Kansas City Chiefs June Scouting Report
Things have been quiet around Arrowhead… too quiet.
Thanks to the Covid-19 mess there has been very little football activity to report out of Kansas City. There is finally some good news to deliver, however.
The NFL command has announced that training camps will begin July 28, with all players reporting. YAY!!!
On the contract front, not much has developed. DE Chris Jones and the club have gone nowhere in negotiating a long-term deal, which is what the team is seeking. Complicating the matter is the iffy salary cap situation as organizations do not know what the cap number will be for 2021. Jones and the Chiefs have until July 15 to get a deal done or Jones plays the season franchise tagged and ready to roll out after the season.
Of course, the bigger fish to wrap up is Patrick Mahomes. Now, Mahomes is inked until 2022 but Chiefs chair Clark Hunt is in talks with Mahomes’ people now. Mr. Hunt has made it know he wants Mahomes as a Chief for life. Locking up Mahomes now rather than wait for 2022 makes great financial sense.
OC and RB guru Eric Bieniemy really likes rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Coach however warns fans not to dismiss veteran Damien Williams. Edwards-Helaire does almost all of the things Williams does but faster. Edwards-Helaire is a fine receiver but so is Williams. It may come down to pass-pro chops, which Williams owns and Edwards-Helaire… well… is a rookie.
The NFL schedule is out and the Chiefs kick off the 2020 season for the league as they battle the Houston Texans at home, Thursday night, September 10.
Last time KC and the Texans squared off was in the Divisional playoffs last season. The Chiefs rolled the Texans in that one, 51-31. Back in week 6 of the regular season Houston bettered Patrick Mahomes and his squad, 31-24.
For his part, in 2 games versus Houston last season Mahomes tore up the Texans for 8 TD passes and 1 INT. KC pass-catchers were far from perfect versus Houston and Mahomes battled through receivers dropping 9 passes in 2 games against Houston.
As Coach Bieniemy said, don’t dismiss Damien Williams… especially week 1 versus Houston. Williams aced 4 TDs in 2 games against the Texans; 2 rushing and 2 receiving.
In that week 6 tilt versus Houston the Chiefs pass rush failed to get to QB Deshaun Watson; ZERO sacks. Different story in the post-season rematch as KC took down the runnerish Watson 5 times. DE Frank Clark sacked Watson 3 times himself.
What offensive performer will have a special season in 2020 for the Chiefs? How about on the other side of the ball? Who takes off as an IDP gem this season in KC?
My offensive player may be a bit of a surprise;Sammy Watkins. I know, after his all-world 2019 debut (9-198-3 TDs on 11 targets) Sudden Sammy was anything but sudden. Watkins never scored another regular season TD after that awesome opener. And talk about crashing at the finish line! IN the final 3 games combined Watkins managed to catch just 6 of 11 targets for 85 scoreless yards… in THREE GAMES COMBINED! Buuut (there’s always a ‘BUT’) Watkins found new fire and burned it up in his 3 past-season efforts. He warmed up in the Division Playoff game against the Texans, snaring both of his targets for a charged-up 76 yards. IN the AFC title match versus the tough Titans defense, Watkins hauled in 7 of 10 Patrick Mahomes launches for yards and a TD. On the main stage, the Super Bowl, he grabbed 5 of 6 passes for 98 yards. Overall, Sammy Watkins caught 14 of 18 throws for 288 yards, 20.6 YPR and a TD against top playoff level defenses, and he looked spry doing so. That renewed end-of-year verve and energy along with the very impressive results and Watkins decision to stay in KC this season leads me to believe Tyreek Hill’s route-running sidekick is about to have THAT special kind of year. Watkins enters his 7th pro campaign and is still just 27 years old. His current ADP hangs around the 13th round if he is drafted at all. Mecole Hardman carries a higher ADP at this point. Sammy Watkins closed out his 2019 season with a huge bang, on the biggest stages. I can see him grabbing 55-65 passes but hitting paydirt 9-11 times in 2020. Not bad for a 13th round throw-in pick.
On the IDP front look for 2nd season DB Juan Thornhill to become one of the hottest IDP ‘gets’ in 2020. Thornhill is kinda forgotten because he did NOT take part in the 2019 playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl crowning of the Chiefs. Thornhill left week 17 injured and never returned to action. His rookie year was pretty good overall, but the numbers won’t force fantasy folks to make the KC safety a priority pick in IDP formats. Thornhill, who has great ball skills, picked off 3 passes as a rook; not bad. A closer look at his cover works reveals Thornhill limited QBs to a passer rating of just 43.0 when targeting his way, and those opposing passers connected just 46.4% to Thornhill targets. Thornhill is not only a fine cover DB, but an active tackler, though he didn’t wow in that category as a freshman pro. Look back to his senior year at Virginia and notice the natural athlete racked up 98 total tackles. I mentioned he was a ball hawk earlier. Proof is in the taking as Thornhill stole 13 passes off enemy college QBs over his final 3 campaigns at Virginia. He is an instinctual QB reader and a rapid closer on the ball. Sticky hands are icing on the IDP cake. Juan Thornhill comes out playing fast and fluid in 2020. The picks will pile up and the tackles add to his IDP investment portfolio.
Stay tuned and check in next month as the Chiefs prep for the opening of training camp, July 28. Once that happens, who knows.
John Cooney is a senior fantasy football writer for FFMastermind.com.
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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