Matchup: Chiefs @ SteelersMonday, November 12, 2012
Monday Night Football
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Man, that Week 9 same-day flight really cost the Steelers. Not. Pittsburgh's defense dominated the Giants' offense in last Sunday's 24-20 win, putting the game away with a relentless fourth-quarter power running attack. Back home where they haven't lost since early last November, the Steelers will look to pour points on a Chiefs team that OC Todd Haley still feels wronged him with last year's in-season firing. "There is no love lost between Todd Haley and Chiefs GM Scott Pioli," said Adam Schefter on SportsCenter this week. "If the Steelers have a chance to run up the score, Haley would not hesitate to do that. This is a very important game to him." FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Sunday that the Chiefs have refused to pay Haley the remainder of the contract he's owed. This is a revenge game for Kansas City's offensive playcaller. The Chiefs messed with his money. ... Ben Roethlisberger is playing career-best football in Haley's offense. At the season's halfway point, he's on pace for career highs in pass attempts (596), TD-to-INT ratio (32:8), and passing yards (4,406). He's the No. 7 fantasy quarterback and an every-week QB1. ... Coach Mike Tomlin is promising a "hot hand" backfield against the Chiefs with Jonathan Dwyer returning from a quad injury to pair with Isaac Redman. The matchup is obviously favorable; Kansas City ranks 22nd against the run. The carry distribution is up in the air. Redman is tentatively expected to get the start Monday night.
The Chiefs have used SS Eric Berry in man coverage of tight ends all year. Berry is struggling mightily. Kansas City's production allowed to tight ends isn't off the charts, but this is a plus matchup for Heath Miller. Miller is the No. 3 fantasy tight end, so shake off his relatively slow Week 9 stat line (4-48) and start him. ... It was too little, too late for Kansas City to roll heads last week, stripping Romeo Crennel's defensive coordinator tag and cutting RCB Stanford Routt. They may have wanted to wait one more week to cut Routt, though. At least he can run. On Monday night, fleet-footed Mike Wallace will spend most of his snaps in heavy-legged RCBs Javier Arenas and Travis Daniels' coverage. And Haley -- who helped draft Arenas -- knows Kansas City's defensive personnel well. Wallace's volume of deep routes has diminished in Haley's quick-hitting, Kurt Warnerian offense, but this would be an ideal matchup to unleash the speed demon. ... Chiefs LCB Brandon Flowers has been targeted by offenses just nine times in the past three games. Per Pro Football Focus, Philip Rivers completely ignored Flowers' side of the field in Week 9, not challenging his coverage on any of Rivers' 20 throws. It speaks to the respect offenses have for Flowers' cover skills, as well as the target on the back of Kansas City's other corners. Emmanuel Sanders is an appealing WR3 with Antonio Brown (high ankle sprain) out for Week 10, but fantasy owners need to hope he doesn't get stuck on Flowers' side of the field.
I've gotten a few questions about Wallace's matchup. An "X" receiver, Wallace plays 60 percent of his snaps on the left side of the offensive formation. He lines up most often against RCBs. Under Crennel, the Chiefs have unfailingly "played sides" at cornerback, leaving Flowers at left corner with Routt -- and Brandon Carr before him -- always aligning at right corner. They have never used Flowers to shadow opposing No. 1 receivers. If the Chiefs play like they always play, and the Steelers play like they always play, Wallace should avoid Flowers' coverage on the majority of Monday night's snaps. Per Mike Clay's charted data, Wallace has only played 28 percent of his downs at RWR, the receiver spot that goes against Flowers' side of the field. His other 12 percent has come in the slot.
The Steelers rank No. 1 in total defense. They are No. 1 against the pass and No. 7 against the run, so you won't find any good fantasy matchups on the Chiefs’ side. … If you're starting Jamaal Charles, you are essentially entrusting your fantasy lineup decision to a combo of Charles' talent and Kansas City’s coaching staff. You’re betting that Charles is capable of making big plays and that the Chiefs will give him chances to do so. The former is a lock. The latter is dicey. We can say this confidently: Playcaller Brian Daboll would be a complete fool to run Peyton Hillis into the Steelers’ brick-wall defense on Monday night. … The quarterback and offense as a whole haven’t helped, but the primary reason Jon Baldwin hasn’t produced is because he isn’t playing well. He isn’t separating from defensive backs or turning his opportunities into big plays. He’s waiver-wire fodder. … Steelers RCB Ike Taylor is shutting down receivers left and right since a slow start to the season. Just ask A.J. Green (1-8-1), Hakeem Nicks (1-10-0), and Leonard Hankerson (1-16). There is hope for Dwayne Bowe, though. It’s called garbage time. … So much for Tony Moeaki's eight-target, 57-yard Week 8 game. He wasn't targeted on a single Week 9 pass. Moeaki is not on the fantasy radar. ... If you're willing to bank on a blowout loss, Dexter McCluster is a slightly appealing PPR start as Matt Cassel's favorite checkdown option in comeback mode. But McCluster has scored one touchdown this year, and failed to clear 60 receiving yards in every game since Week 1. The Steelers' Emmanuel Sanders would be a more attractive spot play.
Score Prediction: Steelers 30, Chiefs 7