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Three Chiefs Who Improved Their Stock Against the Bears

These Chiefs players made the most of their opportunities in week one of the preseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs may have lost their first preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday, but there were still plenty of positives to go around. For starters (literally), Kansas City's first-team offense and defense both played some terrific football and contributed in major ways to the club jumping out to an early lead. After that, the Chiefs' reserves saw multiple players step up and make plays as needed despite ultimately coming up short on the final scorecard.

With the deadline for teams to cut their rosters down from 90 to 85 players quickly approaching, there will soon be a handful of Chiefs looking for new homes. Others, however, did themselves some huge favors in week one of the preseason by taking advantage of the opportunities given to them against Chicago. Let's single out three of them. 

Justin Watson — WR

One would be hard-pressed to find a member of the Chiefs who did a better job than wide receiver Justin Watson did against the Bears. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout has garnered no shortage of hype over the course of the offseason, and the month of August has led to it manifesting into actual production on the field. In just 26 offensive snaps (41%), the 26-year-old led the Chiefs in receptions (five) and yards (45) while converting on nearly all of his six targets. 

Watson also got a bit of run on special teams, totaling five snaps (17%) there as well. There's been a lot of discourse lately about who will be the Chiefs' fifth receiver this year, and Watson appears to be that guy. Not only is he seemingly avoiding the fringe spot of a possible sixth wideout, but he's a good candidate to be locked in as WR5. Saturday's performance showed that Watson doesn't really have anything else left to prove — he's a keeper for the Chiefs. 

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Daurice Fountain — WR

Twelve months ago, Daurice Fountain was having standout preseason performances and popping up as a trendy pick to sneak onto the back-end of the Chiefs' roster as the final receiver to make the cut. That ended up being the case, as Kansas City kept five wideouts and he was the final one on the depth chart. Fountain would go on to get released and re-signed to the practice squad in October, then signed to a reserve/futures deal in February of this year. It remains to be seen whether history will repeat itself this year but assuming the Chiefs keep six receivers to open the season, Fountain has the inside edge on that job.

Playing 17 snaps on offense (27%) in Chicago, Fountain was targeted three times and hauled in all three of those passes for 24 yards. That may not sound like a lot, but fellow receivers Josh Gordon and Cornell Powell failing to fully capitalize on their chances makes Fountain's reliable performance that much more telling. Also, the fact that he didn't need to register a single special teams snap against the Bears despite doing so in the past could mean something about how the Chiefs feel about him. Fountain's name shouldn't be written in sharpie on any 53-man roster projections, but he helped his case in the opening week of the preseason for sure. 

Taylor Stallworth — DT

Last season with the Indianapolis Colts, interior defensive lineman Taylor Stallworth was a productive playmaker as a part-time rotational piece. In 16 games, he recorded 16 tackles (four for loss), three sacks and a pass batted down. All of that came while playing just a third of Indy's defensive snaps. On the open market, the Chiefs signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.19 million. For reference, Jarran Reed played 64% of the Chiefs' defensive snaps last year and recorded 2.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. He was playing on a $5.5M contract.

The point here is that in order for Stallworth to be worth Kansas City's investment relatively, he doesn't have to do a ton. A knee injury kept him out of training camp for a bit and the signing of Danny Shelton doesn't help his case for making the roster, but his performance against the Bears sure does. In 39 snaps (59%), Stallworth recorded a pair of tackles and half a sack. The battle for that last interior defensive line spot will be a serious one, but don't count Stallworth out just yet. He appears to have some fight left in him.