Receiver Roundup: Kansas City Chiefs
By Cody Smith
To wrap up the AFC West in the Receiver Roundup, we’re going to take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs return the majority of their play-makers that earned them a runner-up finish in the AFC last season.
The only main receiving threat not returning to the team is Chris Conley who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.
Last season Pat Mahomes burst onto the scene as a true gun-slinger in his sophomore season, throwing for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
The young QB spread the ball around well and was able to help facilitate 1,000 yard receiving seasons out of a pair of Kansas City pass catchers in Tyreek Hill and tight-end Travis Kelce.
The leading weapon for Mahomes last season was in fact Hill who was a top-5 receiver in the majority of fantasy formats. Hill caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Hill finished top-10 in multiple advanced receiver stats. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league, finishing 2nd in yards-after-catch (522 yards) and 2nd in total touchdowns (13). Hill’s 1,479 receiving yards was fourth best in the league and his total target distance of 2,091 was third highest in the league.
Fortunate for fantasy football players, Hill will avoid any sort of suspension due to alleged domestic violence charges. Due to this, Hill’s draft stock has recently skyrocketed, making him a first-round pick in some formats. Hill - who certainly has top-5 potential over the course of a full season - was being drafted as the 16th wide receiver drafted at 40th overall before the announcement was given that he would not be suspended (Early fourth round in 12-team leagues).
Since then, Hill has jumped all the way up to the sixth wide receiver off the board, gaining an average of 26 spots in drafts, currently being selected 14th overall.
I believe this is a fair price to pay for a receiver that has the potential to lead all wide receivers in 2019.
Hill’s injury history is nearly non-existent as he has missed just one game in three full seasons. Hill looks to post his third consecutive 1,000 yard season in 2019.
The next Chiefs receiver going off the board is Sammy Watkins whose draft stock has plummeted since the Hill news broke.
Watkins is currently being selected 69th overall (mid-sixth round), but has dropped all the way to the tail end of the seventh round in 12 team leagues with an ADP of 83.
Watkins is a soft tissue injury waiting to happen which certainly holds down his ADP. Watkins has played a full season on just one occasion, coming back in his rookie campaign in Buffalo in 2014. Since then Watkins has missed at least two games per season including playing in just 10 of 16 games last season.
Personally, I would never draft Watkins based on his injury history, but obviously if he falls far enough he is worth a spot on the fantasy bench, especially in leagues where IR spots can be utilized.
In the late seventh round, Watkins would be relied upon to provide a handful of starts per season as a flex or potentially a WR2 on heavy bye weeks. I wouldn’t be comfortable plugging in Watkins in this situation and would rather target better options with a similar ADP. Some players being drafted around Watkins that I believe provide better value include Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, Geronimo Allison, Austin Ekeler and Ronald Jones II.
Also taking a dip in the ADP department thanks to the Tyreek Hill news will be rookie wide-out Mecole Hardman.
Hardman profiles very similar to Hill as he boasts a similar frame (Hill is 5’10” 185 pounds and Hardman is 5’10” 187 pounds) and is blazing fast. Hardman ran a 4.33 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine and also scored in the top 30-percent in multiple combine measurables including speed score and agility score.
Hardman was drafted by the Chiefs in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Georgia as a potential safety net should Hill miss time due to a suspension. Either way, Hardman looks to play a role in the Kansas City offense, perhaps right away.
Harman will more than likely eat up the bulk of receptions that were handled by Chris Conley last season. In 2018, Conley caught 32 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns last season and his production will need to be replaced.
According to the Kansas City Star newspaper, Andy Reid has stated that Hardman “got a little better every day” during rookie minicamp and is excelling at route running.
Hardman is currently being drafted at the tail-end of the 12th round in 12-team leagues, dropping from the mid-11th round before Hill avoided suspension. Hardman makes for an intriguing later round stash and should be taken in the first round of dynasty rookie drafts.
Demarcus Robinson looks like the favorite to open the season as the team’s fourth wide receiver. Last season Robinson played in all 16 games and made five starts. He caught 22 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns.
Robinson could also be asked to eat up a few of Conley’s target share. According to The Athletics’ Nate Taylor, Robinson will be used for just that. Conley was on the field for nearly 75 percent of snaps last season, but was targeted less than 10 percent of the time.
With Watkins being injury prone and Hardman being a rookie, it is certainly worth keeping Robinson on draft radars this season, though he currently is not being drafted.
Other wide-outs currently on the Chiefs roster that could contribute include Byron Pringle and Cody Thompson.
Pringle has been noted by ESPN’s Adam Teicher as the Chiefs biggest surprise off-season standout. He will more than likely battle for a roster spot as a deep threat.
Thompson is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Toledo that also had a solid showing at rookie mini camps for the Chiefs. He will also be battling for a roster spot.
Other receivers currently rostered include Jamal Custis, Marcus Kemp, Davon Grayson, Gehrig Dieter, Rashard Davis and Felton Davis.
The next Receiver Roundup will be on the New Orleans Saints.