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Fantasy Forecast: Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs went all the way in 2019 but that doesn’t mean it was easy! In 2020 they return 20 of 22 offensive starters and want to run it back. Is this the start of a new NFL dynasty?

2019 Recap

2019 was a great year for the Kansas City Chiefs! They won their first Super Bowl in 50 years after staging arguably the most impressive sports postseason run since the 2016 Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit over the Golden State Warriors. It was heart-pounding, the edge of your seat, 3rd and long kind of stuff every single game- with Patrick Mahomes leading the charge. The season wasn’t always like that, though.

In Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tyreek Hill suffered a dislocated clavicle, which forced him to miss four weeks of football. In Week 7, one week after Hill’s return to the field, Patrick Mahomes dislocated his knee early in the game, and many thought it was the end of his season. Two weeks later, Mahomes was back on the field, though. On top of that, they essentially didn’t have a run game in 2019 as starter Damien Williams was banged up the entire regular season with various injuries, missing six full games and exiting early in others. This team saw plenty of adversity.

Travis Kelce still pulled through to be the TE1. Because he’s Travis Kelce. And Tyreek Hill still managed to be a Top 12 WR in points per game. None of this would be possible, though, without great coaching by Andy Reid and a superstar QB like Mahomes. The Chiefs are returning all but three offensive starters in 2020 and added a key weapon with their first-round draft pick in 2020. Time to run it back.

Quarterback

Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes

The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes reached a blockbuster ten year, $450 million contract extension at the start of July, with incentives that could make the max value of the contract $503 million. This ties Mahomes to the Chiefs until 2031. As if there was ever really any doubt after the incredible postseason run and eventual Superbowl ring and Superbowl MVP, Mahomes is the QB1 in dynasty leagues and is in a tier of his own when it comes to upside, consistency and longevity.

Since 2017 when he took over as the starter for the Chiefs and including the playoffs, Mahomes leads all quarterbacks in almost every statistical category. When it comes to passing touchdowns, passing yards, yards per attempt, total QBR, and wins as a starter, he does it all, better than your QB.

  • Passing TD, 89
  • Passing Yards, 10,602
  • Wins, 27
  • Total QBR, 79
  • Yards Per Attempt, 8.5

Mahomes’s 4th quarter comeback over the San Francisco 49ers secured his first Super Bowl MVP award, making him the first NFL player to receive both League MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards before 25 years of age. He also threw for 5,000yds his first full season as a starter. Long story short, Mahomes is a special player in a perfect situation. He’s in a tier of his own with players like Christian McCaffrey, Darius Leonard, Julio Jones, or Aaron Donald when it comes to fantasy football. Players like these are the cornerstones of true dynasties, and managers would do well to consider an internal “no-trade clause” when and if they manage to secure Mahomes to a team.

QB1. Period.

Runningback

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) jukes Auburn linebacker Chandler Wooten (31) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Auburn and LSU are tied 10-10 at halftime. Jc Auburnlsu 29

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

The Chiefs chose to address the running back position with their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They ended up being the first team to select an RB in the draft and had the pick of the litter. “With the 32nd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Clyde Edwards Helaire.” What a bombshell for fantasy football to end the first round of the NFL Draft!

Many analysts did not consider Edwards-Helaire the best running back prospect in this class. He’s explosive, has great lateral agility, and was an excellent pass catcher in college, but was a bit smaller than some of his contemporaries. Many draft pundits and fantasy analysts preferred D’Andre Swift and Johnathan Taylor. But those guys didn’t get drafted to the Chiefs, did they?

First-round draft capital, coupled with his undeniable talent and perfect landing spot, helped propel Edwards-Helaire into the Top 10 consensus running backs on Dynasty Nerds. However, fantasy managers shouldn’t be surprised if it takes a little longer for CEH to hit the field as a starter with the lack of rookie minicamp and OTAs in 2020.

Damien Williams: Opt Out

On July 29, Damien Williams informed the Chiefs he was opting out of the 2020 NFL season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, there was a good bit written here about his potential for a hot start to the season, but that’s all moot now. Instead, it’s fuel for the Clyde Edwards-Helaire wildfire. This is huge news for CEH, who should now be the unquestioned starter and lead back in KC. He should be in line for an RB1 season as a rookie and has legitimate Top 5 upside in 2020. Thanks for the Super Bowl-winning touchdowns, Damien Williams. We won’t forget you.

Who’s Left?

The battle to back CEH comes down to free agent signee D’Andre Washington, second-year man Darwin Thompson, and veteran Darrell Williams. How it shakes out will be something to keep an eye on.

Wide Receiver

Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill is the most dynamic wideout in all of football. Between his return game prowess, top-end speed, ability to take handoffs out of the backfield to the house, and supreme route running, no other wide receiver offers as much to a team as Hill. In 2018 Hill was the WR1 in half PPR leagues and WR3 in full PPR. That was Hill’s first full season with Mahomes under center. Going back to 2017 with Alex Smith, Hill finished as the WR9 in both PPR and half PPR. He’s been a top option since coming into the league in 2016, posting a top 25 PPR finish as a rookie. Even in an injury hampered season, Hill made his fantasy managers very happy with his 15+ ppr points per game.

Hill turned in the lowest reception total of his career in 2019 but still saw a large number of deep targets, which are very valuable for fantasy. His 20 deep targets on the season more than doubled Michael Thomas’s nine and were behind only Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Davante Adams. Don’t let the low reception number scare you too much because Hill missed five games in 2019. Instead, consider how many more deep targets he would have received with a full 16 games. It’s not hard to see Hill leading all receivers in the category.

While Hill isn’t a consensus top-three receiver in the Dynasty Nerds Rankings, he’s my personal WR1 in all formats. The consistency is undeniable, and the big play threat is something all opposing fantasy managers fear. We have seen Hill play through injury, make incredible catches on 3rd and longs and 4th and longs and grow as a receiver every year since entering the league. Mahomes and Andy Reid both trust him to come up big when the game is on the line, and Hill has yet to let them down. Another 16 games season with Mahomes should be absolute dynamite for Hill, who is younger than all the receivers ranked ahead of him in the consensus.

Sammy Watkins

All hail the Lizard King! And now Super Bowl champion! Since coming into the league as a first-round pick to the Buffalo Bills, Sammy Watkins has been an enigma. Watkins has only seen 100+ targets once in his entire career, and that was his rookie season. He has also only ever eclipsed 1,000 yards once, and that was as a sophomore back in 2017. The injury bug has followed Watkins for several seasons as he has bounced from the Bills to the Rams and now to the Chiefs.

2019 started with a bang for Watkins when he roasted the Jacksonville secondary Week 1 to the tune of 11 targets, 9 receptions, 198yds, and 3 touchdowns. That same game Hill went down with an injury. Many fantasy managers thought it was finally going to be the Sammy Watkins breakout many had waited so long for. Sadly, Watkins didn’t break 100 yards the rest of the season and scored 0 touchdowns the rest of the season. The word enigma is defined as “ a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.” There is no player in the entire NFL more worthy of the title than Sammy Watkins.

As far as an honest fantasy outlook for 2020, Watkins should be considered a high upside WR3. Finishing a week as the overall WR1 is within his range of outcomes. But he’s shown himself to be unreliable for fantasy and a risky start any given week.

Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson

The Chiefs drafted Mecole Hardman in the second round of 2018 amidst a Tyreek Hill off-field controversy that many thought could see the receiver punted from the league. Hill was eventually cleared of all charges leveled against him, but Hardmans was now on the team, and his speed as a rookie was something to behold. Hardman posted a relatively quiet overall season in receiving with just 538yds, but he did it on only 26 receptions! Six of those receptions went to the house for touchdowns.

Much like Hill, Hardman made his presence felt during his rookie season in his punt and kickoff return game. He posted 871 return yards in the regular season and 294 in the playoffs! His dynamic playmaking ability in the open field, coupled with his 20+ yards per reception, makes him a prime candidate to break out in 2020 when his snap share should see an increase from 45% in 2019.

The final wideout worth noting on the Chiefs is Demarcus Robinson. Robinson is a player mostly worth owning in very deep leagues where your team starts 3+ WRs and/or 3+ flex spots. The Chiefs made it a point to bring Robinson back in 2020 as he’s familiar with the system and coaching staff. Robinson garnered the most targets of his career in 2019 as well as his most receiving yards. He’s a player worth keeping an eye on as he’s quietly developing into a consistent role player on one of the league’s best offenses.

Tight End

Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce is coming off his 4th consecutive 1,000yd season, a feat no other tight end in the history of the NFL has achieved, and his 4th consecutive TE1 finish in PPR. While many used the nickname “Baby Gronk” to describe Kelce early in his career, there’s an argument to be made for Kelce as a better overall fantasy tight end now that he’s proven himself a dominant force.

In 2019 Travis Kelce saw the 3rd highest red zone target share among all pass-catchers. Those are some of the highest leverage opportunities in all of fantasy football. That being said, one of the unique things about Kelce is he’s been so dominant for so long while only finding the end zone for an average of 6.75 TDs a season. Most players at the TE position need to score upwards of 8 TDs to be fantasy relevant and even have a chance at a top 5 finish but not Travis Kelce. His high reception and yardage totals give him an amazing weekly floor, and the offense he’s tied to gives him the best ceiling at the position.

Kelce enters the 2020 season at 31 years old but showed no signs of slowing down in 2019, playing all 16 games, and posting the second-highest yardage and reception totals of his career. Players like Antonio Gates, Jared Cook, and Greg Olsen have posted some of their best statistical seasons between ages 29-32. There’s no reason to think Kelce will take a step back in 2020 and assuming 16 healthy games from him and Mahomes, watch out. We may have yet to see the best of Travis Kelce.

IDP

Defensive Line

Credit by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a great IDP Defensive Lineman. In the last two seasons alone he’s amassed one of the most impressive stat sheets at the position, boasting:

  • 49 QB Hits
  • 27 Tackles For Loss
  • 24.5 Sacks
  • 76 Combined Tackles
  • 9 Passes Defended
  • 3 Forced Fumbles

While his tackle numbers are a little lower than ideal, Jones offers IDP fantasy managers the opportunity to make up those points elsewhere on the field with his big plays and impact plays. Most notably is his ability to get to the Quarterback from anywhere on the defensive line. Even though there hasn’t been a long term extension worked out as of the writing of this article, Jones should still be considered a high-end DL2 going into 2020.

Frank Clark

After turning in a career in 2018 with the Seattle Seahawks, Frank Clark signed a massive five-year, $105.5 million deal, with $63.5 in guaranteed money with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs knew coming into the season they were contenders, but the team’s weakness was defense. The two biggest off-season signings by the team were Clark and Tyran Mathieu. Both well worth the money as the Chiefs did, in fact, make it to the Superbowl and win it all.

Frank Clark, in particular, was a huge part of the team’s postseason success posting 5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss across three games. Some at the most crucial moments in the game. Clarks regular-season numbers weren’t as heroic as his postseason play, but he still managed a respectable:

  • 37 Combined Tackles
  • 14 QB Hits
  • 12 Tackles For Loss
  • 8 Sacks
  • 4 Passes Defended 
  • 3 Forced Fumbles

Good enough to be an every-week starter as a DL2. However, he ended the season with DL3 numbers overall, but that’s partly because he missed two games in 2019. Getting to play on the same defensive line as Chris Jones in 2020 and with a full year in the defensive system, it’s not unlikely that Frank Clark enjoys another productive fantasy season. Clark is currently the DL26 in the Dynasty Nerds consensus DL Rankings. After a down year in 2019 compared to his 2018, he’s a prime bounce-back candidate in 2020.

Defensive Backs

Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrann Mathieu

After starting his career with four injury-plagued, but productive seasons, Tyrann Mathieu “The Honey Badger” has put together three full, 16 game seasons. One with the Arizona Cardinals, one with the Houston Texans, and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. In those three seasons Mathieu has amassed:

  • 203 Solo Tackles
  • 39 Assisted Tackles
  • 27 Passes Defended
  • 14 Tackles For Loss
  • 8 Interceptions
  • 6 Sacks

And a handful of other accolades including First-Team All-Pro in 2019 and a Superbowl championship.

In 2019 Tyrann Mathieu was the heart and soul of the Chiefs defense and everything they wanted him to be on and off the field when they brought him in during the offseason. Mathieu has become one of the most reliable IDP Defensive Backs in the game. Not to mention he’s fun as hell to watch play football!

Mathieu might not offer the elite tackle numbers to be considered a locked and loaded DB1. Still, he has a solid tackle floor and offers a lot in auxiliary points with his diverse skillset and impact plays all over the field. There might not be a better DB2 in all of IDP fantasy. His Dynasty Nerds consensus DB14 rank seems just about right.

Linebackers

Willie Gay Jr.

The Chiefs linebacker group was not a very productive or exciting one in 2019. This was a group filled with JAGs (just a guy). Enter Willie Gay Jr. 

Gay was a bit of a dodgy prospect due to some “character concerns.” Otherwise known as human nature. Gay punched his QB in the face before a game his final collegiate season and was suspended for it. This led him to miss a large chunk of the year. Even so, Gay’s speed and instincts are elite. Gay posted a 99th percentile speed score, 99th percentile 40 yd dash, and 98th percentile burst score per Player Profiler.

There’s not much in front of Gay that would keep him from being an immediate starter on the Chiefs. Even with the truncated preseason and practice situation that has arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gay has a shot at making an immediate impact for IDP fantasy players as a rookie.

Conclusion

For fantasy football, there is almost no team in the league more loaded. The Chiefs boast a one or a two at every fantasy-relevant position. Several of those players with legitimate top-three upside at their position. This isn’t really news, though, as KC position players have been quality fantasy options for several years. Hopefully, you were aware and able to land one or more of the position players on a dynasty team. If not, it’s a great time to invest in young weapons like Mecole Hardman, Willie Gay Jr, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Don’t go into 2020 without a piece of this team if you like big checks and big plays!

With the season less than 2 months away make sure you are staying up to date with current rankings and NFL narratives by becoming a #nerdherd member today! Along with the additional #nerherd episode of the Dynasty Nerds Podcast, you will gain access to our premium dynasty rankings, curated by the best minds in dynasty fantasy football. Be sure to give me a follow on Twitter for constant fantasy analysis and if you have ever been interested in IDP fantasy football checkout The IDP 411 Podcast, which I co-host. IDP fantasy football is the next big thing in fantasy football. Make sure you are in an IDP league for 2020! Thanks for reading, good luck this season and GO CHIEFS!

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