Fantasy Football Impact: Tyreek Hill Not Suspended
For a plethora of reasons, it seems that Tyreek Hill will not in fact be suspended by the Kansas City Chiefs or the NFL itself. Adam Schefter and other league sources have reported that both the team and league decided there was not enough conclusive evidence in Hill’s case to suspend him from team activities. This puts his projection in our system back to 16 games from the 10 games we were projecting him before.
NFL will not discipline Chiefs’ WR Tyreek Hill, who was accused of assaulting his son. League could not find evidence he did; it will leave open case if further evidence emerges, but Hill is free to report to camp, practice and play this season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 19, 2019
Fantasy Football Impact For Tyreek Hill
Our immediate projections for Tyreek Hill put him at WR8 over the course of 16 games with 112 targets, 1,134 yards, and 10.15 receiving touchdowns. For me, at a 16 game pace, Hill enters the conversation for the second round of both DRAFT Best Ball and weekly management leagues. His target numbers are quite a bit lower than the other WR1’s (he and Robert Woods have almost identical target projections) but Hill has the distinct advantage of playing in the best offense in football. Hill had 137 targets last season, scored 13 times and was actually only second on the team in targets. It is possible that our target projection is low on Hill but it’s worth noting Sammy Watkins missed extended time last season and it is hard to project that from a season-long perspective. I would consider taking Evans over Mike Evans or Michael Thomas but he is firmly in the back half of the top tier WR’s. Patrick Mahomes was already the top fantasy football quarterback even projecting regression from last season and limited Hill targets. The return of Hill to the lineup increases his ceiling rather extensively and makes him even more desirable in all formats.
As for the other Kansas City Chiefs offensive weapons, Hill’s return to the lineup greatly improves the teams’ overall efficiency but he, of course, does take some volume away from the other top-tier options. Our projection system has downgraded Travis Kelce to 128 targets, down from the mid-140’s. Kelce is still the clear top tight end in fantasy football and I still consider him a first-round pick. An important thing to note about our projection is that they are assuming some slight regression for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Travis Kelce saw 150 targets last year and while it would not be surprising to see him repeat those totals, his median projection is much closer to our 128-target figure. Kelce’s 75th and 90th percentile outcomes dwarves all other tight ends and that is why he is a league-winning first-round pick. I might move Kelce back a spot or two in my overall rankings but will still feel comfortable taking him in the first round.
Where things swing most dramatically are for Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and the other tertiary pass-catchers on the Chiefs roster. There is some well-informed and researched speculation that the Chiefs will be even more pass-heavy in the 2019. With the release of Kareem Hunt and the refusal of the staff to (correctly) not draft or sign a big-name running back in free agency, there is certainly some evidence that the Chiefs plan on being extremely pass-heavy in 2019. Watkins was a player I was very comfortable drafting in the fifth-round of PPR leagues and I’ll admit a lot of those picks feel overly optimistic now. We now have Watkins for right at 100.94 targets, 900.16 receiving yards and 8.42 receiving touchdowns. Watkins did have eight targets in each of the Chiefs postseason games and five of his eight non-injury games featured seven or more targets. It seems strange to realize that Sammy Watkins is one of the ten highest-paid wide receivers in football but it is pretty clear to me that Hill or not, the Chiefs want to use Sammy Watkins as a regular part of their offense. In fact, my guess is that if Watkins had played a healthy season in 2018, his ADP during the grey area of the Tyreek Hill case would have been at least a round higher.
Unfortunately, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Bryon Pringle are now nothing but injury replacements. They will have some spiked weeks for those who took them in best ball drafts but week to week, they are going to be legitimately impossible to project. The Chiefs had 12 players with a receiving touchdown last year and are likely to come close to that total again in 2019. Unless things significantly change with the way Andy Reid wants the ball distributed, this is going to be a very non-concentrated offense after Hill/Kelce/Watkins/Damien Williams.
Finally, (more) words on Damien Williams. Williams is still clearly the lead running back on this offense. His role projects very similar to what Kareem Hunt did in this offense before being cut last season. We have him projected for the 10th most fantasy points at the running back position with 186 carries and 72 targets. Even if you are a Darwin Thompson or Carlos Hyde truther, it is hard to argue that those aren’t reasonable floor projections. The coaching staff has repeatedly reiterated that Williams is the starting running back and if this offense goes even more pass-heavy, Williams’ role as primary running back is actually more valuable because targets matter than carries do.
Quick Fantasy Football Takeaways
Tyreek Hill has returned as a fantasy football WR1, Sammy Watkins will be a volatile WR2 who will have some crazy spiked weeks due to his association with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Damien Williams remains an RB1 in fantasy football while Travis Kelce remains THE TE1 in fantasy football. The secondary Chiefs wide receivers (Hardman/Robinson) are deep best ball stabs and waiver wire watch list candidates but not draftable in 12-team PPR weekly management leagues.