Kansas City Chiefs 2024 Fantasy Season Preview

2023 Statistics (ranking)

Points per game: 21.8 (15th)
Total yards per game: 351.3 (9th)
Plays per game: 63.5 (15th)
Pass attempts + sacks per game: 39 (7th)
Dropback EPA per play: 0.08 (12th)
Running attempts per game: 24.5 (25th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.11 (18th)

Technical staff

With two straight Super Bowl wins, the Chiefs’ coaching staff is not under any criticism. Andy Reid will be entering his 26th season as head coach, his 12th with Kansas City. He has won three Super Bowls with the Chiefs, and the team has dominated the AFC in recent seasons. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy stepped in after Eric Bienemy’s departure last season. The Chiefs went from No. 1 in total yards per game and EPA per play to No. 9 and No. 12 respectively. While there was a clear offensive decline with the coordinator change and a mediocre receiving corps, having the best quarterback in the league lifts all boats. Mahomes and the Chiefs defeated top AFC contenders in the playoffs and still won the Super Bowl in what could almost be classified as a down year for the offense.

Passing game

Quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz
WR: Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, Justyn Ross
Wide Receivers: Hollywood Brown, Justin Watson and Mecole Hardman
WR: Xavier Worthy, Skyy Moore
TE: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jared Wiley, Irv Smith Jr.

Mahomes and the Chiefs offense had less production in 2023 compared to 2022. While still a top-12 fantasy quarterback, Mahomes threw for over 1,000 fewer yards and 14 fewer touchdowns than he did last season. He had a career-low 7.0 yards per attempt. Despite all of this, Mahomes was still outperforming other defenses when it came time to do so in the playoffs. For fantasy purposes, it was his first season averaging under 20 fantasy points per game. Ignore the “decline.” Mahomes is again a clear top-5 fantasy quarterback, with the receiving corps getting an upgrade.

The Chiefs decided that Mahomes will no longer play with an iffy receiving corps and made key additions to the group. Hollywood Brown joins the team via free agency as a deep threat on a one-year deal with $6.5 million guaranteed. He has seen over 100 targets in each of the past four seasons and his speed makes him an intriguing deep threat for the Chiefs. The team also added Xavier Worthy in the first round of the 2024 draft. Like Brown, Worthy is a speedster with a smaller build. In his final season at Texas, he averaged 13.5 yards per reception while also having the third-most receiving yards in the FBS since 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. Between the two new additions to the receiver room, Mahomes will have an easier time with deep passes rather than the occasional Justin Watson throw. Brown’s one-year deal indicates he’s more of a prove-it-all contract after he dealt with injuries the past two seasons. Worthy is likely to stick around long-term in the Chiefs’ offense, but Brown, being the veteran, projects to be more productive up front. Both players have low weekly WR3 values, but boom weeks will see them reach the WR1 ceiling in the Chiefs’ opportunity-rich offense.

Of the Chiefs’ returning receivers, Rashee Rice is the key piece. He was the only wide receiver to post more than 500 receiving yards last season, with Kansas City increasing his snaps throughout the season. Rice saw double-digit targets three times from Week 12 onward after not seeing double-digit targets prior to that. As the clear No. 1 receiver, Rice’s only issue heading into the season will be legal issues. It is said that they expect it to be suspended for his role in a street race in April. He was also under investigation for assaulting a photographer, but the Chargers had that dismissed. While off-field issues could keep Rice out for an extended period of time, fantasy managers can expect to plug and play him when he is active. Rice is a bigger target than Brown and Worthy and will be a weekly low-end WR2 when he does play.

Behind Rice, Brown, and Worthy, the Chiefs’ receiving corps gets murky. Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman have all contributed in the past, but they haven’t been consistent effective targets. If one of the top three wide receivers is out, then Watson, Moore, Toney, and Hardman are all in a position to be considered for FLEX that week. Moore, Toney, and Hardman can see some running with screens, jet-sweeps, and more gadget plays, while Watson is more of an outside route runner. Notably, Watson and Moore saw twice as many snaps per game as Toney and Hardman. All four can be benched unless one of the top three wide receivers is out. So, it’s a matter of luck based on how the Chiefs use their wide receiver rotation. History indicates that Watson is the best outside receiver to have, while Toney often has touches manufactured to him, making for occasional FLEX plays.

While the wide receiver pecking order can be debated, there’s no question that Travis Kelce is Mahomes’ perennial top target. He was the top pass-catcher in fantasy points per game for the Chiefs last season and has been a top-three fantasy tight end every year since 2016. Kelce’s 34-year-old age isn’t a concern, either. He signed a two-year deal to become the highest-paid tight end in the NFL after a season in which he won another Super Bowl and dated Taylor Swift. It locks Kelce up as a top-three tight end this season.

Behind Kelce, Noah Gray is the most immediate backup. Irv Smith and rookie Jared Wiley will battle for snaps on the third line. Gray can play TE3 some weeks, but none of the three need to play unless Kelce is out.

Racing game

LD: Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Louis Rees-Zammit, Deneric Prince
OL (from left to right): Wanya Morris, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Jawaan Taylor

No matter who the offensive coordinator is, the Chiefs will never have to waste plays running the ball with Mahomes throwing it. They ranked No. 25 in rushing attempts in both 2022 and 2023, while falling from No. 10 to No. 18 in the league for rushing EPA of -0.11 per play. When they do run the ball, Isaiah Pacheco has been the one stepping up to not waste the play and complement the passing game. He totaled 205 carries for 935 yards, added 44 receptions for 244 yards and nine total touchdowns. Pacheco is the running back to target and ranks as the RB2 this season.

As an immediate backup, two-time champion Clyde Edwards-Helaire has re-signed with the Chiefs on a one-year deal. He hasn’t lived up to the hype of a first-round pick, though the team likes him enough to keep him. Edwards-Helaire is familiar with the system and will get snaps in the backup role early on. He has some value as a pass-catcher and is a backup who will rise to the RB3 ranks if Pacheco is ever sidelined. Behind Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire are a number of younger, less experienced backs. The most interesting addition is Louis Rees-Zammit, a 23-year-old Welsh rugby player. While he could be a chess piece to move around in the offense, Rees-Zammit is more of a low-profile addition.

The Chiefs’ backs have a solid offensive line to run behind. PFF ranked the line No. 7 in the league after last season. Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor left the most room for improvement after a mediocre season at tackle. With Smith now gone, 2023 third-round pick Wanya Morris and second-round rookie Kingsley Suamataia. However, the team did add tackle Kingsley Suamataia in the second round as a backup. The offensive line will once again be a good unit, protecting a fantasy QB1 and RB2.

Total wins

The reigning (back-to-back) champs have a DraftKings-projected win total of 11.5. Kansas City won 11 games last season, but has surpassed that win total in each of the previous five seasons. Reiterating over and over that Patrick Mahomes is the best in the world, the over is probably a safe bet here.