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2024 Kansas City Chiefs Fantasy Preview

Hall is a good RB to 'bet' on in the first round
Pat Kerrane says Breece Hall is a better first round fantasy prospect than Bijan Robinson thanks to his receiving efficiency, explosiveness and ability to break tackles.

2023 Stats (rank)

Points per game: 21.8 (15th)
Total yards per game: 351.3 (9th)
Plays per game: 63.5 (15th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks per game: 39 (7th)
Dropback EPA per play: 0.08 (12th)
Rush attempts per game: 24.5 (25th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.11 (18th)

Coaching Staff

With back-to-back Super Bowl wins, the Chiefs coaching staff is hardly under fire. Andy Reid will enter his 26th season as a head coach, 12th with Kansas City. He has won three Super Bowls with the Chiefs as the team has dominated the AFC over the last few seasons. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy stepped in after Eric Bienemy’s departure last season. The Chiefs went from No. 1 in total yards per game and dropback EPA per play to No. 9 and No. 12 respectively. Though there was some clear offensive decline with the coordinator change and subpar receiving corps, having the best quarterback in the league lifts all boats. Mahomes and the Chiefs took down top AFC challengers in the playoffs and still won the Super Bowl in what could almost be classified as a down year for the offense.

Passing Game

QB: Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz
WR: Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, Justyn Ross
WR: Hollywood Brown, Justin Watson, Mecole Hardman
WR: Xavier Worthy, Skyy Moore
TE: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jared Wiley, Irv Smith Jr.

Mahomes and the Chiefs offense had less production in 2023 compared to 2022. Though he was still a top-12 fantasy quarterback, Mahomes passed for over 1,000 less yards and 14 fewer touchdowns than last season. He had a career low with 7.0 yards per attempt. Despite all this, Mahomes was still running circles around other defenses when it came time to do so in the playoffs. For fantasy purposes, it was his first season averaging less than 20 fantasy points per game. Ignore the “decline”. Mahomes is a clear top-five fantasy quarterback again, with the receiving corps getting an upgrade.

The Chiefs decided Mahomes will not play with an iffy receiving corps again and made key additions to the group. Hollywood Brown joins the team through free agency as a deep threat on a one-year contract with $6.5 million guaranteed. He has seen over 100 targets each of the last four seasons and his speed makes him an intriguing deep threat on the Chiefs. The team also added Xavier Worthy in the first round of the 2024 draft. Similar to Brown, Worthy is a speedster with a smaller build. In his final season at Texas, he averaged 13.5 yards per reception while he also had the third-most receiving yards in the FBS since 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. Between the two new additions to the receiving room, Mahomes will have an easier time with deep balls rather than the occasional Justin Watson toss. Brown’s deal being for one-year indicates it is more of a prove-it contract after he dealt with injuries the last two seasons. Worthy is likely the long-term stay in the Chiefs offense but Brown being the veteran projects to be more productive out of the gate. Both players have weekly low-end WR3 values but boom weeks will see them reach WR1 ceilings in the high-opportunity Chiefs offense.

Of the returning Chiefs receivers, Rashee Rice is the key piece. He was the only wideout to achieve over 500 receiving yards last season with Kansas City ramping up his snaps throughout the season. Rice earned double-digit targets three times from Week 12 onwards after not seeing double-digit targets prior to then. As the clear No. 1 receiver, Rice’s only issue heading into the season will be legal issues. The Chiefs reportedly expect him to be suspended for his role in an April street race. He was also under investigation for assaulting a photographer, but the charges were dropped. While off-the-field issues could keep Rice out for an extended period of time, fantasy managers can expect to plug and play him when he is active. Rice is a bigger target than Brown and Worthy and will be a weekly low-end WR2 when playing.

Behind Rice, Brown, and Worthy, the Chiefs receiving corps gets murky. Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman have been contributors in the past, but not consistent effective targets. If one of the top three wideouts is out, then Watson, Moore, Toney, and Hardman are in line for FLEX consideration that week. Moore, Toney, and Hardman may see some run with screens, jet-sweeps, and more gadget plays, while Watson is more of the outside route-runner. Notably, Watson and Moore both saw twice the snaps per game that Toney and Hardman did. All four can be kept on benches unless one of the top three wide receivers is out. Then, it’s a roll of the dice based on how the Chiefs use their wideout rotation. History indicates Watson is the better outside receiver to have, while Toney often has touches manufactured for him, making them occasional FLEX plays.

While the wide receiving pecking order can be debated, there is no question that Travis Kelce is Mahomes’ perennial top target. He was the best pass-catcher in fantasy points per game for the Chiefs last season and has been a top-three fantasy tight end every year since 2016. Kelce’s 34-year-old age is also of no concern. He signed a two-year deal to make him the highest paid tight end in the NFL after a season that saw him win another Super Bowl and date Taylor Swift. Lock Kelce in as a top-three tight end this season.

Behind Kelce, Noah Gray is the most immediate backup. Irv Smith and rookie Jared Wiley will battle for snaps in the third string. Gray can be mixed as a TE3 some weeks, but none of the three need to be played unless Kelce is out.

Running Game

RB: Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Louis Rees-Zammit, Deneric Prince
OL (L-R): Wanya Morris, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Jawaan Taylor

No matter who the offensive coordinator is, the Chiefs will never have to waste snaps running the ball with Mahomes slinging it. They ranked No. 25 in rush attempts both 2022 and 2023 while falling from No. 10 to No. 18 in the league for the -0.11 rush EPA per play. When they do run the ball, Isaiah Pacheco has been the grinder trying not to waste the snap and complementing the passing game. He tallied 205 carries for 935 yards, adding 44 receptions for 244 yards and nine total touchdowns. Pacheco is the back to target and ranks as an RB2 this season.

As the immediate backup, Clyde Edwards-Helaire finds himself a two-time champ and re-signed with the Chiefs on a one-year deal. He has not lived up to a first-round billing, though the team likes him enough to keep him around. Edwards-Helaire is familiar with the system and will get backup snaps out of the gate. He has some pass-catching value, and is a backfield backup that will reach RB3 range should Pacheco be out at some point. Behind Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire is a series of less experienced young backs. The most interesting add is Louis Rees-Zammit, a 23-year-old Welsh rugby player. While he could be a chess piece to move around the offense, Rees-Zammit is more of a deep cut roster add.

The Chiefs backs have a solid offensive line to run behind. PFF ranked the line No. 7 in the league after last season. Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor left the most room for improvement after a lackluster season at the tackles. With Smith now gone, 2023 third-rounder Wanya Morris and rookie second-rounder Kingsley Suamataia However, the team added Kingsley tackle Suamataia in the second round as reinforcement. The offensive line will be a good unit again, protecting a fantasy QB1 and RB2.

Win Total

The reigning (back-to-back) champs have a DraftKings projected win total at 11.5. Kansas City won 11 games last season, but exceeded that win total each of the previous five seasons. Repetitively reiterating, Patrick Mahomes is the best in the world! The over is probably a safe bet here.

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