Patrick Mahomes Will Be a Sophomore Stud (Fantasy Football)
There is a lot of excitement in 2018 for Kansas City Chief fans. For the past five years, they have been underwhelmed by Alex Smith at quarterback until last year, when he finally showed some signs of being a first-round draft pick.
All in all, he has been steady and safe, but has lacked the traits found in a dominant game changer. Before last season started, Andy Reid made a statement by trading up 17 spots to acquire Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the 10th overall pick in the draft. This lit a fire under Smith, who had the best season of his 11-year career. He eclipsed 4,000 yards for the first time and threw 26 touchdowns, which was also a career high.
But the writing was on the wall no matter how well Smith performed. Last year was to be the year he was going to groom Mahomes, a college gunslinger, and show him the nuances of the NFL through the lens of a game manager. Now that Smith has moved on to the Washington Redskins, it is time for Mahomes to take the reigns and run with it. And that he will.
A Texas Technician
Why many are so high on Mahomes is his incredible college production. Although he showed precocious signs as a freshman, it wasn’t until his sophomore year where he was handed the Red Raider offense to show off his passing prowess. He started all 13 games, passed for 4,653 yards and threw 36 touchdowns.
In 2016, his junior year, he was even more impressive. He threw for 5,052 yards, the most in college by over 400 yards. He also threw for 41 touchdowns. He was able to do this on a team that won only five games, mainly due to its porous 102nd ranked defense that allowed 34.1 points per game.
After his über productive junior year, Mahomes decided to turn pro. When it was all said and done, Mahomes had a 82.5 college QBR (82nd-percentile) and a 8.5 college YPA (66th-percentile), according to Player Profiler.
Another intriguing element to Mahomes is his workout metrics. He runs faster than average (64th-percentile), but his 10.96 Agility Score (95th-percentile) means that if he has to get away from oncoming defenders, then he has the quickness and elusiveness to do so.
Although not known for his rushing, Mahomes did rush for over 700 yards in his final two years in college, scoring 22 touchdowns. Therefore, Mahomes brings a sneaky running component to his game. There is a reason why his best comparable player on Player Profiler is Dak Prescott.
However, what really put him on the map during the 2017 NFL Combine was his throw velocity. His 60 MPH throw velocity puts him in the 97th-percentile, tying him with Baker Mayfield, with only Josh Allen (62 MPH) having the bigger arm currently playing.
Too Many Chiefs?
The problem for many in 2018 is figuring out which Kansas City players to draft in fantasy. Travis Kelce has been a top two tight end for two consecutive years. Rookie Kareem Hunt had the most rushing yards in the NFL but also added another 53 receptions. Tyreek Hill proved he was no fluke by posting up monster numbers in his second year, boasting great efficiency, making him the seventh-ranked wide receiver.
The Chiefs then went and splashed a ton of cash on free agent Sammy Watkins this off-season. One could make a case that the Chiefs have one of the top offenses in the league on paper. Although there are many mouths to feed, thus making each individual receiver difficult to predict, there is one obvious winner, Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes is used to spreading the ball around. In his final year of college, Mahomes had four receivers with 55 receptions or more, for 644 yards or more. It might be hard to defend Tyreek Hill‘s WR1 ADP ranking this year, now with Watkins in the mix, but having another potentially lethal weapon on the team is just Mahomes needs. His arsenal is stockpiled which makes his ADP on Fantasy Pros very intriguing. He is currently ranked 17th, in a tier that includes Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, as well as his predecessor and mentor, Alex Smith.
Questions on Defense
Although Kansas City’s offense looks elite, its defense looks to be trending in the other direction. For the first four years with Alex Smith at the helm, the Chiefs had a stout defense that allowed its ho-hum offense to eek out games.
Last year was a different story. Kansas City gave up 6,007 total yards, which was 5th worst in the league. During this off-season, they lost many key players including trading Marcus Peters to the LA Rams and watching Derrick Johnson sign with the Oakland Raiders in free agency. Therefore, the Chiefs, though investing heavily in defense on draft day, have a lot of question marks and seem to lack overall leadership.
Since Kansas City might have a below average defense in 2018, this bodes well for Mahomes since he might have to throw his way out of deficits in games. He is used to this situation stemming back to his college days. It will also give Andy Reid a good idea if Mahomes is indeed a Brett Favre-type of quarterback he has often been compared to, or if he is just an Alex Smith, who couldn’t beat the Titans last year in the playoffs after having an 18 point lead at the half.
The Slings & Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune
Although Mahomes is technically entering his second year, he is essentially a rookie quarterback, having only played in one game in 2017. Therefore, we need to temper expectations somewhat. Andrew Luck holds the rookie record for most yards thrown in a season with 4,374, and Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning are tied with 26 touchdown passes in a rookie season.
Remember, last season Alex Smith threw for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns, and ended up as the fourth best quarterback in fantasy. Therefore, to expect Mahomes to surpass Smith is basically asking him to have a season that challenges rookie records and exceeds his current ADP by 13 spots.
Nothing is impossible, especially based on his talent, the talent around him, and the fact that he might have to play in a lot of shootouts. However, it certainly isn’t something to bet on. However, don’t be surprised if he ends up as a top 12 quarterback.
The Arrowhead is Pointing Up
This year is a great year to wait on a quarterback. Apart from Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and perhaps Tom Brady, the quarterback field is wide open. It is possible that anyone ranked 4th to 24th could wind up a top ten quarterback in fantasy. Could Patrick Mahomes be a bust this year? It is possible. Could he be elite? That isn’t beyond his range of outcomes either.
Mahomes is by no certainty a guarantee based on his lack of experience in the NFL. However, because of his athletic profile and college production, he seems to be the perfect quarterback to take a chance on in the later rounds.
To play it safe, pair him with an established starter who is going in the mid-to-late rounds in drafts like Philip Rivers or Matt Ryan. As the second quarterback on your team, he might be the one that you bench in the beginning of the season but end up starting once you discover that he is, in fact, your quarterback stud.