After a disastrous 2012 (2-14), the Chiefs have four playoff appearances over the last five season with a 53-27 record under Andy Reid. Over 19 seasons as a head coach in the NFL, Reid has 183-120-1 record with 13 trips to the playoffs. He’s won ten games or more 12 times with one Super Bowl appearance. Over the last six appearances in the playoffs, Andy has one win in seven chances.
Last year Kansas City was much improved on offense. They moved to fifth offensive yards and sixth in points scored (415). Eric Bieniemy takes over as the offensive coordinator after working as the running backs coach in the Chiefs’ system over the last five seasons. Bieniemy is a former NFL player with ten years of coaching experience in the pros. In 2011 and 2012, Eric held the offensive coordinator job for Colorado Buffalos.
The Chiefs’ defense fell to 28th in yards allowed, which was their second straight seasons of regression. Kansas City ranked 15th in points allowed (339) after placing in the top seven points allowed over the last four years. Bob Sutton returns for his sixth year as the defensive coordinator. He has 18 seasons of experience as an NFL coach with seven coming as a defensive coordinator.
The Chiefs will have a new look behind center in 2018 with QB Alex Smith traded to Redskins for CB Kyle Fuller and a draft pick. Chad Henne signed to be the backup QB.
Kansas City grew tired of CB Marcus Peters leading to a trade to the Rams. Peters is a top CB with 19 Ints and three TDs over his three seasons in the NFL. The Chiefs signed CB David Amerson to compete for a starting job. They also released CB Terrance Mitchell and CB Phillip Gaines who found jobs with other teams in the NFL.
Kansas City brought RB Damien Williams to compete for a backup role.
For the first time in years, the Chiefs have a second WR with upside and playmaking ability after signing WR Sammy Watkins. The Rams didn’t give Watkins a high-volume opportunity in 2017, but he did offer big plays and value at the goal line. WR Albert Wilson moved unto the Dolphins after minimal value in his career.
The other moves in the offseason came on defense. Kansas City added LB Anthony Hitches while losing LB Ramik Wilson and NT Bennie Logan. Hitchens signed a $45 million contract for five seasons last March. He played the best ball of his career in 2017 with the Cowboys with his best value coming vs. the run. Wilson saw minimal playing time last year. Logan was an early-down run stopper.
Kansas City didn’t have a first-round pick in 2018. The theme for this season draft was all about the defense with six of their draft selections.
The first two players drafted in the second and third round focused on the defensive line with DT Breeland Speaks and DT Derrick Nnadi. Speaks isn’t big enough to be an anchor against the run, but he’ll add value rushing the QB while offering versatility. His short area quickness isn’t an edge off the snap, but his hands play well with enough speed to finish the QB if given the opportunity. Breeland projects as a rotational player early in his career. Nnadi fits the beefy role need to stop the run with strength being his biggest asset. His first step can be disruptive, but Derrick lacks the follow through speed to add value in sacks.
With the second pick in the third round, the Chiefs invested LB Dorian O’Daniel. He’s undersized (6’1” and 223 lbs.) while offering speed and quickness. O’Daniel should instantly upgrade the special team play for Kansas City with potential matchup value in coverage when game score works in his favor.
S Armani Watts and CB Tremon Smith were the picks in the fourth and sixth round. Watts has coverage skills while lacking the strength and power to add an impact supporting the run. His style works better when moving toward the line of scrimmage while needing to improve his tackling skills. Smith has talent and athletic ability, but he went to a small school where he had the edge over most players. His speed (4.30) should play well in the NFL, but Tremon needs to prove he can handle the top WRs in the games. Smith has a playmaker mentality while needing to avoid holding penalties and biting on double moves.
The Chiefs shifted back to the defensive line with their last draft pick in the sixth round with DT Kahlil McKenzie. His base skill set points to upside as a run stopper with the hands and the first step to disrupt. McKenzie needs to become a better fighter in the trenches where he ends up with the winning move rather than retreating or face down. His vision isn’t up to NFL game speed. Kansas City will convert him to the offensive line in the NFL.
Kansas City finished 9th in rushing yards (1,903) with 12 TDs. Their ball carriers gained 4.7 yards per rush with 15 runs over 20 yards. When compared to most of the top rushing teams in the NFL, the Chiefs attempted about 20 percent fewer rushes per game (25.3).
They ranked 7th in passing yards (4,104) with a great TD (26) to Ints (8) ratio. KC gained 8.0 yards per pass attempt, which was the second highest rate in the NFL. Their offensive line allowed 37 sacks and 83 QB hits.
LT Eric Fisher still hasn’t developed into an impact player after Kansas City drafted him first overall in 2013. Over the last three seasons, Fisher ranked just below league average with failure vs. the run in 2017.
LG Bryan Witzmann emerged as the starting option over 14 games in 2017. He struggled in all areas, which points to job loss risk. Parker Ehinger looks to be a tweener on the offensive line. He lacks the desired quickness to be an asset in pass protection in the NFL at tackle, while his strength in below winning value at this point of his career as an interior lineman. His best asset will come in pass protection with questionable upside as run blocker no matter where he lines up on the offensive line. In his rookie season in 2016, he only played in five games due to a torn ACL that required surgery in November. Parker should be a better option at left guard in 2018.
C Mitch Morse played well in pass protection leading to an edge at his position in 2016. Morse was drafted in the second round in the 2015 NFL Draft. Morse has plus strength with some quickness and a solid feel for the game. He’ll offer upside in both run and pass blocking with more experience. Last season he missed nine games with a foot injury that led to a failed season.
RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did an excellent job in pass protection leading to the Chiefs signing him to a five-year $41.25 contract in February in 2017. He repeated his success in pass blocking last year with neutral value as a run blocker. Kansas City picked him up in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.
RT Mitchell Schwartz played well in both run and pass blocking in each season in the NFL. He signed a five-year $33 million contract in the offseason of 2016. The Browns drafted him in the second round in 2012.
Kansas City has one weak link on the offensive line plus their left tackle isn’t where he needs to be. The right side of the line projects to be an area of strength. Overall, the Chiefs should rank slightly better than league average in all areas.
The above 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).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. 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.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 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 has about a league average schedule for their rushing attack. They have three favorable matchups (CIN and LAC X 2) while expecting to be tested in three other games (ARI and DEN X 2).
The Chiefs do have a tough schedule for their passing game. Their worst matchup comes against the Jaguars followed by two games vs. both the Broncos and the Chargers. Their best success will come against the Patriots.
Kansas City has a developing stud running back, but they don’t lean on the run game enough. Their passing attempts tend to be league average, but the Chiefs may air the ball out with their new your toy at quarterback. The receiving talent has strength at four options, which is great starting foundation for a Fantasy owner.
QB Patrick Mahomes – After playing in seven games (1,547 passing yard and 16 TDs) in his freshman year at Texas Tech, Mahomes passed for 9,705 yards with 77 passing TDs and 25 Ints over the last two seasons. He attempted 131 rushes per year in his sophomore and junior seasons with high value in rushing TDs (22), but Patrick had less room to run in 2016 (285 yards) compared to his success in 2015 (456). He has a good feel for the pocket while offering upside moving forward to break free from pressure where his legs will give him a second opportunity to make a play. Mahones made plenty of deep throws with success in college, but he had a bigger passing window. He needs to improve his pre-snap reads while firing quickly when reaching his last step in his backpedal. His all-around game looks exciting, and his style will bring the deep passing game back into fashion in Kansas City. The Chiefs have a stud TE, a speedy WR1, and a young playmaking WR2 plus pass-catching talent at RB. In his rookie season, Mahomes projected to be a top 12 QB with a chance at 4,000+ yards with close to 30 combined TDs. His big area of concern is interceptions. I expect a better season than the success of Alex Smith in 201 (4,397 combined yards with 27 TDs).
Other Options: Chad Henne, Matt McGloin, Chase Litton
RB Kareem Hunt – The Chiefs will be making a change at QB in 2018. Patrick Mahones comes with high pedigree, and he’s expected to add more value to the deep passing game. His ability to challenge defenses over all parts of the field can only help Hunt find freedom at the second level of the defense. In his rookie season, Kareem gained 1,882 combined yards with 11 TDs and 53 catches. He averaged 20.3 touches per game with 12 rushes over 20 yards and three runs over 40 yards. Kansas City has a stud TE plus an extremely quick and talented Tyreek Hill. The addition of Sammy Watkins will force the defense to pay attention to the deep passing game. This whole equation points to a much better situation than Ezekiel Elliott, but Hunt may lose the touch battle to Elliott by 20 percent or more. Kareem has pass-catching ability, and his overall opportunity should rise in 2018. The key is the success and the development of Mahomes. I expect him to score more than 350 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. As much as I like the long resume Antonio Brown, and the opportunity of DeAndre Hopkins, I can’t pass on Hunt in this area of the draft unless I’m able to identify a breakout type RB in the second round. Possible 2,000+ combined yards with 60+ catches and more than a dozen TDs, but Spencer Ware will get in the way. In 2017, Kansas City’s RB rushed for 1,538 yards and 11 TDs on 337 carries plus 90 catches for 683 yards and five TDs on 113 targets.
RB Spencer Ware – Ware ended up being a nice value pick in 2016 for Fantasy owners thanks to a better than expected opportunity with the injury to Jamaal Charles. He finished with 1,368 combined yards with five TDs and 33 catches. After an explosive game in Week 1 (199 combined yards with a TD and seven catches), Spencer only shined in two other games (Week 5 – 163 combined yards with a TD and two catches and Week 6 – 131 combined yards and two catches). Over his last seven games of the season, Ware never rushed for more 70 yards in any game. He scored only two TDs in his eight contests in the regular season. The Chiefs gave him 15 touches or more in 11 of his 14 games played. His year ended after Week 15 with a rib injury leading to minimal value in his only playoff game (36 combined yards on ten touches with a TD and two catches). After missing all of 2017 with a torn PCL and LCL, Spencer will battle to regain playing time this year. Ware should receive about 100 touches for 600 yards and minimal value in TDs.
Other Options: Damien Williams, Charcandrick West, Kerwynn Williams, Darrel Williams
WR Tyreek Hill– In first two seasons in the NFL, Hill has filled two different roles in the Chiefs’ offense. In 2016, he worked the short areas of the field in the passing game while offering change of pace value as a runner. Last year Kansas City worked him more into the deep passing game leading to nine catches of 40 yards or more plus a jump from 9.7 yards per catch to 15.8. His ability to test a defense deep helped create more open field at the second level of the defense for Kareem Hunt. In the end, Tyrek only had 122 touches in 2017 while ranking 23rd in WR targets (105). Despite his shorter than expected opportunity, Hill was the fifth highest scoring WR in PPR leagues. The presence of Travis Kelce does hurt his chances plus the Chiefs have a dynamic RB. Tyreek is the right kind of gamble in 2018, and I’d love to see him regain a few more rushing targets to help his floor and ceiling. If he puts both parts of his early resume in 2018, a Fantasy owner will have a first-round value. Last year the Chiefs’ WR caught only 165 passes for 2,285 yards and 12 TDs on 240 targets.
WR Sammy Watkins – After two good seasons (65/982/6 ad 60/10479) to start his NFL career, Watkins failed to live up to expectation in 2016 and 20. The trade to the Rams was expected to offer a huge improvement in opportunity, but Robert Woods outplayed Sammy. LA did improve offensive with Watkins adding value in TDs (8). After a great game in Week 3 (6/106/2), he had four catches or fewer over his last 12 games while failing to gain over 45 yards in ten contests. In the end, Sammy caught 39 of his 70 targets for 593 yards. His skill set and pedigree point to much high upside, but Watkins will rank behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill for targets. Tempting name for sure, but he may need an injury to gain starting Fantasy value in PPR leagues. I’ll set the bar at 60 catches for 900 yards with five to seven TDs.
WR Chris Conley – In his four years at Georgia, Conley caught 117 catches for 1938 yards with 20 TDs. His best year was his senior season when he caught 36 passes for 657 yards with eight TDs. Chris has excellent size (6’2” and 213 lbs.) with plus speed (4.35 in the 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL combine), but his release and hands have some risk at the next level. After catching 17 passes for 199 yards and a TD on 31 targets in his rookie season, Chris pushed those total to 44/530 on 69 targets in 2016. Showing growth, but he’s yet to produce big play ability (12.0 yards per catch). His season was cut short in 2017 (11/175) after five games with an Achilles injury. Minimal value with Sammy Watkins added to the roster.
WR Jehu Chesson – Over four seasons at Michigan, Jehu caught 114 passes for 1,639 yards and 12 TDs. He did chip in with 20 rushes for 218 yards and three TDs in his junior and senior seasons. His best success came in his junior year (50/764/9). His short resume suggests he’ll have a learning curve leading to as short opportunity early in his career.
Other Options: Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Kemp, Daniel Braverman
TE Travis Kelce – In each season in the NFL, Kelce has seen his target rise (87, 103, 117, and 122). His game reached elite status in 2016 (85/1125/4) and 2017 (83/1038/8) with more upside expected with the young gun-slinging Patrick Mahomes taking over at QB. Travis finished with five impact games (8/103/1, 7/111/1, 7/133/1, 8/109, and 4/94/2) while catching seven targets or more in seven starts. His role in Kansas City’s offense is closer to a WR1 while providing an edge at TE. The top end of the TE pool can be tricky, and draft flow will determine where the value lies at TE. For now, the top scoring receiving option in the rising Chiefs’ offense while placing a bet on a young QB. Possible 90+ catches for 1,200+ yards and double TDs, which will be a clear edge over most teams at TE.
Other Options: Demetrius Harris, Jace Amaro, Tim Wright, Alex Ellis, Blake Mack
K Harrison Butker – There was Fantasy gold in Butker’s leg in 2017, but he only gained value after an injury to Cairo Santos. Over 13 games, he made 38 of 42 field goals with perfect success in extra points (28-for-28). Harrison made four of his five kicks from 50 yards or longer. Three times last year he made five field goals in a game plus five other games with three FGs or more. On the year, the Chiefs scored 42 TDs with 45 FG chances (41 successful). Great offense for field goals pointing to another successful for Butker. Top 5 kicker for me who is a must start each week.
Kansas City has a favorable schedule for their run defense. They have two games (CIN and ARI) against teams that struggled to run the ball last year, but the Cardinals will be much better with David Johnson back in the starting lineup. Their only lousy matchup comes against the Jaguars.
Over the first six games of 2018, the Chiefs face three teams (LAC, PIT, and NE) with a high level of success passing the ball. A second game against the Chargers gives Kansas City four bad matchups on the year. Their pass defense should have an edge against the Ravens, the Bengals, and the Browns even with each franchise expecting to be better in 2018.
The Chiefs ranked 25th in the NFL in 2017 defending the run (1,890 yards). They allowed 4.3 yards per carry with 15 rushing TDs. On the positive side, runners only had six runs over 20 yards and none over 40 yards.
Kansas City finished 29th in passing yards allowed (3,952) with 23 TDs and 16 Ints. Their defense delivered only 33 sacks with failure in long plays (14 catches of 40 yards or more).
DE Chris Jones showed growth in his second season in the NFL. He posted 32 tackles with 6.5 sacks, seven defended passes, and one Int. Chris offers strength and quickness at the point of contact while lacking a finishing motor and the ability to counter when stymied after the snap. Jones was plus run defender in 2017. DE Allen Bailey bring some risk to the table, especially against the run. Last year he had 38 tackles and only two sacks.
The other option on the defensive line will be a combination of DE Breeland Speaks and DT Derrick Nnadi. Speaks has pass rushing upside while Nnadi projects as a run stopper.
LB Justin Houston remains one of the top players in the game at his position. He posted 59 tackles with 9.5 sacks and five defended passes last year with strength defending the run. LB Dee Ford missed ten games in 2017 due to a back injury. He had a career-high ten sacks in 2016, which was a huge improvement but expected after getting drafted in the first round in 2014. LB Anthony Hitchens will upgrade the run defense with no upside in sacks or in pass coverage. Hitchens set a career high in 2017 in tackles (84). LB Reggie Ragland played well vs. the run for the Chiefs in a rotational role last year. He missed all of 2016 with a torn ACL after the Bills drafted him in the second round.
S Eric Berry blew out his Achilles in Week 1 in 2017 leading to a big hole in the Chiefs’ secondary. He played at a high level in three of the previous four seasons while grading as one of the better safeties in the game. S Daniel Sorenson set a career high in tackles (89) last year plus 1.5 sacks, six defended passes and one Int. Sorenson has risk vs. the run with success in coverage.
CB David Amerson played well in 2015 and 2016 when he recorded 42 combined defended passes with six Ints and one TD. Last season he missed ten games due to a foot injury. The Redskins drafted him in the second round in 2013. CB Steven Nelson should be the top option for the other starting cornerback position after starting 15 games in 2016 leading to 65 tackles and 116 defended passes. Last year Nelson missed seven games with abdomen injury while ranking as a league average player when he returned. CB Kendall Fuller was a key player acquired in the Alex Smith deal, which hopefully offsets the loss of CB Marcus Peters. Fuller played well in coverage last year leading to 55 tackles, ten defended passes, and four Ints.
This defense has one elite player with good players at multiple positions. Their secondary has some risk, but Kansas City did fill some voids at CB in the offseason. I’d like to see more sack upside. Overall, a good defense with a healthy Eric Berry being their key. Top 12 Fantasy defense, but I’d sit them in some games.
2018 NFL Team Outlooks