The future of the Kansas City Chiefs became the present when they dealt Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. Patrick Mahomes takes over an offense that last season produced a top five Fantasy option at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. It's also an offense that got more talented in the offseason, with the addition of Sammy Watkins.
It's hard to imagine any young quarterback falling into a better situation, with more talent around him. In fact, we tried. The closest we came was Aaron Rodgers. That's not to compare Mahomes to Rodgers, or even to brag about the Chiefs' weapons. It is to say that even if Mahomes is just an average quarterback he's probably going to be pretty good in Fantasy. Especially with the direction the Chiefs defense has gone so far this offseason.
The biggest mover in the preseason has been Watkins moving down. He's not been on the same page as Mahomes and I'm starting to wonder if he's the biggest reason he only saw 70 targets in Los Angeles last season.
What about the rest of the Chiefs offense? Let's take a look:
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Andy Reid's playcalling has been pretty consistent over the last three years, but there are reasons to expect change. For one, the Chiefs could become more pass happy if the defense declines as we believe it may. But an even bigger deal will be the change from Smith to Mahomes. Reid could call more deep passes because of Mahomes' cannon and he could certainly call fewer designed quarterback runs. Also, many of Smith's runs were designed passes that resulted in scrambles. As Smith was one of the most likely quarterbacks to make that decision, we should probably expect a decrease in those types of plays as well.
I'm anticipating 536 pass attempts for Mahomes and 410 rush attempts for the offense. If the Chiefs don't make significant upgrades to their defense before the start of camp I'll tilt those numbers even more in the direction of passing. Here's how I expect those touches to be distributed:
- One of the biggest challenges in projecting Mahomes is in his Y/A and touchdown percentage. Smith averaged 8.0 Y/A and had a 5.1 percent touchdown rate last season. It's not fair to expect Mahomes to be that efficient, but I wouldn't be surprised if he matches the touchdown rate. One thing I feel sure of is he'll throw a lot more interceptions.
- That touchdown rate could really be helped by the addition of Watkins. He scored eight times on 70 targets in 2017 and historically has scored on 7.2 percent of his targets.
- Hill was one of the most efficient wide receivers in league history last season, catching 71 percent of his targets and averaging 15.8 yards per reception. No receiver with 100-plus targets has matched those marks since 1992 when the league started tracking targets.
The three names to know here are Demarcus Robinson, Spencer Ware and Demetrius Harris. But you won't need to know any of them unless someone on the Chiefs suffers an injury. That's the nature of an offense with this much firepower at the skill positions.
Ware is the only one who has had success in the league; he ran for 921 yards in 2016. But he's still recovering from his knee injury and the team's acquisition of Damien Williams seems to suggest some apprehension about his recovery. Even if Kareem Hunt were to go down I'd expect a committee effort between Ware and Williams, with neither being more than a No. 3 running back.
Robinson was actually an interesting sleeper before the team acquired Watkins. Now he'll presumably battle Conley to be third in the pecking order at wide receiver. One advantage Robinson may have is the rapport he built with Mahomes in the preseason.
Finally, Harris would be the handcuff for Kelce if handcuffing tight ends was actually a thing. Harris is a large athletic tight end that would presumably fill in adequately, but since missing his rookie season with an injury Kelce has been remarkably healthy.