The Kansas City Chiefs’ bye week came at a really good time. They got back on track with a win against the Los Angeles Chargers, followed by a week off to get healthy for the stretch run. Next up: the Oakland Raiders, a team that represents an opportunity to dominate a lesser opponent and essentially lock up the division.
As expected, player stocks continue to be volatile in the middle and bottom of the roster. In what should be a good sign, guys at the top of the roster (the blue chips) have stayed consistent — and are getting healthier.
Balanced portfolios benefit from value stocks (those which are purchased at a discount, or are not yet well-known) to complement their blue chips. Other than some special teams contributions, the Chiefs are getting little value from players at or below the roster’s 34th position. Most championship teams include contributions from these players.
Looking ahead to another divisional battle — and the opportunity to get the whole team executing ahead of next week’s game against the New England Patriots and those that follow — here are some of the risers and fallers in Week 13.
This week’s Bulls
- Rashad Fenton: The unexpected rise of the rookie cornerback started due to injury, but he’s proven he belongs in the rotation. Against the Chargers, he made a big impact with a really impressive interception, but the true test starts next week against the Patriots. If he’s the guy Tom Brady ruthlessly picks on, he’ll join a long list of Chiefs cornerbacks who have had promising starts — only to fade under the lights. But if not, Fenton might just be for real.
- Mike Pennel: The midseason addition that made Chiefs legend Joey Ivie dispensable, Pennel might just be a big part of a playoff defense. Primarily a run stuffer, Pennel also had a sack, two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss in Mexico City. The Chiefs don’t need him to be a playmaker, but as long as he and Derrick Nnadi are clogging up the middle — and occasionally pushing the pocket — the Chiefs have a chance to build on some of their stronger defensive performances down the stretch.
- Frank Clark: Finally healthy, we’re starting to see some return on our investment in the former Seattle Seahawks defensive end. His effort against the Chargers might just be the norm. He hit Philip Rivers three times and also grabbed a sack and a turnover. Going forward, watch for Clark to assert himself as the defensive tone-setter and unblockable force. If he can, we can stop talking about his contract — and start talking about a defense that can win in the playoffs.
This week’s Bears
- Sammy Watkins: At times, he looks like the most reliable receiver not named Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. At other times, he looks like he’s going through the motions. Can the Chiefs count on Watkins when it counts?
- Deon Yelder: Through the offseason, many of us thought that the second tight end position was the biggest opportunity the Chiefs had to improve on offense. Heading towards the postseason, it still is. Blake Bell has been ineffective — and is now injured. Yelder is now taking the bulk of the TE2 snaps, but hasn’t yet contributed much. Was Demetrius Harris a bigger part of last year’s success than we thought?
Predictions for Week 13 and beyond
- Frank Clark will eat. It’s been talked about all week, but Derek Carr and the Raiders backfield will be seeing more of number 55 on Sunday. It could get ugly for them.
- Darrel Williams helps the Chiefs close out the game. He might be the best finisher in the running back room. With Damien Williams injured, the team should give him more opportunities. And if Darwin Thompson is ever going to contribute, this would also be a great game to get him involved. The Chiefs should keep looking for the right formula for balancing the offense by making plays from the running back position.
- With another strong performance, the secondary can build confidence going into the Patriots game. The defensive backfield is quietly stacking up some better-than-expected performances. They’re more opportunistic — as evidenced by the three interceptions last week — and coverage has improved. Derek Carr (in the Arrowhead cold) presents another opportunity for these guys to shine.
- Mahomes re-enters the MVP race. Frankly, he never left. It’s just that many have forgotten about him. What better opportunity than these next two games to remind everyone? First, he can dominate an inferior Raiders team and light up the scoreboard — and then next week, go head-to-head against Brady and the Patriots.
If you want a complete look behind the curtain, here’s a link to the full Market Movers database.