Kansas City Chiefs players you can bank on, and ones to avoid, for fantasy football

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For many Chiefs fans, winning Super Bowl LIII would be the ultimate dream.

Of course, we won’t know that until February, so this fantasy will have to do.

All this year on FOX4, we’re going to give a fantasy football outlook for your Kansas City Chiefs. Who to start, who to sit, who needs to be traded and who could surprise.

For this first edition, we’re going to look broadly at the Chiefs players who might be on your fantasy football roster and your weekly approach for playing them.

We’ll break them down into three categories:

GREEN LIGHT: These are the players who, barring something extraordinary, need to be in your lineup every week, no questions asked.  You’ll be counting on them to be anchors of your roster.

YELLOW LIGHT: These players are likely on your roster and may even start a majority of the time. But, it’s not an automatic, and you may want to check their matchups before automatically plugging them into your starting lineup.

RED LIGHT: Approach with caution. It’s not that these players aren’t worth taking up a roster spot, but because of their role, their matchup, or other concerns are most likely best suited as bench players you only want to use when you’re struggling with bye weeks or have several injured players.

In the weeks going forward after this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Chiefs and their opponents to find which players from both teams could help you win your league.

So, let’s get to it.

GREEN LIGHT

TE Travis Kelce: The easiest call on this list by far.  If you wanted Kelce on your team, there’s a good chance you drafted him in the third round of your draft, if not sooner (perhaps way sooner if you’re playing with other Chiefs fans).  At worst, he’s a top-two tight end at a position where the dropoff from elite players to good ones is sudden. There’s even an outside chance he’s the number one fantasy football tight end in PPR (point per reception) leagues, given the injury history of Rob Gronkowski.  Even facing a defense known for locking down tight ends, you’re not sitting a player you picked so early.  If the Chiefs are playing, you’re playing Kelce.

RB Kareem Hunt: Traditional fantasy football thinking means taking running backs early.  It’s likely Hunt was the first Chief to come off of your draft board, probably around the end of the first round. He grabbed all-rookie team honors, and were it not for an equally impressive season from the Saints’ Alvin Kamara, may have taken Rookie of the Year honors.  Don’t expect Hunt to lead the league in rushing yards again this season, but he still should easily surpass the 1,000-yard mark.  He also proved to be a reliable pass catching option in the Chiefs offense, securing 53 catches on 63 targets in 2017.  Pass-catching backs are the backbone of many successful fantasy football teams. It’s hard to imagine any fantasy roster in a league with more than six teams having two running backs better than Hunt; most won’t have one.

WR Tyreek Hill: The league’s premier deep threat finished 7th in the NFL in receiving yards in 2017 with Alex Smith at quarterback. Just imagine what he could with one of the strongest-armed QBs in the league throwing to him.  Sure, you may have some concerns about Patrick Mahomes’ accuracy (we’ll get to that later), but the upside of Hill is too hard to ignore.  He’s a gold mine in leagues offering bonus points for long plays (his last 13 TDs have all come from 30+ yards out).  You may see some wild swings in his weekly point totals given the uncertainty factor, but he’s at worst a WR2 in fantasy lineups.

 

YELLOW LIGHT

QB Patrick Mahomes: If I could give a yellow-green, I would.  Depending on the number of teams in your league, Mahomes is anywhere from a low-end QB1 to a high-end QB2 that should’ve been taken in the mid to late rounds of your draft. He’s not officially a rookie, but with one start to his name where he didn’t play with the first-team offense, for all intents and purposes, he is.  We’ve already touched upon the biggest positive he’ll bring: a strong arm.  There’s no concerns about a supporting cast, either.  The biggest drawback is youth and inexperience.  It can be hard to fully back a young quarterback until you’ve had more of a chance to see what he can do.  Expect some volatility in his performances and the growing pain of interceptions.  If Mahomes is your starting QB, consider looking for a streaming option against the toughest opponents.

WR Sammy Watkins: Maybe a bit of a surprise and a bit of a disappointment to see the Chiefs big-ticket free agent acquisition not included in the “sure thing” category, but truth be told, the idea of Sammy Watkins has always been better the actual product.  The 4th overall pick from the 2014 NFL draft still has just one 1,000 yard season to his name and never truly clicked in a high-powered Rams offense from a year ago.  Watkins is likely to get more targets and receptions than Hill which offers some PPR value, but his catches figure to be more of the underneath variety.  Hill is still a stronger bet to outpace him in yards.  While Watkins is at best the third pass-catching option in the Chiefs offense, he’s the third-best in a high-powered offense.  He’s a valuable WR3 or flex play in leagues of that format.  If you start two WRs, Watkins probably is only playing on bye weeks.

K Harrison Butker:  If you’re like most fantasy players, you only drafted one kicker anyway, and if it’s Butker he’s playing as long as he’s healthy.  So why the yellow light?  I still think he’s probably a middle-tier option at the position, but it’s no knock against him as a player.  This is anticipating the Chiefs being a high-flying offense that will be scoring more touchdowns than settling for field goals.  Should the latter happen, his leg is still plenty strong to help you get those additional points for 40 & 50 + yarders.  Admittedly, I don’t think there’s a huge difference between Butker and the top options.  If you have a chance to improve over the season, do it, but don’t force a trade that weakens you elsewhere to get a better kicker.

 

RED LIGHT

Chiefs D/ST: There’s no sugarcoating it, this unit looked bad during the preseason.  When Chase Daniel is slinging it around your first string without a problem, it’s cause for concern.  Add in the fact that Eric Berry still may be missing from action to start the year, and it gets worse.  Most savvy fantasy players avoided drafting the Chiefs defense altogether.  If you did draft them, it must be with the hopes of waiting to see how the season goes.  With the season opening at the Chargers, at the Steelers and home versus the 49ers, the earliest I can advocate (and I still wouldn’t) playing this D is Week 4 in Denver.

RB Spencer Ware: Head Coach Andy Reid talked about seeing Ware as a “co-starter” of sorts at the running back position with Hunt.  I’m going to have to go full Missouri on this one and say you’re going to have to show me before I believe it. If you have Ware on your roster, it should only be as a “handcuff” (think insurance policy) in case Hunt gets hurt.  In all but the deepest leagues, he should be on the waiver wire anyhow, and I’d leave him there until it’s proven he’s really going to get a meaningful number of touches.