3-Point Stance: The Chiefs backfield is in flux, but their TE remains a steady stud
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Wednesday’s topic: The Kansas City Chiefs.
On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that Spencer Ware will be the Chiefs starting RB come Week 8 (with 1 being “Spencer who” and 10 being “Kareem huh”)?
Liz – SIX. I don’t like fence-sitters, but until these two battle it out in training camp I’m giving the edge to the vet. For the first half of 2016, Ware produced top-ten fantasy stats, averaging 5.0 YPC. After suffering a concussion in Week 8, however, the LSU product struggled, scoring just twice between Weeks 9 and 17. Clearly, the grind of the gridiron took a toll on Ware in his first season as the team’s workhorse. Admittedly his efficiency waned, but he remained elusive, avoiding 30 tackles, which was among the top-fifteen players for the statistical category.
While Hunt has every-down potential, and possession of impressive balance and a slick spin move, he’s also a rookie with little experience in pass protection. Out of the gate, I suspect Hunt will be used mostly on passing downs, as he’s proven to be a capable receiving back. Ultimately, the job is his to take. I’m not entirely convinced that he’ll be able to do it in his first pro campaign. Right now, the youngster’s draft stock is being driven by whole lot of “hope-so” and very little “know-so.”
Brad – EIGHT. The amount of disrespect Ware has received in early drafts is borderline insulting. Yes, he averaged a mere 3.6 yards per carry and totaled the 29th-most valuable line from Week 8 on last season, but he’s a quality back with significant tread. Despite the dismal second half, he ranked No. 17 in yards after contact per game, No. 18 in total evaded tackles and proved highly adept as a pass-catcher (33-447). Last month, Andy Reid called him “dirty tough” and sung his praises as a multidimensional contributor. The head coach’s infatuation with Ware likely means the rusher has a longer leash than most believe. If he fires out of the cannon similar to Weeks 1-7 last year (129.5 total yards per game, 5.2 YPC, 3 TDs, RB7) he’ll strut into the Chiefs’ Week 10 bye as the indisputable starter.
The power of assumption is fueling the Hunt hype machine. He isn’t the most athletic back and is best suited for zone runs, but he was a very productive three-down rusher with Toledo. His short-area burst, elusiveness and hands drew Joique Bell comps during the Draft process. Out of the gate he should supplant the incumbent roughly 8-10 times per game. However, I’m convinced Ware will keep him at arm’s length for at least the season’s first half. The rookie’s pass pro inexperience puts him well behind the eight ball. Often going ahead of C.J. Prosise, Frank Gore and Kenneth Dixon in early drafts, Hunt (102.3 ADP, RB38) is a bit overvalued.
Tyreek Hill zoomed his way onto fantasy radars last season, closing out the year as fake football’s fifteenth most productive WR. Heading into 2017, do you believe he’s OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED or PROPERLY VALUED at 54.5 (WR27) ADP?
Brad – UNDERVALUED. Hill was the Jordan Howard of wide receivers, a free-agent goldmine that was nearly indispensable over the season’s second half. In fact, from Weeks 8-17, he ranked No. 5 in total output at the position totaling 47 receptions, 724 combined yards (rush/receiving) and six touchdowns. And he accomplished that seeing just 20.2 percent of the targets share. His home run hitting ability and scoring diversity explained his remarkable efficiency. In terms of fantasy points scored per opportunity only Taylor Gabriel outpaced him.
Reid expressed his desire to expand Hill’s role this offseason. Criminally underused even during his breakout phase, he saw action on just 43.5 percent of the team’s snaps. If that number climbs to 60-65 percent, he should easily crack the WR top-20.
Liz – OVERVALUED. As Jeremy Maclin struggled last season, hampered by a groin injury, Hill was given an opportunity… and, quite literally, ran away with it. An ultra-versatile athlete, the speedster out of West Alabama excelled in the red zone, hauling in 12 catches from 20 yards out. Ultimately, however, Hill is a gadget player, who lacks the size to be a prototypical outside receiver. While his rookie showing certainly earned him more time on the field, Maclin is still young enough (29 years old) to put together a bounce back season and keep the youngster’s fantasy numbers in check.
Liz – BELIEVE. It’s time to stop putting Baby Gronk in the corner. The seventh most productive fantasy player at the position in 2014 and 2015, Kelce took a step forward in 2016. While he scored one less TD this past season, his catches and yards increased, making him fake football’s most valuable tight end.
Assuming he stays healthy (he hasn’t missed a game since his rookie campaign in 2013), Kelce’s floor is fantastically palatable. In fact, Sharpie me in for a 69-865-5 stat line, at minimum. On the other hand, with a checkered injury past and a bunch more mouths to feed in New England, Gronk’s reliability is nowhere near as close.
Brad – BELIEVE. Gronk would tweak his back lightly twerking. His physical vulnerabilities alone disprove his reliability. Kelce, an ironman comparatively, hasn’t missed a game in three seasons and is a fixture in an offense with fewer mouths to feed. Last season, he enticed nearly 22 percent of the targets share. His 9.6 yards per target and 634 accumulated yards after the catch, the most at the position, also impressed. Though I believe Kelce’s numbers will decline somewhat, it’s complete #covfefe he’s going some 17 picks on average after Gronk. Heck, “Top Gun 2” is a better idea. Stop the nonsense.