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Fantasy Football Booms/Busts 2018: The Kansas City Chiefs

Will Patrick Mahomes and his canon catapult fantasy owners to victory? Yahoo Fanalysts Liz Loza and Brad Evans discuss. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Nagy-less Chiefs of KC.

Fact or Fiction: Patrick Mahomes strings together a breakthrough campaign in his first full season as a starter and finishes inside the QB top-12.

Brad – FACT. Before Deshaun Watson morphed into Thanos and shattered all defenders into a million pixelated pieces, Mahomes sat atop dynasty and keeper-league wish lists. The Texas Tech product was my favorite passer among last year’s draft class. He’s athletic, mobile, fires the ball accurately all over the field and features a Brett Favre-like bazooka. Unlike other Red Raider alums before him, he’s far from a system-only quarterback. The kid owns major star qualities. His Week 17 audition against the Broncos (8.1 ypa, 62.9 completion%) was merely an appetizer.

Nestled into a fantasy Fertile Crescent, Mahomes is sure to yield many fruits. With Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt as primary weapons, the QB is surrounded by speed, versatility and reliability. KC’s expected woeful execution on defense only increases the likelihood the sophomore surpasses 500 attempts. Knowing Mahomes’ skill set, I seriously doubt Andy Reid pigeon holes him into a conservative approach previously instituted with Alex Smith. Negative game scripts will force him to exercise his arm. Streak connections to blazers Hill and Watkins will be frequent. His interception tally could easily climb into the 15-18 range, but his opportunistic wheels will offset any mistakes.

Roughly 4,100 passing yards with 27 total touchdowns (three rushing TDs) and 300-plus rushing yards make up my fearless forecast. Not too shabby for a guy going around pick No. 128 overall. He’s my QB11, and that’s probably too bearish.

Liz – FICTION. Who doesn’t like an assertive QB with a big arm? Mahomes has fantastic tools, and offseason reports have been glowing. I am supremely confident that the young signal caller will flash, occasionally winning DFS enthusiasts big money. But do I see him producing on a week-in-and-week-out basis? Not yet.

The Chiefs offense is a run-focused operation. It always has been under Andy Reid. And with former pro running back (for nine seasons) and RB position coach (since 2013) Eric Bieniemy installed as the team’s new OC, that’s not likely to change… at least not right away.

This team is undergoing a transition. I understand that – on paper – the addition of Sammy Watkins, along with a depleted defense should enhance Mahomes’ appeal. But at such a deep position, it’s hard to imagine the greenhorn QB outpacing more established names like Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. He’s my QB17 heading into the fall.

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Will prized offseason acquisition Sammy Watkins BOOM or BUST at his 64.6 ADP (WR29)?

Liz – BORDERLINE-BUST. Watkins’ stock is on the rise. I like a lot of what I’m hearing about his connection with Mahomes and Reid’s desire to use him out of the slot. In fact, I bumped him up in my rankings last week. But I’m still worried about his opportunity share. Competing for looks along with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt, I don’t see the former Ram clearing 90 targets… which would likely keep him outside of the top-30 players at the position.

Brad – SEMI-BOOM. Admittedly, Watkins is a podiatrist’s dream. Over the course of his four-year career the hobbled receiver booked enough appointments for his M.D. to afford a luxury yacht. The man has missed 12 games as a pro. The downsides are apparent (Besides the injuries, his recent catch rates are abhorrent), but there’s reason to be optimistic.

Throughout OTAs and minicamp Watkins was a rat in the coaching staff’s laboratory. The experimental subject worked out of the slot, on the periphery, in motion … You name it. The intention was for him to get comfortable with the complexities of Reid’s West Coast brand. Liberated by the movement and determined to regain the limelight, Watkins is excited about the possibilities of resurrecting his career. When faced with exploitable linebacker and safety coverage he’s nearly unstoppable. It’s why the Chiefs want him to be more versatile. His quick-building rapport with Mahomes is just another piece falling into place.

Health, of course, is paramount for Watkins, but given his ridiculous speed and support around him, he very well could wreck the opposition. Can he return to 2015 territory (60-1047-9, WR16)? Knowing the mouths to feed in KC, probably not. However, 60 catches for 900-950 yards and 6-8 TDs are attainable. Achieve that and he would land at or near Robby Anderson’s WR21 overall position from 2017.

Among coveted names Tyreek Hill (28.1 ADP, WR11), Kareem Hunt (8.9, RB7) and Travis Kelce (27.7, TE2), who has the biggest BUST potential this fall at their respective price points?

Brad – TYREEK HILL. As numbers cruncher Graham Barfield intelligently espoused, fantasy owners are unwisely shelling out top dollar for Hill. To use a tequila comparison, he’s Patron, a well-marketed, decent-in-a-pinch brand that’s largely overpriced. What the speed demon accomplished last season was unmatched. He’s the only wide receiver this century to finish inside the top-10 while falling short of 22 percent in overall target share and 10 percent in red-zone target share. In layman’s terms, he achieved a lot with very little. Efficient? Sure. The man ranked inside the position’s top-10 in yards per target (11.2), fantasy points per target (2.29), target separation and contested catch rate last year. Sustainable? That’s very debatable.

With Watkins now in the mix, the competition for quarterback affections has increased dramatically. If the former Bill/Ram can stay healthy and return to his prior Pro Bowl form, Hill will regress. Something around 65-925-7 is most probable.

Liz – TYREEK HILL. Taking Hill in the second or third rounds is paying peak-value, which is not something I’d ever advocate. In order for Hill – who was the WR8 overall last year – to return on his early-round investment he’d need to duplicate his 2017 numbers.

That seems highly unlikely, not just because I expect Watkins to eat into Hill’s workload, but because Hill is a weekly boom or bust prospect. In fact, before Andy Reid handed the clipboard over to Matt Nagy, Hill produced top-twelve numbers in only two efforts (Weeks 1 and 7). For the four weeks that Nagy was in charge, Hill fell inside the top-twelve producers at the position three times. That’s some crazy high-priced volatility. Pass.

Bring the blitz on Twitter. Follow Brad (@YahooNoise) and Liz (@LizLoza_FF).