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Week 15 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 3, Kansas City Chiefs 23


What you need to know

Denver Broncos

Drew Lock and the offense couldn't get anything going in heavy snow conditions. Denver scored one field goal in the 2nd quarter, with Lock throwing one interception and no touchdowns. Kansas City dominated time of possession as Denver struggled to convert on 3rd down. Courtland Sutton led the receiving effort with 10 targets and 79 yards, narrowly missing a touchdown in the 1st half. Neither Denver halfback put together a serviceable fantasy day. Noah Fant missed the second quarter with a shoulder injury, but returned to play the second half, recording one catch after halftime.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 23-3 to improve their record to 10-4 on the season. Patrick Mahomes completed 27 of 34 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Andy Reid went with a three way committee at running back with Darwin Thompson leading the way with 38 yards on eight carries. Spencer Ware rushed seven times for 26 yards and LeSean McCoy rushed six times for 16 yards. Tyreek Hill caught five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns, while Sammy Watkins had three receptions for 49 yards. Mecole Hardman only saw two targets in this game, catching one pass for 10 yards. Travis Kelce led the Chiefs pass catchers with 11 receptions for 142 yards, both season highs for the All-Pro tight end.

Denver Broncos

QB Drew Lock, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 40 - 208 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0
Lock and the entire Denver offense performed poorly in near-blizzard like conditions, piecing together one scoring drive that ended in a field goal in the 2nd quarter. Lock couldn't get anything going downfield in the heavy snow, with a long connection of 43 yards to Noah Fant in the 2nd quarter on a 4th and 1 play action pass. He nearly connected with Sutton in the end zone at the end of the drive, but a defender knocked the ball loose as Sutton fell to the turf. Lock floated a bad pass in the general direction of Tim Patrick and was intercepted by safety Matheiu in the 3rd, but he got bailed out by a defensive holding penalty. Undeterred, he bought time with his feet on the next play and lobbed up a floater across the field to Noah Fant that was intercepted in the end zone, this time officially.

RB Royce Freeman, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 12 - 0, Rec: 4 - 14 - 0 (4 targets)
Freeman had a slow day mixing in with Lindsay with 5 carries and 4 targets in the passing game. His biggest gains were an 8 yard carry in the 4th quarter and a 5 yard pickup on a checkdown pass out of the backfield in the 2nd quarter.

RB Phillip Lindsay, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 32 - 0 (2 targets)
Lindsay started his day off with a nice 10 yard carry, but didn't muster much after that on a day that only saw him carry seven times. He was targeted twice in the passing game. He couldn't haul in an out route in the 1st quarter and got popped hard while trying to reel in his second target.

RB Devontae Booker, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0
Booker didn't see many snaps on offense and touched the ball just once. He logged a 5 yard carry in the 3rd quarter.

WR Courtland Sutton, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 79 - 0 (10 targets)
Sutton returned to the top of the Denver receiving order this week, drawing a team-high 10 catches for 79 yards. He made his first catch in traffic on a curl route in the 2nd quarter. Sutton got both hands on a jump ball in the end zone in the 2nd quarter, but a defender knocked it away with a solid effort. In the 3rd quarter, down on their own 1 inch line after an interception near the end zone, Denver showed their confidence in Sutton's run after the catch ability by throwing a WR screen to Sutton behind the line of scrimmage. Sutton hauled it in from the slot and took off on a 33 yard romp through snow and defenders. Sutton caught a short curl route and slipped another tackle for a big gain after the catch later in the same drive.

WR Tim Patrick, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (7 targets)
Patrick drew 7 targets this week, but couldn't get anything going downfield. He made a tough sideline catch in traffic early in the 1st quarter. Lock found him on a deep curl route up the seam for a 12 yard gain in the 2nd quarter. Patrick caught an out route from the slot in the 4th quarter.

WR DaeSean Hamilton, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (9 targets)
Hamilton had the second highest target total(9), but was completely ineffective with just two short catches. He caught a short curl route and turned it up the sidelines for 9 yards in the 4th, his longest play of the day. You would hope that a slot receiver would have a better day in the short and intermediate game considering the snowy conditions, but Hamiltion just hasn't been able to piece together a relevant fantasy performance this season, regardless of who is playing quarterback.

TE Andrew Beck, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)
Beck worked as a fullback and tight end. He lined up in the slot and made a nice sliding catch on a crossing route for a 10 yard gain in the 1st quarter. He caught a checkdown pass from the fullback position for a few more yards in the 3rd quarter.

TE Noah Fant, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 56 - 0 (3 targets)
Fant had a smaller target share after missing nearly an entire quarter with an injury. He got behind the defense on a play action fake on 4th and 1 in the 2nd quarter and took off down the left sideline for a 43 yard gain. He was tackled hard and missed the 2nd quarter with a shoulder injury, but returned after halftime to finish the game. He picked up another 13 yards on a deep out route early in the 3rd quarter.

TE Troy Fumagalli, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)
Fumagalli mixed into the tight end rotation sparingly, catching an out route for a 7 yard gain on his only target in the 4th quarter.

TE Jeff Heuerman, 24 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Heuerman worked as the number two tight end, but still drew only one target with Noah Fant missing the 2nd quarter. Heuerman couldn't reel in a deep post route in the 3rd quarter. Fullback/Tight End Andrew Beck hauled in 2 of 3 targets and is starting to look like a better option than Heuerman in the passing game. Backup TE Fumagalli also had a catch.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 34 - 340 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 11 - 0
Patrick Mahomes completed 27 of 34 passes for 340 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. Mahomes statistics are even more impressive than they look when you consider that much of the game was played with heavy snow falling. Mahomes didnít waste any time before getting going, leading the Chiefs to a touchdown drive on their first possession which ended up being all the points they technically needed to win this game. With the Chiefs facing a first and ten from the Broncos 41 yard line, Mahomes took the snap under center and play-action faked the handoff to his running back. He was given a clean pocket by his offensive line and was able to let Hillís deep post route develop before stepping up in the pocket and throwing a beautiful 40 yard pass to Hill perfectly in stride. The pass landed just out in front of Hill, which made it an easy catch on the run and a 41 yard touchdown for the big play receiver. The Broncos had Hill in double coverage, but it didnít matter because neither of his defenders could keep up with him stride for stride, especially when he is running across the field at an angle. Mahomes had a wide margin for error on the throw given Hillís speed, but he didnít need it as the pass could not have been in a better place had Mahomes been able to hand the ball to Hill. Mahomes second touchdown pass came on the Chiefs first possession of the second half with Kansas City facing a first and goal from the Denver five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and immediately rolled out to his left on a designed bootleg pass. Hill was positioned on the inside left slot and ran a simple out-route to the left sideline that he set up by faking to the inside of the field. When Hill made his cut to the outside, he did it at the perfect spot which allowed Watkins to act as a pick on Hillís defender. Mahomes completed the easy pass to a wide open Hill for the five yard touchdown. Mahomes and Kelce were unstoppable in this game, as Kelce was able to create separation immediately off the line of scrimmage and then keep that gap or even widen it with his speed and his defenders trying to navigate a snow-covered field.

RB Darwin Thompson, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 38 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)
Darwin Thompson rushed eight times for 38 yards and caught one pass on one target in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. Thompson led the Chiefs in rushing attempts and rushing yardage, but it is worth noting that Thompson ceded nearly every passing down to Ware and McCoy. This makes sense as Thompson is a rookie and pass-protection is a big deal when your Super Bowl hopes rest on the shoulders of a player like Mahomes. Thompson was able to break open two runs of 12 yards a piece, which were his long gains of the day, while also failing to gain more than one yard on three of his eight carries. Andy Reid has remarked that he wants to keep McCoy fresh for the playoffs, which means Thompson should continue to see a fair amount of touches while Damien Williams is still on the sidelines recovering from a rib injury and the flu. Thompson is a nice fit in this offense, as he has the skillset to break big plays and get to the second level of the defense with the Chiefs keeping opposing defenses off-balance trying to guard their receivers.

RB Spencer Ware, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 26 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)
Spencer Ware rushed seven times for 26 yards and caught two passes on two targets in the Chiefs win over the Broncos. With the Chiefs losing Darryl Williams for the season, and Damien Williams nursing a rib injury, Ware has filled in nicely and it is clear that Reid trusts him in passing situations to not only catch the ball, but protect Mahomes with his pass-blocking skills. Ware has never been a home-run hitter rushing the football, but he is a decisive runner and is consistent with gaining positive yardage, something the Chiefs can take advantage of on short second and third down situations. Four of Wareís seven rushing attempts went for four or more yards.

RB LeSean McCoy, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 16 - 0
LeSean McCoy rushed six times for 16 yards in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. McCoy took a backseat to Thompson and Ware in this game, finishing third in carries and not seeing any targets in the passing game. With Williams still injured, Reid is playing it safe with McCoy and making sure that he is healthy come playoff time. It will be hard to trust McCoy over the final two weeks, as Thompson will most likely see a majority of the rushing attempts while Ware is taking over on passing downs.

WR Tyreek Hill, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 5 - 67 - 2 (7 targets)
Tyreek Hill caught five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. Hill got off to a very fast start in this game, catching a 41 yard touchdown on the Chiefs first possession. With the Chiefs facing a first and 10 from the Broncos 41 yard line, Mahomes took the snap under center and play-action faked the handoff to his running back. Hill was lined up on the left side of the formation and ran a deep post-route where he angled his route a bit flatter than usual, which gave him more field to outrun the two defenders the Broncos had on him. Hill was able to get behind the two defenders and give Mahomes a wide margin for error on the deep ball. This didnít end up mattering though, as Mahomes dropped the ball perfectly onto Hillís hands, in stride and out in front of him where only Hill could make the catch. When Mahomes has this much time in the pocket to wait for Hill to get behind his defender, it is nearly impossible to stop as Hill is one of the best in the NFL in creating separation deep down the field. Hillís second touchdown catch of the game came on the Chiefs first possession of the second half, and the offense facing a first and goal from the Denver five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and immediately rolled out to his left on a designed bootleg. Hill was positioned on the inside left slot and ran an out-route to the left side of the end zone where he set up his defender by stutter-stepping and faking to the inside. Hill picked his spot perfectly, as he was able to break at the exact point where Watkins was coming to the inside of the field, effectively creating a pick on Hillís man which left him wide open for the easy five yard touchdown catch.

WR Sammy Watkins, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 49 - 0 (4 targets)
Sammy Watkins caught three passes for 49 yards on four targets in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. Watkins was not called on much in this game, although he finished third on the team in targets and took advantage of the opportunities he was given. With the Chiefs facing a second and 18 from their own 17 yard line, Watkins came up big with back to back catches on second and third down that went for 10 and 29 yards. Watkins was also able to draw two defensive penalties and catch a two point conversion from Mahomes. On the two point conversion, Mahomes danced around the pocket and avoided being sacked on two separate occasions while Watkins worked the back of the end zone, eventually finding a soft spot where Mahomes could find him. Watkins is clearly the third option in the Chiefs passing game, but Mahomes trusts him and isnít afraid to go his way on crucial third downs.

TE Travis Kelce, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 142 - 0 (13 targets)
Travis Kelce caught 11 passes for 142 yards on 13 targets in the Chiefs win over the Broncos on Sunday. Simply put, Kelce was unstoppable in this game and Mahomes made it a point to go to his tight end whenever he was in single coverage. On several of these plays, Mahomes just threw it up to a spot where he knew Kelce could make a play on the ball, and Kelce did not disappoint, making jumping contested catches against defenders who had no chance of locking him down. This was only Kelceís second 100+ yard game on the season, however it was his ninth game of 70+ yards and his 10th game with six or more catches. Kelce also had a 40 yard catch called back due to a penalty being called on Thompson in the backfield. The Chiefs are the best in the NFL at creating mismatches by using pre-snap motion, and in this game they used it to isolate Kelce on one side of the field in single coverage. When Mahomes got the coverage he wanted, he threw a jump ball to Kelce down the field where Kelce was at least six inches above his defenderís hands when he made the catch. Kelce continues to be the #1 fantasy tight end and his consistency gives you a huge positional advantage over any other tight end.