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2023 Kansas City Chiefs Fantasy Football Preview

For years now, the Kansas City Chiefs have been a top threat to win the Super Bowl. Led by Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have finished inside the top six, often leading the league, in points per game in every season since he took over at quarterback. Through Mahomes, anything seems possible. Racking up fantasy points definitely is. The 2023 season is no different and everyone should consider tapping the fantasy well in Kansas City.

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Kansas City Chiefs Fantasy Football Preview

Key Subtractions and Additions

Subtractions: Juju Smith-Schuster (WR), Orlando Brown Jr. (OT), Frank Clark (DE), Andrew Wylie (OT), Mecole Hardman (WR), Chad Henne (QB), Eric Bienemy (offensive coordinator)

Additions: Jawaan Taylor (OT), Charles Omenihu (DE), Blaine Gabbert (QB), Felix Anudike-Uzomah (rookie DE), Rashee Rice (rookie WR)

Positional Previews


I shouldn’t have to convince anyone reading this that Patrick Mahomes is worth drafting in fantasy football. After losing Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins last off-season, Mahomes still averaged 25.9 fantasy points per game, second among all quarterbacks. He’s averaged no less than 20.9 points per game in every season as a starter with three seasons in the last five with an average of over 25.0 points.

Ahead of the 2023 season, Mahomes is losing another key weapon in Juju Smith-Schuster. As of now, the only notable replacement is rookie Rashee Rice. There’s reason to believe the Kansas City Chiefs could sign free agent DeAndre Hopkins, too. Either way, Mahomes finds a way to spread the ball around with 11 different pass catchers hauling in touchdowns in each of Kansas City’s last two seasons.

So, the question really is when to draft Patrick Mahomes. I believe he’s worth a second-round pick in 1QB leagues. He’s a no-brainer first-round pick in 2QB, Superflex, or any other format that awards bonus points to quarterbacks. On average, he’s historically a good bet to score more than every wide receiver, running back, and tight end in fantasy each season.

Running Back

In the final six games of the 2022 fantasy football season, Isaiah Pacheco tied for 21st in average points per game. That’s his best stretch of the season. Pacheco then earned 85 all-purpose yards or scored a touchdown in each of the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff games. Overall, as an undrafted free-agent rookie, he rushed for 1,027 yards on 207 carries over the entire season including playoffs. That’s a strong 4.96 yards per carry average.

Pacheco now enters 2023 after off-season surgeries to repair a broken hand and torn labrum. The Chiefs did not draft a running back or add a significant piece to their backfield despite Pacheco’s injuries. They did re-sign 31-year-old Jerick McKinnon, though. Following Kansas City’s Week 8 bye last season, McKinnon was the RB7 in points per game for the remainder of the fantasy season. More importantly, during the fantasy football playoffs from Weeks 15-17, he averaged 23.2 points per game as the RB3. That’s a league winner.

McKinnon figures to see the most targets out of Kansas City’s backfield once again in 2023. The Chiefs declined Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option ahead of this season. Given Pacheco’s status, I hate to say it, but Edwards-Helaire could have a notable role in this backfield assuming he’s on the team by Week 1. Pacheco’s status will have to be monitored all throughout training camp.

Overall, the Kansas City Chiefs will likely remain inside the top-five in pass attempts per game. That’s something they’ve done in each of the last three seasons. I don’t foresee Pacheco commanding 275 or more touches on his way to a top fantasy season. As a piece in the Kansas City backfield, he should be drafted strictly for scoring upside. McKinnon is the back to own as of now given his role in the passing game. I’m just not sure the Chiefs are done adding to this backfield just yet.

Wide Receiver

For the second season in a row, the majority of the Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver targets are vacant. With Juju Smith-Schuster heading to the New England Patriots, he leaves behind 101 of 300 targets amongst Chiefs wide receivers. Juju’s targets, plus Mecole Hardman’s, now of the New York Jets, accounted for 45% of last season’s wide receivers targets.

The only two notable wide receivers brought in this off-season are Richie James and second-round rookie Rashee Rice. Players already on the depth chart include Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore.

As a rookie, Skyy Moore played just 28% of the team snaps from Week 1 through the Super Bowl. His first and only touchdown catch was in the Super Bowl, as well, on just 14 snaps. He will need to play closer to 60% to become fantasy football relevant which is asking a lot.

Kadarius Toney is most managers’ pick to be the leading wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023. While Toney’s shiftiness and explosive play-making ability fits well into this offense, he’s only been available for 19 of a possible 34 regular season games two seasons into his career. He’s too unreliable from a health standpoint to use a high draft pick on.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a deep ball receiver. That makes him a boom-or-bust fantasy option again in 2023. With 81 targets last season, he caught just 42 of them with an average of 16.4 yards per catch. MVS has a career average of 17.2 yards per catch furthering the proof he’s a big play waiting to happen, which is more fantasy-friendly for Best Ball formats.

Kansas City Chiefs general manager, Brett Veach is on record with his belief that Rice can fulfill the role left behind by Juju Smith-Schuster. Rice’s last collegiate season at SMU yielded 96 receptions for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. His Average Draft Position is low enough as of now to throw a dart at in hopes Veach’s comments come to fruition.

Tight End

Similarly to Patrick Mahomes, I shouldn’t have to convince anyone to draft Travis Kelce in fantasy football. In four of five seasons with Patrick Mahomes as the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback, Kelce has finished as the best tight end in fantasy football. He’s also led the Chiefs in targets in the same four of five seasons. The one season he didn’t, he finished second on a points-per-game average just 1.2 points behind Mark Andrews and second in Kansas City targets to Tyreek Hill.

In the four seasons Kelce has been king, he’s averaged 52.1 more total points than the second-highest-scoring tight end. There are a few skeptics who believe Kelce may fall off any day now. He will be 34 years old in October which is a factor in that belief. But in his 33-year old season in 2022, Kelce scored 93.7 more points than the second-highest-scoring tight end. The gap between Kelce and TE2 is the same gap between TE2 and TE17 in total points.

Travis Kelce is worth a first round pick. It’s somewhat of an unpopular opinion, but the manager who drafts him is locking up Mahomes’ top target. There’s even a case to be made in drafting the Mahomes/Kelce stack in the first two rounds of 2023 drafts. Whoever gets Kelce is securing a massive advantage over their opponents week-to-week.

Defense/Special Teams

In 2023, the Kansas City Chiefs defense is a streamer like most others in the league. Eight of their 12 largest contracts in average money are spent on the offensive side of the ball. As a result, their defense continues to see overturn, get younger, and lose highly talented studs, like Frank Clark. With a lack of dominant playmakers, I’m only playing the Kansas City Chiefs D/ST in fantasy if they have a juicy matchup against a weak offense this season.

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