If you missed previous editions of Market Movers, here’s what were doing:
Each week, we look for Kansas City Chiefs players that have improved their standing (Bulls) and those that have declined (Bears). Not every player will move up or down each week. Players performing as expected will maintain their rankings. Others will be locked in and won’t have an opportunity to move.
We’re looking for trends — players who are making the most of their opportunities and making themselves more valuable to the team. In the meantime, it helps to categorize the roster by breaking it up into tiers: Elite, Starter, Role Player, Special Teams, Depth and Roster Bubble.
When it comes to quantifying a player’s value to the team, it’s not just the on-field performance that matters. Contracts are important too, because there’s a salary cap and resources are limited. So our calculations include each player’s 2019 cap hit (via Spotrac) and the percentage of the cap allocated to that specific player.
This week’s Bulls
Tyrann Mathieu: Before the last couple of weeks, there was talk about how Mathieu wasn’t bringing the big-play ability we expected from him. In the past two games, however, the new Chiefs defensive leader has a sack, an interception, 10 tackles and a very timely tackle-for-loss. He’s been quietly solid all season, but now we’re seeing him fill up the box score as well. The Honey Badger does care — and it shows.
Byron Pringle: For a moment, let’s put aside the failed third-and-28 conversion. Pringle led the Chiefs in receiving on Sunday with six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown — and the week before, he made the crucial play to set up the win. Against the Colts, he outperformed Robinson and Hardman, who have been playmakers in previous games. The second-year receiver is becoming a legitimate option for Patrick Mahomes.
Tanoh Kpassagnon: The Chiefs defense needs guys to step up — especially given the recent slew of injuries. At times, Kpassagnon has been one of the bright spots. On Sunday, he had two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit to go along with five tackles. He seems to have improved his on-field awareness — and is flashing some of the potential we hoped to see.
This week’s Bears
Cameron Erving: We jinxed him, folks. For a few weeks, many had talked themselves into believing Erving was competent. Perhaps it’s because Mahomes was elusive enough to mask issues. Perhaps he was getting more help than he did on Sunday. Whatever it was, Erving was abysmal against the Colts — and now Mahomes is hobbled.
Derrick Nnadi: He should probably be given the benefit of the doubt, but the Colts game was a rough one for Nnadi. Up against the league’s best offensive line, number 91 made the highlight reels... for the Colts. The issues with run defense start with the interior of the Chiefs defensive line — and Nnadi is the centerpiece of that group. He needs to show that Sunday was an aberration.
Bashaud Breeland: Three penalties — including a massive 53-yarder for pass interference and two holding calls — marred Breeland’s game against the Colts. The Chiefs’ number one cornerback by default had a brutal game. He will need to bounce back in a big way against the Texans.
Damien Williams: Always known as a better receiver than pure runner — especially between the tackles — Williams has had a terrible start to his season. As a receiver, he’s (somehow) on pace for a career year — assuming he can start finding the end zone. But he’s averaging only 1.8 yards per attempt (31 rushes for 57 yards), which is not confidence-inspiring. At this point, we wouldn’t mind seeing more of LeSean McCoy — or even Darwin Thompson. The offense needs a bit of a spark.
De’Anthony Thomas: Thomas has one touch on offense so far: a 6-yard reception. As a returner, many have been frustrated with his judgment. If he’s not an impact returner — and he’s not contributing on offense — could his snaps (or even his roster spot) be better utilized with a different combination of players?
Other observations this week:
- The middle and bottom of the roster have had their share of struggles. As others have pointed out, a guy like Erving is a fine backup that can get a team through two or three games without being noticed. But eventually, we’ll see why he wasn’t a starter. Injuries have exposed this team’s depth. Some — like Hardman, Nnadi, Niemann, Kpassagnon and Ogbah — are rookies or young players that should grow with additional experience. Others are who they are.
- Tyreek Hill might play this week, and he could make all the difference. There’s a reason the team stuck by him through everything he’s been through. There’s a reason his was a priority contract that has been done already. The Chiefs believe Hill is among the most important players on the roster. The last two weeks might have reminded us why. He can capitalize on man coverage and single-high safeties — or prevent those strategies altogether. Getting Hill and Mahomes back on the field together can bring back the quick-strike offense that helps the Chiefs get big leads — and changes the complexion of games. If he’s back for the Texans, the Chiefs’ chance of winning goes up — maybe by a lot.
- The Chiefs defense will get multiple sacks on Watson. Clark will get at least one. Blitzes will cause a couple more. This pass rush is already bordering on underrated, and the Texans don’t protect Watson that well.
- Interior offensive linemen and linebackers are still an issue. Several of these guys have slipped down in the rankings as the season has gone along. The backups haven’t fared better than the original starters. Someone needs to step up — like Darron Lee, Martinas Rankin, Stefen Wisniewski or even Dorian O’Daniel (once he’s healthy). Perhaps we’ll see some changing of the guard as soon as this week or next.
- The running backs might shuffle this week. Damien Williams should still have a role, but look for the Chiefs to go to McCoy early and often. Thompson might be able to make some plays — if he ever gets a chance.
If you want a complete look behind the curtain, here’s a link to the full Market Movers database.