Patrick Mahomes: The Ultimate QB Bargain (Fantasy Football)

Patrick Maholmes’ situation and skill set have him primed to live up to the sleeper hype

Waiting to draft a QB is essentially fantasy law now. With how pass-heavy the league has become, there’s an overflowing supply of signal-callers for minimal demand, as owners only need to start one QB in most fantasy formats.

Moreover, the opportunity cost of selecting an Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) or Tom Brady (QB – NE) in Round 3 is huge. The quality of RBs and WRs thins out very fast, as owners start at least two of each in most leagues; passing up on these skill-position talent pools while they’re still deep is often tragic, and forces owners to depend on uninspiring Round 10+ lottery tickets in their starting lineups. Puke.

Meanwhile, the QB waters remain as deep as ever. Just think — two of last year’s top five went after Round 12– Carson Wentz (QB – PHI) was the QB18, while Alex Smith (QB – WAS) went even lower as the QB22. Meanwhile, only one top-five finisher was drafted in the first five rounds — Tom Brady (QB – NE)…while Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) who went undrafted in nearly all leagues, would’ve been a season-winner had he maintained health. This year, 20+ QBs have top-12 makeups.

Wait. On. A. QB. Even your average fantasy sheep can comprehend why. Yet, even if the philosophy and reasoning are clear, exactly who to draft is often not. A quick glance at 2018’s current ECR and ADPs suggest owners and experts alike have no idea who to go after. Time to capitalize, bargain-hunting wolves… a potential season-winner is falling beyond Round 10.

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Patrick Mahomes: Season-Winning Upside, Flier Price

Personally, I love starting my QB corps with an established floor, like the always under-appreciated Philip Rivers. He’s consistently ranked and drafted outside the top 100 players, and you know you’re getting at least 4,200+ yards and 25-30 TDs.

But this is just the floor play. While Rivers won’t lose you a title, he certainly isn’t going to win you one alone, either.

But 2018’s Wentz, Watson, or Alex Smith is bound to emerge. A later round QB will be a title-winner for many, and I am supremely confident this will be Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC).

Mahomes is currently falling to 120 and beyond in early mock drafts, and is rated the QB18 according to the ECR. He’s currently my 90th overall and QB8, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT), Matthew Stafford (QB – DET), and even Russell Wilson (QB – SEA). As we did last time with Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG), let’s use the RSJ Fantasy Stock Formula to reveal why this is a complete joke, and why Mahomes’ brings season-changing upside at this afterthought price.

Talent (25/30)
Strengths:

  • A cannon for his right-arm, Mahomes can sling the ball all over the field and possesses top-five raw arm strength in the league. There’s not a throw he can’t deliver.
  • This is doubly dangerous considering Mahomes is very mobile in and out of the pocket, giving him the escapability to extend plays and buy his explosive cast of weapons even more time to streak down the field.
  • Moreso, Mahomes loses minimal velocity while on the move and/or forced to throw from different angles, and uses this to crank balls through tight windows and “throw” wide receivers open.
  • He’s confident and competitive, creating a fearlessness and swagger that commands respect. 
  • Flashed all these traits in a ballsy road win versus Denver despite playing with nearly no starting weapons.

Weaknesses:

  • On the negative side, Mahomes’ big-arm and assertiveness can get him into trouble at times; he has a penchant for forcing the “big play,” often resulting in poor decisions and turnovers.
  • He entered the league “raw” in terms of pocket passing, and has to prove he’s capable of finding his rhythm within Andy Reid‘s timing-based West Coast scheme.

Ideally, a year of riding the pine and learning under both Reid — arguably the greatest QB mentor in the game right now –and Alex Smith (QB – WAS) — the consummate professional in his approach and ball security on the field — will quell these more mental-based concerns. The physical tools are all here for a special kind of dominance.

Usage (23/25)
Reid has ranked in the top-half of the league in pass-attempts in well over half of his seasons calling plays. Moreover, he’ll maximize Mahomes’ mobility as he did with Donovan McNabb and even Alex Smith on rollouts, RPOs, and designed QB runs. Even when his team is up, Reid is notorious for keeping his foot on the passing-game gas pedal — even to a fault. Mahomes should log 35+ attempts most week, alongside five-to-eight weekly carries.

Surrounding Talent (15/15)
If healthy, the Chiefs will roll out arguably the most explosive attack in the entire league. They’ll have Tyreek Hill (WR – KC) and Sammy Watkins (WR – KC) on the outside, Travis Kelce (TE – KC) terrorizing the seams, and Kareem Hunt (RB – KC) rumbling out of the backfield. Even before adding Watkins, KC’s pass-catchers led the NFL with an average of nearly four yards of separation on their receptions, and Watkins, for all his durability and consistency woes, remains one of the top burners in the league.

Mahomes has the weaponry to attack every layer of the field, and his arm strength and mobility will ensure he does just that. Expect this offense to be a complete juggernaut, with Mahomes as the centerpiece engine (and dominant fantasy producer).

Coaching Scheme (10/10)
Unlike his late-game play calling, Andy Reid’s‘s offensive genius cannot be questioned. In 19 years of calling plays, Reid’s ranked in the top-half of scoring 15 times, including 11 top-10 finishes. The passing game has often been his offensive backbone, with Reid’s West Coast offense recording top-10 passing yards and TDs nine different times. He’s regarded as one of the league’s top QB developers.

His West Coast scheme features high-percentage, horizontal-base route concepts that ideally maximize YAC opportunities and minimize turnovers. Yet, Alex Smith (QB – WAS) also led the NFL in deep yardage and passer rating in 2018, suggesting Reid is embracing more vertical concepts as well – perfect for Mahomes cannon arm. Reid mixes in a variety of formations and packages to keep defenses constantly on their toes and is now equipped with his most explosive weapons cabinet ever.

Risk (6/10)
Despite the high grades in nearly every Stock Score Category, Mahomes isn’t without risk. He entered the league “raw,” and while he appropriately rode the bench almost all season, only time will tell if this was enough refinement. There’s a chance his 2017 flashes of greatness will remain just flashes, and Mahomes could struggle for consistency, leaving this offense a powder keg that’s never truly ignited. 

However, I expect the exact opposite. He’s so naturally gifted, surrounded by incredible talent, and under the highest quality tutelage, I expect Mahomes only to continue ascending. This incredible situation, combined with his leg points, will facilitate enough weekly yards and scores to buoy out any multi-pick duds. He’ll be a top-12 QB performer far more often than not.

Upside (10/10)
Mahomes’ situation is eerily similar to fellow sophomore signal-caller Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU), who was a fantasy cheat code in his 2017 appearances. Both possess incredible physical gifts (Mahomes has even more arm talent), both have the mobility to buy time for their explosive surrounding casts, and both will be in pass-happy attacks that should put up oodles of points. Mahomes should have multiple contests above 25-30 FPs, and should rarely dip below 19-20 considering the talent around him, and the added “leg points” he’ll gain as a runner.

Total Stock Score: 89/100, B+

Bottom Line
With a cannon arm, a stellar, deep cast to sling to, and a historically dominant play-caller and QB guru all on his side, Mahomes has the ingredients to be a genuine season-winner in 2018. This is especially true considering this limitless ceiling comes at a 10th+ round price. Alex Smith (QB – WAS) was a top-five QB in this setup last season (and Mahomes has far more arm talent) and now has Sammy Watkins (WR – KC) at his disposal. 

This offense is unstoppable on paper, and Mahomes will be the engine for this juggernaut. Even if he hits a few speed bumps in his development and decision making, there’s enough talent all-around to keep the floor and ceiling both very high each week. 

  • Ceiling Projection: 4,300 pass yds, 400 RuYds, 35 Tot. TDs (five rushing), 12 INTs
  • Floor Projection: 3,900 pass yards, 250 RuYds, 22 Tot. TDs (two rushing), 16 INTs

Summary
Bargain hunting is crucial at all stages of the draft but is especially essential in executing the necessary “Wait on a QB” strategy during your later rounds. This season, no QB (or really any fantasy prospect) widely drafted beyond Round 10 matches the upside of Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC).

There’s a legitimate “cheat code” ceiling here, and the bargain-bin price tag allows you to load up on RBs, WRs, or edge-gaining TEs for nine-to-10 straight picks. Balance Mahomes out with a Philip Rivers (QB – LAC) floor and a last-round Mitch Trubisky (QB – CHI) flier, and you’ll be equipped with at least one top-five QB for three bottom-barrel picks. More likely than not, that’ll wind up Mahomes.

Saquon Barkley: Early Fantasy Football ECR is Absurdly Low 


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Nicholas Traicoff is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Nicholas, check out his archive and site Roto Street Journal or follow him @RotoStreetWolf.

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