Five Things to Watch Heading into Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp
The Kansas City Chiefs training camp is here, and there’s a lot to be excited about — especially on the offensive side of the ball. Here are five areas to watch during camp from a fantasy football perspective.
1. Patrick Mahomes No Matter What
Not since selecting Todd Blackledge with the seventh pick in the 1983 NFL Draft have the Kansas City Chiefs drafted a first round quarterback. That’s 34 years. So one can understand the excitement around tenth overall selection Patrick Mahomes, for whom the Chiefs packaged two first round picks and a third to move up 17 spots.
It’s a rare case these days of an early first round rookie joining a team without the expectation of starting immediately, or potentially even in year one.
Mahomes possesses a big arm (55 mph velocity at the combine, second among QBs) and very good athleticism (76th percentile SPARQ score). He joins a head coach in Andy Reid who got excellent production from athletic QBs Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre and Michael Vick.
But despite the physical traits, college production, and draft position, Mahomes is viewed as a developmental QB.
How much improvement does he show from the first day of camp to the last? How does the team manage the dynamic of the exciting rookie second on the depth chart behind the unexciting Alex Smith?
2. Does Tyreek Hill Resemble a True WR1?
Tyreek Hill has been one of the most discussed players in fantasy football this offseason. Regardless of which side of the debate you take, Hill’s athleticism and opportunity cannot be denied. He will get every chance to seize the team’s WR1 role.
Pay attention to how the team deploys him. Will Reid use formation and motion to create favorable matchups for Hill out of the slot and still occasionally even in the backfield? Will his touches be manufactured or will Hill’s repertoire more closely resemble that of a traditional WR1? Will he retain any return duties?
Though WR1 in name, Hill realistically may finish second on the team in targets behind elite TE Travis Kelce. Regardless, this is an important situation to monitor even in this low volume passing offense. Tyreek Hill is being selected as the WR23 (4.09 overall) in redraft and WR31 (6.01) in dynasty.
3. How Does the Rest of the WR Group Develop?
The Chiefs WR group is young and inexperienced.
Fortunately, the team has an elite TE in Travis Kelce and decent receiving options out of the backfield.
Second year former fourth round WR Demarcus Robinson is getting the initial first team reps in three WR sets but is not athletic (24th percentile SPARQ score) and had a series of off field issues in college.
Fourth-year former UDFA Albert Wilson has received some #fantasytwitter offseason buzz as a deep sleeper pick but is a 5-9 average athlete with 82 career receptions in 42 games.
In this low volume passing offense (25th in Pass Att in 2016), it may be safe to focus solely on Chris Conley.
Conley has the size, athleticism, and record of college production to break out. However, he failed to produce even with Jeremy Maclin out of the lineup last year. Though Conley’s snap share increased when Maclin missed time, his production actually decreased. Entering his third season, can Conley establish a connection with Alex Smith? Conley was unable to manage a single touchdown last year on 44 receptions. Can he use his 6-2, 207-lb frame to serve as a secondary red zone option to Kelce?
4. RB Timeshare or Clear RB1 and RB2?
Dynasty players have bought into Kareem Hunt, whose rookie draft ADP is up to 1.08. Redraft players are taking Hunt in the eighth round at RB37. There is an expectation of touches and production.
At 5-10, 216-lbs, Hunt possesses adequate size but below average athleticism. How quickly can he adjust to the speed of the NFL coming from the MAC?
Meanwhile, Spencer Ware is the incumbent coming off a high-end RB2 (RB14) fantasy season. Ware started the season strong but tailed off in the second half. Despite the strong fantasy finish, he rated below average in many advanced metrics.
Did the Chiefs move up in the third round of the NFL Draft for Kareem Hunt to simply spell Ware, to serve as a third down option or to form a running back timeshare?
5. Front Office Effects
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a successful 2016 season in which they went 12-4 and won the AFC West. But it was a tumultuous offseason for the team. In unexpected moves, both general manager John Dorsey and leading WR Jeremy Maclin were let go.
The Vegas win total for the 2017 Chiefs is 9.5 games, and Kansas City faces the league’s second hardest schedule on paper.
How might the team and organization react to a slow start? Patrick Mahomes is regarded as raw but at what point could a QB controversy begin if Alex Smith or the team struggles?
How cohesively will the team and organization behave during camp? There are lots of questions surrounding this team, starting with the front office on down to the offense. It should make for an entertaining training camp.
Do you see any other questions as more pressing for Chiefs training camp? Any thoughts regarding answers to these five? Any strong buy’s or fade’s for this offense in fantasy for 2017 or beyond? Let me know what you think on Twitter at @threedownhack.
For more updated news, notes and analysis on the Patriots training camp, visit Chiefs.com and follow the team writers as they break down the above issues and many others. Plus, check out the TFA website for more training camp articles and content!