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 Patrick Mahomes, KC - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update 09/16/19Mahomes proved to matchup-proof in Week 1 when he torched the Jaguars' pass defense for 378 yards and three TDs while gaining 11.5 yards per pass attempt. He had six completions for 20 yards or more with four of those passes gaining over 40 yards. Mahomes did lose his top WR (Tyreek Hill) for multiple games plus pick an ankle injury. Last year he passed for 576 yards and six TDs in his two games against the Raiders. Oakland struggled to cove the Broncos’ top two WRs (12/206/1 on 15 targets) leading to Joe Flacco gaining 8.6 yards per pass attempt. A favorable matchup, but Mahomes does have a top-shelf salary while missing an impact player.
QB Alex Smith, --- - Bye Week Fill-in
Update 12/29/17The playoff bound Chiefs will enter Week 17 as underdogs to the Denver Broncos. This is a clear sign that Kansas City will pull their starts at some point in the first half meaning first round Patrick Mahomes will see his first playing time of his NFL career. Alex is a player to avoid in the daily games this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, CLE - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update 11/10/18Hunt has been a scoring machine (12 TDs) over his last seven games, but he has fewer than 100 rushing in eight of his nine games. In his last six games, Kareem has over 100 combined yards in four games. Hunt averages 20 touches per game. Arizona allows the second-most Fantasy points to RBs with four teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (49.10, 38.90, 33.30, and 41.00). The Cardinals allow 33.5 rushes per game with RBs scoring 13 TDs. Most teams have beaten Arizona with the run due to game score helped by the losing side of the time of possession. Kansas City is going to dominate in this game while expecting north of seven TDs. Kareem will lose some touches to Spencer Ware late in the game. Tough to leave Hunt on the sidelines, but he does need the Cardinals to fight on the scoreboard with their BB gun of an offense. Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB Damien Williams, CHI - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 09/16/19In Week 1, the Chiefs’ RBs combined for 176 yards with one TD and nine catches or 32.6 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. Kansas City gave Williams 19 touches, which led to 65 combined yards with a TD and six catches. They had him on the field for 45 of 59 plays compared to 20 by McCoy. Both players were productive. With another week of practice, McCoy is going to get more in the way even if Williams is the better all-around option. The Raiders ranked 24th vs. RBs in 2018 (26.25 Fantasy points) while showing improvement in this area in Week 1 (17.70 Fantasy points). Kansas City will score in this game, and their RBs will be productive. Without a full share of touches, Williams is a much tougher start in the daily games.
RB LeSean McCoy, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 09/16/19McCoy is going to be a good fit in the Chiefs’ offense. He gained 93 yards with a catch on 11 touches while seeing the field for 20 of the Kanas City’s 59 plays. The injury to Tyreek Hill may lead to the RB position picking up more chances in the passing game. Moving in the right direction with value in the passing game, but his salary is higher than his opportunity at this point of the year.
RB Spencer Ware, --- - Gamble (high risk)
Update 12/29/18The Chiefs expect to have Ware back this week, but I can't see him jumping to the WR1 position in KC with Damien Williams playing so well. He priced like a full-time starter, which makes Spencer an easy avoid this week.