Game-By-Game Projections: Travis Kelce (2020 Fantasy Football)
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There are few players in the NFL more consistent than Travis Kelce. The Kansas City Chiefs have been spoiled when it comes to tight ends, as the franchise has only played five seasons since 1999 without either Kelce or Tony Gonzalez.
But just how consistent has Kelce been? Since 2014, he has missed one game. He’s logged triple-digit targets in five of those six seasons, and he’s earned 1,000-plus yards in four of those. His numbers didn’t fall off that much even when Patrick Mahomes went down last season!
As a result, it should be no surprise that Kelce tops the tight end expert consensus rankings (ECR). Kelce sits at 16th overall in ECR and 19th in ADP, making him a safe bet to go in the second round. However, much of Kelce’s value depends on positional scarcity — Kelce ranked as the 33rd overall player last year, putting him behind the likes of Julian Edelman and Allen Robinson.
So while Kelce is a great bet to return on his TE1 ranking, don’t sink too much draft capital into the position!
Week 1: vs. Texans
The 2020 NFL season gets underway in a Divisional Round rematch. The Chiefs take on the Texans’ 26th-ranked passing defense that ranked 21st against tight ends, and I’m confident that Kelce can light them up here. With a healthy Mahomes, he put up 10 catches, 134 yards, and three scores on 12 targets. The Chiefs might not have to come from behind this time, however, so I doubt he’ll repeat that performance.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD (21.4 fantasy points).
Week 2: at Chargers
Although the Chargers’ passing defense ranked 20th, they surrendered the seventh-fewest points to tight ends in PPR. While Kelce played a good game in Los Angeles last year, as he posted 92 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, he did not play so well against them in Week 17. That said, the Chiefs chose to emphasize the running game, and the Chargers had already been eliminated. With a multitude of weapons in the secondary — Derwin James, Desmond King, and Chris Harris — I’m not comfortable projecting Kelce for more than 12 points.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 69 yards (11.9 fantasy points).
Week 3: at Ravens
The Ravens are an ugly matchup. Not only did they rank first against tight ends last year, but they also added linebacker Patrick Queen, who excels in pass coverage. When the Chiefs played Baltimore once last season, Kelce took on a team that was still struggling after C.J. Mosley’s departure. They hadn’t found their footing yet, and Kelce managed 89 yards on seven catches. You can expect him to take a step back in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 56 yards (9.6 fantasy points).
Week 4: vs. Patriots
Like the Ravens, the Pats are another ugly matchup. The Pats’ top-ranked defense only ranked ninth against opposing tight ends, however, and they’ve lost talented defensive players like Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, and Duron Harmon. New England held Kelce to just 66 yards in 2019, but he should earn more than that in 2020.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 102 yards, 1 TD (23.2 fantasy points).
Week 5: vs. Raiders
The Raiders gave up the tenth-most points to opposing tight ends in 2019, and their defense ranked 30th against the pass. They revamped their secondary in the offseason, however, as they added both Prince Amukamara and Damon Arnette. While both guys should help limit opposing wide receivers, Kelce should still be able to run wild. He earned 197 yards and a score in Kansas City’s two games against the Raiders last year, so look for him to pop off again.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD (21.2 fantasy points).
Week 6: at Bills
Buffalo limited opposing tight ends the second-fewest points last year. The team even kept Zach Ertz to just two receptions and 20 yards! The Bills’ strong group of safeties and linebackers, which includes Tremaine Edmunds and Micah Hyde, deserves the credit. The unit remains largely intact heading into 2020, so don’t expect a ton from Kelce here.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 37 yards (6.7 fantasy points).
Week 7: at Broncos
Denver is going to be a tough matchup in 2020. They added Jurrell Casey in the offseason, and putting him alongside Von Miller and Bradley Chubb should terrify opposing offensive coordinators. While Denver surrendered the 11th-most points to opposing tight ends, I feel comfortable betting on them to contain the Chiefs’ offense when they visit Denver.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 65 yards (11.5 fantasy points).
Week 8: vs. Jets
A lot of this projection depends on Jamal Adams’ status in 2020. It looks like he won’t a Jet, but he doesn’t have the leverage to force a deal, either. Since this week is the trade deadline, I expect the Jets to have offloaded him by now. The Jets ranked third-best against opposing tight ends in 2019, but Adams’ departure would create some vulnerabilities for Kelce to exploit.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 84 yards (15.4 fantasy points).
Week 9: vs. Panthers
The Panthers didn’t do much well in 2019, but they did limit opposing tight ends to the fourth-fewest points. That could be because their opponents ran the ball instead, however, so don’t credit Carolina too much. Matt Rhule revamped this defense in the offseason, securing safety Tre Boston and adding another one in Jeremy Chinn. They won’t box Kelce out completely, but don’t sleep on the Panthers’ defense in 2020.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD (19.6 fantasy points).
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Raiders
Always bet on Andy Reid-coached teams off a bye. He now owns a 23-5 record off a bye in his career, and the Chiefs blew up the Raiders after their Week 12 bye last year. Expect big things from Kelce — unless the Chiefs get out to too big of a lead early.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 107 yards (13.1 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Buccaneers
It’s a Brady vs. Mahomes rematch! The Bucs ranked sixth-worst against opposing tight ends in 2019, and their pass-funnel defense prevented other teams from running much. Their decision to draft Antoine Winfield, Jr. could help them turn around their secondary, but it’ll take more than one second-round pick to fix what’s broken. Kelce should play a big role in what should be a high-scoring game.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 8 receptions, 110 yards (19.0 fantasy points).
Week 13: vs. Broncos
The Chiefs get the Broncos at home this week. Kelce played much better against Denver in Arrowhead last year, and while that may have been due to Patrick Mahomes’ health, the same was true in 2016 and 2018. Mahomes is too good of a quarterback to fall to the Broncos twice, and Kelce will help him get the Chiefs a victory here.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 74 yards, 1 TD (18.4 fantasy points).
Week 14: at Dolphins
Kelce gets a fantastic draw for the first week of the fantasy playoffs. The Dolphins ranked dead last against the pass last year, and while they were a mid-pack team against tight ends, that’s not enough to limit Kelce. Miami’s defense will be a lot better in 2020 with players like Byron Jones, but I don’t see a guy on their roster who I’d want to line up against Kelce.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 87 yards (14.7 fantasy points).
Week 15: at Saints
New Orleans ranked 10th-best against tight ends last year, and their passing defense ranked 13th overall. Above-average play simply isn’t enough to control star tight ends, however, as the Saints allowed George Kittle to post 67 yards and a score on six catches. Kelce won’t set the world on fire here, but he’ll give you enough points to help you get to the fantasy championship.
Predicted Stat Line: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 81 yards (14.1 fantasy points).
Week 16: vs. Falcons
This matchup is another solid draw for the fantasy playoffs. The Falcons’ secondary ranked 25th last year, but like Miami, they were an average unit against tight ends. Unless the Falcons get off to a slow start and fire Dan Quinn before this matchup, it should be a high-scoring affair between two teams in playoff contention. As a result, Kelce should help you win a championship with a big performance here.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD (20.7 fantasy points).
Week 17: vs. Chargers
Don’t let your commish set Week 17 as championship week. Kelce should end his strong 2020 season with a relative dud, as the Chiefs will rest their starters with a first-round bye locked up.
Predicted Stat Line: 2 targets, 1 reception, 14 yards (2.4 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 127 targets, 89 receptions, 1,225 yards, 6 TDs (247.5 fantasy points).
I’m projecting 2020 to be another strong year for Kelce. His overall usage may go down as the Chiefs emphasize Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but he’s a safe bet to produce elite TE1 numbers.
Kelce scored 254.3 points last season, so 247.5 isn’t much of an aberration. Kelce should continue his streak of seasons with triple-digit targets, and I do not doubt that he’ll exceed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving. You can safely draft Kelce at around his ADP in redraft.