2020 Kansas City Chiefs Team Outlook: The Gotta-Catch-Em-All Fantasy Powerhouse

Name a player on the Chiefs offense and they're fantasy-relevant. SI Fantasy's Shawn Childs runs down the entire franchise from offense, defense, coaching staff and more.
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Coaching Staff

For the first time in his 21 seasons as a head coach, Andy Reid picked up that elusive third win in the playoffs leading to his first Super Bowl title. Reid has been exceptional over his seven seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (77-35 with six trips to the postseason). He had ten or more wins in each of his last five seasons, and Reid has double-digit victories in two-thirds of his career seasons with Kansas City and Philadelphia.

His next step is improving on his playoff record (15-14 in his career and 5-5 with the Chiefs). Reid improved to 7th in NFL in career wins (207) and 28th in winning percentage (.618).

With his resume and a young elite quarterback, Reid looks poised to be in the Super Bowl conversation for the next few seasons.

After working as the running backs coach in the Chiefs' system over the previous five seasons, Eric Bieniemy now has three years of experience as the offensive coordinator and a Super Bowl win for Kansas City. Bieniemy is a former NFL player with 11 years of coaching experience in the pros. In 2011 and 2012, he held the offensive coordinator job for Colorado Buffaloes. Kansas City’s success on offense should lead to Bieniemy pushing his way to a head coaching opportunity soon.

After leading the NFL in points scored (565) and offensive yards in 2019, the Chiefs scored 114 fewer points last year (451 – 5th) while slipping to sixth in offensive yards.

In his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, Steve Spagnuolo helped Kansas City win their second Super Bowl in franchise history. He’s been in the NFL since 1999, with seven years of experience running a defense and three failed seasons as a head coach (11-41).

The Chiefs improved to 7th in points allowed (308), which was 113 fewer points than 2018 (421). Kansas City pushed their way to 17th in yards allowed, which was well above their failure in 2017 (28th) and 2018 (31st).

Free Agency

Kansas City lost CB Kendall Fuller, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, G Stefen Wisniewski, DE Terrell Suggs, LB Darron Lee, RB LeSean McCoy, T Cam Erving, CB Morris Claiborne, LB Reggie Ragland, QB Matt Moore, RB Spencer Moore, TE Blake Bell, S Jordan Lucas, and DT Xavier Williams from their 2019 championship team.

Fuller will be the most significant loss after grading well in coverage in his two seasons with the Chiefs. He missed five games last year due to a broken thumb. Fuller failed to intercept a pass with a decline in his defended passes (2).

Ogbah missed the second half of 2019 with a pectoral injury after being on pace to set a career-high in sacks (5.5 over ten games). The Browns drafted him in the second round in 2016.

Wisniewski revived his career late in the year after moving into the starting line. His best value came in pass projection.

The Chiefs' top signings were T Mike Remmers, RB DeAndre Washington, and CB Antonio Hamilton. All of these options project to play backup roles.

Draft

In a surprise move, the Chiefs pinned their future running back tail on Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 32nd pick in the first round. Edwards-Helaire looked to be ranked in the top five at his position coming into the draft, but most touts expected RB D’andre Swift and RB Jonathan Taylor to be drafted before him.

Edward-Helaire proved to be durable when asked to carry a heavy workload. His value in the passing game should lead to more touches in his rookie season.

He’s an undersized back (5’7” and 205 lbs.) with NFL RB par speed (4.6 forty yard dash). Edwards-Helaire needs to get stronger, which may limit his initial value in pass protection. His running style offers patience with quickness over the short areas of the field. He’ll make quick cuts to create space while having the wiggle to make defenders miss at the second level of the defense.

Kansas City invested in LB Willie Gay in the second round. Based on his finishing power, Gay ranks highly at his position. He’s alert with the instincts to make winning plays in the backfield, but his decision making on his direction sometimes puts him out of position. His growth and success come with better development of his play reads, and understanding patience can improve his ability to be in the right place at the right time.

T Lucas Niang was the choice in the third round. He comes to the NFL with starting upside while needing to improve his base. Niang should offer instant help in a power run game with the smarts and vision to lengthen his pass blocking range. He played well vs. top passing rushing talent in college, which is a good baseline to see if he can have success at the next level. Niang’s most significant risk will come from speed rushers. He’s also coming off a torn labrum in his hip.

With their final three selections, the Chiefs focused on the defensive side of the ball – S L’Jarius Sneed, LB Michael Danna, and CB Bopete Keyes.

Sneed has an off-the-ball feel in coverage while not having the right foundation to make an impact in run support. His vision should be an asset, but his playmaking style could lead to mistakes when jumping a pass route. Sneed can get beat when asked to guard receivers with press coverage. With a change in mentality with his attack, he could develop into an upside safety.

The Chiefs saw more in Danna than most teams in the NFL based on his scouting report. He almost has a gimmick feel where mistakes by his opposing defender drive his success. Danna plays hard with a keen eye for finding the right gap in the pass rush. He works hard while lacking an edge quickness. His strength keeps him in the game, but it isn’t enough to separate him from the field.

Keyes does his best when locking into his assignment early in coverage. He’ll battle and fight, but a false move puts him at risk. His game will be challenged over the long field, where his lack of speed can’t save him. Keyes should play the best when moving forward against the run and in coverage.

Offensive Line

Kansas City fell to 23rd in rushing yards (1,569) with 16 TDs. Their ball carriers gained 4.2 yards per rush with ten runs over 20 yards while averaging attempted 23.4 rushes per game.

They fell back to fourth in passing yards (4,690) with 30 TDs and five Ints. KC gained 8.1 yards per pass attempt, which ranked fifth in the NFL. Their offensive line allowed 25 sacks and 71 quarterback hits.

LT Eric Fisher

Fisher still hasn’t developed into an impact player after Kansas City drafted him first overall in 2013. Over the last five seasons, he was about the league average in pass blocking despite allowing a few sacks and pressure at times. His run blocking has been up and down over the last three years. Fisher missed eight games in 2019 due to a sports hernia issue.

LG Andrew Wylie

In his second year with the Chiefs, Wylie made ten starts, leading to a significant step forward in his pass projection. His play as a run blocker remains well below the league average. He missed five games with an ankle injury.

C Austin Reiter

After seeing minimal snaps over his first four years in the NFL, Reiter made 16 starts in 2019. He handled himself well in pass protection, but he rarely showed winning upside in the run game.

RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

The Chiefs signed Duvernay-Tardif to a five-year $41.25 contract in February in 2017. Over his first two seasons in the league, he excelled in pass protection. After missing the final 11 games in 2018 with a broken leg, his play failed to regain his form in pass blocking last year while also regressing in the run game.

RT Mitchell Schwartz

Schwartz has been an asset in both run and pass blocking in all eight years in the league. His game improved to an elite level over the past two seasons, with his most significant shine in pass blocking.

Offensive Line Outlook

The Chiefs have two positions on their offensive line that look to have downside. Their best play should come at the tackle positions. Patrick Mahomes helps lower the damage in sacks due to his mobility and quick reads. Kansas City needs growth up the middle in run blocking.

Offensive Schedule

The data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).

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This information is based on 2019, which will work as our starting point for 2020. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

2019 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2019.

2019 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.

2019 Adjustment is based on the 2019 league average and the 2019 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.

Kansas City appears to have a challenging schedule for both their rushing and passing games. They have eight games (BAL, NE, NO, BUF, NYJ, TB, and LV X 2) against defenses that limited the damage on the ground in 2019. The Jets and the Ravens should present the most significant problems. The Chiefs gain an edge in their one game against Carolina.

Over the first seven weeks, KC will be tested in the passing game in five matchups (LAC, BAL, BUF, NE, and DEN) while gaining an edge against Houston and Las Vegas. They have a favorable game against in Week 12 vs. the Bucs while ending the year with a tough outing vs. the Chargers.

Offense

Over the last two years, Kansas City ran the ball about 40 percent of the time. They want their running backs to be active in the passing game, which should naturally lead to a bump in touchdowns by their RBs. The Chiefs have the weapons to lead the league in passing yards and passing TDs.

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Here’s a look at the early projections for the Chiefs, which will be fluid all summer after taking in all injury updates and training camp news:

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Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes

After an elite first full season in the NFL (30.15 FPPG in 4-point passing TD league), Mahomes lost about five fantasy points of value in 2019 (25.11) based on his scoring average over his 13 full contests. He passed for over 300 yards in his first five games (1,831 yards with 11 TDs and no Ints).

After playing at a high level (446/3) after missing two games with a right knee cap issue, Mahomes gained under 200 yards in three of his final six starts in the regular season while failing to throw over two TDs in any game over this stretch. He finished the year with 50 completions over 20 yards, which was well below his success in 2018 (75).

In the playoffs, Mahomes regained his elite form (1,036 combined yards with 12 TDs and two Ints).

The Chiefs have regression in the production at the RB position, plus Tyreek Hill missed four games. The addition of RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire should help Kansas City balance their offense in 2020.

Mahomes has a Super Bowl belt on his resume with a bright future ahead. Look for a push over 5,000 yards passing with a floor of 40 combined TDs. Just remember his 2018 season (482.45) had comparable success to Lamar Jackson last year (454.95 – 15 games).

My top quarterback on the board while being projected for 5,187 combined with 37 TDs and 11 Ints.

Other options: Chad Henne, Jordan Ta’amu, Shea Patterson

Running Backs

After a special in 2018 at the running back position (2,504 combined yards with 26 TDs and 82 catches), the Chiefs’ RBs lost their explosiveness last year. They finished with identical touches (408) in back-to-back seasons with regression in yards per catch (7.28 – 11.24 in 2018). Their floor in touchdowns at the running back position looks to be about one per game while owning a much higher ceiling.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire

After an unimpressive sophomore campaign at LSU (146/658/7 with 11 catches for 96 yards), Edwards-Helaire broke out in 2019. He gained 1,867 yards with 17 TDs and 55 catches on 270 touches. His growth came after Joe Burrow emerged as an elite passer.

Over the first five games in 2019, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 360 yards, and five TDs on 65 carries with some success in the passing game (10/59). His stats blossomed over a four-game stretch (814 combined yards with nine touchdowns and 27 catches on 92 touches) starting in late October. Edwards-Helaire had his highlight game against Arkansas (253 combined yards with three TDs and seven catches).

In his rookie season, Edwards-Helaire should emerge as the top Chiefs’ running back. Out of the gate, he’ll rotate on early downs with his best value coming in the passing game. I set the bar for him at 1,191 combined yards with 10 TDs and 49 catches.

Fantasy owners priced him as the 14th running back after the 2020 NFL Draft with an ADP of 20. Upside swing, especially if he’s discounted.

Damien Williams

The ball dropped on Williams's opportunity in 2020 when Kansas City selected RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick.

Last year Williams ended up being a bust, highlighted by his bad start to the year (215 combined yards with three TDs and 15 catches over six games). Over this span, he missed a pair of games while gaining only 2.1 yards per rush.

Williams missed three more games with a rib injury after flashing in Week 9 (12/125/1) and Week 10 (109 combined yards with five catches). Over his final five games, including the playoffs, he looks much better (536 combined yards with nine TDs and 18 catches).

Possible split role early in the season, but he will be tough to trust. Williams has an ADP of 69 in the early draft season.

Darwin Thompson

Early last summer, Thompson drew some attention from fantasy owners with RB Damien Williams battling a minor hamstring issue.

He played well in the preseason (98 combined yards with a TD and three catches). The Chiefs looked elsewhere for upside once the regular season started, leading to only 171 combined yards with one TD and nine catches.

Thompson is an undersized back (5’8” and 200 lbs.) who lacks the wheels to beat an NFL defense on the outside or test a defense with long runs. He has a grinder feel as a north/south runner. His second gear lacks explosiveness, along with his short-area quickness. Thompson may develop as a viable threat out of the backfield.

Other options: Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington, Elijah McGuire

Wide Receivers

The Chiefs’ wide receivers gained plenty of yards per catch in 2018 (14.38) and 2019 (14.90) while adding strength in touchdowns (24 and 20). With Kansas City having an excellent option at tight end, their wide receivers caught fewer than 50 percent of the team’s overall completions in each of the past three seasons. Tyreek Hill requires a significant portion of the wide receiver opportunity, which leaves a minimal opportunity for the remaining WR corps.

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Tyreek Hill

After an excellent 2018 season (1,630 combined yards with 14 TDs and 87 catches), Hill stumbled out of the gate in Week 1 (2/16) due to a shoulder injury. He sat out the next four games while also leaving Week 11 early with a minor hamstring issue.

In his 13 full games, including the playoffs, he gained 1,086 combined yards with nine TDs and 73 catches or 18.12 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. In 2019, Hill scored 20.91 fantasy points per game. His best play came in Week (6/140/1) and Week 10 (11/157/1).

This season Kansas City should regain its bounce in the passing game. Hill also adds value as a runner (22/151/1 in 2018). A lockdown top-five wide receiver, who has an early ADP (18) as the fourth wide receiver drafted. I have Hill projected for 1,476 combined yards with 11 TDs and 88 catches in early June.

Mecole Hardman

After an empty first game of the year, Hardman made some plays over the next two weeks (4/61/1 and 2/97/1) as short term cover for the injured WR Tyreek Hill.

He struggled to get starting snaps most of the year while finishing behind WR Demarcus Robinson as the WR4 for the Chiefs.

Over his final 13 games, including the playoffs, Hardman only had 14 catches for 276 yards and four TDs on 20 targets.

Talented big-play WR who needs to secure a more significant piece of the offense to become a viable fantasy starter. The key here is passing WR Sammy Watkins on the depth chart. In the right offense, while waiting for his ticket to be punched more often. More of a flier than a target unless something breaks his way in training camp.

He has an ADP of 128 in the early draft season as the 48th wide receiver drafted. For now, I only see 43 catches for 754 yards and six TDs.

Sammy Watkins

After a great start in Week 1 (9/198/3), Watkins failed to capitalize on the WR Tyreek Hill injury. From Week 2 to Week 17, he caught only 43 passes for 475 yards and no TDs on 79 targets.

Watkins posted a zero in Week 4 after leaving the game early and another empty showing in Week 13.

Over his down stretch, he gained 50 yards or fewer in ten games despite continuing to receive WR2 snaps for the Chiefs. Watkins plays in a high-scoring offense, but his inconsistency makes him a tough start even as a rotational WR4 in PPR leagues. Only 49 catches for 651 yards and five TDs.

Other options: Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Felton Davis, Joe Fortson, Gehrig Dieter

Tight Ends

Over the last three seasons, Travis Kelce and the Chiefs’ TEs averaged over 100 catches for 1,401 yards and nine TDs on 162 targets. Their TEs delivered close to 30 percent of Kansas City’s receiving yards and overall completions. There’s a great opportunity here as long as Kelce remains healthy.

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Travis Kelce

Kelce is one of a few tight ends that has a WR1 opportunity. Last year he posted his 4th straight season with over 1,000 receiving while averaging 92 catches over this stretch. Kelce led TEs and the Chiefs in targets (136).

With Patrick Mahomes battling ankle and knee issues, Tyreek Hill missing some time, and a drop-down in RB play, KC scored 20 fewer passing TDs than 2018 (50).

In 2019, Kelce earned his fantasy edge by being more consistent (ten games with six catches or more and 70 yards receiving or more) than explosive (only five TDs and two games with over 100 yards receiving).

A fantasy owner can expect him to be drafted late in the second round (ADP – 21) in PPR leagues in 2020, which almost makes him a target to own. Look for the Chiefs’ offense to regain its stride this year with Kelce poised to repeat his recent floor with rebound TDs. I set his first projections at 100 catches for 1,211 yards and eight TDs.

Other Options: Ricky Seals-Jones, Deon Yelder, John Lovett, Nick Keizer

Kicker

Harrison Butker, KC

Butker is off to a great start to his NFL career while back drafting Justin Tucker in field goal percentage (89.7 – 2nd highest all-time). In 2019, he led the league in kicker scoring (175.1), field goals made (34), and field goal attempts (38).

The Chiefs scored 12 fewer TDs from their RBs while scoring 22 fewer overall touchdowns last year compared to their explosive success in 2018 (69 extra-points). Great runner up prize at kicker, but I expect a slight drop in FGs this season, which comes from regaining some of their lost value in TDs.

Defensive Schedule

Other than one bad matchup against the Ravens for their run defense, Kansas City has six games (NYJ, TB, MIA, ATL, and LAC X 2) that grade favorably. Over the final nine weeks, the Chiefs don’t face a team that ranked highly in rushing yards in 2019.

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On the passing side, KC will be tested in five contests (TB, NO, ATL, and LAC X 2). The Chargers won’t be as productive passing the ball this year based on the drop-down at the quarterback position. Four of the poor matchup comes over the last six weeks of the year. The Chiefs have five games (BAL, BUF, NYJ, and DEN X 2) vs. teams that ranked poorly in passing yards last season.

Defense

The Chiefs ranked 26th in 2019 defending the run (2,051 yards). They allowed 4.9 yards per carry with 14 rushing TDs and nine rushes over 20 yards.

Kansas City improved to eighth in passing yards allowed (3,543) with 21 TDs and 16 Ints. Their defense had growth in 45 sacks while allowing 46 catches of 20 yards or more.

DE Alex Okafor

Okafor missed six games last year after signing a three-year $18 contract before the 2019 season. He picked up 22 tackles and five sacks over ten games for the Chiefs. He gave away his gains earned over two years with the Saints, which led to a disappointing season vs. the run.

DE Frank Clark

In his first season with Kansas City, Clark delivered 37 tackles, eight sacks, one Int, and four defended passes over 14 games. His best play came over the final five games (seven sacks), which included the playoffs. He produced league average stats in run support over the last two years, despite a high number of missed tackles.

DT Chris Jones

After an impactful 2018 season (40 tackles, 15.5 sacks, one INT, four defended passes and one TD), Jones missed three games in the regular season and another contest in the playoffs. He finished with 36 tackles, nine sacks, and four defended passes over 13 games while continuing to play well vs. the run. Jones will miss some tackles, but he remains one of the better interior linemen in the NFL.

DT Derrick Nnadi

Over his first two seasons, Nnadi doesn’t have a sack. His game worked well in his rookie year defending the run, but he regressed in this area in 2019. Down the stretch last year, Nnadi struggled to make the needed tackles to help the Chiefs’ run defense.

This year Kansas City will look to get Khalen Saunders more involved in the rotation at defensive tackle. For a big body, his first step gives him an edge and hands to win battles in the trenches. Saunders has a questionable motor while needing better conditioning to be a special player. He needs to find a balance of staying home and winning in rush support and attacking every play. Saunders also has a risk when faced with bigger bodies that match his size and power.

LB Damien Wilson

The move from Dallas to Kansas City led to Wilson setting a career-high in tackles (81). He’s never missed a game in his five years in the NFL, but he only has four career sacks over 80 games. Wilson struggled in back-to-back years against the run while showing plenty of downside in coverage. The Chiefs need better play at this position in 2020.

LB Anthony Hitchens

Over two seasons with the Chiefs, Hitchens has 223 tackles and two sacks while showing the most value in 2018 (135 tackles). Only once in his career has he been considered an asset vs. the run. Hitchens tends to allow a high catch rate with some damage in receiving touchdowns.

LB Willie Gay

Kansas City hopes Gay hits the ground running in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second this year. His speed should translate well while also adding the foresight to win quickly after the snap. Gay needs to find a balance between attack and defending his section of the field.

CB Bashaud Breeland

The Chiefs don’t win the Super Bowl in 2020 without Breeland on the team. His gambling style led to receivers catching a low number of targets against him, but they did make some big plays when he made the wrong decision in coverage or missed a tackle. Breeland returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the past three seasons. He’ll also do the dirty work in run support.

CB Charvarius Ward

Ward was one of the better cornerbacks in the league in 2019 in his completion rate against, but he also had risk at times in the deep passing game. He minimized the damage in touchdowns allowed while seeing a big jump in his number of tackles (74 – 30 in 2018). The Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

S Tyrann Mathieu

The most significant game for Kansas City from Mathieu came in pass coverage. Offenses targeted him many times, but he allowed short yards per catch and a couple of TDs. Mathieu finished with 75 tackles, two sacks, four Ints, and 12 defended passes. He did have a step back in value supporting the run.

S Juan Thornhill

In his rookie season, Thornhill made 12 starts, but he missed the postseason after tearing his ACL in his left knee in Week 17. He picked up 58 tackles, three Ints, five defended passes, and a TD. His play vs. the run was an issue, which was partly tied to several missed tackles.

Thornhill came into the NFL with a combination cornerback/safety skill set. His speed (4.42) paired with his vision, instincts, and playmaking skills projected at the next level. His learning curve at safety does force him to overthink, which will be corrected with coaching and more experience. He likes to attack with a feel for the run game.

The strength in the defensive line sets the tone of the second and third levels on the Chiefs’ defense. If Kansas City doesn’t shorten the passing window, they do have risk in coverage in the deep passing game. I don’t see an impact player as of now at the linebacker position, which invites more struggles vs. the run.

Team Defense Outlook

Game score will force offenses to be one dimensional many times in 2020, which helps create sacks and turnovers. Viable starting fantasy defense when facing second-tier quarterbacks and weaker offensive line.

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