Fantasy football: Life after Tyreek Hill in Kansas City's receiving corps

Fantasy football: Life after Tyreek Hill in Kansas City's receiving corps

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football: Life after Tyreek Hill in Kansas City's receiving corps

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Ever since his ascension to the starting job, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has had the benefit of playing with two All-Pro caliber targets in tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That won’t be the case in 2022 after Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins, starting a domino effect resulting in the signing of free agents JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Green Bay Packers) as well as April’s draft selection of Skyy Moore in the second round.

While Kelce figures to be the No. 1 option in the passing game, given his ability to create mismatches and familiarity with Mahomes, there are still Hill’s 159 targets to be redistributed. Of lesser importance, tertiary receivers Byron Pringle (Chicago Bears) and Marcus Robinson (Las Vegas Raiders) are gone as well, taking a combined 67 receptions (on 101 targets) with them. With so many changes outside for the Chiefs, let’s take a quick look at what to expect from this overhauled group in 2022.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Following the 2018 season, Smith-Schuster was viewed as an emerging superstar and logical successor to Antonio Brown as WR1 in the Steel City. Three seasons later, he had to settle for a one-year deal in free agency in hopes of resuscitating his market. While his decline is a combination of factors, the biggest two are injuries — he missed 12 games last season with a shoulder injury — and how Pittsburgh’s offense adjusted to the aging Ben Roethlisberger, who became the king of quick throws.

Never a burner, the USC product has averaged a paltry 8.6 yards per reception the last two seasons. It’s fair to assume that number will go up with Mahomes delivering the ball, though on a team with legit deep threats like MVS and Mecole Hardman, Smith-Schuster projects as more a midrange or underneath target. His pathways to fantasy value are as a volume receiver and/or a touchdown-dependent weapon in the red zone.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In a lot of ways, Valdes-Scantling’s four seasons in Green Bay cast him as a poor man’s DeSean Jackson for fantasy purposes, delivering big numbers one week and then vanishing for the next couple. He has the size-speed combination teams covet, and it’ll be interesting to see if head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes can involve him more consistently — Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers leaned heavily on Davante Adams during MVS’ time there, which doubtlessly contributed to that inconsistency.

If you want to read the contractual tea leaves, it appears the Chiefs have bigger plans for MVS than Smith-Schuster given his multi-year deal, and his speed is a much more comparable to the departed Hill. The talent is there. Now he needs to deliver.

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Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore

Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It’ll be interesting to see if Hardman’s role blossoms now that Hill, the player to whom he has drawn comparisons, is in Miami. Now in his fourth season, Hardman is an undersized speedster whose involvement has ticked up each year. The question is if the signings of larger wideouts signals a philosophical change for the Chiefs away from what Hardman brings to the table.

Moore matches Hardman at 5-foot-10, but he checks in at 195 pounds, which is 15 pounds heavier. He has good speed and the physicality to gain tough yards in the open field. Don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs deploy Moore and MVS on the outside with Smith-Schuster in the slot.

Fantasy football outlook

At this point, there are more questions than answers in terms of fantasy value. For as dynamic as the Chiefs have been offensively under Mahomes, only Kelce and Hill ever delivered much statistical appeal while a cavalcade of lesser options would emerge for a game or two and then slip back into obscurity.

Smith-Schuster feels like the one to target, though, as he has a better track record along with plenty of financial incentive to put together a big year. He could be drafted as a low-end WR3 or strong WR4.

As for the others, you’re talking about maybe some late-round consideration for Valdes-Scantling, who arguably has the highest ceiling of the Chiefs’ wideouts. Hardman and Moore are watch-list candidates, pending what develops in camp, but one the winner could emerge as a viable but inconsistent big-play threat.

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