Here it is: the Sunday Night football matchup that could determine the AFC playoff bracket down the line in December. The Patriots have the tall task of matching up with Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense; Vegas books think they're up to the challenge. The 59.5 over/under point total is the highest of the season so far. But will Josh McDaniels and Andy Reid live up to that hype (and deliver those sweet, sweet fantasy points)? We'll have to find out...
Tom Brady is firmly on track now. This Kansas City defense has been gashed all year long--the 1715 passing yards they've surrendered so far pace the NFL by nearly 80. With his team in a crucial spot and the prime-time lights all around, expect Tom to ball. A firm starter this week. Meanwhile, despite two interceptions last week, Patrick Mahomes scraped together a decent performance against Jacksonville thanks to a rushing score. This week, he'll have a far easier matchup in the New England defense. While I don't think he'll completely shred the Pats like he has other opponents, expect a pretty good week on his side of the equation, too.
Tom Brady: 22 points
300 passing yards (12 points), 3 passing TDs (12 points), 1 INT (-2 points)
Patrick Mahomes: 20 points
356 passing yards (14 points), 2 passing TDs (8 points), 1 INT (-2 points),
Sony Michel continues to rack up the yardage, and he's seeing meaningful red-zone touches to boot. The Chiefs have allowed an NFL-worst 5.4 yards per carry, and that number balloons to 6.8 YPC their past three games. The Pats will have no problem gaining consistent rushing yardage. Meanwhile, James White is approaching must-start status in any PPR league. Despite being completely stonewalled rushing-wise, his 10 catches paced the team. He's making good opportunities out of those grabs, turning them into 77 yards and a score. If you're in a PPR league, you need him in your lineup, at least as a flex if not a starting back. Kansas City's Kareem Hunt has rushed for 252 yards and four scores in the past three weeks, putting him in much the same category as White and Michel.
If you haven't guessed it by now, the theme of this week is two bad defenses getting ready for a shootout. With both teams having great receivers, expect big weeks out of all parties involved. Julian Edelman should lead the catches, while Josh Gordon is definitely a threat for a long score (much like the 34-yard bomb he caught for a TD last week). Despite playing plenty of snaps, Chris Hogan has failed to make much of an impact on the stat sheet. He's a fine bench stash, but at best it's wait-and-see time. Tyreek Hill is the number one threat in Kansas City, though he hasn't scored the past few weeks. Given his ridiculous speed and outstanding performance against the Patriots last year, that drought could end on Sunday night. Beyond him, Sammy Watkins is a good threat for something in the five-catches-and-70-yards range, though he might be in for more depending on how the Patriots choose to play him. If they match him up with Stephon Gilmore I think he has a quiet night, though if they opt for a zone base look he could find some opportunities. Nothing more than a flex, with the potential for a better performance.
Rob Gronkowski has been weirdly quiet throughout this season. While he's always going to draw extra defensive attention thanks to his size and freak skills, last week was the first time he topped 51 receiving yards since Week 1. Given that the Chiefs have been allowing the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, I'm tentatively penciling in Gronk for a bounce-back night. If the Pats have the league's best tight end though, Travis Kelce has made a very strong push for second place. He'll get his catches and yards over the middle, though I think as the Chiefs get into the red zone and the defense tightens up, he'll see more attention thanks to the compressed field space.
These defenses are both among the league's bottom half, and these offenses are the league's most potent. Please, don't start either New England or KC on Sunday. On The other hand, though, the scoring opportunities mean kickers will have a field day. Harrison Butker and Stephen Gostkowski are both great options.
That's it for this fantasy breakdown. Enjoy your Sunday Night, and Go Pats!