2019 Chiefs fantasy team preview: Juggernaut offense remains full of draft goodies
The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Kansas City Chiefs.
You wanna talk about a successful season, look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. The AFC West squad was an absolute offensive juggernaut engineered by the mind and clipboard of head coach Andy Reid and executed by the inhuman arm of the now-reigning NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs were a joy to watch — they were one half of arguably the greatest regular season matchup of all time last season — and if you had any of their fantasy assets, you were probably in good shape.
Their season came to an end just one win away from the Super Bowl, thanks in no small parts to the ageless Tom Brady and a suspect defense that had been thus far protected by the aforementioned offense. Nonetheless, fantasy gamers would be thrilled to be in position to draft the likes of Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, among other weapons, in 2019.
Showered with praise and labeled a “full-time starter” by Andy Reid, running back Damien Williams (26.7 ADP, RB13) is about to hop on an ADP rocket ship. Should prospective investors BELIEVE or DON’T BELIEVE the hype?
Andy: Oh, hell yeah. BELIEVE. Very, very BELIEVE. The believest. It’s almost too bad KC coaches had to come right out and declare him the top option in the backfield because he might have otherwise been a terrific fantasy bargain. Williams led me (and thousands of you) to multiple fantasy titles last season. He was a monster. The dude scored six touchdowns over the season’s final four weeks, then another four in a pair of playoff games. He was the waiver add of the year, without question.
Reid’s history strongly suggests his team will feature a dominant runner, and Williams has given him no reason to look elsewhere. The Chiefs’ non-pursuit of a serious challenger during the offseason tells you everything you need to know. Even if you’re not a complete believer in Williams’ talents (despite the 5.1 YPC), you should desperately want shares of KC’s offense. Williams is a solid second-round fantasy asset.
Brad: BELIEVE. When awarded the lion’s share late last season, Williams morphed into Priest Holmes-circa 2003. Over six games, including the postseason, he was the indisputable No. 1 RB in PPR, setting a 1,605 total yard- and, absurdly, 26 total touchdown-pace. His remarkable hands (84.8 catch%), sharp cuts, and red-zone efficiency (67% success rate) convinced even some of his biggest skeptics he was more than a timeshare RB. The man was a perfect system fit.
With Andy Reid’s support and little competition behind him — I would seek help if you think Carlos Hyde is — Williams will enter Week 1 against Jacksonville as the top dog, likely to net 15-20 touches. What’s most encouraging about his RB1 potential is Patrick Mahomes. During his breakout stretch last year, Williams’ highest stacked front rate he endured was 15 percent. Light, exploitable fronts will be nearly evergreen.
The Chiefs face a daunting schedule for fantasy RBs, but assuming Williams staves off the injury imp and takes command early, he’ll finish inside the position’s top-10.
[Join or create a 2019 Yahoo Fantasy Football league for free today]
Updates continue to be reported in the ongoing Tyreek Hill matter, but the Chiefs are optimistic he will be in attendance for the start of camp on July 26. Assuming you drafted today, what ROUND would you feel comfortable selecting Hill in a 12-team .5 PPR format?
Andy: First of all, it’s terrible that we ever have to reduce a disturbing/murky situation like this to simple fantasy analysis. But here we are. Reporting has indicated that a criminal investigation is no longer active, but of course, the league can still discipline the player without charges. There have also been reports suggesting a maximum suspension would be four games.
If it weren’t for the possibility of missed games, Hill would almost certainly rank as a top-five receiver entering the season, a plausible Round 2 pick. He’s as fast as any player in the league and he’s achieved an on-field mind-meld with Patrick Mahomes. I can imagine selecting him as early as the Round 4/5 turn, based on his top-tier upside.
Liz: One of the most game-changing receivers in the league, Hill put up top-five stats in productivity and efficiency, averaging over 92 receiving yards per game (WR4) and nearly 3 yards per pass route (WR4). Tied to one of the most gifted, ascending passers in the league, Hill’s ability to win after the catch and beast in the end zone (13 TDs in 2018) allow him to rack up fantasy points (20.5/gm in 2018).
It remains unclear how long Hill will be suspended, if at all, with the child abuse case no longer active. But recent reports suggest that Hill would miss just four games. If that’s the case, he should boom for fantasy managers from October through the end of the year. He figures to ROI for managers selecting him in the fourth round.
Player Pick ‘Em
Which universally rostered Chief has the highest return on investment potential at their respective ADPs: Patrick Mahomes (41.5, QB1), Travis Kelce (11.7, TE1) or Sammy Watkins (60.1, WR27)?
Brad: KELCE, barely. Seizing the crown from Gronk as the unrivaled position king, Kelce’s 103-1336-10 explosion last year was the fourth-greatest fantasy football performance by a TE in NFL history. Dominant in other critical metrics including targets share (26.6%), red-zone targets share (26.5%), total air yards (743), yards after catch (593) and contested catch rate (TE1), the soon-to-be 30 year old is sure to again clothesline the competition.
As someone who rarely, if ever, invests in a TE before Round 3, Kelce’s 11.7 ADP is warranted, but rich. Still, unlike Mahomes, who is bound to regress from last fall’s 50-TD detonation, Kelce should be able to sustain ultra-elite value this fall.
Liz: TRAVIS KELCE. Mahomes is amazing, but the depth at QB makes it hard to spend on him so early. And with Hill only likely to miss a month of action, Watkins’ cons far outweigh his pros. That leaves Kelce.
Perhaps the only top-tier TE unlikely to regress due to a decrease in volume, Kelce is the safest pick at the position. Drawing nearly 27 percent of the team’s target share (TE1) and converting almost 69 percent of the 150 passes thrown his way, Kelce proved to be ultra-productive (6.4 receptions/game) as well as clutch (contested catch rate of 48.3 percent). He’s in a tier all his own and should be treated accordingly.
Best Ball Bargain Bin
Andy: One of the things we like most about Kansas City for fantasy purposes is that all the stats are funneled to four primary weapons, and those guys deliver a bunch of supernova weeks throughout the season. SAMMY WATKINS probably won’t be a reliable asset when Hill is active, but he’s clearly the guy to ride if/when Tyreek isn’t available.
It’s also worth noting that CARLOS HYDE enters the season as Williams’ presumptive handcuff. It won’t be much of a surprise if he produces a useful stat line or three.
Brad: DEMARCUS ROBINSON. You just know at some point Sammy Watkins will fall victim to a random rabid gopher attack, leaving one of his feet immobilized. If the case, Robinson, more than Mecole Hardman, will rise to the occasion. Though he only logged 44.7 percent of the snap share a season ago, Robinson averaged a sensational 2.27 fantasy points per target. All he needs is a workload boost.
Mad Bets (From FanDuel Sportsbook): Kansas City 10.5 wins OVER (+115) or UNDER (-135)
Andy: OVER. For a team coming off a 12-win season, the Chiefs’ schedule isn’t necessarily the most daunting thing you’ll ever see. I like a repeat of last year’s win total. Call me crazy, but I have a weakness for teams that average 35.3 points per game.
Liz: OVER. KC’s schedule isn’t cake, but as the talent on this young squad continues to progress, a repeat of last year’s record (12-4) makes good sense.
More Fantasy Team Previews
AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington
AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans
NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons
AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns
NFC North: Lions | Vikings | Packers | Bears
AFC West: Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders | Broncos
NFC West: Rams | Cardinals | 49ers | Seahawks
Follow Brad: @YahooNoise
Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF
Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens