2020 NFL Team Previews: Kansas City Chiefs

2020 NFL Team Previews: Kansas City Chiefs

This article is part of our Team Previews series.

Kansas City Chiefs

There's little to criticize about a Chiefs team that returns the majority of its roster from a Super Bowl-winning squad. With coach Andy Reid calling the plays and Patrick Mahomes barking out signals at the line, Kansas City should be poised for a run at back-to-back titles.

Offseason Moves

Key Acquisitions

Solidifies the backfield's future and gives Patrick Mahomes another target.

Supplies a veteran backup option following Blake Bell's departure.

  • LB Willie Gay (Rd. 2, No. 63 – Mississippi State)

Raw but athletic linebacker who could challenge for snaps as a rookie.

Key Losses

Aiming to play two more seasons despite a limited role in 2019.

The Chiefs couldn't match the sizable deal Washington offered up.

Served as an early-down thumper but lost snaps to Ben Niemann in 2019.

Moves on after a relatively anonymous single season in Kansas City.

The Chiefs parted ways with the punter after 15 years with the team.

A Look Under the Hood

Head Coach: Andy Reid (Year 8)

Offensive Coordinator: Eric Bieniemy (Year 3) - West Coast Offense

Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo (Year 2) - 4-3 scheme

2020 Vegas Projected Wins: 11.5 (T-1st)

2019 Record: 12-4

2019 Points Scored: 451 (5th)

2019 Points Allowed: 308 (7th)

2019 Point Differential: +143 (4th)

2019 Run-Play Rate: 38.6 percent (23rd)

2019 Situation-Neutral Pace: 29.10 seconds per play (6th)

2019 Offensive Snaps: 976 (25th)

2019 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 16

Full 2019 Team Stats

Projected 2020 Depth Chart

QB: Patrick Mahomes / Chad Henne

RB: Damien Williams / Clyde Edwards-Helaire / Darwin Thompson / Darrel Williams / DeAndre Washington

FB: Anthony Sherman

WR1: Tyreek Hill / Byron Pringle

WR2: Sammy Watkins / Gehrig Dieter

WR3: Mecole Hardman / Demarcus Robinson

TE: Travis Kelce / Ricky Seals-Jones / Deon Yelder

O-Line: LT Eric Fisher / LG Andrew Wylie / C Austin Reiter / RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif / RT Mitchell Schwartz        (RotoWire Rank: No. 9)

Kicker: Harrison Butker

Full 2020 Depth Chart

Top Storylines

Mahomes Puts A Ring On It

While a knee injury cost Patrick Mahomes some stats in 2019, he still remained an elite option under center when healthy. The 24-year-old threw to his receivers into open space often, owning the third-lowest percentage (12.2) of throwing into windows with less than one yard of separation, reducing his pick count from 12 to just five.

The gunslinger didn't sacrifice explosiveness in the offense while reducing his turnovers, checking in second in yards per attempt (8.3) among quarterbacks with at least 300 behind Jimmy Garoppolo. Tyreek Hill (3.2 yards), Kelce (3.1), Demarcus Robinson (3.1) and Sammy Watkins (2.9) all contributed with solid separation averages to provide those windows.

Mecole Hardman just missed the qualifying threshold, but his 1.84 yards per route run – 29th among receivers and fifth among rookies with at least 36 targets – would suggest that with more opportunity he could produce impressive results.

Speed is the name of the game for the Chiefs' wideout group. The unit accounted for three of the top 20 fastest recorded speeds for a player with the ball in his hands in 2019. Surprisingly, none of them came from notorious speedster Hill. Hardman checked in with two of the top 10 (21.87 mph and 21.74 mph), while Watkins (21.33 mph) posted the 19th fastest. When matched with his massive arm, a return to his lofty 2018 numbers is attainable for Mahomes.

New Sheriff in the Backfield?

Despite Damien Williams' respectable 2019 season, it seemed evident the Chiefs didn't want to tie their long-term plans in the backfield to him. The front office furthered that premise in the draft, spending its first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire at No. 32 overall.

With his option picked up for 2020, Williams should, at a minimum, possess a complementary role after running for 498 yards and five scores over 11 games last season, though his fantasy ceiling has been lowered significantly by the pick. His 3.69 yards after contact per attempt ranked sixth among backs with at least 80 rushes, trailing Tony Pollard (4.51), Derrick Henry (4.18), Nick Chubb (3.77), Duke Johnson (3.64) and Chris Carson (3.63).

Edwards-Helaire's 5-7 frame and lower center of gravity allows him to cut sharply, and his elite route-running and pass-catching abilities were on full display at LSU last season en route to recording 55 receptions for 453 yards. He also showed elusiveness and power as a runner, recording the 13th-most missed tackles forced (71) and 23rd-most yards after contact (782) nationally, which should position him for plenty of work.

Gone from the running back room are LeSean McCoy and Spencer Ware, but DeAndre Washington and Elijah McGuire were added to the backfield mix, while Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams remain on hand.

Damien Williams may fend off rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire for a time, but for how long?

Breaking Down the Defense

While the Chiefs offense is often lauded as the team's strong suit, Kansas City's defense stepped up in 2020, finishing seventh in points per game allowed (19.2) during the regular season.

The defending champs return the vast majority of the defensive 11 that produced that outcome, but they did lose the services of Kendall Fuller to the Colts, Reggie Ragland to the Lions and Terrell Suggs to free agency.

The team's need at linebacker was addressed in the second round of the draft with the selection of Willie Gay, who could step into a starting role immediately.

The secondary also faces some questions with Fuller gone and Bashaud Breeland potentially facing a suspension to open the season due to a substance abuse violation, but the safety position could supply some help with the reliable Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill and Daniel Sorensen.

Anthony Hitchens figures to lock down the middle of the field for the Chiefs, though the team reduced his snap count last season to preserve his health, resulting in a dip from 135 tackles to 88.

Up front, Chris Jones and Frank Clark present a pair of IDP-worthy defensive lineman after tallying nine and eight sacks, respectively. But the unit will need Alex Okafor to stay healthy and Derrick Nnadi and Tanoh Kpassagnon to take steps forward if the line is to become truly elite.


⬆️ Rising: QB Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes can't ascend much beyond his placement as the top quarterback on most fantasy boards, but the front office's ability to retain all of his weapons and even add to the stockpile should pay dividends.

⬇️ Falling: RB Damien Williams

The Chiefs' selection of Clyde Edwards-Helaire positions Williams for just one more season in town. When you add the details of the selection – the team's usage of a first-round pick – Williams appears bound for a timeshare at best.

😴 Sleeper: WR Mecole Hardman

The continued presence of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins dulls some of Hardman's shine entering 2020, but the electric second-year wideout still carries meteoric upside as part of a lethal Chiefs offense and comes at cheaper draft cost.

🌟 Pivotal Player: Travis Kelce

The Chiefs sport top-tier fantasy options, but Travis Kelce has sustained that moniker over the past four seasons by churning out consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns while netting 83 or more catches per year in that span. It's tough to envision him deviating from that domination in 2020, with reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes slinging passes his way.

Travis Kelce searching for another defender to side step.

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Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
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