It’s Patrick Mahomes‘ time to shine in Kansas City.
Mahomes, the son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Mahomes and the 2016 Sammy Baugh Award winner as the nation’s top college football passer, has been considered the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback of the future since he was tabbed as their first-round pick (No. 10 overall) in the 2017 NFL draft. With Tuesday’s news that Alex Smith will be traded to the Washington Redskins, Mahomes’ future begins now.
Though his college statistics hardly tell what he might do as an NFL starter, Mahomes completed 65.7 percent of his passes in his junior year for Texas Tech in 2016, totaling 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He possesses a tantalizing combination of arm strength and accuracy, things that were evident in his Week 17 NFL debut, when he posted a 62.9 completion percentage and 8.1 yards per attempt working largely with the Chiefs’ second team.
With one of the better deep threats in Tyreek Hill and one of the league’s best tight ends in Travis Kelce at his disposal, Mahomes is well-equipped to make an instant fantasy splash in 2018. While his inexperience will — and should — keep him ranked outside the top 10 at his position, there are sure to be multiple weeks where he’ll clearly score within that group. That he’s also a capable runner, having scored 22 rushing touchdowns combined in his final two college seasons, only helps his cause.
For now, Mahomes moves up to my No. 19 quarterback, though that’ll remain fluid considering more big-name movement is anticipated at the position.
Smith is obviously one such name on the move, as mentioned above, taking over as the Redskins’ starting quarterback and expected to sign a four-year extension through 2022 following the trade. He’s coming off a career year in terms of yards per attempt (8.0), touchdown-to-interception ratio (5.2:1) and, yes, fantasy points (295.18). In Washington, he’ll take the reins for an offense that was comparably pass-oriented to the Chiefs’ in 2017, but that in the past three seasons has been significantly more so, passing on 43.6 percent of offensive snaps to the Chiefs’ 40.0 percent.
That doesn’t mean Smith’s numbers will necessarily improve, though. After a season like he had, some regression is inevitable, with this move only softening the effects. He barely moves at all in my rankings, dropping one spot from 20th to 21st, only because Mahomes leaped ahead of him.
With Smith in D.C., Kirk Cousins is headed elsewhere as a free agent this offseason, which will again shake up the positional rankings. Cousins has been a top-eight fantasy scorer in each of the past three seasons, and will almost certainly capture a ranking within that group wherever he lands, though some destinations would be better for his prospects than others. The Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings are three teams that’ll be in the hunt for a quarterback, and they could be solid landing spots.
Shifting to the wide receivers, Hill’s fantasy appeal becomes somewhat greater with Mahomes as his quarterback, even with the possibility that Mahomes takes some time to fully get acclimated to being an NFL starter. Mahomes’ stronger arm and less-conservative style of play should be a boon to the playmaking wide receiver, giving Hill a chance at top-10 fantasy production in 2018. Rankings-wise, however, Hill doesn’t move, sticking as my No. 14 wide receiver.
Smith’s conservative style of play could adversely impact the Redskins’ receivers, however. He traditionally ranks toward the bottom of the quarterback list in average depth of target, which could be a particular problem for Josh Doctson, whose average in the category was 13.8 yards last season, 13th in the league. Expect Smith’s arrival to slow Doctson’s ascent in the wide receiver rankings, though it could result in Jamison Crowder, whose average depth of target was 6.9 yards, enjoying a boost in numbers. It cements Crowder’s status as the stronger fantasy choice of the two.
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