Head Coach: Andy Reid
The 2017 season was one of incredible highs and depressing lows for the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid’s squad blew an 18-point lead in the playoffs after displaying one of the finer offensive showings in Reid’s coaching career throughout the regular season.
Despite a midseason skid that resulted in Reid handing the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who was recently hired by the Chicago Bears as head coach, the offense posted quality season-long fantasy numbers. Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce all were lineup fixtures for fantasy owners.
Smith will be traded to the Washington Redskins once the new league year begins in March, barring a strange twist, meaning KC turns to second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes to lead the offense.
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Bieniemy
A former NFL running back and second-round pick in 1991 by the San Diego Chargers, Eric Bieniemy was a versatile player. He contributed on special teams and as a scatback, standing a thick 5-foot-7, 205 pounds. He actually played for Reid in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bieniemy coached running backs from 2001-02 at his alma mater, Colorado, and held the same position at UCLA for the next three seasons. The Minnesota Vikings hired him to coach their RBs from 2006-10 under Brad Childress.
The University of Colorado came calling in 2011 for Bieniemy to serve as its offensive coordinator. The gig lasted two forgettable seasons. Colorado ranked 92nd in total offense in ’11 and fell to 119th in 2012. The Buffaloes finished 4-20 in that span. While Bieniemy’s results didn’t go as planned, the 48-year-old will be the first to admit he gained valuable experience through failure.
Bieniemy coached Kansas City’s running backs from 2013 through his promotion to OC. His style is that of an outspoken coach who demands the most of his players; Bieniemy prefers a tough brand of football. He was involved in game planning last year with Nagy, which provided a window into the workings on the pro level. When asked if he would be calling the plays, Bieniemy seemed to suggest that was unlikely right away.
“Today is day one,” Bieniemy told The Kansas City Star. “I’m excited about getting in here today with the new title and new responsibilities. I’m sure that me and coach Reid will have that discussion down the line.”
Mahomes could surprise based on raw talent and the year he studied behind Smith. Mahomes is athletic enough to run gadget and spread plays, as well as escape trouble and create some of his own for defenses with his legs. We saw a huge jump by Philly’s Carson Wentz in his second year of a derivative offense, but the obvious difference is he had a full season of on-field experience. Mahomes isn’t safer than a fringe QB2 in his own right. The bigger impact is how he affects proven commodities.
As previously mentioned, in all likelihood, Hunt will be leaned on more than his 272 carries last year. KC’s offensive line returns intact. He will have the most value in point-per-reception formats based on a featured role in the short-area passing game. Hunt is a surefire RB1 in all formats.
Any area of concern for fantasy depreciation due to Mahomes starting can be narrowed to focus on Hill. On one hand, he has speed to burn like few others, and Mahomes the cannon of an arm to get it to him from any angle. However, chemistry and timing are more important aspects of finding consistent downfield success from a QB-WR duo. Hill has the upside of a WR1 and the floor of a No. 3 receiver, depending on factors out of his full control.
None of KC’s other receivers currently on its roster represent more than fringe value. The read progression triangulates between TE-WR-RB on most plays before it returns to finding a secondary receiver.
The top beneficiary should be Kelce. The veteran tight end has the ability to streak down the seam and figures to be heavily targeted with an inexperience Mahomes. Kelce remains a fantasy lock as one of the top three players at his position.