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Fantasy Forecast: 2021 Kansas City Chiefs

The worst kept secret in all of fantasy. @DynastyNerd breaks down the prolific offense that has dominated the NFL and highlights the stars and surprise contributors you should target this fantasy season.

In 2020, the Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs once again found themselves on the biggest stage. Unfortunately, their offensive line was decimated by injuries and not even the heroic Patrick Mahomes could rescue them. For fantasy owners, the outlook for 2021 is as bright as ever. The Chiefs hit the ground running during the offseason, bolstering the offensive line. Kansas City believes that those moves alone will elevate this offense and allow their star players to return to league dominance once again. Look for the Chiefs to open the 2021 season as Super Bowl favorites, yet again.

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes – Fantasy Phenom

2021 Projections: 4,887 Passing Yds, 41 Passing TDs, 7 INTs, 286 Rush Yds, 3 Rush TDs

2021 Positional Rank: QB1

Credit: Arrowhead Addict

Patrick Mahomes is the key that unlocks every door for the Chiefs’ offense. Everything about his game is transcendent to the offense and the players that surround him. The only kryptonite the league has found for Mahomes? Pressure. But even with pressure like we saw from the Bucs in Super Bowl LV, Mahomes still found a way to leave us in awe on several occasions.

Mahomes is a cerebral player. He has an uncanny ability to feel pressure and make a play with his legs, while keeping his eyes downfield. His arm talent and his ability to throw from any angle, while maintaining accuracy, are second to none. Simply put, Mahomes is QB1. In every format, he is the guy.

The crazy part? I think this is only the beginning of what his career will become. Patrick Mahomes’ current trajectory could lead him to be considered the greatest to ever play the game when his career comes to an end. Until then, let’s enjoy the moment and appreciate the excitement he brings to the NFL and to fantasy football.

Running Back

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

2021 Projections: 228 Rush Att, 1016 Rush Yds, 8 Rush TDs, 48 Rec., 372 Rec. yards, 4 Rec TDs

2021 Positional Rank: RB12

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For many owners, Clyde Edwards-Helaire left a lot to be desired in 2020. Naturally, his stock exploded when the Chiefs drafted him in the first round. Many fantasy managers, including myself, invested heavily into him with the belief that he could be the RB1 of the 2020 class. While he did fall short of what many had hoped for, CEH owners should still have a very bright and optimistic outlook heading into 2021.

The good news for fantasy owners is that CEH still has a very firm hold on the starting job. If asked to wager on the situation, my money would be on CEH receiving a bigger workload both on the ground and through the air. An area of concern that I noticed in 2020 was that CEH often struggled inside the 10-yard line, thus capping his TD upside. This is something that CEH will have to improve on in the 2021 season. If the Chiefs can find ways to be creative with him, similarly to what they do with Hill and Kelce, he could have more luck finding the endzone.

Just as Mahomes will benefit greatly from the improved offensive line, I believe CEH will as well. My hope is that this will bode well for him in the red zone. The line should open lanes for him outside the red zone so that he can go to work in the open field. While CEH will certainly not see 300 carries, you would like to see him receive more than the 180 he received in 2020. I think that 220-240 carries would be an ideal improvement for CEH.

I believe Edwards-Helaire has an opportunity to capitalize on the Chiefs’ willingness to involve him more in the passing game in 2021. If he can stay on the field and fend off Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon on third downs, Edwards-Helaire should finish inside the top 15 at his position.

Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill

2021 Projections: 97 Rec., 1488 Rec. yards, 16 Rec. TDs, 18 Rush Att, 141 Rush Yds, 2 Rush TDs

2021 Positional Rank: WR1

Credit: The Athletic

Tyreek “The Freak” Hill is one of football’s most explosive players. His game speed is unlike anything I have seen in the NFL over the years. One thing I think we fail to recognize and really bring to light is his physique. Sure, he isn’t the tallest or the type of WR who’s going to dominate DBs with his strength. However, Hill has a physique that allows him to take big shots and get right back up. He has managed to utilize his speed and elusiveness to protect himself from injury and unnecessary hits.

For fantasy owners, finding a WR in 2021 with a situation as good as Hill has in KC, will be very difficult. He is the WR1 in Kansas City, with little competition at the WR position challenging him for targets. He’s one of the many pieces that make this Chiefs offense the most explosive in the NFL. His elite QB does a great job spreading the ball around, which makes doubling Hill very difficult.

Hill has something that very few WRs in the NFL have today – the ability to change the game from anywhere in the formation. Chiefs’ OC Eric Bienemy loves to move Hill around and no matter where #10 lines up, defenses must follow. His ability to play with such speed without ever looking fatigued can really wear a defense down. It makes deploying Hill as a decoy very effective and opens the door for the offense to find success from anywhere on the field. For these reasons, I believe Tyreek Hill should be your 2021 Dynasty WR1.

Demarcus Robinson

2021 Projections: 67 Rec., 857 Rec. yards, 5 Rec TDs

2021 Positional Rank: WR47

Credit: Mic’d Up

Many of you are wondering who will emerge as the WR2 behind Tyreek Hill. Some might suggest Mecole Hardman is the “next man up” now that Sammy Watkins has left town. Some believe that the rookie Cornell Powell could be the player who swoops in and earns himself a legitimate role. I think they’re all wrong.

Demarcus Robinson will be the WR to own if you’re in a league that’s deep enough to roster him, or if you find yourself choosing between Robinson, Powell, or Hardman. This is especially true when you’re considering ADP. I have Robinson in several leagues and I think he could be one of the better late-round fliers you’ll find.

In 2019, Demarcus Robinson started 10 games and received a 70% snap count, matching that of Sammy Watkins. In 2020, Robinson started nine games and received a 64.5% snap count. This opposed to only a 45% snap count for Hardman in each of the last two seasons with 5 games started in 2019 and 8 games started in 2020.

For Hardman, most of his work has come on Special Teams, where his 2020 special teams snap count percentage reached 37.8%. For Powell, I just don’t see a clear path to any meaningful production. His routes are often lazy, his BOA doesn’t bode well, his explosion and acceleration are well below average, his hands are not great, and the Chiefs’ offense is notoriously difficult to learn for rookie WRs. I believe those who drafted Powell with high hopes will be severely disappointed.

Robinson is a great compliment to Hill at the X position and he’s done a fine job of staying healthy and being prepared when asked to step up. His approach to the game is one that has translated well when opportunities have come along. He has displayed good hands, above-average route running, and has appeared to have a better rapport with Mahomes than any of the WRs listed above. I expect Robinson to be the biggest surprise in this offense in 2021.

Tight End

Travis Kelce (not pronounced Kelsey)

2021 Projections: 102 Rec., 1346 Rec. yards, 10 Rec TDs

2021 Positional Rank: TE1

Credit: Celeboid

Travis Kelce is both a benefactor and a key element of Kansas City’s explosive offense. The chemistry that he has with Mahomes is evident in every single play. Kelce is a very diverse TE which gives the Chiefs the ability to line him up tight or flex him out wide. He does a great job of utilizing his speed to take advantage of slower defenders while using his 6′ 5″ frame to dominate defenders on the outside.

Much like Hill, Kelce means more to the offense than just being present. He has a very defined role and Bienemy loves to game plan with Kelce being a true focal point. At times we have seen him stretch the field, and other times we have seen him be involved in quick-hitting plays, including being involved in the triple option. Regardless of what his assignment is, Kelce and the Chiefs’ offense know how to get the most out of his game.

As a result of all of this, Kelce has solidified himself as the top TE in fantasy, especially in redraft leagues. For Dynasty purposes, Kelce still holds a ton of value despite being 31 years old. The “shelf life” for a TE is typically longer than most skill position players in the NFL. If you are lucky enough to land Kelce, you’ll be in for another year of top TE production heading into the 2021 season. Enjoy it!

Conclusion

The Chiefs are loaded with fantasy-relevant talent. This isn’t breaking news, and I am not one for “hot takes” that are unwarranted. If you came here looking for affirmation on whether your Kansas City studs were going to continue to produce, you should be leaving happy. Overall, I think the Chiefs could be in a position to achieve more fantasy success this year than any of the last 3 years, which is almost a feat that feels hard to believe.

In closing, and as the 32 Teams in 32 Days series begins to wrap up, I want to personally say thank you to the Dynasty Nerds team who have given me the opportunity to give back to the fantasy community through writing. To the Dynasty Nerds who have worked so diligently to put this series together, I have enjoyed reading each article and am proud to call myself a member of one of the best fantasy football content teams in the market.

If you’d like to follow more of my fantasy content, you can find me on Twitter at @DynastyNerd101. Have a great fantasy season and good luck to each of you!

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