Fantasy Football: Patrick Mahomes injury could leave Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Chiefs offense in a tough spot

Patrick Mahomes left the Kansas City Chiefs' Week 7 game with the Denver Broncos Thursday night with a knee injury, and the team officially ruled him out in a matter of minutes, an ominous sign.

Mahomes had been dealing with an ankle injury over the past few weeks that he had aggravated in each of the past two games, however this appeared to be a separate injury. The play was relatively innocuous, a quarterback sneak on a 4th and 1 in the red zone midway through the second quarter. Mahomes fell forward and was landed on by multiple big bodies in the ensuing pileup. 

With a player of Mahomes' stature, the typical speculation about the injury was of course rampant on social media. There was a clear shot of the trainers working on Mahomes' knee on the broadcast, however, and we've seen speculation that it appeared to be a patella dislocation:

We'll learn more in the ensuing days, but NFL Network's James Palmer confirmed Mahomes suffered a patella dislocation and will have an MRI to determine whether he suffered any ligament damage. Luckily, the Chiefs have 10 days until their next game. They also have a Week 12 bye, so if Mahomes is scheduled to miss a moderate amount of time, they could elect to hold him out for four games to buy him a month and a half before their Week 13 contest on December 1 with the Raiders, if possible. That's purely speculation at this point. 

Former Dolphin and Panther Matt Moore entered for Mahomes, and if the 2018 MVP does miss time it will be Moore leading the Chiefs attack. Moore's a relatively capable backup, and it's possible he could have some SuperFlex/2QB appeal in an Andy Reid offense with plenty of weapons around him and a Chiefs defense could put them in passing situations regularly. But he's not the kind of player you want to rely on for Fantasy every week, and if you are looking for a replacement for a potential Mahomes absence and want to get ahead of the Week 8 waiver wire, our Dave Richard suggests Jets' QB Sam Darnold, who faces the Patriots in Week 7 but then gets the Jaguars (without Jalen Ramsey), the Dolphins, Giants, Washington, Raiders, and Dolphins again through Week 14:

It goes without saying that any time Mahomes misses will be a significant downgrade to the Fantasy outlook for the Chiefs' skill position players. Here's what SportsLine's projected position ranks would look like for the Chiefs' primary skill players if Mahomes missed the rest of the season, for reference's sake:

Damien Williams3139
LeSean McCoy4548
Travis Kelce310
Tyreek Hill645
Sammy Watkins4569
Mecole Hardman7098
Patrick Mahomes1--
Matt Moore--30

I think Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce would still be starts while we see how the team operates under Moore. We wouldn't be able to trust the secondary receiving options like Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle, but assuming Sammy Watkins can return in time for Week 8 — and he likely should be able to as he got limited practice work before Week 7 — he'd be a risk-reward flex option. The Chiefs face the Packers in Week 8, and their defense will likely still force the offense to throw plenty.

The full-blown committee that has broken out in the backfield will be much harder to trust with an offensive downgrade. As the lead, LeSean McCoy would likely still be a low-end RB2 or flex option through the bye weeks, given Andy Reid's ability to scheme his running backs into space and willingness to use them in the passing game, a plus for Fantasy that could translate favorably despite the loss of Mahomes. Damien Williams is more of a question mark, and we know the scoring opportunities for both would be fewer and farther between.

We'll keep an eye on any updates and I'll have a full recap in my Stealing Signals Thursday Night Football recap coming Friday morning. Hopefully we hear good news and Mahomes misses minimal time. 

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