2. Patrick Mahomes
2018 rank: NR
The most amazing part of Mahomes’ 2018 season wasn’t that he became only the second player to throw for 50 touchdown passes and 5,000 yards. It’s that he did it in his first season as a starter and at age 23. Mahomes should only keep improving this season and into the future. -- Adam Teicher
Signature stat: Mahomes’ 14 passing touchdowns while throwing on the move were twice as many as any other player had last season.
2019 projection: 4,737 passing yards, 35 TDs, 12 INTs
Unheralded rookies: Though the top picks frequently garner much of the attention at this time of year, some of the top performers in the preseason didn’t create much of a buzz in April. Chiefs sixth-round running back Darwin Thompson positioned himself as a potential backup to Damien Williams by showing off his elusiveness and savvy in pass protection. At 6-5 and 218 pounds, Dolphins undrafted wide receiver Preston Williams has routinely overwhelmed defensive backs in jump-ball scenarios and could push for significant playing time. And Redskins seventh-round cornerback Jimmy Moreland has shown a knack for tracking down passes thrown in his direction.
According to Brees, though, the league will be left in good hands.
The Saints quarterback heralded the next round of signal-callers, calling Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray ”phenomenal athletes” and praising their maturity.
“There’s a level of maturity there that’s unique to the position, especially for young guys,” Brees told AOL.com. “Typically it takes a little while, but those guys have seemed to embrace it very quickly.”
Brees specifically called out Mahomes for his ”remarkable” MVP year in 2018, as well as the “excitement” and ”potential” of No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray
The Fantasy Single-Season Pantheon Team
QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, 2018: After just one season as a starter, Mahomes isn’t a Fantasy Hall of Famer yet. But he did just score the most fantasy points by a quarterback in NFL history—he’ll get here.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, 2006: LT has the most fantasy points on record. Tomlinson’s 33 touchdowns (28 rushing, three receiving, two passing) would have made him the 10th-highest-scoring running back in fantasy in 2006 without any of his league-leading 1,815 rushing yards or his 508 receiving yards.
RB Priest Holmes, Chiefs, 2003: Holmes actually scored more points per game in 2002, but he missed Week 16, when most fantasy championships take place. His 2003 performance, with a then-record 27 rushing touchdowns and still the third-most fantasy points by a running back ever, is a worthy replacement.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Darwin Thompson isn’t going to be a secret or value much longer.
It was easy to assume in the wake of losing Kareem Hunt that the bulk of the Kansas City Chiefs’ workload out of the backfield would go to Damien Williams. Understandably, he’s sitting on an ADP of 2.10.
But Thompson, a sixth-round pick who ran for 14 scores on a 6.8 YPC average at Utah State last year, has already blown past Carlos Hyde on the depth chart. Coaches have started giving him first-team work in goal-line scenarios, according to the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor.
Also keep in mind that Andy Reid has always been open to going with the hot hand and has admitted Thompson is further along than they had anticipated.
Thompson has already scored a 29-yard touchdown through the air and is getting goal-line work, so he has great standalone value in leagues right now. It isn’t hard to envision him taking a bigger role as the season progresses.
While it might be surprising to some, White knows pro football is not just an offensive sport. If the Chiefs were playing 7-on-7, they might run the table. It isn’t as if the Chiefs didn’t try improving their defense during the offseason, either, changing the base system and the entire coaching staff and welcoming as many as seven new defensive starters, including safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark.
Kansas City doesn’t need to be overly impressive on defense given how many points the offense scores. But the unit at least needs to give quarterback Patrick Mahomes time to catch his breath.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill will likely be available for all 16 games in 2019, even as he was embroiled in off-field drama during the offseason. Even if Mahomes is the same as he was during his 50-touchdown rookie season and Hill stays on the field the entire year, White tells SportsLine that the Chiefs likely won’t have improved enough on defense. Consequently, he is fading them in 2019.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs—Even with an expected 10-15% regression, Mahomes still comes out way ahead on my tiers. Additionally, he plays for a coach who is a play calling mastermind and he has some of the top skills players in the NFL (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins) playing alongside of him.
Around the league
“I thought it was pretty disgusting,” Rodgers said Monday. “He’s making a really tough decision and then before that, he makes the decision, I don’t know why that doesn’t stay in house to kind of protect him a little bit. Although when I think about it, I thought it would’ve been more of a standing-ovation type thing and a thank you than boos.“
“I, 100 percent, respect him immensely for his decision. I salute him for choosing quality of life. He’s a fantastic player, he had a great career and he’s got a lot to be proud of. Like many of us in this locker room, if not all of us, we all have interests outside of football. Andrew is an extremely bright guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of things to transition into. I know what it’s like to deal with rehab and going through injuries. I’ve been on IR twice. It’s tough. He was on it pretty much for an entire season and next offseason trying to get his arm back. Again, in my opinion, not playing with him but just reading what his teammates said, tough guy. What he went through to get himself back on the field is what it means to be a leader and I’m excited for him.”
But if Brees goes down, New Orleans has the backup ballast it needs to stay afloat.
The quadragenarian quarterback sits atop a depth chart that features a former Pro Bowler in Teddy Bridgewater. This offseason, Bridgewater re-signed with the Saints on a one-year deal, allowing him to continue to rebuild his value following 2016’s catastrophic knee injury while keeping his name in the mix as Brees’ possible successor.
Those plans may not come to fruition if Taysom Hill can look as good as he did in preseason Week 2. The former BYU star has turned heads as an electric special teamer and gadget-play specialist in his first two seasons in the league, but his performance against a smattering of Chargers backups lends credibility to his passing game.
JAGUARS vs. DOLPHINS: Jaguars edge Josh Allen
Drafted: Round 1, No. 7 overall
Allen was viewed as the top prospect in the 2019 draft by some experts, but was surprisingly still available for Jacksonville with the seventh pick. After watching No. 41 wreak havoc off the edges against the Dolphins, the Jaguars should feel pretty good about their new defensive playmaker. Allen registered a pair of tackles for loss, including a takedown of Kalen Ballage that showcased his explosive first-step quickness and burst. With Allen settling in as an edge defender with a knack for creating disruption, the Jaguars’ frontline has the potential to be a major problem for AFC South opponents this season.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
In most hyperextension injuries, the ACL is usually the structure that is damaged. For the MCL to have been affected, there was probably more of a rotational component (that might also have led to meniscal damage) in the action that caused Speaks’ injury. Such a rotational component was not obvious in the video of the play, but sometimes we don’t get the full story from the video.
Isolated MCL injuries that require surgery are certainly rarer than others. Typically, non-surgical interventions are sufficient. If surgery is required, that usually means other damage has also taken place. That is consistent with the description of Speaks’ injury.
Normally these repairs are performed within a week or so of the injury — as is the case here. A ligament reconstruction in that time frame not only gives the athlete the best chance of healing but also a chance to return to action quickly.
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