The Kansas City Chiefs and their pass-catchers will have plenty of value heading into the fantasy football season. When you have the NFL's best quarterback throwing the ball your way, that certainly helps the cause.
We've already discussed the fantasy case for tight ends Travis Kelce and Noah Gray, but specifically for the Chiefs' wide receivers, Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs' clear top wideout heading into the 2021 season. Hill has speed that no other receiver — or defensive back, for that matter — can compete with. There's speed in the NFL, and then there's Tyreek Hill speed.
While most NFL players slow down a touch after putting on a helmet and pads, it seems like Hill's speed is not affected when he gets on the field to compete. His top-end speed and the way he separates from a defense is quite literally like nothing we have ever seen before.
When combining Hill's unique speed qualities along with quarterback Patrick Mahomes's cannon of an arm, you’ve got a lethal combination both on the field and in fantasy football. Hill, like Kelce, started his career with Alex Smith as his starting quarterback. However, Hill’s career took another leap forward when Mahomes took over as starting quarterback and he became the best deep threat receiver in the league.
Hill's rise started in 2017, Smith's final season in Kansas City, when he caught 75 passes for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2018, Mahomes's first year as the starter, he grabbed 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2019, despite missing four and a half games, he was still able to get 58 receptions for 860 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2020, he missed two games, but his stats were still remarkable with 87 catches for 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Hill has even said he thinks he can be the first receiver to record a 2,000-yard receiving season. Former Detroit Lions wide receiver and NFL Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson was the closest to that feat when he finished the 2012 season with 1,964 yards. With an extra game added to the schedule for the 2021 season and going forward and with Mahomes throwing him the ball, anything is possible.
Needless to say, Hill won't be slowing down in 2021. He’s become a top-five receiver in the NFL and is one of the elite wide receiver options in fantasy football. In most standard leagues, he is worthy of a late first-round or early second-round pick.
Behind Hill and Kelce, the option for third in line for targets in this offense is up for grabs. We could see running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire become more involved in the passing game, but what about the other receiving options?
Many feel like this is the season that third-year receiver Mecole Hardman can step up his game. It is Hardman's third season in Andy Reid's offense and all reports indicate that Hardman's had a fantastic offseason of training and workouts. Hardman, similar to Hill, has incredible speed and can be utilized in a variety of ways in the offense. In 2019, Hardman's rookie season, he showed promise averaging 20.6 yards per catch. He added six touchdowns that season as well. He took a statistical step back in 2020, but is looking to cement himself as one of the top pass-catchers in this offense in 2021 and beyond. Hardman is a guy that could be a sneaky mid-to-late-round pick on draft day for your fantasy team.
Demarcus Robinson is another receiver that could be an intriguing late-round pick for your fantasy team. Robinson has been featured at times in this offense but has never proven to be a consistent performer. He has the size and tools to make plays and be an effective receiver with Mahomes, but he needs to show some consistency before he can be fully trusted. There's a good chance he will go undrafted in a lot of leagues, so keep your eye on him as he could be a good pick-up as the season goes along, especially when bye weeks start coming into play.
It's make-or-break time for Byron Pringle. He always seems to have some hype around him coming out of training camp, but he hasn't had a ton of opportunities because he's been pushed down the depth chart. This is likely the only season where he could push for a featured role. He shouldn't be on your fantasy radar, but he could be a weekly addition to your team if there are some injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.
Everything said about Pringle could also be said for fourth-year player Antonio Callaway, who was added to the Chiefs roster this offseason. After having a decent rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, he hasn't done anything of note. Callaway will be fighting for a roster spot and probably won't have a fantasy impact.
One guy a lot of people will be talking about heading into the preseason is rookie Cornell Powell. He has already earned some praise from his teammates in training camp, though he does have a lot of ground to cover before earning significant playing time. Powell, like everyone else down the depth chart, won't be someone who is drafted in most leagues, but he could be a late flyer pick in a keeper or dynasty league. Powell is seen as the type of receiver who could take over Sammy Watkins's role as a possession receiver on this team. It may be hard for him to break out as a rookie, but Powell is a name to keep your eye on as the preseason gets underway and as the regular season rolls along.
Hill is the headliner among this group of pass-catchers, but there will be plenty of secondary options for the Chiefs and for your fantasy team. Hill will be off the board early, but if you’re patient and want to look down the depth chart to find another Chiefs receiving option, you should be able to snag one with some decent upside later in your draft.