By: Ben Howell
Talk about a Friday night surprise. The Kansas City Chiefs released Jeremy Maclin. The motives for this move seem to be primarily financial as the Chiefs free $10 million in cap space which, more importantly, frees up the money to sign their rookies.
Maclin has two 1,000 yard seasons in his career (2014 & 15) but was ineffective in the 12 games he played in 2016. The 9-year veteran caught 44 passes for 536 yards and 2 TDs, all career lows and Tyreek Hill became a large part of the offense. Maclin’s four missed games were attributed to a groin strain which is the type of injury that can linger and sap explosiveness and route running ability. With that in mind, there seems to be a small explanation for Maclin’s terrible efficiency. Or his decreased efficiency could be due to advanced age and a sign of the things to come. Wait to see where Maclin lands before making judgments on his 2017 value, because he will likely have a better QB, but more competition for targets in his new home.
Maclin’s departure makes the Chiefs offense very intriguing in 2017. Travis Kelce is now the definitive TE 2 and is closing the gap to Rob Gronkowski. Tyreek Hill is coming off a 800 total yard season with double-digit touchdowns and looks primed to improve his counting stats, whether it be through receiving or rushing production. Hill’s MFL 10 ADP of 55th overall, 27th WR now looks like a value and will likely climb into the mid 4th round as Hill cements his top 20 WR status.
Even though Alex Smith is a replacement level QB, he still throws for 3,500 yards per season. Kelce and Hill are great, but will only account for 2,000 of those yards at the most. That leaves Albert Wilson and Chris Conley next in line for targets. Wilson is a pretty boring athletic prospect, but runs fairly good routes and will likely be counted on for ~ 500 yards, but without much upside. Chris Conley though, he oozes upside. The 6′ 2″ WR has a 4.35 40 and a 100th Percentile Catch Radius. His 2016 was nearly identical to Maclin’s (44/530/0) and with Maclin gone, Conley should be the Chiefs prototypical WR 1. Right now Conley had an ADP of 220, so expect that to shot up into the 10-12th round of MFL 10s and redraft. In dynasty leagues, pick up Conley on the waiver wire if he’s available, as the QB situation can only go up with strong armed Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings.