Eric Berry

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 2 matchup with Chiefs

usa-zach-ertz-alshon-jeffery-tyreek-hill-travis-kelce-eagles-chiefs.jpg
USA Today Images

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 2 matchup with Chiefs

Each week this season, we'll take a look at the Eagles and their opponent from a fantasy perspective to help with any lineup-related decisions.

Before looking ahead, let's take a quick look back.

What we got right
• Zach Ertz indeed had a great game and Alshon Jeffery didn't against the 'Skins.

• LeGarrette Blount reached the end zone.

• Rob Kelley and Terrelle Pryor struggled.

• Chris Thompson had the best day of any Redskins running back.

What we got wrong
• Jordan Reed, who we pegged at seven catches, 90 yards and a TD, had a modest afternoon. News came out Sunday morning that Reed is dealing with a broken toe, which may have affected his game.

• Jamison Crowder did next to nothing, falling well short of our six-catch projection.

Now on to the Eagles and Chiefs.

• • •

RB Kareem Hunt
Hunt was one of the top stories of Week 1 after his 246 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. It was the best debut a running back has ever had.

Hunt will continue to get ample opportunities in Kansas City's ground attack. Charcandrick West, the No. 2 RB, is more of a pass-catcher than a between-the-tackles runner.

If you have Hunt, you're starting him this week, you don't really need any fantasy advice or input. 

It's hard to know just yet how good the Eagles' 2017 run defense is. Last season, the Eagles allowed RBs an average of 125 total yards and 5.6 catches per game.

Projected stat line: 70 rushing yards, 5 catches, 40 receiving yards, TD

• • •

WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce
Hill is a nightmarish matchup for any team because he's probably the fastest man in the NFL and the Chiefs are so creative with his usage. The Eagles can try different things, jamming him at the line of scrimmage or doubling him on occasion, but Andy Reid is going to figure out ways to get him the ball.

Last season, Hill had seven plays of 34 yards or more, including touchdown runs of 68 and 70 yards. In Week 1 against the Patriots, he had a 75-yard catch-and-run for another TD. If Alex Smith hits him in stride ... good luck.

The Chiefs put Hill in motion a lot and those are the most dangerous situations. He'll take a hand-off on an end-around or serve as a decoy to open running lanes for Hunt or space in the seam for Travis Kelce. 

It will be difficult for the Eagles to contain both Hill and Kelce in this game. Given Hill's explosiveness, they could make him the top priority to stop. He has to be defended the way teams defend DeSean Jackson with an over-the-top safety, which means more 1-on-1 coverage for Kelce.

With Hill, all it takes is one play. The Patriots actually played him pretty well aside from the 75-yarder.

Jordan Hicks and/or Malcolm Jenkins could draw the Kelce assignment. The Eagles allowed the fewest receptions and yards to tight ends of any NFL team last season but they didn't face one quite like Kelce.

Hill's projection: 90 yards from scrimmage

Kelce's projection: 6 catches, 72 yards, TD

• • •

WR Alshon Jeffery
After a tough Week 1 matchup with Josh Norman, Jeffery could be in line for a big game if he draws No. 2 Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell.

The way the Chiefs play defense and the way Eagles lined Jeffery up last week, it looks like he'll avoid top corner Marcus Peters for the most part. Mitchell last week allowed 96 receiving yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Jeffery (6-3/218) has a distinct size advantage on Mitchell (5-11/190). Plus, the Chiefs' pass defense figures to be worse moving forward with Eric Berry (torn Achilles) done for the season.

Projected Jeffery stat line: 7 catches, 120 yards, TD

• • •

RB LeGarrette Blount
The Chiefs allowed three one-yard TDs to Mike Gillislee in the opener against the Patriots but that doesn't necessarily make Blount a good start this week. 

First off, Gillislee's TDs were more about opportunity than anything else. Will the Eagles be able to drive inside the five-yard line multiple times against this KC defense? 

Blount's best chance at a decent game in this one would involve pass interference calls in the end zone. In that regard, Jeffery could be his best friend this weekend.

The Chiefs have a pretty stout front seven with Bennie Logan at the nose, Justin Houston and Dee Ford generating pressure and Derrick Johnson being the all-purpose linebacker he's always been.

Don't be surprised if the Eagles use Darren Sproles a bit more in this game to avoid the tough middle of KC's defense.

Projected stat line: 35 rushing yards, 0 TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
The Chiefs were the only team to allow fewer fantasy points per game to tight ends last season than the Eagles, and just last week they shut down Rob Gronkowski. 

But with Berry out, the Chiefs' ability to nullify the tight end drops and they'll likely bracket Ertz with two lesser players. If Jeffery wins his matchup a few times, KC could pull help away from Ertz to aid with Jeffery and that would enhance Ertz's matchup.

Ertz has been on a roll for about a calendar year and I think that continues Sunday even if he doesn't reach the end zone.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 80 yards

Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith help Chiefs stun champion Patriots in NFL opener

ap-chiefs-kareem-hunt.jpg
AP Images

Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith help Chiefs stun champion Patriots in NFL opener

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Winning at New England when the Patriots are coming off an historic Super Bowl victory is worth getting a little wild over.

That's not the Kansas City Chiefs' style. Not even when a rookie is setting records.

Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times and set an NFL mark in a 42-27 stunner Thursday night to open the NFL season. Hunt's 246 yards in his pro debut were a record since the 1970 merger.

"We're going to enjoy the heck out of it," coach Andy Reid said after a superb second half carried his team. "It's one of 16 and something to build on."

Judging by how they won, it certainly is. There were big plays all over the field. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were making them. Particularly Hunt.

"It started out just a little bit shaky, but it was all heart," Reid said of the third-round draft pick. "He was trying too hard."

Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and became the first quarterback with 300-plus yards, four TDs and no interceptions against coach Bill Belichick. The 42 points were the most the Patriots have allowed in Belichick's 17-plus seasons.

Coming off their sensational Super Bowl rally to a fifth Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots faded badly in the second half. A raucous sold-out crowd of 65,878 celebrated the unveiling of yet another championship banner, and there was plenty of talk about Tom Brady leading them to a 19-0 record.

After Week 1, though, they are winless.

"I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better," Brady said "It's a winning attitude, a championship attitude you have to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field."

It was the first time the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime, a span of 82 games. They were no match for the Chiefs in the last two periods.

Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yarder and Hunt put the Chiefs in front with a 78-yarder to punctuate Kansas City's charge after trailing 17-14 at halftime. Hunt also had a 58-yard scamper and finished with 148 yards rushing and 98 receiving. Hill had 133 yards through the air, and Smith went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

"To start on your first carry like that and have it go like that, it would be hard to overcome for a lot of guys," Smith said of Hunt, from Toledo. "I thought it was awesome coach coming right back to him.

"There was a good chunk there where we were going as Kareem was going. He was really a big chunk of the offense tonight. For a young guy, we put a lot on him, in all facets of the offense tonight, and he was able to handle it.'

Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, didn't look too spry. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn't throw for a touchdown, finishing 16 for 36 for 267 yards.

"Just a very poor effort and we'll have to do a lot better," Brady said. "Didn't make a lot of plays tonight, actually."

Patriots newcomer Mike Gillislee scored on three short runs, becoming the first player since Terrell Owens of Philadelphia in 2004 to score three touchdowns in his debut with a new team.

And Kansas City aided the Patriots' cause with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Yet, in the end, the Chiefs looked like world-beaters.

At the beginning, it seemed like an extension of February's Super Bowl. Riled up, Brady and the Patriots tore through the opposing defense as if it belonged to, well, the Falcons, scoring in nine plays, with Gillislee surging in from the 2.

One play later, they were at it again as Hunt fumbled. The Patriots took over at the Kansas City 32 and appeared to go up 14-0 on Rob Gronkowski's diving catch. Then a replay review overturned the score, with NFL headquarters -- which now makes final decisions on such reviews -- determining the ball hit the ground as Gronk came down in the end zone.

Gillislee was stopped on fourth-and-inches at the KC 10 and the Chiefs, looking very much like the host team, marched 90 yards in 12 plays. Hunt made up for his early gaffe by gaining 25 yards on the tying drive, which Smith capped with a sharp 8-yard pass to Demetrius Harris.

The teams traded long touchdown drives, New England going 82 yards to Gillislee's second TD, the Chiefs covering 92 yards at the end of the half before Hunt ran in with a 3-yard swing pass.

Stephen Gostkowski's 25-yard field goal was the margin for New England's halftime edge.

But the crowd's fervor was silenced with Hill's long touchdown on which prized free agent addition cornerback Stephon Gilmore was torched. Hunt sped down the middle behind linebacker Kyle Van Noy and DE/LB Cassius Marsh to put Kansas City in front for good.

Short yardage
New England failed twice in the first quarter on short-yardage runs, by Gillislee and Super Bowl hero James White, and again in the fourth period, by Gillislee. If anyone proclaimed the Patriots were missing RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 TDs last season and was a beast in such situations, well, Gillislee, who came from Buffalo as a restricted free agent, ran in for a pair of 2-yard touchdowns and a 1-yarder.

Roger, Roger
Not only did the crowd revel in the video highlights from the Super Bowl, the fans booed vigorously when Commissioner Roger Goodell was shown talking on the sideline Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during warmups. A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell's face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature. Goodell watched the game from a suite, but not with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Injuries
Kansas City's star safety Eric Berry was carted off with 4:56 remaining with an Achilles tendon injury that Reid feared was a tear that would sideline Berry for the season.

The Patriots lost perhaps their best defensive player, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, in the third quarter with a knee injury. His absence showed on Hunt's long TD reception. ... WR Danny Amendola left in the fourth quarter with a head injury. He's projected as New England's slot receiver with Julian Edelman out for the season.

Up next
Chiefs: Host Philadelphia on Sept. 17.

Patriots: Visit New Orleans on Sept. 17.

NFL Notes: Chiefs S Eric Berry signs franchise tender

NFL Notes: Chiefs S Eric Berry signs franchise tender

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs safety Eric Berry signed his franchise tender and reported to camp Sunday, though he is almost certain to miss Kansas City's preseason finale against Green Bay this week.

Berry was given the franchise tag early in the offseason but had not signed the deal, which means he could skip all of training camp without being fined. The deal will pay him just over $10.8 million this season, making him the league's highest-paid safety.

Kansas City plays its first regular-season game Sept. 11 against San Diego.

Berry played in every game last season, less than a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. He made 55 tackles, a pair of interceptions and resumed his role as the heart and soul of the defense.

Falcons: 2-time Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson signs
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons signed veteran free-agent safety Dashon Goldson on Sunday.

The Falcons will be without rookie starting strong safety Keanu Neal, the first-round pick, for at least the first two regular-season games with a right knee injury. He will have arthroscopic surgery on Monday.

Coach Dan Quinn has said that backup Kemal Ishmael would fill in for Neal as the starting strong safety.

Goldson, a 2012 All-Pro with the 49ers, had 110 tackles in 15 starts with the Redskins in 2015. He spent his first six seasons with San Francisco and played with Tampa Bay in 2013-14 (see full story).

Bills: Ryan says standing for anthem pays respect to military
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan believes standing for the national anthem is a way for NFL players and coaches to show respect and give thanks to members of the armed forces.

Ryan says he can appreciate how some players have personal or religious beliefs that lead them to not stand for the anthem. However, he adds people should appreciate the "gift" they have in playing football, which is the result of "the men and women that serve our country."

He was asked about his opinion before practice Sunday, a day after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he is refusing to stand for the anthem because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.

Ryan did not specifically reference Kaepernick in his response (see full story).

Colts: Former Patroits RB Steven Ridley signs
INDIANAPOLIS -- Free agent running back Steven Ridley signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Ridley was cut Thursday by Detroit, which had signed the sixth-year veteran in April.

Ridley, 5-11, 220 pounds, has played in 60 career NFL games with 26 starts. He went to a Super Bowl with New England in 2011, his rookie year, when he was a third-round selection, and again in 2014, when he was hurt.

Indeed, he's been injury prone, appearing in six games for the Patriots in 2014 and nine for the Jets last year.

He has 685 carries for 2,907 yards and 22 touchdowns in his career.

Indianapolis also waived wide receiver Justin Berger, safety Alden Darby, guard Eric Herman, defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, tight end Mike Miller, running back Chase Price, cornerback Winston Rose, defensive end Delvon Simmons, wide receiver Josh Stangby and inside linebacker Junior Sylvestre.