The Chiefs saw their entire season flash before their very eyes when quarterback Patrick Mahomes limped off the field on Thursday night. The full extent of his injury won’t be known until MRI results come back on Friday, but the stakes couldn’t be higher for Kansas City. If Mahomes is out for the year, the franchise can kiss their hopes of a deep playoff run goodbye.
At best, Mahomes is going to miss three weeks of game action. That would provide a serious, if not fatal blow to his team’s hopes of winning the AFC West. At worst, Mahomes could miss the entirety of the regular season. Either way you look at it, it throws a ton of betting value behind the Raiders to win the division. If you can back Gruden and his team at +600 right now you should jump all over it.
Andy Reid and company can keep things competent without Mahomes at the controls, but they will suffer a massive downgrade at the game’s most important position. It’s been a long time since Matt Moore was an NFL starter. He’s not going to be a total disaster as a backup, but he’s going to fundamentally change the Kansas City offense.
Every pass catcher the Chiefs have will lose tons of fantasy value with the possible exception of tight end Travis Kelce. He could emerge as a valuable safety blanket for Moore if he’s not comfortable really pushing the ball downfield.
Conversely, now might be a time to buy low on some of the Chiefs’ running backs. It’s difficult to guess which guy might emerge as a feature back in Mahomes’ absence, but our money would be on LeSean McCoy to be the safest bet. He’s not going to win you your Fantasy League, but he’s a guy who might win you another game or two down the stretch if the Chiefs offense shifts more towards the run.
The other big variable at play here is whether or not the Chiefs front office might elect to look outside their current roster for a temporary starter at quarterback. Obviously, that won’t happen if Mahomes is only slated to miss a few weeks. The team will stick with Moore in that case.
If, however, Mahomes is ruled out for the entire season, the Chiefs might look at some low-cost options to play ahead of Moore. Eli Manning is the biggest name who is available at the moment, but Kansas City isn’t going to part with any type of meaningful asset to acquire him. He has been an ineffective starter for well over a year now.
Instead, focus your attention on the idea that Marcus Mariota might head to Kansas City. The Chiefs have given up on him with their decision to let Ryan Tannehill start next week. That, coupled with Mariota’s impending free agency makes him a player that Tennessee will be willing to part with.
His mobility makes him a really intriguing relief option for Mahomes. It’s fair to wonder if his inaccuracy as a passer would drive Reid crazy, but it’s also fair to point out that Mariota has never enjoyed the opportunity to work for an offensive coach as clever as Reid. It could be a marriage that can revive Mariota’s career and market value down the stretch.
That represents the best case scenario for Kansas City if Mahomes is lost for the year. It may not be the most likely transaction, but it should be the first call Kansas City makes. Mariota has the highest ceiling of any potential quarterback available at this late date in the season.
No matter how you view it, this injury is a massive blow to the Chiefs. They can survive without their offensive talisman for a couple of weeks, but anything longer than that is going to effectively end their 2019 season. That’s not what Chiefs fans want to hear right now, but it is the truth.
The only potential celebrants of the Mahomes injury lie in New England. With him out of the picture, the Patriots become an even stronger bet to win the AFC. If you want to try to capitalize on this injury, putting a wager on New England to win the AFC at -115 is your best bet.