The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2023 season as one of the safest and highest-upside offenses you can invest in for Fantasy Football but that's nothing new. The interesting aspect is where exactly the production will come from. We know Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce will eat, but after that, the uncertainty is what brews intrigue. Will a wide receiver emerge as Mahomes' favorite target? There are vacated targets now with JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the picture. Can Isiah Pacheco hold down the lead running back job? Will Andy Reid ever go back to a workhorse at running back?
- AFC West: | |
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Chiefs' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Chiefs players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
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Chiefs 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
There were some doubts about how Patrick Mahomes would do after losing Tyreek Hill last offseason, and he responded by leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns en route to a second Super Bowl championship. As long as Mahomes is here and healthy, this is going to be one of the best offenses in football.
Burning question: Do any of the WRs matter?
Because it's a Patrick Mahomes-led offense, there's always going to be interest in the passing game options here. However, JuJu Smith-Schuster was just WR33 last season, and no other player even reached 700 receiving yards besides Travis Kelce. There will definitely be stretches where Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Rashee Rice put up solid numbers, but I'm skeptical anyone of them is going to be a consistent Fantasy contributor as a starting option.
Chiefs player projections
|PA: 624, YD: 4801, TD: 37, INT: 11; RUSH -- ATT: 64, YD: 320, TD: 2
|CAR: 214, YD: 961, TD: 8; TAR: 31, REC: 23, YD: 175, TD: 1
|CAR: 64, YD: 269, TD: 2; TAR: 62, REC: 47, YD: 398, TD: 3
|CAR: 85, YD: 376, TD: 3; TAR: 19, REC: 15, YD: 135, TD: 1
|TAR: 112, REC: 73, YD: 802, TD: 6
|TAR: 94, REC: 60, YD: 710, TD: 5
|TAR: 100, REC: 55, YD: 713, TD: 5
|TAR: 56, REC: 34, YD: 370, TD: 3
|TAR: 150, REC: 105, YD: 1257, TD: 9
2023 NFL Draft class
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 20th easiest
- RB PSoS: 10th easiest
- WR PSoS: 21st easiest
- TE PSoS: 13th easiest
Chiefs 2023 player outlooks
By Heath Cummings unless otherwise noted
QB Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes should be the first quarterback drafted in the majority of Fantasy leagues, worthy of a pick as early as late Round 2 in a one-quarterback league.
In any league where you can start more than one quarterback, Mahomes should be the first player drafted. In his first season without Tyreek Hill, all Mahomes did was lead the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns, yards per attempt, and yards per game while winning his second MVP.
He has five consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards and he's thrown at least 37 touchdowns passes in four of those seasons. No player in Fantasy is safer.
RB Isiah Pacheco
Pacheco is projected as the starting running back for the Chiefs but he'll share the workload with both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon. He should be drafted as a low-end No. 2 running back or flex around the Round 7 range in Fantasy drafts.
He is a better pick in non-PPR leagues due to his lack of involvement in the passing game. Last year he led the Chiefs backs in attempts, yards and touchdowns as a rookie but still only had four games all season with 15 or more carries and only one game with more than two targets. He'll be tough to trust as a starting Fantasy running back until he earns more consistent playing time. Pacheco only played more than half of the snaps three times, including the playoffs.
RB Jerick McKinnon
McKinnon will return to the Chiefs for a third season and is projected to be their top pass-catching back. He was fourth on the team in targets last year with 71, but his nine receiving touchdowns trailed only Travis Kelce.
Considering that McKinnon only scored seven touchdowns on his first 257 career targets, you should expect some pretty significant regression in the touchdown department. That likely regression, paired with the fact that he has one regular season game as a Chief with double-digit carries, means he's best left as a dart throw in the double-digit rounds of Fantasy drafts.
Playing with Patrick Mahomes does give him significant weekly touchdown upside; you just shouldn't expect anything like what you saw last year.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Edwards-Helaire is a former first-round pick in the NFL Draft but he shouldn't be taken in Fantasy drafts until Round 10 this year.
In fact, it's unclear exactly what his role will be. Isaiah Pacheco appears locked in as the primary early-downs back and Jerick McKinnon has returned to play on passing downs. While Edwards-Helaire's season did end because of an injury in Week 11, the writing was on the wall before that.
His snap percentage peaked at 56% in Week 4 and then fell every subsequent week, bottoming out at 6% in Week 10. He'll likely need an injury or a new team before he's a Fantasy starter again.
WR Kadarius Toney
There is no reasonable place to select Toney in Fantasy drafts.
That's because, despite the fact that everyone is talking about him as Patrick Mahomes' No. 1 wide receiver, he remains mostly an unknown two years after the Giants drafted him with the 20th overall pick. In those two seasons he's played 19 of 34 games and failed to log even one game with a 50% snap share in 2022. The most appropriate place to draft that player would be in the double-digit rounds, but his per-route data and proximity to Mahomes mean he won't be available that late.
View him as a No. 4 WR with no floor and a top-20 ceiling, then decide if you're willing to spend a Round 6 or 7 pick on that profile, because that is what it will cost.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Valdes-Scantling is the only wide receiver on the Chiefs with a 600-yard receiving season. H
e also had 372 more yards receiving than any other wide receiver returning for Kansas City. Still, in Fantasy Football drafts he remains nothing more than a dart throw in the double-digit rounds and we expect he'll go undrafted in many Fantasy leagues. The reason why is that he's played five years in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes and never topped 45 receiving yards per game or averaged more than five targets per game.
Still, with so little competition around him, we'd understand if you want to risk a pick in the double-digit rounds on the long shot that he's Mahomes' WR1.
WR Skyy Moore
To get excited about drafting Moore, you mostly have to overlook his rookie season, and there are good reasons to do that.
He had only played wide receiver for three seasons before last year and Andy Reid's system is notoriously hard for young receivers to pick up. He's still the same guy who had 1,302 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in his final season at Western Michigan and got drafted 54th overall last year. While it definitely sounds like he's behind Kadarius Toney prior to the start of camp, Toney has done nothing to give you confidence he'll hold on to his position.
Moore is available in the double-digit rounds of most Fantasy drafts and that's right where he belongs. Don't hesitate to pull the trigger starting in Round 11.
WR Rashee Rice
A year after taking Skyy Moore with the 54th pick in the 2022 draft, the Chiefs selected Rice with the 55th pick in 2023. The best format for drafting Rice is in rookie-only drafts of Dynasty leagues, where you don't have to be as concerned with him picking up Andy Reid's offense early in the year because not many rookies have.
In that format, Rice is worth a Round 2 pick. In redraft, and he's a very late dart throw at best. The expectation is that he'll enter the season as WR4 at best, and there is a chance he is behind Justin Watson to begin the year as well. Once he is fully acclimated, Rice is the closest thing the Chiefs have to a traditional X receiver and could be the long-term answer there.
TE Travis Kelce
While his age is going to become a concern at some point, Kelce is the undisputed TE1 in Fantasy Football, worthy of a pick in Round 1 of all redraft leagues.
The only players we all agree should be drafted ahead of him are Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. Last year he outscored the No. 2 tight end by 102 Fantasy points. Mark Andrews is the only tight end who has outscored him for a full season since Rob Gronkowski in 2015.
If there is no decline because of age, there is a real chance Kelce is the most valuable player in Fantasy due to his excellence and positional scarcity, like he was last year.
Butker is a top-eight kicker worthy of a pick in the final two rounds of any league that requires you to start a kicker. But injuries and inconsistency from 2022 mean he's not quite as safe a pick as he used to be. He set a career high last year in missed FGs (six) and his FG% (75%) was 13 points lower than any other year of his career. Every indication we have is that Butker will start the year as the only kicker on the Chiefs roster, but it's not inconceivable he could have competition if those struggles return. On the other hand, Butker's role on arguably the best offense in football gives him No. 1 upside at kicker.
The Chiefs finished second in the NFL in sacks in 2022 and were tied for fourth in passes defensed. They also allowed the most passing touchdowns and the second-highest passing touchdown rate in the NFL last year. Four of their projected starters were drafted in 2022; George Karlaftis, Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook, and Jaylen Watson. If those guys make a Year 2 leap, they could help Chris Jones make this a top-12 Fantasy DST for a ninth consecutive season. We view them more as a streamer-level option and their Week 1 matchup against the Lions is not appealing.