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AP Photo/Ed Zurga

2023 Fantasy Football Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

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Player Outlooks (2023)


QB Patrick Mahomes: The Chiefs trading away Tyreek Hill last offseason didn’t impact Mahomes’ numbers for a high-powered Kansas City passing offense—resulting in his second NFL MVP award and a career-high 5,250 passing yards. If anything, having a spread-the-wealth approach (behind Travis Kelce) made Kansas City even more of a challenge to defend with Andy Reid dialing up plays, and Mahomes continued to create highlights to go along with it. He’s jockeying with a few others for high-end QB1 positioning, but Mahomes has a case to be the top quarterback off the board.


RB Isiah Pacheco: Pacheco was recently revealed to have dealt with a broken hand and torn labrum as the lead runner on a Super Bowl-winning team last year—and he did so as a rookie, which speaks to his punishing play style. The Chiefs re-signed Jerick McKinnon (who was white hot down the stretch in 2022), but Pacheco could be ready for a bigger role in Year 2, and he should see plenty of favorable looks with teams focused on stopping the passing attack. Increased goal-line carries will be key to blasting past low-end RB2 value.


RB Jerick McKinnon: McKinnon didn’t top ten carries in a game last year, but his production as a receiver down the stretch was nothing short of phenomenal to make him a legitimate RB1 option by season’s end. The veteran opted to return to the Chiefs after expressing disappointment regarding offers on the open market, and he should have the edge over Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the change-up option behind Pacheco in 2023. The small sample size of dominance makes him a FLEX target, but McKinnon will be a complete steal if he picks up where he left off last regular season.


RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire: After beginning 2022 with five touchdowns across the first four games, Edwards-Helaire totaled 34 touches for just 98 total yards and one score the rest of the year (six games) before a high-ankle sprain kept him on the sideline—and he only had one appearance with double-digit carries on the year. Balancing the talent Edwards-Helaire showed at LSU with his relative disappointment playing in a loaded offense is a challenge for those holding out hope of a breakout, but it might take a change of scenery in 2024 for him to reach his potential.


WR Kadarius Toney: Toney’s ability has been undeniable through two seasons—showing elite skills for plays or entire games (such as a 189-yard performance against the Cowboys as a rookie), but also being in and out of the lineup. Fortunately for investors, Andy Reid is the perfect play-caller to unlock Toney’s full potential if he can stay on the field, and we saw it late last year with designed touches—including a couple of trick plays—that always seemed to work. With underrated downfield talent and obvious elusiveness, Toney has star potential catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.


WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Valdes-Scantling is an example of a player that makes a bigger real-life impact than fantasy impact, as his first season with the Chiefs should be viewed as a resounding success despite a low weekly floor and general inconsistency. The role and production are projected to be very similar in 2023, so MVS should be a bench stash that can be utilized as a high-upside FLEX if you can pick your spots—which could come in the first three weeks based on how the schedule sets up (v DET, @ JAX, v CHI).


WR Rashee Rice: The previous hype around Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the reason, but it’s wild that some are down on Rice after he was taken by the Chiefs as a preferred selection by Patrick Mahomes—who essentially said “go get him” following a workout the two had during the pre-draft process. Maybe the Year 1 impact will be limited with Andy Reid often bringing along wide receivers slowly, but Rice is the total package at the position (drops are the main concern) and can realistically emerge as the No. 1 option on the depth chart at some point in 2023. He’s an excellent target in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.


WR Skyy Moore: One of the most popular mid-round fantasy picks of last year, Moore couldn’t find his way into a large role for the Chiefs as a rookie, and we would be skeptical about that suddenly changing with Toney, Valdes-Scantling, and Rice all projected to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Moore will also be contending with guys like Richie James, Justin Watson, and Justyn Ross for playing time—making him a bet-on-the-talent selection if you think he can build enough rapport with Mahomes and earn snaps over his teammates this summer.


WR Justin Watson: Watson re-signed with the Chiefs on a two-year deal in the spring, and although the money being low means he won’t be a roster lock, the former Penn standout should have a good shot at earning a rotational role after he was a productive downfield target with 15 receptions for 315 yards (21.0 yards per reception) and two touchdowns in 2022. Watson will need to hold off some younger options in training camp.


WR Richie James: James was very good last year with the Giants—catching 57-of-70 targets for 569 yards and four touchdowns by essentially stepping in for Wan’Dale Robinson (knee). The path to production in 2023 will be Kadarius Toney being unable to stay healthy, as James could then be used on a bunch of underneath looks if he finds his way on the field for meaningful snaps.


WR Justyn Ross: Again, we are projecting Toney, Valdes-Scantling, and Rice to be the top wideouts for the Chiefs this season, but Ross is a big-time talent to keep an eye on in training camp. The former Clemson star is a six-foot-four weapon with the versatility to play both on the outside and in the slot—with durability being the main concern.


WR Cornell Powell: Powell was taken in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he should have a full grasp of Andy Reid’s offense after two years on the practice squad. It’s worth noting that Powell developed for a few seasons at Clemson before he broke out as a redshirt senior, and Kansas City clearly sees something in him by keeping him around.


TE Travis Kelce: Another monster campaign for Kelce made him the overall TE1 for the fifth time over the past seven seasons, and playoff dominance should erase any concerns about quiet numbers down the stretch during the regular season. Overall, the skills don’t seem to be diminishing at all for Kelce (turning 34 in October), and the connection between him and Patrick Mahomes should continue leading to back-breaking plays for opponents. He’s worth considering in Round 1—though it is worth noting there are quite a few potential high-end TE1 options this year.


TE Noah Gray: Gray was very efficient with 28 receptions (on 34 targets) for 299 yards and one touchdown last year, and he also rushed for a touchdown on his lone carry. The wideouts would become more of a focus if Travis Kelce were to ever miss time, but Gray’s value would skyrocket as a must-add in all formats.


TE Jody Fortson: The offensive role has been limited for Fortson through two seasons, but the former wideout has caught four touchdowns on just 14 career receptions, and his frame makes him a factor in scoring territory. For very deep leagues, you could do worse for a desperation play at tight end.


Other Notes


Best IDP value: DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Anudike-Uzomah felt like a typical Kansas City pick at the end of the first round, and the rookie will bring a relentless play style and already has an impressive assortment of pass-rush moves. It would not be at all surprising if Anudike-Uzomah approached double-digit sacks in Year 1 for a Chiefs team that will often be playing from ahead.


Stat to know (via draft guide)

Travis Kelce had zero touchdowns across his final six games in the regular season last year… but scored four touchdowns in the NFL playoffs.