Kansas City Chiefs Early August Scouting Report
Training camp is in full gear and we have a pre-season game in the books. Already we have tangible and substantive evidence to be able to make a few positional calls for fantasy football purposes.
Let’s get right to it.
And there’s no better place to start than the quarterback position. While this is very likely Alex Smith’s last year as the Chiefs’ starting QB, or even possibly his final season in Kansas City, the Chiefs are Smith’s team in 2017. Rookie Pat Mahomes is looking good, but unless disaster strikes (Smith season-ender), he is essentially in "class" from the sidelines for the full 16-game schedule. Tyler Bray has shown improvement, to his credit. But for all of his positive efforts, playing time and "coach speak" makes it quite clear that Bray is behind the rookie. AS for play calls for the QBs in the pre-season, let’s not read into that too much. Smith opened the game going deep to WR Tyreek Hill on the very first snap. Coach Reid does that often, loosening up both his offense and the opposing defense. This will not be an offense that loads it up and chucks the rock downfield with any sense of frequency. So, count on Alex Smith to be Alex Smith, manage the game, take an occasional shot downfield but mostly protect the football and take what defenses allow.
The wide receiver unit is built to match what Coach Reid runs on offense and what Alex Smith is best at in directing his coach’s plan. For all the talk of getting the ball into the hands of playmaker Tyreek Hill MORE, it is more reasonable to expect Hill to get the ball slightly more, but in greater frames against defenses where he takes full advantage of his blistering speed. Hill is OK as a downfield router, but eventually defensive planners will figure out how to bracket cover Hill and, to be honest, Hill is only an average deep-route runner. His bread-n-butter servings will come on shorter catch-n-go routes, jet sweeps and the occasional 7-route. The KC wideout that is being completely overlooked by the fantasy community due to the blinding flashes of Ty Hill is Chris Conley. At 6’3-205, the guy is a slant route demon, the cornerstone pattern of Coach Reid’s passing game. He is also nifty outside now, working with QB Smith more smoothly, reading back-shoulder opportunities and come-backers with his QB. The depth charts scream Ty Hill AND Chris Conley as starting WRs; KC doesn’t have another wideout able to move Conley off the field on any down. He snared 2 passes in the pre-season game last week, good for a darn impressive 46 yards. C’mon fanballers, you’re missing the boat with Conley.
TE is a non-discussion; Travis Kelce is another wideout for the Chiefs.
RB is already set as far as I’m concerned. Spencer Ware is the starter now and will be unless his wheels completely fall off. Rookie Kareem Hunt is the darling of his coaches and is getting every opportunity to supplant Charcandrick West as the bullpen back behind Ware. Though Hunt did nothing in this game to surpass West, his practice work and the consistent praise leaking out of camp by the coaches regarding Hunt’s play says he is already Ware’s handcuff. West failed to make an argument for himself in the pre-season contest. Gaining 6 yards rushing on 5 totes is not exactly raising a flag that says, "look at me." Like Ware, unless Hunt starts getting his QBs killed by missing blitz pickup, running wrong lanes or being where he shouldn’t on play calls, the RB2 job is his already. West has to hold off speedy veteran CJ Spiller, and that’s not a given. Spiller can still motor, and plays special teams as a returner;West does not.
The o-line was disappointing across the board as far as run-blocking, regardless of what level of unit was out there. KC RBs gained a paltry 21 yards on 12 RB carries (disregarding Alex Smith’s 10-yard scamper). That is a crummy 1.6 YPC average. Looking at the caliber of RB in the current backfield, I have to wonder how much actual "rushing" the backs will be asked to do in 2017. All of the Chiefs’ backs can catch the ball, and given Alex Smith’s short-game approach, my take is KC RBs will run to keep defenses honest, but rushing the rock is not a priority. Pass pro will count a bunch as well for which RBs get snaps, and the rookie Hunt is solid there.
In 2017, expect RBBC, with Spencer Ware at the front of the group, but Hunt is sure to cut in on Ware’s snaps and touches as the season progresses.
More camp fun and another pre-season game is just ahead. Another August KC Report will be follow.
Stay tuned here at Fantasy Football Mastermind as the entire staff continue cranking out the annual Draft Guide, the best in the biz.
John Cooney is a Senior Staff Writer for Fantasy Football Mastermind
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