(Table for 6 continued from above)
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes’ recent challenges are different than Murray’s. He’s actually easily outpacing his career-highs for rushing attempts and rushing yards. He’s also well on his way to matching or exceeding last year’s passing yardage and passing TD totals. But for the Chiefs’ all-world quarterback, the challenges seem to run deeper.
Kansas City looked largely unstoppable last year. Then they ran into the Tom Brady-led Bucs in the Super Bowl. He had never had a game where he threw two interceptions without scoring. Yet that’s what happened in a shocking 31-9 defeat.
I would be overreaching if I were to say he and his team still haven’t recovered. But it’s hard to explain away their 4-4 record and his historically high 1.3 interceptions per game in 2021. Mahomes remains a QB1. The question is whether he can return to the Mahomes of old.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Houston Texans
Few current QBs have had worse luck than Taylor. Twice in recent years, he’s been the Week 1 starter, only to be replaced early in the season – once after a freak accident by a team doctor. This year he got hurt again, making way for rookie Davis Mills. Yet Mills’ struggles have opened the door for a now healthy Taylor to take back the starting job.
The veteran looked sharp in Weeks 1 and 2, despite having very little to work with in an underwhelming Texans offense. It’s easy to see Taylor regress into a bottom-third fantasy QB.
It’s also possible that his versatility as a passer and rusher will keep him in weekly streaming conversations. His return today against Miami will help us reassess his ceiling.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Tennessee Titans
I launched my first fantasy football blog in 2007, as the dawn of Peterson’s future-Hall-of-Fame career. Few running backs dominated as much as he did for as long as he did.
Even at 30 years old, he led the NFL in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing TDs. And when Derrick Henry went down last Sunday, Peterson was signed to help stabilize a backfield reeling from the loss of its primary offensive engine.
We don’t know how much Peterson has left in the tank. Last year, he enjoyed 21 carries for 134 yards in Weeks 1 and 2. But then he exceeded 3.8 yards per carry only twice in his final 14 contests.
Essentially, he wasn’t startable in fantasy. The question is whether he might be startable for Tennessee, which reportedly wants to remain committed to the running game. Today will go a long way to answering that question.
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tennessee Titans
I can’t write about Peterson without writing about McNichols. If one breaks out, the other likely will remain in the background. Or both could turn out to be RB3/4s.
But these two are not primed to dominate together. This is not a Nick Chubb / Kareem Hunt situation or even a Chase Edmonds / James Conner situation. Peterson re-emerged because the Titans desperately needed a capable free agent, and McNichols has run the ball only 56 times in more than four NFL seasons.
But McNichols’ strength is in the passing game – an area where Peterson historically has struggled. So there is an opening for McNichols to play the J.D. McKissic role, converting a few catches a game into RB3+ production.
I’m playing against him this week, so I hope it doesn’t happen. But it might, and it’s the uncertainty that makes this backfield so fascinating.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce has been the best fantasy tight end for five straight seasons, having entered the NFL in the midst of an era dominated by two TE contemporaries: Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
But Kelce arguably has been better than both, in recent years posting the kind of numbers normally reserved for near-elite WRs. Last year’s 105/1,416/11 receiving line topped them all. Yet he’s now 32 years old.
His catch rate (69%) is the lowest it’s been since 2018. His yards per reception (11.4) have never been lower.
Is this the beginning of his inevitable decline? Or could one big game put his fantasy totals back on track?