Fantasy football team preview: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs went 12-4 last year, and while it was a promising regular season, they lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in a home game against the Steelers. Kansas City has made the playoffs in three of the four years since Andy Reid has taken over as head coach, but have gone a collective 1-4 in the postseason. That’ s a stark contrast from Reid’s regular season record of 43-21. The Chiefs drafted some new potential building blocks in QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Kareem Hunt. Hunt will play an immediate role and it looks like it’s just a matter of time until Mahomes lines up under center after an impressive preseason.
Team Offensive Stats
Alex Smith remains one of the more reserved passers in the league, finishing 2016 35th out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks in average depth of target. Smith threw for a career-high 3,502 yards last season, but sported his lowest touchdown rate (3.1 percent) since 2009. Smith finished 26th in air yards last year, relying on yardage after the catch from his receivers to move the sticks. Smith completed 67.1 percent of his passes, but never provided much of a usable ceiling for high-scoring fantasy games. That being said, Smith still finished the year with five weeks as a top-12 quarterback – the same number as Cam Newton, and more than Philip Rivers (4) and Eli Manning (4). Reid maintains that it’s Smith’s job and there’s no gray area around that, but it could only be a matter of time until Chiefs fans start chanting Mahomes names if the team goes through any slumps.
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Spencer Ware’s injury in the preseason has made this Kareem Hunt’s job to lose in Kansas City. Hunt was an incredibly productive college prospect out of Toledo, rushing for 1,475 yards and hauling in 41 receptions his final year. Hunt will be making quite the leap from the MAC to the NFL, but has had solid buzz building around him all offseason and showing signs he’s a capable every-down back. The Chiefs ran the ball just 40.6 percent of the time last year, right around league average. However, the backs saw just a collective 18.1 percent target market share in this offense. Perhaps we see Reid change that this year given Hunt’s superb receiving skills and lack of playmakers on the outside following Jeremy Maclin’s departure. Hunt has legitimate top-12 upside in this offense and there’s no such thing as “reaching” too far for him in drafts.
Behind Hunt, the Chiefs have Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller. There are some rumblings the team might utilize a quasi-committee to start, but ultimately, neither West nor Spiller offers much fantasy value outside of handcuffing Hunt.
Speaking of Maclin, the wide receivers that Smith will have to throw to are an empty cupboard outside of speedster Tyreek Hill. Hill broke out as a big-play phenom as a rookie. He scored 70- and 68-yard touchdowns rushing, caught touchdown passes of 38 yards, 36-yards, and 34 yards, and returned a 95-yard punt, a 78-yard punt, and an 86-yard kickoff return for scores. His 4.34 speed was very much on display and it helped him finish as the fantasy WR25 as a rookie. Hill takes over WR1 duties and should see a steady increase in targets as a result. While we’re unsure if the big plays can continue to be a week-to-week thing, the end result should certainly be entertaining.
The depth behind Hill is next to nothing. Athletic superstar Chris Conley has yet to approach anything near his ceiling, but is coming off a 500-yard receiving sophomore season. Those two figure to work the outside perimeter routes while the team employs diminutive speedsters Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas at slot. While there aren’t any established veterans here, it’s an intriguing wide receiver corps that will need to take a step forward in 2017 if they hope to advance further in the playoffs.
Wide Receiver Sets
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The offense’s biggest weapon is undoubtedly stud tight end, Travis Kelce. Kelce finished last year as fantasy’s No. 1 TE, largely due to netting five 100-yard games last year. He had just three such games in his first 46. Kelce is an adept physical blocker, but was rarely asked to do so, running routes on 57.5 percent of his snaps (top-10 rate). Kelce averaged a robust 7.3 targets per game last year, posting the most top-six weeks at the position among tight ends (7). Kelce should once again be the focal point of this offense in 2017. Demetrius Harris is an intriguing dynasty stash given that the Chiefs run “12” personnel higher than league average, but he’s nothing more than a late dynasty stash.
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