2017 Fantasy Football: Kansas City Chiefs Team Outlook
The Chiefs have ranked in the top seven in the league in points allowed in each of the last four seasons, which is the key for them making the playoffs in three of those years. Just like 2013, Kansas City did rank low in yards allowed (24th). Andy Reid returns for his fifth season as head coach. He has a career 173-114-1 record over 18 years in the NFL with 12 playoff berths and a Super Bowl appearance. In his four seasons with the Chiefs, Reid is 43-21 with a 1-3 record in the playoffs. Matt Nagy will lose his caddy this season and become the official offensive coordinator for Kansas City in 2017. Last year he shared the duties with now assistant head coach Brad Childress. Nagy was the quarterback's coach for the Chiefs from 2013 to 2015. Last season he led this offense to a 13th place finish in points scored (389), which was 16 points fewer than 2015 (405). They did move up seven spots to 20th in offensive yards gained. Bob Sutton returns for his fifth year as the defensive coordinator. He has 17 seasons of experience as an NFL coach with six coming as a defensive coordinator.
The Chiefs parted ways with long time star running back Jamaal Charles in the offseason. His knee issues invited too much risk. They released RB Knile Davis and QB Nick Foles. RB C.J. Spiller will try one more time to find playing time in the NFL for Kansas City.
DT Dontari Poe and DT Jaye Howard struggled to make an impact in 2016 leading to a ticket to the Falcons and the Bears.
TE Gavin Escobar was added to compete for a backup job. G Andy Tiller left the 49ers to battle for a starting job on the offensive line.
The two players added to the defense were DT Bennie Logan and Marqueston Huff. Both players had losing value last year.
With 10th overall pick, Kansas City made a play to improve the quarterback position long term with Patrick Mahomes. He has a big arm with an attacking style to defeat a defense in the deep passing game. The rookie needs to control his gun in the heat of the moment to increase his accuracy. His game has play-action ability with the eyes to look off defenders. Mahomes can run the ball while offering touch when ask to throw on the move. His next step is throwing the ball away on losing plays and improving his reads in the passing game.
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon will be a stud when he comes up with a plan off the line of scrimmage. His short area quickness isn't great so he may lack follow through if beaten to the punch off the snap. Tanoh is athletic with developing power. The scouting reports suggest he's a year away from making an impact.
In the third and fourth rounds, the Chiefs added two players to their offense – RB Kareem Hunt and WR Jehu Chesson. Hunt has the talent to make an impact at the next level. He has plus vision with ability to make a player miss at the point of contact and in the open field. His speed isn't great and Hunt needs to use power to finish runs. I'm not sure I trust his pass protection skills even with some upside as an option in the passing game.
Chesson will offer an edge with his hands and his fight in jump balls, but his route running needs work. He may struggle against press coverage and lack the needed gear to create an edge in the deep passing game. Only time will tell.
Kansas City drafted LB Ukeme Eligwe in the fifth round. There are plenty of holes in Eligwe's game at this point of his career. He projects as an attacking style linebacker with slow reads and reaction skills. He has enough power to beat his blocks, but his lack of technique leads to mediocre results. It's almost like he just needs to be firing in the right direction to be in the battle.
With their last pick in the sixth round, the Chiefs selected S Leon McQuay. His game doesn't look ready to make an impact in the NFL, but he does have talent. McQuay needs to get stronger and improve his vision in play development. His first step and change of direction quickness can lead to mistakes if trapped going forward. Leon looks to be a playmaker with another gear once he gets rolling.
Kansas City slipped to 15th in rushing yards (1,748) with 15 rushing TDs. They gained 4.2 yards per rush with 12 runs over 20 yards. The Chiefs had 44 negative runs and 42 rushes over 10 yards.
They finished 19th in passing yards (3,740) with 19 passing TDs and eight Ints. Their offensive line allowed 32 sacks and 68 QB hits.
LT Eric Fisher had his best season in the NFL in 2016, but his game still ranks below expected value after Kansas City drafted him first overall in 2013. That being said, he did show growth as a run blocker last year.
LG Parker Ehinger looks to be a tweener on the offensive line. He lacks the desired quickness to be an asset in pass protection in the NFL at tackle, while his strength is below winning value at this point of his career as an interior lineman. His best production will come in pass protection with questionable upside as run blocker no matter where he lines up on the offensive line. In his rookie season, he only played in five games due to a torn ACL that required surgery in November. Parker may not be ready for the start of the season.
C Mitch Morse played well in pass protection leading to an edge at his position. Morse was drafted in the second round in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has plus strength with some quickness and a solid feel for the game. He'll offer upside in both run and pass blocking with more experience. Mitch was a league-average run blocker in 2015 with risk in pass protection. He should show more improvement in his third year in the league.
RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did an excellent job in pass protection leading to the Chiefs signing him to a five-year $41.25 contract in February. Kansas City picked him up in the sixth round in the 2014 draft.
RT Mitchell Schwartz played well in both run and pass blocking after signing a nice contract in the offseason of 2016. The Browns drafted him in the second round in 2012.
This line continues to improve with four players whom grade as league average or better. The left guard spot has a chance to be neutral if Ehinger returns to his 2016 form where he earned a starting job. The low sack total is helped by Alex Smith's willingness to get the ball out quickly to the short areas of the field.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing TDs touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing TDs (TDS).
This information is based on 2016, which will work as our starting point for 2017. We'll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2016 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2016.
2016 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL last year.
2016 Adjustment is based on the 2016 league average and the 2016 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat and the basis for strength of schedule.
Kansas City has about a league average schedule for their rushing offense. They have four favorable games (DEN X 2, MIA, and BUF) based on last year's stats. I expect the Broncos to be better against the run in 2017. Their toughest three matchups in the running game will come against New England, Dallas, and the New York Giants.
The two games against Denver alone lead to a tough schedule for Kansas City's passing attack. They have another poor matchup against Houston. The Chiefs only have two games against teams with some risk defending the pass (DAL and WAS).
The Chiefs had league average pass attempts in 2016 while running the ball 42.8 percent of the time. I'm sure they would like to be more balance on offense, but Andy Reid isn't afraid to air it out if needed due to game score.
The Chiefs' run defense plays two games (DAL and BUF) vs. teams with success running the ball. Last year the Chargers (2), the Giants, and the Broncos (2) graded as below the league average opponents rushing the ball.
Kansas City faces eight teams with weakness passing the ball. The Titans, the Jets, and the Bills should be the best matchups. Washington has the best offense via the air on the schedule. The Patriots, the Chargers (2), and the Steelers will be the second group off opponents with success throwing the ball.
Despite allowing only five runs over 20 yards in 2016, the Chiefs still ranked 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed (1,938). Rushers gained 4.4 yards per carry with 10 rushing TDs.
They finished 18th in the NFL vs. the pass (3,958 yards) with minimal sacks (28). Kansas City allowed 23 passing TDs while securing 18 Ints.
DT Chris Jones played in 16 games in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round. He offers strength and quickness at the point of contact while lacking a finishing motor and the ability to counter when stymied after the snap. In a rotation role, Jones has two sacks and 28 tackles. DT Bennie Logan will try to reinvent his career after fading in 2016. He finished as losing option with the Eagles last year. DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches played in 11 games as a rotational player in his second year in the league after getting drafted in the sixth round in 2015. The line doesn't have one option that offers impact upside.
LB Justin Houston only played in five games due to an early and late issue with his right knee that had surgery prior to the 2016 season. Justin played great against the Broncos in Week 12 (10 tackles and three sacks). Houston is an elite player when healthy with value in all areas. LB Tamba Hali looks to be fading after posting his shortest season since his rookie year in 2008. His replacement (Dee Ford) had a career high 10 sacks last year, which was a huge improvement, but expected after getting drafted in the first round in 2014. LB Derrick Johnson is at the end of his career as well at age 34. He suffered an Achilles injury in December leading to three missed games. Johnson has over 100 tackles five of the last seven seasons. Kansas City re-signed LB Ramik Wilson in October after being cut before the start of the season. He ended up with 76 tackles and an Int in 11 games to earn more playing time headed into 2017.
S Eric Berry was exceptional again last season. He returned two of his four Ints for TDs plus chipped in with 77 tackles and nine defended passes. Berry is one of the better safeties in the league. CB Marcus Peters had a drop down in chances in his second year in the league, but it was partly due to him improving and teams looking away from him on more plays. Peters made the Pro Bowl, which he ended up missing due to a minor foot injury. He had 20 defended passes and six Ints compared to 26 DPs and 8 Ints in 2015 with two picks returned for TDs. S Ron Parker has solid cover skills due to playing cornerback earlier in his career. His tackles (61) came in less than 2014 (94) and 2015 (78) while failing to post a sack. Parker had five sacks in 2015, which was impressive for his position. Steven Nelson should be the top option for the other starting cornerback position after starting 15 games in 2016. He failed to intercept a pass but broke up 16 attempts.
The strength of this defense comes at linebacker and in the secondary with Kansas City having three stud options at the second and third levels of the defense. The Chiefs have two aging veterans at linebacker with one upside option ready to make an impact as replacement. The defensive line isn't great and they need to do a much better job in run support while chipping in with some sacks. Kansas City should be a top 10 Fantasy defense with scoring ability plus Tyreek Hill will add value in the return game.
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QB Alex Smith, KC - Bye Week Fill-in
Update 10/16/17After five weeks, Smith is the highest scoring QB with three games with over 30 Fantasy points (34.70, 30.25, and 30.10). Alex has 12 TDs with two games with over 300 yards passing (368/4 and 324/3). He's averaging 8.8 yards per pass attempt, which is well above his last four seasons (6.5, 7.0, 7.4, and 7.2). Even with more success in the deep passing game, Smith has a career high completion rate (76.6). Last season he threw for 287 yards and two TDs vs. the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranks second in the NFL defending QBs with only three passing TDs allowed. No team has passed for more than 235 yards while facing five poor QBs (Kizer, Keenum, Glennon, Flacco, and Bortles). This will be the toughest test for the Steelers while showing high risk vs. the run in two games (220/2 and 231/2). High scoring offense (19 TDs and 11 FGs on 53 possessions) makes Smith a viable dance due to his low percentage own.
QB Patrick Mahomes, KC - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
After playing in seven games (1,547 passing yard and 16 TDs) in his freshman year at Texas Tech, Mahomes passed for 9,705 yards with 77 passing TDs and 25 Ints over the last two seasons. He attempted 131 rushes per year in his sophomore and junior seasons with high value in rushing TDs (22), but Mahomes had less room to run in 2016 (285 yards) compared to his success in 2015 (456). He has a good feel for the pocket while offering upside moving forward to break free from pressure where his legs will give him a second opportunity to make a play. He made plenty of deep throws with success in college, but he had a bigger passing window. He needs to improve his pre-snap reads while firing quickly when reaching his last step in his back pedal. His all-around game looks exciting and his style will bring the deep passing game back into fashion in Kansas City. Bright future, but he needs to limit his mistakes to unseat the crafty veteran.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update 10/16/17Hunt had tough sledding in Week 5, but he grinded out his fourth game with over 100 yards rushing (107) thanks to a season high 29 rushes. Charcandrick West just happened to be on the field for the two scoring plays in the passing game (2/12/2), which led to Hunt's shortest game of the year. Kareem averages 23.2 touches per game. Pittsburgh was lit up in the running game twice over the last three weeks (CHI - 38/220/2 and JAC - 37/231/2) while allowing six rushing TDs on the year. This is a favorable matchup while the Steelers will be playing their first game in 2017 against a team with strength in all areas on offense. Revenge game for the Chiefs after getting drilled by Pittsburgh 43-14 on the road. Hunt may score three TDs this week while being a popular own in the daily games.
RB Charcandrick West, KC - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
UPDATE: Ware went down so Hunt is going to get a stronger look from the coaching staff. Pass protection will be the deciding factor on whether or not he gets the majority of carries while Ware is out (rumored PCL 4-6 weeks). Andy Reid is one of the best coaches creating mismatches and getting the ball in space, so expect Hunt, West and Tyreek Hill to all be involved from the backfield. ----- After having value at times in 2015 (848 combined yards with five TDs and 20 catches), West never got rolling last year. The Chiefs gave him four games with 15 touches or more, which led to only one playable game (Week 17 - 116 combined yards with five catches and two TDs). Charcandrick battled an ankle issue in late September and a concussion in November. On the year, West gained only 3.3 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per catch. These numbers won't earn more playing time in the pros. He tried to come into 2017 with less weight after sensing his role in this offense fading with Hunt now on the roster.
RB Spencer Ware, KC - Gamble (high risk)
UPDATE: Ware went down so Hunt is going to get a stronger look from the coaching staff. Pass protection will be the deciding factor on whether or not he gets the majority of carries while Ware is out (rumored PCL 4-6 weeks). Andy Reid is one of the best coaches creating mismatches and getting the ball in space, so expect Hunt, West and Tyreek Hill to all be involved from the backfield. ----- Ware ended up being a nice value pick for Fantasy owners who had a better than expected opportunity with the injury to Jamaal Charles. Ware finished with 1,368 combined yards with five TDs and 33 catches. After an explosive game in Week 1 (199 combined yards with a TD and seven catches), he only shined in two other games (Week 5 - 163 combined yards with a TD and two catches and Week 6 - 131 combined yards and two catches). Over his last seven games of the season, Ware never rushed for more than 70 yards in any game. He scored only two TDs in his eight contests in the regular season. The Chiefs gave him 15 touches or more in 11 of his 14 games played. His year ended after Week 15 with a rib injury leading to minimal value in his only playoff game (36 combined yards on 10 touches with a TD and two catches). Overall, he played well enough to command a share of touches in 2017. The question for his upside falls on the ability of rookie Kareem Hunt. I expect between 200 and 250 touches with Spencer being the better option in the passing game and at the goal line at least early in the season. Possible 1,200 combined yards with 35+ catches and mid-level TDs.Injury Status: Injured Reserve