The Chiefs were still the No. 4 scoring team in the league last season, but it sure didn't feel like it. Patrick Mahomes had an eight-game stretch where he averaged 6.4 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns to eight interceptions, looking positively mortal for the first time in his career. And now he's playing without Tyreek Hill for the first time, which means this offense has question marks for the first time in a long time. 

2021 Review

Record: 12 - 5 (3)
PPG: 28.2 (4)
YPG: 396.8 (3)
Pass YPG: 281.8 (4)
Rush YPG: 115.0 (16)
PAPG: 39.7 (2)
RAPG: 25.4 (20)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Patrick Mahomes QB4
RB: Darrel Williams* RB21, Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB44
WR: Tyreek Hill* WR6, Mecole Hardman WR46
TE: Travis Kelce TE2
*No longer with team

Number to know: 7.3

That was Mahomes' intended air yards per attempt last season, by far the lowest of his career. That number has been trending down over the course of Mahomes' career, from 9.1 in 2018 to 8.8 to 8.4 over the subsequent two seasons, but it really cratered in 2021 as teams made a point to take away the deep ball. That led to a significant dip in Mahomes' passing efficiency, as he fell to below 8.1 yards per attempt for the first time in his career -- highlighted by that aforementioned eight-game stretch where Mahomes averaged just 6.4 Y/A with a 3.3% touchdown rate from Weeks 5 through 13. 

Mahomes did bounce back from that, it's worth noting, putting up 23 touchdowns over his final eight games, averaging 8.3 Y/A, including the playoffs. And, for whatever it's worth, he wasn't alone in being less aggressive last season because the league-wide average air yards per target dropped from 7.88 in 2020 to 7.55 in 2021, continuing a trend that began in 2019. Defenses are, perhaps more than at any other time in history, willing to give up shorter gains in the running and passing games if it means they are more adept at slowing down the league's most high-flying offenses.

That the Chiefs were able to figure it out should make you optimistic, although having to do so without Hill presents an additional challenge. Hill is a singular talent when it comes to getting open behind defenses, and while Marquez Valdes-Scantling especially is a solid deep threat, there's nobody in the league who can replace what Hill brought to this offense. Just ask Fantasy players who kept waiting for Mecole Hardman to break out over the past three years. As it turns out, not all 4.3-speed is created equal.

The Chiefs probably have a deeper receiving corps than they have in the past, but with Hill gone and Kelce turning 33 this season, it's fair to have questions for the first time since Mahomes became the starter. He's still my No. 2 

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

1. (21) Trent McDuffie, CB
1. (30) George Karlaftis, DE
2. (54) Skyy Moore, WR
2. (62) Bryan Cook, SAF
3. (103) Leo Chenal, LB
4. (135) Joshua Williams, CB
5. (145) Darian Kinnard, T
7. (243) Jaylen Watson, DB
7. (251) Isaih Pacheco, RB
7. (259) Nazeeh Johnson, DB


WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, C Austin Reiter, S Deon Bush, S Justin Reid

Key losses

WR Tyreek Hill, WR Demarcus Robinson, RB Darrel Williams, DT Jarran Reed, WR Byron Pringle, CB Charvarius Ward, S Tyrann Mathieu

Available Opportunity 

164 carries, 80 RB targets, 265 WR targets, 13 TE targets

2022 Preview


player headshot
Jamey Eisenberg
player headshot
Dave Richard
player headshot
Heath Cummings
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Chris Towers
Patrick Mahomes3332
Clyde Edwards-Helaire26312732
Ronald Jones39374140
JuJu Smith-Schuster32312524
Marquez Valdes-Scantling5752NRNR
Skyy Moore4654NRNR
Mecole HardmanNR60NRNR
Travis Kelce1111

Chris Towers' projections

QBPatrick MahomesPA: 644, YD: 4703, TD: 35, INT: 11; RUSH -- ATT: 66, YD: 329, TD: 2
RBClyde Edwards-HelaireCAR: 167, YD: 667, TD: 6, TAR: 39, REC: 31, YD: 230, TD: 1
RBRonald Jones IICAR: 140, YD: 604, TD: 5, TAR: 19, REC: 16, YD: 139, TD: 1
WRJuJu Smith-SchusterTAR: 126, REC: 88, YD: 929, TD: 6
WRMecole HardmanTAR: 84, REC: 46, YD: 645, TD: 4
WRMarquez Valdes-ScantlingTAR: 89, REC: 52, YD: 676, TD: 4
WRSkyy MooreTAR: 78, REC: 47, YD: 655, TD: 4
TETravis KelceTAR: 148, REC: 101, YD: 1264, TD: 9

Biggest Question

How do they replace Tyreek Hill?

I mean, we already know this: They're replacing him with a combination of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and second-rounder Skyy Moore. Of course, it remains to be seen whether that group can actually help replace what Hill brought to the offense. In theory, Mecole Hardman's speed could be a factor, but he's never really shown the upside to step into Hill's shoes. It's possible that this deeper receiving corps makes up for Hill's singular ability to break down defenses, but I'm expecting them to take a step back collectively. How much of one remains to be seen, obviously, though at the very least, this will likely be a less vertically aggressive offense unless MVS can prove to be a much more consistent contributor than he ever was in Green Bay. 

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

DAL Dallas • #32
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
2021 Stats

The discussion so far has hinged on the passing game, mostly because the combination of Jones and Edwards-Helaire just doesn't do much to make me excited. Jones has proven to be a pretty effective rusher in his four-year NFL career but just hasn't proven to be much more than that; he never managed to earn Bruce Arians' trust in the passing game in any way, so I'm not expecting him to have much of a role in the passing game for the Chiefs. That likely leaves Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the more valuable role for Fantasy, at least to begin the season, but Jones could be the kind of sledgehammer back with big-play potential Kansas City hasn't really had since Kareem Hunt, and 1,000-plus yards and touchdown totals approaching double digits aren't out of the question in an offense like this. Jones probably doesn't have huge upside unless he really surprises in the passing game, but he could emerge as a viable starter. 

NE New England • #7
Age: 27 • Experience: 8 yrs.
2021 Stats

Smith-Schuster is still just 25, but he's had a whole career's worth of ups and downs so far. How you feel about him ultimately comes down to how much you blame the decline in his production over the past three seasons to the lackluster (to put it kindly) QB play he dealt with in Pittsburgh. His yards per target cratered to 4.6 in five games last season, but that was at least in part because Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers used him almost exclusively on short, quick targets in an offense that defenses knew wasn't going to burn them deep. The circumstances Smith-Schuster finds himself in couldn't be more different this season, and I still think there is top-12 upside here if he emerges quickly as Mahomes' No. 2 target. 

KC Kansas City • #87
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
2021 Stats

This isn't so much me calling Kelce a bust as me attaching the "bust alert" tag to him. He's going to turn 33 this season and was positively pedestrian for large stretches of the 2021 season, topping 70 yards just four times in his final 13 regular season games. Of course, then he went out and had 299 yards and three touchdowns on 27 targets in three playoff games, which makes it a lot harder to doubt him -- a late-season injury starts to look like a much better excuse for Kelce's struggles in light of that. Still, at some point, Kelce is going to falter, and the risk just gets higher with each passing season.