It was another monster season for the Kansas City offense and
Patrick Mahomes in 2020. The fourth-year QB finished sixth among
all quarterbacks in fantasy points, but jumped all the way to
second in points per game among QBs who started at least six games.
This boost happened because he and the Chiefs had already locked
up the top seed in the AFC heading into Week 17 and opted not
to play their starters.
Kansas City led the league with 414.7 yards of offense per game
this past season and while the Chiefs were widely considered the
best team in the league, they defied conventional wisdom by continuing
to rely heavily on their passing game even after having drafted
Clyde Edwards-Helaire with their first round draft pick in 2020.
They passed the ball seventh-most in the league despite defeating
their opponents by an average of nearly seven points per game.
This isn’t an aberration either, as the Chiefs have been doing
this every year since Mahomes became the starter. They’re really
the only team in football that continues to pass at a high rate
even when they’re comfortably ahead on the scoreboard, and that’s
a big, yet often neglected part of what’s led to the video game-like
numbers from this offense.
There was obvious concern when the Chiefs offensive line struggled
to protect Mahomes in their Super Bowl loss, but no one can deny
that they took serious steps to address that issue by trading
for Orlando Brown, as well by signing Austin Blythe, Joe Thuney,
and the previously-retired Kyle Long. In addition, they used a
second-round pick on center Creed Humphrey. This bolstering of
the offensive line just adds to what is already a stacked offense
and it makes an even stronger case for Mahomes being the safest
player in all of fantasy football this season.
Quarterbacks are almost always drafted too high in home fantasy
football leagues, but if you’re going to reach on a QB, you could
do a lot worse than Patrick Mahomes.
While his 2020 season wasn’t a complete disaster, it’s
hard to argue Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire wasn’t
a bust for fantasy purposes. The rookie saw an immediate path
to a starting role when previous starter Damien Williams opted
out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. Edwards-Helaire
took the opportunity and showed out by rushing for 138 yards and
a touchdown in the NFL season opener against the Texans. Everything
looked like it was headed in the right direction after that night,
but things quickly went off the rails, at least from a yardage
standpoint, as Edwards-Helaire reached 80 yards rushing just once
more throughout the entire remainder of the season.
It wasn’t just a lack of efficiency, either, as Edwards-Helaire’s
opportunities were curiously low at times despite less-than-stellar
competition in the Kansas City backfield. CEH saw the field on
70 percent of snaps just twice during the season, and one of those
games was when Darrel Williams missed the game.
The Chiefs even brought in veteran Le’Veon Bell midway
through the season and it started to become evident that they
did not view Edwards-Helaire’s abilities in the passing
game to be up to their expectations. This was particularly eye-opening
as most scouts viewed Edwards-Helaire as one of, if not the best
passing game running back from the 2020 draft class. Certainly
his late-season injury caused some of these problems and he even
ended up splitting snaps with journeyman Darrel Williams in the
While the snap count is a concern, it’s true that Edwards-Helaire
still dominated the touches in the Kansas City backfield. His
upside might still be limited if the Chiefs feel that he is not
a good enough pass protector and contributor as a receiver. It
seems as though this message was received by Edwards-Helaire,
however, as he has reportedly been focusing heavily on his passing
game abilities throughout minicamp.
It remains to be seen whether or not that additional effort will
lead to a heavier snap share in 2021, but the benefit of Edwards-Helaire
for fantasy going into 2021 is that not much has changed for him
in regards to his situation, but he now costs about a full round
less in seasonal leagues than he did heading into his rookie season.
That reduced cost makes Edwards-Helaire an intriguing option in
fantasy drafts as it’s hard to deny that he has elite fantasy
RB upside if he can simply stay on the field in this high-powered
Clyde Edwards-Helaire immediately shot up fantasy draft boards
when Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season as he became
the starter in one of the league’s best offenses. But just
as much as that opt-out helped Edwards-Helaire, it seems to have
benefited fellow backfield-mate Darrel Williams.
Williams operated as the team’s primary backup running
back for much of the season until they brought in veteran Le’Veon
Bell in what ended up being a failed experiment. Williams ended
up finishing the season with a nearly 30-percent snap share and
the Chiefs have since released both Damien Williams and Le’Veon.
With Kansas City only bringing in the oft-injured Jerick McKinnon
this offseason, Williams now finds himself with an opportunity
to potentially see meaningful snaps in what will more than likely
again be one of the league’s best offenses here in 2021.
Williams isn’t causing enough of a backfield split to be
considered a viable weekly option, but he could be one of the
more under-the-radar handcuff backs. Once the Chiefs moved on
from Bell and Edwards-Helaire went down with an injury that caused
him to miss three games, they turned to Williams in a near bell
cow role. He didn’t play Week 17 as the Chiefs benched their
starters, but Williams played 70 percent and 79 percent of the
Chiefs’ snaps in the two games they were without Edwards-Helaire.
It only added up to 23 carries for 124 yards along with eight
catches for 43 yards, but that’s a respectable 12.3 PPR
fantasy points per game without scoring a touchdown.
Certainly Williams shouldn’t be relied on as anything other
than a lottery ticket type player late in drafts, but he has the
requisite experience in this offense to be a viable fantasy option
this season should the opportunity arise.
It’s hard to overstate just how good Tyreek Hill was in
2020 and there’s really no reason to think that things are
going to be any different heading into 2021. The super speed wide
receiver lit up the league by tying a career high with 87 receptions
for 1,276 yards and he set a new career high with 15 receiving
touchdowns. His impact is unlike that of almost any other player
in league history as he doesn’t just possess speed, but
he can also make plays underneath and on contested catches. This
combination of skills, along with playing alongside perhaps the
most physically gifted quarterback in league history, makes him
an absolute monster for fantasy purposes.
Hill’s season was not without frustration from a fantasy
point as he did turn in a couple of duds, but he scored at least
one touchdown in all but four of the 15 regular season games he
played in 2020. He carried things over to the playoffs, too, where
he caught at least seven passes in each of the Chiefs’ three
games, accumulating a whopping 355 total receiving yards during
the Chiefs’ run to the Super Bowl.
Now with Sammy Watkins out of the picture, the Chiefs could actually
end up relying on Hill even a bit more than they have in previous
seasons. Certainly Watkins has been a disappointment overall,
but he was targeted an average of 5.5 times per game in 2020 and
6.4 times per game in 2019. No other wide receiver on the Chiefs
roster has shown to be anything more than a situational contributor,
so don’t be surprised to see Hill’s target total go
up a tick this season.
Aside from Davante Adams in Green Bay, who happened to be the
only receiver who outscored Hill in 2020, there may not be another
other elite wide receiver who is in quite as consolidated of a
target share situation as Hill is. That, combined with Hill’s
unique skill set and Kansas City’s overall offensive firepower,
makes Hill a serious contender to be the top wide receiver in
fantasy football this season.
Former second round draft pick Mecole Hardman has been a bust
so far for the Chiefs, but he may now finally be given the opportunity
to play consistent snaps in a starting role for one of the league’s
top offenses. With Sammy Watkins now gone, this is likely Hardman’s
final chance to do something on the field. He’s played 32
career games since being drafted in 2019 and he’s yet to
reach 100 receiving yards in a single contest. In fact, he’s
been held to one or fewer catches in 12 of those 32 games, while
exceeding four catches just once thus far in his career.
Still, Hardman was one of just two Kansas City wide receivers
not named Tyreek Hill to have even one game of 20 or more PPR
fantasy points in 2020, the other being Watkins who also only
did it once. He’s considered a “boom or bust”
type fantasy player, but it’s safe to say that the “booms”
have been few and far between thus far.
While just about everyone would agree that Hardman is the only
other Chiefs pass catcher outside of Hill and Kelce who could
reasonably be useful for fantasy purposes in 2021, it’s
worth noting that he was out-snapped by Demarcus Robinson in games
where the Chiefs were without Watkins. There’s a good chance
that Robinson actually ends up outscoring Hardman this season,
but if there’s one player who could end up breaking out
in fantasy, it’s much more likely to be Hardman than Robinson.
What can be said for Travis Kelce that hasn’t already been
Kelce is coming off of a season in which he retook the NFL tight
end receiving yardage record that he once held. His 1,416 yards
were incredible and he also reached 105 receptions - fifth-most
for a single season among tight ends in league history. His dominance
is unquestioned at this point and his season-ending stat lines
are rivaled only by a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Meanwhile, health
hasn’t been a concern for Kelce who has now played every
game for the Chiefs in seven straight seasons, with the only exceptions
being Week 17 games when the Chiefs have sat their offensive starters.
Kelce’s remarkable 2020 campaign saw him outscore the No.2
TE, Darren Waller, by 34 standard points and the No.3 TE, Robert
Tonyan, by 83 points. To put that into perspective, he would’ve
been the WR3 if you eliminated the tight end position and just
called him a wide receiver. The fact that he plays a position
as shallow and frustrating to predict as tight end makes him a
borderline cheat code for fantasy purposes.
Kelce has been the TE1 for three straight seasons and has been
in the top two for five straight seasons. He’s exceeded
850 receiving yards in seven straight seasons, which appears even
more impressive when you consider that only Kelce himself and
Darren Waller were the only tight ends to reach even 725 receiving
yards in 2020.
The question at this point isn’t whether or not Kelce is
the TE1, but rather how far he is ahead of the rest of the pack.
Darren Waller looks like a strong bet again this year and George
Kittle will be back this season, but beyond that there really
isn’t anyone who has a realistic shot of dethroning Kelce
unless he suffers an injury.
The advantage that Kelce provides at tight end is unlike anything
else at any other position in fantasy football and that’s
why he’s going to go in the first round in many, if not
most fantasy drafts this season. His incredible consistency, durability
and combination of high floor / high upside make him one of the
most valuable players in all of fantasy football.