2018 Team Preview: Kansas City Chiefs
In the summer of 2013, after suffering through five losing seasons in six, the Kansas City Chiefs fired their head coach and hired Andy Reid. Reid quickly acquired QB Alex Smith from the 49ers and the team has enjoyed five straight winning seasons, including four playoff appearances. Despite a 53-27 regular season record, the team has just one playoff win, highlighting the fact that Smith just can’t win in the playoffs.
The Chiefs made waves this off-season, in an effort to advance in the playoffs and one name has the fantasy community buzzing: Patrick Mahomes. The former #10 overall pick in 2017 is now the unquestioned starter in KC. The team then made a splash when they signed Sammy Watkins and paid him top WR money, 3-years and 48 million (30 million guaranteed).
KC already had a bevy of talent at the skill positions so it’s easy to see why fantasy owners are excited to see the team take the field. Let’s take a look at every fantasy relevant player and what you can expect for your fantasy teams.
(QB2) Patrick Mahomes
Watching Patrick Mahomes play, the kid is electric with a cannon arm. Combine this with the fairly pedestrian career of Alex Smith, and it’s easy to see why fans have huge expectations for the young QB. Mahomes skills as a runner adds tremendous value, we’ve seen top QBs like Michael Vick and Cam Newton dominate fantasy football scoring. Combine this will a loaded roster of skill players and the potential is hard to ignore. However, I hesitate to recommend Mahomes too strongly for many reasons: he’s essentially a rookie QB, he can’t improve on the offensive efficiency KC enjoyed last year, disappointing draft history of Air Raid/Big Ten QBs are just a few. With so many quality options at QB this season, I am willing to ignore all of that and take a chance (just not too high).
Currently, Mahomes is going as QB16 according to FantasyPros ADP. That puts him around Philip Rivers, Jared Goff, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariotta. In a single QB league, I am willing to take that a shot at this price but much, especially in leagues where interceptions are penalized. I think the ideal strategy would be to use an 8th round pick then follow it up with a QB that is stable but slipping, perhaps even Alex Smith or Dak Prescott.
In Superflex and Best Ball drafts, don’t be afraid to secure Mahomes one round early, especially if you can secure him as your second QB. He will struggle this year, perhaps even for long stretches, but he’s also the type of player that can single handily win you weeks.
(RB1) Kareem Hunt
If you look up the football term “elusive” you will see Kareem Hunt‘s picture. Hunt had more than twice the elusive rating of any other back in the league. according to Pro Football Focus. He averaged more than 4.5 yards a carry when defenders closed to within 1 yard of him. Vision, short area agility and balance all contribute to this and Hunt is a marvel to watch. Hunt started the season on a tear and came back to earth mid-season. He slumped for long stretches, even failing to score a TD in nine straight games. In the fantasy playoffs, he was a huge disappointment with an awful game in week 16 before sitting out week 17. Even with the up and down season, he finishing with 1327 rushing, 11 touchdowns and catching 53 balls to finish as the RB3.
Hunt’s ADP is right around RB7, and inside the top 10 overall. He’s an ideal target for me if I am drafting in the back half of round 1. He’s safer than Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, and Melvin Gordon simply because of his unique skill set and the high powered offense he is expected to lead. One of the most important indicators of an RB1 is the teams’ offensive output. It’s simple, lead running backs in the leagues best offenses finish inside the top 12 RBs overwhelmingly. Hunt is an ideal target in the back half of round 1 if you want to find a RB . Follow that up with a top WR who is falling then you will be thrilled.
(WR1/2) Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill is yet another electric player on a team full of talent. Possibly the fastest player in the league, and a threat to take any touch to the house, whether it be a swing pass or a return. However, it is for this reason that I am slightly down on Hill and mostly passing on him at his WR10 ADP. Historically the most important factor in wide receiver fantasy production is targets. The key number to finish as a Top 24 Hill finished as WR4 on just 105 targets, the lowest amount of any receiver in the top 16. He was hyper-efficient and deadly in the open field but I can’t trust that his targets stay at that level. The team brought in Sammy Watkins to be #1A and they have some young talent in Demarcus Robinson and Chris Conley. Add to this an elite TE who had 122 targets, it’s hard to see Hill living up to that lofty ADP. Casual fans will say Hill also carries the ball but he had 17 carries for just 59 yards last season. In leagues that count return production to the individual player, Hill gets a big bump. But for a standard or PPR league this season, draft Hill with caution. I see him finishing the season in the WR14-20 range and his price is slightly high. Your best option would be to try and secure him as your WR2.
(WR2) Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins is one of my sleepers this year. Watkins finished as WR32 on just 70 targets last year, about the same number that Albert Wilson vacated when he left for Miami. Still, he finished with 8 TDs, the third time he’s finished with 6+ TDs. He’s one of the better red zone targets in the league but he needs a QB that can push the ball down the field to succeed. Watkins changed teams just before training camp and struggled to be integrated into the Rams game plans, with a conservative Jared Goff preferring Cooper Kupp between the 20s. With a full off-season program, Watkins should find that the combo of Andy Reid and the gunslinger Patrick Mahomes will unlock the potential in the talented receiver in his fifth year. Still just 25, I think Watkins can finish with about 100 targets and 10+ TDs. With a young defense and the increased turnovers Mahomes will surely bring, I expect the Chiefs to throw the ball more this season, I can easily see a career year from Watkins. He’s coming off the board as the 70th player overall and WR30, but the Chiefs didn’t pay the man 48 million over 3 years (30 million guaranteed) not to use him. And make no mistake, Andy Reid will find ways to use his new star.
(TE1) Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce is a monster and one of my favorite players in the league. He’s a freak on the field but so entertaining when he gets into the end zone. Kelce led the position in targets and was one of only six tight ends to finish with 100+ targets. We’ve talked about targets are key and I don’t see Kelce slowing down. He’s in a top tier with just Rob Gronkowski but come without the injury risk. Plus you can mimic his touchdown dances to your heart’s content. Kelce is going at the TE2 and around 28 overall, which makes him a 2/3 round swing pick. After the big two you have a clear second tier with Zack Ertz then the position really drops off. I would move aggressively to secure Kelce but if you miss you miss out focus on pounding RB and WR then come back with a couple of late round TE options.
Backups and Handcuffs
With the amount of talent ozzing from the Chiefs primary options, barring injury, it doesn’t leave much meat on the bones for backup production. That being said, this roster has offensive talent throughout the roster. Spencer Ware is back from injury and turned in a solid 2016 with 900+ rush yards and 30+ catches. I don’t personally believe in fantasy handcuffs, but certain situations warrant it. For KC I think Ware is a must draft to backup Hunt. If you are going to draft handcuffs, don’t necessarily look to backup your player, look to snag backups who have major talent just Ware.
The receiver core has several waiver wire options should the primary options miss any time. Demarcus Robinson has stud potential should be able to get on the field but is not a draft option. Demetrius Harris will again serve as a second TE and primary blocker but not much fantasy value in 2018.