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How will Jeremy Maclin’s return affect Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill?

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Jeremy Maclin will return and play for the Kansas City Chiefs after missing the last month with an injury. It’s never good to miss your best receiver but one benefit from it is that the Chiefs saw Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill step up nicely in his absence. Kelce, in particular, has thrived with three 100-yard games in Maclin’s four-game absence.

With Maclin coming back, I wonder how the Chiefs are going to distribute the ball in the passing game. Maclin was averaging 7.8 targets per game in the first seven games of the season. He got hurt in the Jaguars game so that production went elsewhere from then on.

Here’s a look at the average targets per game with and without Maclin this season (not counting the Jaguars game he got hurt in):

Kelce with Maclin: 6.4

Kelce without Maclin: 9.5

Tyreek with Maclin: 3.2

Tyreek without Maclin: 8.5

For Kelce, he’s arguably as important as Maclin if not more so. It made sense to me that Kelce saw more targets after Maclin went out, especially because he was producing with those targets.

For Tyreek, it’s a little harder to judge. Obviously, Maclin’s absence played some role in his targets but Tyreek was a rookie so fewer targets in the early portion of the season makes sense with or without Maclin’s injury. That it’s now all the way up to 8.5 targets per game - one per game behind Kelce - speaks to his role in the offense these days.

The question becomes, what happens when Maclin is back in the lineup? There are only so many balls to go around so, logically, you think more targets for Maclin would mean fewer for Kelce and Tyreek. Maclin is a heck of a player himself so that’s a fair tradeoff but there’s something lightening Kelce or Tyreek’s load that I don’t like because they’re playing so well.

How would you split it up? Do you expect a full game from Maclin?