QB Patrick Mahomes | Kansas City Chiefs | 2nd Year
2017 Stats: 284 passing yards, 1 INT

When the Kansas City Chiefs traded up and took Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft, they committed to him as their quarterback of the future. As seemed likely then, and after Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins this offseason, the future starts this year.

Mahomes made one appearance as a rookie, as he started in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos when the Chiefs had nothing to play for and rested starters. He showed flashes of his tantalizing potential, completing 22 of 35 passes (62.9 percent) for 284 yards with an interception along with 10 rushing yards. Mahomes’ top two targets that day? Albert Wilson (11 targets-10 catches for 147 yards) and Demarcus Robinson (10 targets-four catches for 31 yards).

Over his final two seasons at Texas Tech, Mahomes threw for 9,705 yards with 77 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He also ran for a total of 741 yards and 22 touchdowns, so he has real dual threat potential.

Smith finished as the fourth-highest scoring quarterback in ESPN fantasy leagues last year (290.2 points), and one more full point would have made him No. 3. An unexpected evolution as a downfield passer helped, and Mahomes comes into the picture with arm strength as his greatest asset.

The Chiefs are flush with talent around Mahomes. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt will be joined by free agent signing Sammy Watkins as an upgrade over Wilson as the No. 2 wide receiver. Andy Reid‘s offense is quarterback-friendly, and it’s been all rave reviews regarding Mahomes’ progress through his rookie season and into an offseason as the starter.

Mahomes will be tested right out of the gate, with road games in three of the first four weeks against solid defenses in the Los Angeles Chargers (Week 1), Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 2) and Denver Broncos (Week 4). In Week 5, the Jacksonville Jaguars (last year’s No.1 pass defense) comes to Arrowhead Stadium. Overall, the schedule looks tough for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game.

The Chiefs were 29th in the league against the pass last year (247 yards per game), so it would be easy to point to more of the same this year and plenty of passing volume for Mahomes. But All-Pro safety Eric Berry went down with a torn Achilles’ in the season opener (and was able to take part in OTAs this spring), while cornerback Kendall Fuller (Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 slot corner and No. 5 overall coverage corner in 2017) came back from the Redskins in the Smith trade.

The realistic view of Mahomes for this year is actually in line with his current ADP in Fantasy Football Calculator 12-team mock drafts (QB16, pick 11.02). Along with a limited resume as a pro, there are too many tough-looking matchups on the slate to regard him as more than a QB2 with streaming appeal.

It’s not out of the question for Mahomes to finish the year as a top 10-12 fantasy scorer among quarterbacks. But that is the ceiling on a potential breakout in 2018.

Patrick Mahomes 2018 Projection: 3,720 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 15 INT; 300 rushing yards, 2 TD

Breakout Percentage: 50%

 

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