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Market Movers: who’s up and who’s down as Chiefs enter Week 7

Kansas City did a nice job in Buffalo and now turns its attention to the division-rival Denver Broncos.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we saw a very different Kansas City Chiefs team on offense, with backup offensive linemen clearing freeways for Clyde Edwards-Helaire and two backup receivers stepping up for an injured Sammy Watkins.

This week, it’s another divisional game, and likely another snow game, so anything could happen. But the Chiefs will likely continue to evolve as they work in Le’Veon Bell to an already-loaded offense. The only real constant is change, and the most adaptable and resilient teams are the best teams.

Here are a few Chiefs whose ranking may change this week:

This week’s Bulls

NFL: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • Juan Thornhill: The second-year safety is starting to get his legs back underneath him, and it’s evident in his range and ability to close when the ball is in the air. He’ll get some opportunities this week with a Broncos team that likes to throw the ball deep but isn’t great at it. Watch for No. 22 to have a big game as he reasserts himself as one-half of the best safety tandem in the league.
  • Travis Kelce: We moved Kelce up a notch in the team rankings this week, trading places with Tyreek Hill. It’s incredible what Kelce is doing this season, with almost 500 yards and five touchdowns in the first six weeks. He’s doing it all, with noticeable effort and effectiveness as a blocker as well. This week, he should be on everyone’s radar, given his track record against the Broncos....
  • Byron Pringle: Simply put, Pringle has shown that he deserves more opportunities. He’s strong, runs great routes and delivers when called upon. Sammy Watkins will miss this weekend’s game, leaving the door open for Demarcus Robinson and Pringle. Both guys have shown they can be reliable targets when Patrick Mahomes is improvising outside the typical play structure. We’d like to see Pringle get another chance to pop off the screen on Sunday.

Others trending in the right direction: Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrick Nnadi, Anthony Hitchens, Daniel Kilgore, Nick Allegretti, Bashaud Breeland

This week’s Bears

NFL: Super Bowl LIV-San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • Austin Reiter: Whether due to ineffectiveness or injury, it appears that Reiter has lost his starting job. This week, if Daniel Kilgore has another performance as he did against Buffalo, we may just see the confirmation that the change is permanent.
  • Darrel Williams: “Darrel The Barrel” was fairly effective last week, and he’s a competent role player for this team. But he’s also the guy who stands to lose the most when Le’Veon Bell gets into the offense. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Williams take a back seat if Bell is what the team hopes he is. Watch the snap counts — and perhaps even the inactive list — for Williams this week.
  • Alex Okafor: The best ability is availability... and Okafor is injured again this week. He’ll miss his third game of the first seven, which isn’t ideal for a guy who was hoping to bounce back this season. With Taco Charlton also hurt, Chris Jones might get some run at defensive end against the Broncos, as the position is getting dangerously thin.

Others trending in the wrong direction: Ricky Seals-Jones, Ben Niemann, DeAndre Washington

Value (sleeper) pick: Le’Veon Bell

To call a guy with his NFL resume a sleeper may seem like a stretch, especially given the relative fanfare around his signing in Kansas City. But the safe bet is to keep expectations low on Bell until we see what he can actually do on the field. Even if he exceeds expectations, he’s still the No. 2 running back behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

That said, it’s possible the Chiefs have a specific plan in mind for him, and he has plenty of reason to play like a man with something to prove. Watch to see if Andy Reid gives Bell a series or two to get his feet wet, as well as occasional third-down work. Any production should be considered a bonus, and his contract almost guarantees he’ll be a great value.