Before the start of the season, this Week 12 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams was poised to be one of the better games of the season. And while the Chiefs are cruising, as usual, the Rams have been hit hard by the injury bug and haven’t been able to overcome some key offseason losses.
Let’s take a look at who the best fantasy plays for this contest are.
QB Patrick Mahomes
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Most people would agree that Mahomes is currently the favorite for NFL MVP. He leads all quarterbacks in passing yards and touchdowns and has thrown for over 300 yards with multiple touchdowns in each of his last five games.
The Rams’ secondary is pretty middling and just made New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton look like a Pro Bowler, so Mahomes should be in line for another big day.
RB Isiah Pacheco
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In terms of carrying the football, Pacheco is now the clear-cut No. 1 back in K.C. He has gotten better each week over the past month and notched his first 100-yard rushing performance of his career last week. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve, we could see the season debut of Ronald Jones, but he’s an unknown at this point.
Jerrick McKinnon will contribute a little bit in the passing game but has done next to nothing running the ball. As long as Pacheco continues to get the volume that he has lately, he’s easily an RB2 with RB1 upside.
WRs JuJu Smith Schuster/Marquez Valdes Scantling/Justin Watson/Skyy Moore
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Smith-Schuster will make his return for this game after missing last week with a concussion. He had a lot of momentum before getting injured and shouldn’t have any trouble getting right back in the mix. He’s a must-start.
Valdes-Scantling continued his boom-or-bust production last week, falling into the bust category with just one catch. Even with Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney out, Valdes-Scantling doesn’t have a consistent enough track record to be in any lineups.
It’s definitely worth noting that Justin Watson led all Chiefs’ receivers in snaps and routes run last week, but he still hasn’t produced enough to be considered for any lineups. His snap count will reduce with Smith-Schuster back, but Watson is always an injury away from having a big role in the Chiefs’ offense.
Lastly, there’s Skyy Moore, who finally got some real work in with the Chiefs’ offense last week, catching five passes for 63 yards. Mahomes showed some trust in the rookie by looking his way for a couple of key third-down conversions. Just like with Watson, Moore isn’t ready for any lineups yet, but keep an eye on him.
TE Travis Kelce
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Everyone knows the ball is going to Kelce and there’s still nothing any defense can do to defend him. He racked up three more touchdowns last week, bringing his season total to 11. He has a real shot to break Rob Gronkowsi’s NFL record for most touchdowns by a tight end in a season of 18. Enjoy every second of the special season that Kelce is having.
Chiefs' defense/special teams
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Even if the Rams had Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp for this game, I would recommend starting the Chiefs’ defense. It has been in a good groove over the past month and the pass rush has been on fire with 13 sacks over the last three games.
Now getting to face an inexperienced quarterback making his first career start behind a bad offensive line, the Chiefs’ defense is probably the best unit to start the entire week.
K Harrison Butker
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Bukter may have gotten his groove back last week as he connected on all three field goal and all three extra-point attempts. It was his first game without a miss since returning from injury in Week 6. Butker should be settling back in and returning to elite form.
QB Bryce Perkins
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Perkins is in his third NFL season after signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Up until two weeks ago, Perkins spent all of his NFL career on the practice squad. He played a little over a quarter last week when Stafford went down, completing five passes for 64 yards and tacking on 39 rushing yards.
Perkins is a good athlete and could carry the ball 10 or more times in this game. It is extremely unlikely, however, that he has much success as a passer. Perkins obviously should not be rostered.
RBs Cam Akers/Kyren Williams
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It’s been a very strange season for Akers, who seemed to be the most talented Rams’ running back but found himself in the doghouse after a few weeks, being a healthy scratch three weeks in a row. Now with the release of Darrell Henderson Jr. Akers finds himself as the lead back again, but it may again be short-lived.
The Rams are high on rookie Kyren Williams and want to find out about him during the second half of the season. I’d expect a pretty even split workload for Akers and Williams in this game, with neither one safe enough to be in fantasy lineups.
WRs Allen Robinson/Van Jefferson/Ben Skowronek
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Even with Kupp out last week, Robinson only caught four balls against the Saints. Fortunately for fantasy owners, one of those catches did go for a touchdown.
Robinson has been a very disappointing acquisition for the Rams and seems to be slowing down. His status as the Rams’ WR1 and a matchup against a Chiefs’ secondary that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to receivers makes him a decent flex play this week.
After missing the first six games of the season, Van Jefferson has eased back into the fold over the past month. He only has six catches in four games and isn’t likely to see much volume as a third/fourth option in a bad offense, especially with Perkins at quarterback. Jefferson shouldn’t be rostered.
Skowronek has had a couple of solid performances this season but has only caught two or fewer passes in his last four games. He also hasn’t been a red zone threat as he hasn’t scored a touchdown this season. Combine that with Perkins at QB, Skowronek shouldn’t be rostered either.
TE Tyler Higbee
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Higbee has a bright spot for the Rams this season. He is tied for second among tight ends in receptions with 48, but puzzling enough he hasn’t found the endzone yet.
He has 12 catches over his last two games and the Chiefs haven’t been great against tight ends this season. Perkins has to throw the ball to somebody, right? I say put Higbee in your lineup if you don’t have any better options.
Rams' defense/special teams
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The Rams have been solid against the run this season, but their pass rush has been a bit disappointing compared to the last few years. Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Greg Gaines along with linebacker Bobby Wagner make for a strong middle of the Rams’ defense, but the rest of the unit leaves a lot to be desired. No way should the Rams’ defense be considered against the explosive Chiefs offense.
K Matt Gay
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The veteran Gay is still one of the better kickers in the NFL but is paired with a poor offense. He’s a stellar 14/15 on field goal opportunities and 18/18 on extra points this season but is still among the bottom half of kickers in fantasy production. The Rams won’t likely score many points in this game and Gay should not be in any lineups.