, while the Chiefs suffocated under Cover 2 before going undefeated in November and December. They’ll meet here in a Texas Tech homecoming of sorts, with Patrick Mahomes facing his college head coach Kliff Kingsbury for the first time in the pros. There should be plenty of fireworks in the week’s highest game total of the slate. A big fantasy name that will be missing is Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who will serve the first game of his six-game suspension for PEDs.
The glass-half-full fantasy manager will tell you that the Chiefs’ early season offensive slump in 2021 can’t possibly happen again under the watch of Andy Reid and OC Eric Bieniemy. But, the realist in me says you were shown that Patrick Mahomes and company are clearly still human and it’s always possible that opposing DCs will uncover the 2022 version of the Cover 2 scheme that stymied the Chiefs for months. The Cardinals defense is not nearly as imposing as they were during their early 2021 season march, so Mahomes should still be treated like the half billion-dollar Top-3 fantasy QB that he is.
JuJu Smith-Schuster makes his Chiefs debut as their big slot in a soft matchup against CB Byron Murphy Jr. (PFF’s 80th-best graded corner). He has big shoes to fill with Tyreek Hill gone, but his quarterback and CB matchup should give him a high-end WR3 floor with WR2 ceiling, especially with the amount of projected points total. Beyond JuJu, no other receivers are trusted starts yet. Perhaps that narrative will change after Week 1, but only time will tell.
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