clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How to handle Chiefs RBs with Isiah Pacheco injured again in Week 15 vs. Patriots

Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are once again in a spot to perform on Sunday with the lead back sidelined. We go over the fantasy football approach.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs runs past Ed Oliver of the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on December 10, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

This hasn’t been your typical Kansas City Chiefs team this season. The Chiefs are fighting for seeding in the AFC playoff picture instead of sealing up the No. 1 overall seed like in season’s past. At 8-5, the Chiefs are even in danger of losing first place in the AFC West to the Denver Broncos. All of the playoff picture stuff aside, this is a big game for Kansas City, which is favored heavily over the New England Patriots.

What the Chiefs will miss again this Sunday is the services of RB Isiah Pacheco, who is out for a second straight game due to a shoulder injury. That will mean RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon will get most of the work out of the backfield in a good matchup. Let’s go over their fantasy football outlook for Sunday in a key fantasy football playoff week.

Fantasy football start sit advice: Chiefs RBs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

CEH figures to be the “lead” back again in Week 15. Last week, Edwards-Helaire and McKinnon almost split snaps with the former getting a slight edge 32-30. Edwards-Helaire finished with 13 touches — 11 carries and two receptions — for a total of 68 yards against the Bills. That was more work that McKinnon, though the veteran back was able to find the end zone. Still, the volume was there for CEH, who could be busy given how this game could play out.

The Chiefs are heavy favorites at -8 despite being on the road. That line has shrunk since opening around 9.5-10 points at most books. That could have something to do with Pacheco, weather, the fact the Patriots’ defense isn’t all that bad and how Kansas City has looked this season. But, usually when a team is a heavy favorite and it’s a low total (37.5), we look to the run game in fantasy. If the Chiefs do build a lead, expect a lot of carries for CEH again. By a lot we mean double-digit. Edwards-Helaire shouldn’t have any trouble getting to double-digit touches again and could eat up a decent amount of yardage.

CEH is going to see a few targets in the passing game as well. Given the volume and matchup, Edwards-Helaire isn’t a bad FLEX play in deeper PPR leagues this week. He has some good TD equity if this is a game the Chiefs pull away and run the score up out of frustration from the past few weeks losses. Even if the game is close, you’d think CEH gets around 30-40 offensive snaps. If you have Pacheco, CEH feels like the safer replacement play. We’re not crazy about either back having to be in an RB1/2 spot in a fantasy football playoff matchup but you may not have a choice. If you have good depth at RB, explore another option to replace Pacheco.

Jerick McKinnon

McKinnon feels like an OK play in PPR, again as a FLEX in deeper formats if you’re more desperate. He should see the snaps but carries may be difficult to come by. Especially if the game is a blowout for the Chiefs and they just ride CEH (and even a third RB like Deneric Prince or Keaontay Ingram). Even Kadarius Toney got a few carries and Skyy Moore is also a candidate for some designed runs. So there seems to be a lot of touches to go around and this script may not favor McKinnon and the passing game.

Still, if the game is somewhat competitive for a half or through three quarters, McKinnon may get enough work in the passing game to be an OK play in fantasy. He only had five touches last week vs. Buffalo but turned it into 12.7 fantasy points. He only had 37 yards of offense but also scored. McKinnon does have four TDs this season in limited work. Andy Reid clearly likes using McKinnon in red zone situations. So again, McKinnon is a risky FLEX play in PPR formats. If you have better options, explore that, especially if you have an OK WR for the FLEX. It’s reasonable to expect around 3-5 catches for McKinnon and maybe around 40-50 yards, probably less.

Anyone else????

Not really. You aren’t playing Prince or Ingram if either are active. HOWEVER, we could see a scenario in which one of them does get a decent amount of work. The Chiefs are 8-point favorites and if the game is out of hand before the fourth quarter, you’d think Kansas City rests CEH and McKinnon given Pacheco’s status. He’s expected to be back next week from his shoulder injury but those are tricky with a position that takes so many hits. The Chiefs can’t afford to lose Pacheco or one of their depth backs going into the home stretch. You’re not playing any other Chiefs’ RB but they are worth monitoring.