In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!
Patrick Mahomes (QB – Kansas City Chiefs):
Make that five consecutive seasons of 4,200+ yards plus four of the last five seasons with 5,000+ total yards and 39+ TDs for Mahomes.
He’s clearly the best QB in the NFL and one of the surefire elites in fantasy football, establishing that with arguably the best season of his career (5,600+ total yards, 45 TDs, 12 INTs) in his first year without WR Tyreek Hill, finishing as the overall QB1 and winning NFL MVP.
You know what you’re getting with Mahomes – elite weekly and yearly consistency with him posting 15+ points in every game last year and 17+ points in all but one game (Week 18 where he was pulled to avoid injury).
The only thing holding him back for fantasy, and what has made Josh Allen the QB1 in two of the last three years (and would’ve been it again this year if not for the Bills/Bengals suspension) is rushing totals. Mahomes has the ability to scramble when necessary, posting 300+ rushing yards in each of the last three years, but isn’t a “designed run” type of QB.
That’s it – that’s the only negative that you can find for Mahomes.
Likely seeing an improved receiving corps this season (full year of Kadarius Toney, return of Justyn Ross), there’s no reason to believe Mahomes finishes outside the top-3 fantasy QBs barring injury.
Unfortunately, those that aren’t hardcore fantasy players will likely reach on him, reflected in his 2nd/3rd round price tag. As I said with Josh Allen, the production is there, but the positional value in a QB that doesn’t definitively separate himself from the field makes that price tag overvalued compared to the availability of QBs offering slightly less production a few rounds later.
Isiah Pacheco (RB – Kansas City Chiefs):
Pacheco had a pretty solid rookie season, even despite only being the Chiefs’ starter for the second half of the season and playing the majority of the season with a broken hand and a torn labrum, posting 960 total yards and 5 TDs in his first season.
He really took off in Week 11, posting 10+ points in seven of his final eight games, tallying 668 of his 960 yards and 3 of his 5 TDs in that stretch as the RB16 in PPR scoring. From that point on, Pacheco was the definitive RB1 in Kanas City, commanding 59% of the carries and 43% of the snaps.
The only concern for Pacheco is a likely timeshare with Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of the Chiefs’ backfield. Even when controlling the Chiefs’ backfield workload in the final half of the season, Pacheco was second to McKinnon in terms of production simply due to receiving work, especially that in which turned into TDs. Plus, with Edwards-Helaire returning to the field in 2023, it’ll likely be a rather even split between the three with Pacheco dominating the redzone and early-down work while McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire serve as change-of-pace and receiving backs.
Currently projected to go as a high-end RB3 in the 7th round, I’m comfortable with Pacheco as my RB3 given his upside in an Andy Reid offense that has always seen top-end production from RBs. The upside is certainly there for him to finish as a top-15 RB but the likelihood of a workload split limits his security in Year 2.
Travis Kelce (TE – Kansas City Chiefs):
Kelce saw his historic six-season span of consecutive finishes as the overall TE1 snapped in 2021 and it raised the question – was this finally the end of Kelce’s reign atop the position in fantasy?
He then went out and put up his best season ever, dominating the TE position with over 100 more points than the next-best TE – the largest gap in fantasy history. He averaged six points per game over the TE2 in fantasy – the equivalent of getting an extra TD every game.
It was another dominant season with Kelce posting 10+ points in 16 of 17 games and 15+ points in twelve weeks. The next-closest TE in terms of 15+ point performances: George Kittle, with six.
You get everything with Kelce: production, consistency, TDs, week-winning performances, etc.
He’s definitively the overall TE1 until proven otherwise, even at 33 (soon-to-be 34) years old. The positional value you get with Kelce over the rest of the position, even compared to the likes of Mark Andrews, George Kittle, or T.J. Hockenson, is unparalleled at any position in fantasy. That level of production and the positional gap makes him worthy of a top-5 pick as he can single-handedly differentiate your team from any opponent’s.