2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Travis Kelce sees 'unstoppable' potential in Chiefs' offense
Jamey Eisenberg caught up with Travis Kelce this offseason, and the Chiefs tight end is excited to play with new quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2018.
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BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Travis Kelce has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the NFL over the past two seasons, and he expects to stay at that level again this year. But there are changes in his world coming in 2018.
He has a new quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, who is replacing the departed Alex Smith. He has a new teammate in Sammy Watkins, who along with Tyreek Hill gives Kelce the best supporting cast he's ever played with. And he's healthy for the first time in two years heading into the season.
Kelce expects this to be a big year for him and the Chiefs.
"It's really exciting," Kelce told CBS Sports in an interview during a training session at XPE Sports this offseason. "We think that there's ability to really be unstoppable in this offense."
Let's start with the offense, which will be led by Mahomes. He's a second-year quarterback who started just one game in 2017 in Week 17 against Denver, and Kelce didn't play in that game to rest for the playoffs.
Mahomes was 22-of-35 passing for 284 yards and one interception in that game, but Kelce is impressed with his potential. In his final two years at Texas Tech, Mahomes passed for 9,705 yards, 77 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, and he ran for 744 yards and 22 touchdowns.
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Kelce said Mahomes can be a star. And he's worth drafting as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy quarterback as early as Round 9 in the majority of leagues.
"The most impressive thing about him is he's very young, but he's very confident," Kelce said. "He's not shy about letting that kind of ooze out of him in the huddle, throughout practice and in the locker room. He lets everyone know that he belongs and should be here. It's cool to see that out of a young guy because it doesn't always happen in the league."
Smith has been Kelce's quarterback for his entire career, but he's expecting big things out of Mahomes. Kelce said there will be a growth process, but he said Chiefs coach Andy Reid is teaching Mahomes "everything he needs to know."
One thing that should help Mahomes is the weapons around him with Kelce, Hill and Watkins, who signed with Kansas City as a free agent this offseason from the Rams. The Chiefs could have one of the best passing games in the NFL if Mahomes plays at a high level, especially adding in Kareem Hunt out of the backfield. It could lead to a Fantasy bonanza.
Hill finished last season as the No. 6 Fantasy receiver in non-PPR leagues with 75 catches for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns on 105 targets, and Watkins had some positive moments with the Rams. Despite just 70 targets, Watkins scored eight touchdowns, and he finished with 39 catches for 593 yards.
Watkins will hopefully be more involved in the passing game in Kansas City, and Hill remains a quality No. 2 Fantasy receiver. I expect him to decline a little with his production, but he's still worth drafting in Round 3 or 4 in the majority of leagues. Watkins is worth drafting in Round 6.
Hunt also remains a standout Fantasy running back heading into his sophomore campaign. He led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 yards, and he added eight touchdowns on 272 carries. He also had 53 catches for 455 yards and three touchdowns. He was the No. 3 Fantasy running back in non-PPR leagues, and he should be drafted in Round 1 in all formats this season.
Kelce said this offense should be explosive, but it could take time in training camp for everything to click. And when it does, look out.
"All of us are really trying to put this thing together to make ourselves as unstoppable as we can," Kelce said.
Added Kareem Hunt in an interview with CBS Sports at the Pro Bowl earlier this year: "It's definitely going to be a fun Chiefs offense. It's going to be hard to stop."
Kelce should again be hard to stop, and he's coming off the best season of his career in 2017 with 83 catches for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns on 123 targets. He was the No. 2 Fantasy tight end in all formats behind Rob Gronkowski, and he finished No. 1 in 2016 when Gronkowski dealt with injuries.
Fantasy owners should plan on drafting Kelce after Gronkowski toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3, and his Average Draft Position prior to training camp is No. 28 overall. I think he's a steal if he falls to the third round.
Kelce is coming into this season in great shape since he's been devoted to working out with noted NFL trainer Tony Villani at XPE Sports. Last year, Kelce couldn't really work out to the level he wanted because he underwent shoulder surgery following the 2016 campaign.
Now, Kelce said he's never felt better heading into this year.
"I feel like my body is in the best shape that I've been in for a while," he said. "I'm ready to attack this season."
It's hard to expect Kelce to be dramatically better than his 2017 performance, and the hope is his production doesn't decline with Mahomes replacing Smith. But based on how he's played the past two seasons, and with what Mahomes is capable of doing, Fantasy owners should be excited.
Kelce should be unstoppable once again.
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