2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Kansas City Chiefs
Published: Mar 10, 2023
Updated: Mar 10, 2023
The Kansas City Chiefs are champions of the world. And typically when teams with the Super Bowl the only goal is keeping the band back together. But, the scary thing about Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce with coach Andy Reid is that the Chiefs as a whole really aren’t even as good as they could be. They almost won in spite of some glaring holes in the team. So there is a chance the Chiefs actually retool a bit and come back BETTER this season, as crazy as that sounds. We’ll take a peak at what that might look like.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback
The Chiefs have one quarterback under contract for 2023.
Patrick Mahomes - age 27
Contract: Mahomes signed a mega contract that keeps him with the team through 2031. The guaranteed money runs out in 2025 at which point he could be released with no dead cap but there isn’t much threat of that happening.
Outlook: Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league. In seasonal fantasy football leagues, arguments can be made for guys that offer more rushing upside but, in dynasty, it’s hard to argue anyone is more valuable than Mahomes with his age and production.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - This one honestly is as simple as it seems. If you could go back and buy Peyton Manning or Tom Brady at any point in dynasty, you should. If you can grab Mahomes at a reasonable price then you can just set him and forget him in your lineup for the next decade or so. He passed the “no Tyreek Hill” test and I’m sure he will figure things out after Travis Kelce too, as the greats do.
FREE AGENTS: Shane Buechele (ERFA), Chad Henne (retired)
RESERVES/FUTURES: Chris Oladokun
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
They obviously have their starter locked in for a long time so it boils down to what they do at backup. And, if you look around this league, backup QB has been incredibly important for a lot of competing teams. You at least need someone who can keep things afloat in a nightmare situation. In fact, Chad Henne himself had to step in and play some ball in the playoffs when Mahomes hurt his ankle. They don’t need to break the bank but the Chiefs should prioritize someone who is competent enough to keep the team alive for a few games rather than just filling the depth chart with an unproven player. The Titans tried that with Malik Willis and they needed to bring someone in off the street. Rams had similar problems with an even more devastating outcome.
Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs
The Chiefs have three running backs under contract and two signed to future/reserve contracts.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire - age 24
Contract: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on his rookie deal for 2023 but the Chiefs will reportedly not pick up his fifth year option for 2024.
Outlook: This was a predictable move but it also doesn’t mean CEH is gone in 2024. Two RBs in recent history, Rashaad Penny for the Seahawks and now Josh Jacobs for the Raiders, had their fifth year option declined then earned new contracts with the same team. Penny was paid less than the option was going to be and Jacobs was tagged for $10 million which is $2 million more than what the option would have been. Given the RB contract climate, the Chiefs have the luxury of seeing another year of CEH before paying him like a top back even for one more year. It’s better to slightly overpay him next year to bring him back then if overperforms than run the risk of locking him into an overpay now.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - It’s not often smart to sell on negative news unless the news is catastrophic. This news isn’t the end of the world for CEH. It’s just negative enough to hurt his value in dynasty though. Perhaps CEH continues to decline this year and doesn’t get a fresh start with another team next year but it’s worth it to see if he can have a resurgence either this year with the Chiefs or with another team in 2024, even if he’s been disappointing so far. And that’s mostly because you can’t really trade him right now but you can’t drop him either.
Isaiah Pacheco - age 23
Contract: Pacheco is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: A big reason that CEH could be expendable is the emergence of Pacheco who ran with a sense of urgency and led the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2022.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - The odds were stacked pretty hard against Pacheco and we admittedly don’t love Day 3 picks - especially seventh round picks. But there’s just too much to like about this guy and his price hasn’t quite gotten out of hand. He’s got the size and speed at 216 pounds with a 4.37 40 yards dash (99th percentile per PlayerProfiler). His production as a rookie far surpassed expectations. You won’t get a landing spot better than the Kansas City Chiefs. And his lack of usage in the pass game was a knock on him until we saw what he could do in the Bengals playoff game (5 catches on 6 targets for 56). Looking back, catching 19 of 21 balls is pretty reliable and Jerick McKinnon is an unrestricted free agent going into his 31 year old season. According to some trade charts, like Alex Korff’s, you can get Pacheco for a mid to late second vs. a like Dameon Pierce who costs a first on a rebuilding Texans team.
FREE AGENTS: Jerick McKinnon, Ronald Jones
RESERVE/FUTURES: La’Mical Perine
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
There is a world where the Chiefs bring Jerick McKinnon back or bring in another pass catching back which would hurt both CEH and Pacheco. In that case they would find themselves splitting half a job. The nightmare would be the Chiefs bring in a David Montgomery to be the outright starter, bring back someone like Kareem Hunt who catches passes well, or draft a guy like Jamhyr Gibbs. But they could also simply fill out the depth chart with backups since they have two backs under contract and, in that case, Pacheco’s value would get a nice boost. Will be an interesting off-season.
Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receivers
The Chiefs have four wide receivers under contract for 2023 with five signed to reserve/future deals.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling - age 30
Contract: MVS is under contract through 2024 though they could designate him a post-June 1 cut and save $9 mil in 2023 ($4 mil dead cap would be split among 2023 and 2024).
Outlook: It’s hard to be overly disappointed with him in the real world as he did his job as a field stretcher and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. But statistically he was underwhelming and the Chiefs could be tight for the cap so he’s not even a lock to make the team.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - If MVS isn’t going to be particularly fantasy relevant with Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes, I’m really not sure what world this guy would be good in. Sell him for whatever you can.
Skyy Moore - age 22
Contract: Skyy Moore is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: My comp for Skyy Moore as a prospect was Golden Tate though I was hoping he wouldn’t have a slow start to his career the way Golden Tate did. Alas, here we are.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - It would be a lot easier to make the argument that the plan was always to ease Skyy Moore in behind Juju Smith-Schuster so he could take over the job in 2024 if they didn’t add Kadarius Toney. That complicates things as there really only is room for one WR on the Chiefs to be fantasy relevant alongside Travis Kelce for the short term. And, if the Chiefs bring in a split end, only one of Moore or Toney would be in line to even play a full-time snap share. I’m holding Moore where I have him but not going out of my way to acquire him.
Kadarius Toney - age 24
Contract: Kadarius Toney is under contract through 2024 but they can pick up his fifth year option for 2025 as he was a first round pick.
Outlook: Kadarius Toney did not jive with the Giants coaching staff so the Chiefs swooped in and traded a third round comp pick and a sixth round pick for him.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - If we had to pick either Moore or Toney, it would be Toney. Sure the character concerns are red flags and he is a little older. But he’s splashed explosiveness that could be dangerous in this offense. There’s also something to be said for his elite 2.15 yards per route run with the Chiefs (vs. 1.28 for Moore and 1.68 for Juju). He basically joined the team mid season and was immediately more efficient and explosive than Skyy Moore. We’re still not going way out of our way to acquire him but the upside is there.
Justyn Ross - age 23
Contract: Justyn Ross was signed as an undrafted free agent so he’s under contract through 2024 and can be kept as an RFA in 2025.
Outlook: Ross went undrafted because he has a serious congenital spine issue. He did not appear in 2022.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Reportedly only four teams even cleared Ross to be added to a roster and that doesn’t mean the Chiefs will ever put him in a game. Guys like David Wilson and Michael Irvin discovered similar (yet less serious) spinal conditions during their playing time and retired almost immediately. The odds of Ross actually suiting up and becoming an every down player are pretty low and the odds of him having a long career are even lower so I’d trade him for anything if someone wants him. In really deep leagues though, especially ones with taxi squads, he is a fun story to root for and he was a tremendous player at Clemson.
RESERVE/FUTURE: John Ross, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Cornell Powell, Jerion Ealy, Ty Fryfogle
FREE AGENTS: Juju Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Justin Watson
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The Chiefs desperately need a split end, whether they know it or not. That’s why they had Justin Watson playing 70-80% of the snaps at times for his size and his blocking (and Noah Gray as a second tight end 60% of the time for similar reasons). A guy like Allen Lazard would fit that role and MVS has been actively recruiting him (though I’d be a little worried that Lazard could end up taking his roster spot). The ideal configuration for the Chiefs is a big split end on the outside like Lazard, DJ Chark, or a rookie prospect like Quintin Johnston opposite of Travis Kelce which would allow the smaller, faster WRs the ability to move around the formation and go in motion.
Kansas City Chiefs Tight Ends
The Chiefs have two tight ends under contract and one signed to a reserve/future contract.
Travis Kelce - age 33
Contract: Travis Kelce is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Kelce is the best in the business in virtually every way. The only concern now is how long he can keep doing it.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - How to handle Kelce is surprisingly simple. If you are competing now in your dynasty league, you want Kelce. He gives you an unrivaled advantage. If you need to blow up your team, you obviously sell him. The only tight ends to record 1,000 yard seasons age 31 or older are Kelce, Tony Gonzalez, and Pete Retzlaff in 1965 when he was 34 years old (his only 1,000 yard season). Travis Kelce is as legendary as Tony Gonzalez in my opinion but even Tony G couldn’t do it forever.
Noah Gray - age 23
Contract: Noah Gray is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Gray served as the second tight end and had surprisingly good usage for much of the season. He played 60% of the snaps in most of the games down the stretch and he quietly caught a pass in every single game starting in Week 5, through the playoffs. In fact, he played in 20 games and caught a ball in 19 of them.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - This guy was playing over a 50% snap share on a team that has Travis Kelce so there is something to be said about that. Kelce has been insanely healthy but Gray is worth holding in deep leagues just in case he ever does miss time. There are very few “tight end handcuffs” we would ever consider but Gray is one.
FREE AGENTS: Joe Fortson (ERFA), Blake Bell
RESERVE/FUTURES: Matt Bushman
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The Chiefs have two paths for this off-season. They really just need one more tight end on the roster and could easily just keep Joe Fortson on his exclusive rights free agent contract which they can keep him for the veteran minimum without him being able to negotiate elsewhere. Or they can recognize the inevitability of eventually needing an heir for Travis Kelce and start taking stabs on high upside prospects. Either way, expect Kelce to have every opportunity to dominate in 2023 once again.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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