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Chiefs Market Movers heading into Week 2: Jones, McDuffie, Toney trending up

Let’s see which Kansas City players are trending as the team prepares to travel to Jacksonville.

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Bob Self / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kansas City Chiefs21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1 is now behind us — hopefully, a long way behind us.

So now, the Chiefs are now preparing for the team’s only Sunday noon game that isn’t on Christmas Day. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense will provide a solid test for the Chiefs’ defense. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence and company gave it all they could handle in last season’s Divisional round matchup — and Jacksonville has now added Calvin Ridley, who looks like a No. 1 receiver.

Kansas City hopes to welcome Chris Jones and Travis Kelce back to the field as it tries to get its season back on track. For teams that want to be contenders, there’s a big difference between 1-1 and 0-2 — so we can expect that the Chiefs’ players will approach this game with added focus and urgency.

So as we head into this key Week 2 matchup, here are a few of them who may be trending.


Syndication: Florida Times-Union Bob Self / USA TODAY NETWORK

Defensive lineman Chris Jones: Right now, many fans (and media folks) are feeling bearish about Jones and his standing on the team. Some were upset by his contract holdout. Others were annoyed by his public statements. Some now assume that this will be his last season in Kansas City. But all of that can be put aside when Jones takes the field. A good performance in a winning effort will go a long way toward making the holdout fade from memory. He’ll be motivated to prove he’s worth every penny of the raise he was trying to get — and now that he’s missed a game, the urgency should be there, too. On Sunday, look for a big game from No. 95.

Cornerback Trent McDuffie: A standout in Week 1, the second-year player appears poised to build on a tremendously promising rookie campaign. He’ll get a big test against Lawrence and the Jaguars’ pass-catchers, who can fit passes into tight spaces. With Jones back on the field, the pressure on Lawrence should increase — which will make things easier for the secondary. But to contain Ridley and Christian Kirk, the unit will still need another big game from its best player — which may now be McDuffie.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney: After a bear market, the biggest gains typically come as a stock bounces off the bottom. After missing basically all of training camp, Week 1 should be the low point of Toney’s season — so we’re hoping to see that big bounce in Jacksonville. Now putting in the work and saying the right things, he seems determined to make it happen. Head coach Andy Reid has been known to keep going right back to players who have drops or turnovers, giving them a chance to rebuild their confidence. So expect Toney to get involved early and often against the Jaguars, giving him the opportunity to push his stock back up.

Others trending in the right direction: defensive ends Mike Danna, Felix Anudike-Uzomah and George Karlaftis, wide receiver Rashee Rice, tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and defensive tackle Keondre Coburn.


NFL: Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Richie James: As a fifth-year veteran who can make tough catches and use his quickness to get open, we expected James would be a prominent part of the Kansas City passing game — but in Week 1, he hardly had an impact. His routes were not well-coordinated with the other receivers — and James ended up with just one catch for six yards. Against the Jaguars, however, the team probably won’t try to feature all seven wide receivers — so the focus will likely be on the players who are most critical to develop. That should mean that Toney and (and second-year wideout Skyy Moore) get longer looks and a chance to bounce back. This could also mean that James will see fewer targets as he spends most of his time on special teams.

Cornerback Jaylen Watson: The third cornerback job was supposed to be an even competition between Watson and Joshua Williams. But in Week 1, Williams took all 39 snaps when three corners were on the field — and Watson played only on special teams. It might be that this was a matchup decision, so we could see Watson play with the defense more often in Jacksonville. (He did, after all, have an interception and two passes defended against Lawrence in the playoffs). But if Watson is still just a special-teams player on Sunday, we’ll know where this competition now stands.

Tight end Noah Gray: Kansas City did its best against the Lions, plugging the third-year player into Kelce’s role. The results weren’t very impressive. Gray did catch three of his five targets for 31 yards, but the difference in how he operated in space (and how Detroit respected him) were noticeable. The Lions’ defenders were able to sit in their zones without being picked apart by the Chiefs’ pass-catchers — at least in small part because Gray wasn’t able to step into a game plan that depended on Kelce. Sure... matching Kelce’s ability would be a tough ask for any tight end — but it’s clear that with Kelce back, Gray will return to a supporting role.

Others trending in the wrong direction: tackles Wayna Morris and Lucas Niang, tight end Blake Bell and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire,

Value (sleeper) pick: Skyy Moore

NFL: Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Moore is such an important player for 2023 that it may seem illogical to for me to list him as a sleeper. But I get the impression that many in Chiefs Kingdom have already written off the second-year wideout. While I admit the start to his career has been painfully slow, that doesn’t necessarily mean the talent and ability aren’t there. Moore also has a chance to have a huge role on the team: as a high-volume, intermediate-depth chain mover. It didn’t work in Week 1, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work in the weeks to come. I think the Chiefs are fully committed to his development — and that Moore’s long-awaited coming-out party is still on the way. It could start this week.

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