The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes, fresh off a 10-year extension, is being drafted as fantasy’s No. 1 QB. We all know what he’s capable of, but we also know the depth of the position. What’s the earliest you would pick him?
Matt: When he (or Lamar Jackson) falls to the third round of industry drafts, I have a tough time not taking them in that range. Of course, there is a sacrifice. You can acquire a possible high-end WR1 and there’s definitely a tier drop for running backs right after Round 3. So the opportunity cost is high when taking the early quarterback. However, Mahomes and Jackson are truly unique entities. With Mahomes specifically, the Chiefs have continued to beef up his supporting cast. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a pass-catching dynamo and speedster second-year wideout Mecole Hardman should get some more run in 2020 amid a pass-c watching corps that is already star-studded. And if Mahomes starts running more going forward, that’s only going to boost his floor and ceiling. Mahomes took off 24 times over his three postseason games for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He picked up 11 first downs along the way and added an extra eight fantasy points per game to his total.
Andy: It should go without saying that our goal should always be to find the next Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, and to draft that quarterback at a spot that allows us to use our early picks on RBs and receivers. But whenever I see either Mahomes or Jackson slip to the early third, I’m interested. We tend to overuse the term “league-winner” when describing various players, but it’s an inarguably accurate description of Mahomes in 2018 and Jackson in 2019. Fantasy managers should be thinking upside at every point in their drafts; our top two quarterbacks have already produced two of the greatest seasons in the history of the position. The Chiefs clearly have the look of a team that will again average over 30 points per game, as long as Mahomes remains healthy. While he may not duplicate his cartoonishly great 2018 stats, he’s a near-lock to finish among the top-3 at his position.
Scott: If I were going to take a vanity quarterback, it would be Mahomes. Andy Reid, all these fun offensive pieces, you see what’s going on. But it’s a reactive pick for me, not a proactive one. If you catch me rostering Mahomes in an industry draft, it means I was backed into a third-round corner, unable to find a pick that made sense. In leagues that require just one starter, the cheapest hack remains in play; wait it out. (Of course, I want you to start playing in more diverse formats.)
With Damien Williams opting out of the season, what are your expectations for an already hyped rookie in Clyde Edwards-Helaire? And, how early would you draft him?
Andy: Edwards-Helaire became a viable first-round fantasy pick the instant Williams opted out. There should be very little disagreement on that front. Kansas City's offense might very well average 30-35 points per game this season and CEH is, as of this writing, the unchallenged lead back. He's a first-round pick who caught 55 passes in his final collegiate season, so he's not merely an early-down runner. The only thing that might put a dent in Edwards-Helaire's fantasy profile is the possibility of a Devonta Freeman signing; he's still lurking out there on the market. But still, it's difficult to imagine any scenario in which CEH isn't seeing 15-plus touches per week, worst case. In KC's offense, that's enough to make him a fantasy star.
Matt: Damien Williams opting out was a major movement for the Chiefs backfield. If the veteran had been a part of the season, rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire would have had a clearly capped ceiling. His passing game involvement would have always given him a solid path to a nice floor but now that Williams is out of the picture, all bets are off. He has access to that already steady floor but now a pathway to an outrageous ceiling.
As the roster stands, Edwards-Helaire should earn 60 to 65 percent of the backfield touches in Kansas City. And let's be clear, 60 to 65 percent of the backfield touches in the Chiefs offense is worth far more than such a workload in just about any other ecosystem in the league. It's as good, if not better, of a setup as when Ezekiel Elliott came into the league as a rookie and was quickly vaulted up into Round 1 of drafts. The Lesson there was don't let "he never played a down in the NFL" be a guiding point in your analysis. One last note: I don't see any vagabond veteran still on the market that has the juice left to drastically alter his projections or outlook. Edwards-Helaire is a late Round 1/early Round 2 pick at the turn.
Scott: My concern with CEH is that he'll become too buzzy now, and you have to draft him at the height of his range. If you can get him in the tail end of the first round, or wrapped around to the second, that's fine. But in leagues where he's going to go fifth or sixth overall, I'll sit that out. I expect him to do well, possibly excel. But given the unusual circumstances of 2020, I am not expecting him to be on magazine covers next year. Let's try to keep at least one foot on the ground here.
Mahomes is clearly the tide that raises all ships, but there are A LOT of ships in this port. Would you rather spend top dollar for a Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce or take a flier on another pass catcher later?
Scott: Hill and Kelce make sense at their respective ADPs; Hill’s numbers last year need to be adjusted for time played, while Kelce’s touchdown count was a stone fluke. What I really wish I could do is go all-in on Mecole Hardman, who’s absurd 2019 highlight tape (and efficiency log) is too good to be true. But Sammy Watkins is going to be a fantasy obstructor; not good enough to play, but in the way of the guy we actually want in fantasy.
Matt: I am all for targeting the premium pieces here. Hill and Kelce are locked-in as the premier bets to clear 115 targets. That has huge value in this offense. You can still take fliers on Hardman, Watkins and the like in the later rounds. If there are injuries or role changes, these players could hit big. However, don’t let their appeal take any shine of the name-brand players.
Andy: Hill and Kelce sounds like a pretty good plan for anyone drafting at the turn, to be honest. And it shouldn’t prevent you from taking another shot or two with other KC skill players. When we’re talking about an offense that’s all but guaranteed to finish near the top of the league in total yards and points, there’s no great need to limit your exposure to the team. Just because I land Hill and/or Kelce near the top of a draft, I’m not gonna pass on a playmaker like Mecole Hardman near his Yahoo ADP (126.7).
Andy: This offense is so loaded it defies hot-taking. Almost anything seems possible for the Chiefs. Two years ago, this team produced fantasy’s No. 1 quarterback, receiver and tight end. It’s completely in play for KC to actually deliver top-10 (top-5?) fantasy contributors at every standard position, including kicker and defense.
If you need a scorching take about an individual player on this team, I’ll say that Mecole Hardman finishes as a top-25 receiver in 2020. He’s absurdly explosive, gifted with 4.3-ish speed and coming off a season in which he averaged a ridiculous 20.7 yards per reception. If he sees 80-plus targets in the year ahead, he has a shot at 900 yards and a silly touchdown total.
OVER/UNDER on 11.5 Win Total from BetMGM
Scott: Baltimore and Kansas City are the bullies of the AFC, so the juice is (as expected) on the OVER side of this ticket. If pressed, I would trust Mahomes, Reid, and this loaded roster, but perhaps you can get creative with a proxy for your over play. You return +240 if they win exactly 12 games, and you cash at a +290 rate if you hit the 13-win mark.
Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB
Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski
Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens