Fantasy Football: Will Patrick Mahomes Live Up to the Hype?

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“Rocket Arm”, “Gunslinger”, “The Next Fantasy Stud”, “Can throw the ball over them mountains”… whatever the praise has been for Patrick Mahomes II, one thing is certain, there is an awful lot of hype surrounding this young QB.  Will this hype and talent translate to fantasy production for Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018?

The Talent

Obviously, Andy Reid and the Chiefs believe that Mahomes is a franchise QB. Not only did they trade up in the first round of the 2017 draft to select him 10th overall, they also sent away veteran QB Alex Smith in a trade to the Redskins earlier this offseason.  Here are the numbers Mahomes posted in college.  It is easy to see why they are excited.

Texas Tech Games Yards TDs INTs Comp %
2014 7 1,547 16 4 56.8
2015 13 4,653 36 15 63.5
2016 12 5,052 41 10 65.7
Total 32 11,252 93 29 63.5

The numbers can be a little inflated due to poor competition at the college level, but one important trend that I like to see is the improvement from year-to-year.  Not only did his completion percentage improve each season, his TD-to-INT ratio improved from year two to year three.

Unfortunately, Mahomes has only played in one NFL game.  Here’s how he did:

Kansas City Games Yards TDs INTs Comp %
2017 1 284 0 1 62.9

A solid completion percentage and a good yardage total show me that the stage wasn’t too big for Mahomes.  I expect for him to build on this performance in year two.

2018 Projection

Even though Mahomes is technically a sophomore QB, it will be his first season as a starter in the league.  Therefore, I think the ceiling for him is nearer Andrew Luck‘s rookie passing record of 4,374 yards than it is Marino’s sophomore record of 5,084.  Additionally, the only QB to ever post back to back 4,000-yard seasons to start their career was Jameis Winston (4,042 and 4,090).  With the ceiling set, I also think there is a non-zero percent chance that Mahomes is a complete bust.  The good news is that being such a high draft pick will afford him a long leash.  So with a full 16 game season, Mahomes should be able to achieve 3,400 yards and 20 TDs with ease.  This isn’t enough to make Mahomes a valuable fantasy asset in start 1 QB leagues, but is it enough for the rest of Kansas City’s weapons?

Pass Catchers

The Chiefs are replete with weapons for the young QB to take advantage of: Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt.  You may have already identified the math problem.  With 3,400 to 4,000 yards being the reasonable range of outcomes for passing yards in this offense, it is tough to find enough yards to go around for these weapons.   For reference, in 2017, the best year for an Andy Reid-led Chiefs offense, they managed just 4,104 passing yards.  This was good enough to make Kelce and Hill 1,000-yard receivers, but that’s about it.  The next highest receiver in terms of yards was Albert Wilson with 554 yards.  Either the yards must be redistributed, or Sammy Watkins is going to be a waste of a top WR contract.

Conclusion

While Mahomes can have real-world success in his first year as the starter, I think it is likely that the offense as a whole takes a step back.  Likely a streaming option at best, Mahomes’ true value will be what he can provide for the offense.  The addition of Sammy Watkins only adds another mouth to feed and spreads the fantasy production too thin to really trust any of the weapons in this passing attack.  I’ll still draft Kelce as a high-end TE1, but I will be leaving the Hill/Watkins lottery tickets to other owners in my leagues.

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