The Chiefs flat-out clocked the Patriots from start to end in Monday night’s 41-14 win. Jamaal Charles returned to the lineup after missing one game with an ankle injury, and he promptly hung three touchdowns on the Patriots. He was the obvious focal point of the offense, but we all already know about Charles. I want to talk about another Chiefs star in the making who showed the nation a glimpse of just how good he can be. That’s second-year TE Travis Kelce.
Kelce was selected with the 63rd overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Cincinnati. He would have gone higher had there not been injury and off-field concerns; Kelce was described as a “train wreck” character-wise by one NFL personnel man. Kelce was suspended for the 2010 season for smoking weed. But everybody knew the talent was there. And coach Andy Reid knew Kelce best because Kelce used to hang out at the Eagles’ facility when Reid was coaching Travis’ older brother Jason, the Eagles’ current center. Once upon a time, Kelce was a high school quarterback and even ran the Bearcats’ Wildcat offense early in his college career. He’s a big-time athlete who was drawing Jeremy Shockey and Rob Gronkowski comparisons in the pre-draft process. Kelce is a do-it-all tight end. And he had Twitter ablaze on Monday night with his play. People were calling him the new Gronkowski with the actual Gronkowski looking like a shell of his former self. Kelce runs so fluidly yet can run through anyone that crosses his path. He plays with a violence and attitude that it’s easy to see the Shockey in him. Averaging six targets per game while only playing around 50 percent of the snaps, Kelce has emerged as the No. 2 option in the passing attack behind Charles and ahead of Dwayne Bowe. He’s locked in as a TE1 and is on pace for a 72-1,036-8 receiving line. It’s achievable.
Patriots at Chiefs Notes
I’m of the belief that Tom Brady still has “it.” Unfortunately for him, the Patriots have done nothing to help him. They’ve provided him with tiny Julian Edelman as the No. 1 receiver, Brandon LaFell — whom the Panthers didn’t want — as the No. 2, and an offensive line that can’t block. Brady is 37 now. Instead of surrounding him with talent to make one final run at a Lombardi trophy, the Patriots have been getting worse on offense. He needs a field-stretcher at receiver like he had in Randy Moss. Aaron Dobson could be that guy, but he’s been a healthy scratch the past two weeks. … Gronkowski appeared to play the most snaps he has all season. He’s still not quite yet 100 percent, but he’s progressing. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy low on Gronk. He’s still scoring touchdowns. … Danny Amendola is a non-factor. He’s closer to inactive status than being fantasy relevant. … Knile Davis is still going to be a big part of the offense with Charles back healthy. Expect Davis to see 8-12 touches weekly, especially if the Chiefs can run it like they did Monday. … Donnie Avery hurt his groin in the fourth quarter. It had the looks of a multi-week injury.
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In Other News…
After an 0-4 start, the Raiders did what everyone expected them to do heading into their Week 5 bye. GM Reggie McKenzie called coach Dennis Allen late Monday night and fired him. Allen wasn’t the biggest problem in Oakland, but he was a major part of it. Hired ahead of the 2012 season after successful runs with the Saints and Broncos’ defenses, Allen composed an 8-28 career record and seemingly had the team in regression mode. For being a defensive mind, Allen’s Oakland defenses routinely ranked near the bottom in all three seasons. It was a mess. And it’s time to start over again in Oakland. McKenzie will hopefully get the boot by season’s end. He saddled Allen with over-the-hill and washed-up “talent” and no quarterback. That’s a recipe for disaster. The NFL won’t truly be right until the Raiders are good again. Look for owner Mark Davis to shoot for the moon with his next coach.
The 2-2 Bills have benched E.J. Manuel. Last year’s No. 16 overall pick, Manuel has completed just 58 percent of his passes with a pitiful 6.4 YPA. Manuel should have never been drafted where he was by the Bills, but this move reeks of desperation. Kyle Orton isn’t any better, and is merely a game manager. The coaching staff in Buffalo knows it needs to win games to save their jobs. Orton has started just one game since 2011. He’s your prototypical backup who enjoys holding the clipboard. The Bills aren’t going to be any better with him under center. They’ll continue to lean on Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. At least the AFC East is a complete mess. 9-7 may win this division.
Vikings fans got a scare on Sunday with Teddy Bridgewater getting carted to the locker room late in the fourth quarter of his first NFL start. It was later revealed Bridgewater suffered a minor ankle sprain. After hanging 35 points and 520 yards of total offense against the Falcons before exiting, Bridgewater is expected to be available for the Vikings’ trip to Lambeau Field this Thursday night, although he didn’t practice Monday. It’s not going to be as easy, but after one start, Minnesota fans have to be encouraged.
In other Vikings news, coach Mike Zimmer called Jerick McKinnon a change-of-pace back at his Monday presser after the rookie put 152 total yards on the Falcons Sunday. Ultimately, we expect Matt Asiata and McKinnon to share the load, with both seeing double-digit touches per week. McKinnon is a bit of a C.J. Spiller type as someone who can do a ton of damage with 10-15 touches per game. McKinnon needs to be owned in all formats.
Mike Evans was forced from Sunday’s comeback win against the Steelers with a groin injury. He’s now expected to miss 2-3 weeks, and with the Bucs’ bye coming in Week 7, it’s entirely possible we don’t see Evans again until Week 8. Look for Louis Murphy and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take on bigger roles in the pass game. ASJ might be the biggest beneficiary here. He’s a rising TE2 after playing every snap against Pittsburgh.
Quarterback & Running Back Slants
Brian Hoyer will remain the Browns’ starter coming out of the Week 4 bye. … Carson Palmer (shoulder) didn’t throw at Monday’s practice. The Cardinals are aiming for Palmer to return to the field Wednesday. … DeAngelo Williams says he has a high-ankle sprain and will miss multiple weeks. With Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert also likely out, Fozzy Whittaker, who is expected back from an injury of his own this week, and Darrin Reaves will carry the load in Week 5. Chris Ogbonnaya was signed on Monday and will also chip in. … The Ravens are expected to stick with Justin Forsett as their No. 1 running back because he’s more durable than Bernard Pierce and more trustworthy than rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. Forsett is the one to own for Week 5. … Arian Foster admitted his hamstring wasn’t 100 percent on Sunday. He’s day-to-day. … Denard Robinson out-snapped Toby Gerhart 36 to 21 in Week 4. It’s becoming a timeshare in Jacksonville. Neither is more than a shaky FLEX option. … Coach Lovie Smith failed to endorse Josh McCown as his starter when healthy. Mike Glennon is simply the better player. … Jonathan Dwyer has officially been charged with felony aggravated assault and eight misdemeanors after a July incident between he and his wife. … The Titans are hopeful Jake Locker (wrist) will practice Wednesday. … Coach Ken Whisenhunt says Bishop Sankey‘s “footwork” is improving. He’s clearly Tennessee’s best back. And it’s not close. … Coach Rex Ryan said Geno Smith will remain his starter. Fire up the Chargers defense in Week 5.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
The Vikings expect Kyle Rudolph (sports-hernia surgery) to beat his 8-week timetable. He’s still expected to miss at least another month. … Seahawks TE Zach Miller underwent ankle surgery last week and will miss multiple weeks. … Odell Beckham (hamstring) practiced Monday. He’s going to try and make his debut this week. … Jarius Wright played just 53.1 percent of the snaps Sunday when he caught 7-of-10 targets for 132 yards. He has good chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater, and is on the WR4/5 map. … Antonio Brown has posted at least five catches an 50 yards in 20 consecutive games, setting a new NFL record. … Eric Decker played 53-of-68 snaps in Week 4, suggesting his hamstring is no longer an issue. … Ace Sanders‘ four-game suspension is over. He’ll be a minor piece of the passing game. … Cecil Shorts‘ latest hamstring injury is an aggravation to his one from the summer. He’s the new Miles Austin, and is expected to miss Week 5. Marqise Lee (hamstring) will try to run this week. … Harry Douglas (foot) is expected to practice again this week. He was “full” last week but still missed Sunday. … Coach Marc Trestman hinted the team may give Brandon Marshall a week off after his ankle has proven to be troublesome the past two games. … The Jets waived fourth-round WR Jalen Saunders. Gang Green signed WR Chris Owusu to take his roster spot. … Colts WR Da’Rick Rogers was arrested for DUI Monday morning. He was waived by Indy in the afternoon. … Jets WR David Nelson may have a significant ankle injury. … The extent of Vernon Davis‘ back injury is not fully known, according to GM Trent Baalke.
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