2020 Kansas City Chiefs Outlook
For the first time in his 21 seasons as a head coach, Andy Reid picked up that elusive third win in the playoffs leading to his first Super Bowl title. Reid has been exceptional over his seven seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (77-35 with six trips to the postseason). He had ten or more wins in each of his last five seasons, and Reid has double-digit victories in two-thirds of his career seasons with Kansas City and Philadelphia.
His next step is improving on his playoff record (15-14 in his career and 5-5 with the Chiefs). Reid improved to 7th in NFL in career wins (207) and 28th in winning percentage (.618).
With his resume and a young elite quarterback, Reid looks poised to be in the Super Bowl conversation for the next few seasons.
After working as the running backs coach in the Chiefs' system over the previous five seasons, Eric Bieniemy now has three years of experience as the offensive coordinator and a Super Bowl win for Kansas City. Bieniemy is a former NFL player with 11 years of coaching experience in the pros. In 2011 and 2012, he held the offensive coordinator job for Colorado Buffaloes. Kansas City's success on offense should lead to Bieniemy pushing his way to a head coaching opportunity soon.
After leading the NFL in points scored (565) and offensive yards in 2019, the Chiefs scored 114 fewer points last year (451 – 5th) while slipping to sixth in offensive yards.
In his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, Steve Spagnuolo helped Kansas City win their second Super Bowl in franchise history. He's been in the NFL since 1999, with seven years of experience running a defense and three failed seasons as a head coach (11-41).
The Chiefs improved to 7th in points allowed (308), which was 113 fewer points than 2018 (421). Kansas City pushed their way to 17th in yards allowed, which was well above their failure in 2017 (28th) and 2018 (31st).
Kansas City lost CB Kendall Fuller, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, G Stefen Wisniewski, DE Terrell Suggs, LB Darron Lee, RB LeSean McCoy, T Cam Erving, CB Morris Claiborne, LB Reggie Ragland, QB Matt Moore, RB Spencer Moore, TE Blake Bell, S Jordan Lucas, and DT Xavier Williams from their 2019 championship team.
Fuller will be the most significant loss after grading well in coverage in his two seasons with the Chiefs. He missed five games last year due to a broken thumb. Fuller failed to intercept a pass with a decline in his defended passes (2).
Ogbah missed the second half of 2019 with a pectoral injury after being on pace to set a career-high in sacks (5.5 over ten games). The Browns drafted him in the second round in 2016.
Wisniewski revived his career late in the year after moving into the starting line. His best value came in pass projection.
The Chiefs' top signings were T Mike Remmers, RB DeAndre Washington, and CB Antonio Hamilton. All of these options project to play backup roles.
In a surprise move, the Chiefs pinned their future running back tail on Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 32nd pick in the first round. Edwards-Helaire looked to be ranked in the top five at his position coming into the draft, but most touts expected RB D'andre Swift and RB Jonathan Taylor to be drafted before him.
Edward-Helaire proved to be durable when asked to carry a heavy workload. His value in the passing game should lead to more touches in his rookie season.
He's an undersized back (5'7" and 205 lbs.) with NFL RB par speed (4.6 forty yard dash). Edwards-Helaire needs to get stronger, which may limit his initial value in pass protection. His running style offers patience with quickness over the short areas of the field. He'll make quick cuts to create space while having the wiggle to make defenders miss at the second level of the defense.
Kansas City invested in LB Willie Gay in the second round. Based on his finishing power, Gay ranks highly at his position. He's alert with the instincts to make winning plays in the backfield, but his decision making on his direction sometimes puts him out of position. His growth and success come with better development of his play reads, and understanding patience can improve his ability to be in the right place at the right time.
T Lucas Niang was the choice in the third round. He comes to the NFL with starting upside while needing to improve his base. Niang should offer instant help in a power run game with the smarts and vision to lengthen his pass blocking range. He played well vs. top passing rushing talent in college, which is a good baseline to see if he can have success at the next level. Niang's most significant risk will come from speed rushers. He's also coming off a torn labrum in his hip.
With their final three selections, the Chiefs focused on the defensive side of the ball – S L'Jarius Sneed, LB Michael Danna, and CB Bopete Keyes.
Sneed has an off-the-ball feel in coverage while not having the right foundation to make an impact in run support. His vision should be an asset, but his playmaking style could lead to mistakes when jumping a pass route. Sneed can get beat when asked to guard receivers with press coverage. With a change in mentality with his attack, he could develop into an upside safety.
The Chiefs saw more in Danna than most teams in the NFL based on his scouting report. He almost has a gimmick feel where mistakes by his opposing defender drive his success. Danna plays hard with a keen eye for finding the right gap in the pass rush. He works hard while lacking an edge quickness. His strength keeps him in the game, but it isn't enough to separate him from the field.
Keyes does his best when locking into his assignment early in coverage. He'll battle and fight, but a false move puts him at risk. His game will be challenged over the long field, where his lack of speed can't save him. Keyes should play the best when moving forward against the run and in coverage.
Kansas City fell to 23rd in rushing yards (1,569) with 16 TDs. Their ball carriers gained 4.2 yards per rush with ten runs over 20 yards while averaging attempted 23.4 rushes per game.
They fell back to fourth in passing yards (4,690) with 30 TDs and five Ints. KC gained 8.1 yards per pass attempt, which ranked fifth in the NFL. Their offensive line allowed 25 sacks and 71 quarterback hits.
LT Eric Fisher
Fisher still hasn't developed into an impact player after Kansas City drafted him first overall in 2013. Over the last five seasons, he was about the league average in pass blocking despite allowing a few sacks and pressure at times. His run blocking has been up and down over the last three years. Fisher missed eight games in 2019 due to a sports hernia issue.
LG Andrew Wylie
In his second year with the Chiefs, Wylie made ten starts, leading to a significant step forward in his pass projection. His play as a run blocker remains well below the league average. He missed five games with an ankle injury.
C Austin Reiter
After seeing minimal snaps over his first four years in the NFL, Reiter made 16 starts in 2019. He handled himself well in pass protection, but he rarely showed winning upside in the run game.
RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
The Chiefs signed Duvernay-Tardif to a five-year $41.25 contract in February in 2017. Over his first two seasons in the league, he excelled in pass protection. After missing the final 11 games in 2018 with a broken leg, his play failed to regain his form in pass blocking last year while also regressing in the run game.
RT Mitchell Schwartz
Schwartz has been an asset in both run and pass blocking in all eight years in the league. His game improved to an elite level over the past two seasons, with his most significant shine in pass blocking.
Offensive Line Outlook
The Chiefs have two positions on their offensive line that look to have downside. Their best play should come at the tackle positions. Patrick Mahomes helps lower the damage in sacks due to his mobility and quick reads. Kansas City needs growth up the middle in run blocking.
QB Patrick Mahomes, KC - Stud (low risk)
After an elite first full season in the NFL (30.15 FPPG in 4-point passing TD league), Mahomes lost about five fantasy points of value in 2019 (25.11) based on his scoring average over his 13 full contests. He passed for over 300 yards in his first five games (1,831 yards with 11 TDs and no Ints).
After playing at a high level (446/3) after missing two games with a right knee cap issue, Mahomes gained under 200 yards in three of his final six starts in the regular season while failing to throw over two TDs in any game over this stretch. He finished the year with 50 completions over 20 yards, which was well below his success in 2018 (75).
In the playoffs, Mahomes regained his elite form (1,036 combined yards with 12 TDs and two Ints).
The Chiefs have regression in the production at the RB position, plus Tyreek Hill missed four games. The addition of RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire should help Kansas City balance their offense in 2020.
Mahomes has a Super Bowl belt on his resume with a bright future ahead. Look for a push over 5,000 yards passing with a floor of 40 combined TDs. Just remember his 2018 season (482.45) had comparable success to Lamar Jackson last year (454.95 – 15 games).
One of the top quarterbacks on the board while being projected for 5,187 combined with 37 TDs and 11 Ints.
RB Damien Williams, CHI - Not Draft Worthy
Damian Williams opted out (COVID) for the 2020 season. He will not play or acquire stats. The ball dropped on Williams's opportunity in 2020 when Kansas City selected RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick.
Last year Williams ended up being a bust, highlighted by his bad start to the year (215 combined yards with three TDs and 15 catches over six games). Over this span, he missed a pair of games while gaining only 2.1 yards per rush.
Williams missed three more games with a rib injury after flashing in Week 9 (12/125/1) and Week 10 (109 combined yards with five catches). Over his final five games, including the playoffs, he looks much better (536 combined yards with nine TDs and 18 catches).
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC - Solid/Safe Pick
After an unimpressive sophomore campaign at LSU (146/658/7 with 11 catches for 96 yards), Edwards-Helaire broke out in 2019. He gained 1,867 yards with 17 TDs and 55 catches on 270 touches. His growth came after Joe Burrow emerged as an elite passer.
Over the first five games in 2019, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 360 yards, and five TDs on 65 carries with some success in the passing game (10/59). His stats blossomed over a four-game stretch (814 combined yards with nine touchdowns and 27 catches on 92 touches) starting in late October. Edwards-Helaire had his highlight game against Arkansas (253 combined yards with three TDs and seven catches).
In his rookie season, Edwards-Helaire should emerge as the top Chiefs' running back. Out of the gate, he'll rotate on early downs with his best value coming in the passing game. I set the bar for him at 1,191 combined yards with 10 TDs and 49 catches.
Upside mixed with light risk of potential RB committee.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB Darwin Thompson, --- - Deep-league Only
Early last summer, Thompson drew some attention from fantasy owners with RB Damien Williams battling a minor hamstring issue.
He played well in the preseason (98 combined yards with a TD and three catches). The Chiefs looked elsewhere for upside once the regular season started, leading to only 171 combined yards with one TD and nine catches.
Thompson is an undersized back (5'8" and 200 lbs.) who lacks the wheels to beat an NFL defense on the outside or test a defense with long runs. He has a grinder feel as a north/south runner. His second gear lacks explosiveness, along with his short-area quickness. Thompson may develop as a viable threat out of the backfield but needs an injury ahead of him to make an impact.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC - Stud (low risk)
After an excellent 2018 season (1,630 combined yards with 14 TDs and 87 catches), Hill stumbled out of the gate in Week 1 (2/16) due to a shoulder injury. He sat out the next four games while also leaving Week 11 early with a minor hamstring issue.
In his 13 full games, including the playoffs, he gained 1,086 combined yards with nine TDs and 73 catches or 18.12 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. In 2019, Hill scored 20.91 fantasy points per game. His best play came in Week (6/140/1) and Week 10 (11/157/1).
This season Kansas City should regain its bounce in the passing game. Hill also adds value as a runner (22/151/1 in 2018). A lockdown top-five wide receiver. I have Hill projected for 1,476 combined yards with 11 TDs and 88 catches in early June.