It is safe to say that no one has dominated one position in fantasy as Travis Kelce has. Since being drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, Kelce has been working toward greatness.
I don’t think it’s a crazy argument for him to be considered the best tight end, either. It also isn’t a far stretch to say he’s one of the most valuable fantasy assets in the history of the game. The question lingers, though, for how much longer can he keep this up?
In PPR scoring, Kelce finished as TE1 from 2016 to 2020. In 2021 he decided to finally take a step back and be the TE2 behind Mark Andrews. Now, this article is going to be centered around the thought of him falling behind Andrews but rather the less than fun topics.
Age, team structure, and the history of the position.
Each point has a specific argument with examples to back up why the clock may have struck midnight on this fairytale run. Cinderella won’t go back to cleaning toilets, but we may start to see enough of a step back to start selling those Kelce shares.
Trips Around the Sun Adding Up
The joke is the NFL stands for “not for long,” and in most cases, that rule applies. Every once in a while, you see players be the exception to that rule, but for a position like a TE, it’s hard to avoid. The argument for paying TEs more stems from the fact they play the role of offensive tackle and receiver. Kelce, one of the best blocking TEs in the league, has long worked double duty and excelled.
Kelce finished up this past season at 32, and he will turn 33 this October. According to Lineups, Kelce has averaged playing in 94% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps since 2017. The way they use him constantly will add up at some point. Like a boxer known for an iron chin, father time always collects his taxes. Is it coming for Kelce?
The Chiefs are Making a Transition
The team couldn’t afford to pay Tyreek Hill the type of money he was asking for, so they traded him. That trade, out of all the moves this offseason, will make the biggest impact. The Chiefs’ offense relied upon Hill to keep the defense honest and not stack the box. His departure, and the additions they made this offseason, meaning we are looking at a whole new offense.
So much of what made Kelce his money, and the Chiefs’ wins, was the intermediate and short passing game. Those lanes were open for Kelce, and he could turn up field and get so many of his yards after the catch. Will JuJu Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, and Mecole Hardman create those same chances?
Can they take the tops off defenses? Perhaps, but we haven’t seen it yet, and is Kelce going to be able to stick around for the time it takes to find out? Those are questions you, the fantasy player, have to be asking yourself.
History Paints a Blurry Picture
In the modern NFL picture, the TE has seen a complete shift in roles. We saw them go from primarily being blocking threats with some receiving flashes to being more of an offensive passing weapon. Some of the best in the modern era include Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and current Buccaneer Rob Gronkowski.
If you look at all of their age 32 seasons, you would see a stat line of 73 receptions, 880 yards, and eight touchdowns. It is a very respectable stat line, but it would still be a drop-off from what we have seen from him. Those numbers would be near career lows, which puts the run he is on in perspective.
The bottom line is once a tight end hits 33, it seems to start to fall apart. Gates had one double-digit touchdown year after turning 33. No one had a thousand-yard receiving year after that age either. Unless Kelce is the TE version of Tom Brady, it may be time to sell. Those shares can be capitalized on in terms of their value sooner rather than later.
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