“He is as good as I’ve ever seen,” one executive told Sando. “I remember seeing that last game two years ago when he played against Denver, and I said, ‘Ho-lyyy s—!’ We just could not believe some of the throws he was making. It’s ridiculous, and he is only going to get better. How can you not give him a 1? Who is better right now? You would take him over any player in the league.”
Another executive told Sando: “He might end up being the best ever. He has got some of the best-ever superpowers.”
Together, Mathieu and Thornhill can form a strong safety tandem, improving last year’s 31st-ranked pass defense that allowed 30 touchdowns (22nd). Both have a nose for the football, so we can expect a more aggressive group that’s able to get off the field after third down. Last year, the Chiefs allowed conversions on 41.5 percent (25th) of those crucial situations.
Tier One - Catching Kelce
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Notes: Kelce has become “the” elite tight end to own in fantasy football, leading the position in points in each of the last three years. Kelce is now a surefire second-round pick across the fantasy board.
Expectations: Chiefs made big step forward last year in reaching AFC title game, but still have not played for championship since Super Bowl 4. Window is now with Mahomes still on rookie contract and pricey new additions on defense. If their young QB can come close to replicating performance last season, and rebuilt defense can show improvement, Chiefs should be class of West once again.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Given $700,000 guaranteed when he signed with the Chiefs, Hyde is a boom-or-bust fantasy pick. The Chiefs swear that Damien Williams is their starter and Hyde is his likely backup, but two previous teams have already soured on Hyde quicker than expected.
Head Coach Andy Reid stopped by for a Q&A with Voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus at the event, where he discussed the upcoming campaign, encouraged fans to check out training camp next week and reminded the audience of their impact on game day.
“You all are the best in the National Football League,” Reid told the crowd. “The sea of red, all day, every game.”
Kansas City Chiefs
Outlook: After an MVP season in 2018, it’s no surprise that Patrick Mahomes has rocketed to the top of everyone’s fantasy QB list. It’s also no surprise that you hear the word “regression” whenever someone mentions his name. The question is how much of that regression he can avoid in a quest to repeat his 50-touchdown season. He will have some help now that Tyreek Hill has avoided suspension and appears on track to be available Week 1. Hill’s availability also helps Sammy Watkins, who excelled last season in a secondary role. Travis Kelce continues to be the TE1 on most fantasy draft boards and has occasionally snuck into the first round in some drafts. Damien Williams took over in the backfield to great effect last season after the Chiefs released Kareem Hunt and is expected to hold court in that position yet again this year. Kansas City added Carlos Hyde but the veteran appears to be little more than an insurance policy with minimal fantasy appeal.
Camp needs: WR Tyreek Hill is expected to return to the team when training camp opens after being investigated in a domestic violence case, but building depth behind Sammy Watkins remains crucial. The Chiefs also must sort out depth at running back and identify tight ends to play behind Travis Kelce. The defense is adjusting to the new 4-3 scheme of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with plenty of new personnel, with Clark and Mathieu the top additions.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Will an overhauled defense jell quickly? Can league MVP Patrick Mahomes possibly approach the mind-boggling production he managed in his first year as a starter? Are the off-field distractions at an end with the NFL choosing not to suspend WR Tyreek Hill? Lots of questions, though K.C. is equipped to provide correct answers between the lines. Early tests as AFC West champs open with three of four on the road.
Around the league
The violation stems from a 2017 domestic violence case in which Reed was accused of assault. Reed was not charged or arrested. However, the NFL’s personal conduct policy allows the league to punish players regardless of legal outcomes.
He is eligible to take part in practices and play in the preseason. Once the regular season begins, he will be eligible to return to the Seahawks on Monday, Oct. 14, following Seattle’s Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns. He will also miss games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.
To say the Atlanta defense was a hot mess last year is being kind. The team ranked toward the bottom of the NFL in a fistful of statistical categories—points allowed (25th), yards allowed (28th), passing yards allowed (27th) and rushing yards allowed (25th).
But in fairness, that defense lost its two best players before the season reached its second week. Jones missed 10 games with a foot injury suffered in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Neal did one better—his season ended in that same game courtesy of an ACL tear.
For the first time in his career, Brady is set to go into a contract year.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday on Inside Training Camp Live that “no new deal is on the horizon at this point.”
This report echoes what Brady told reporters at mandatory minicamp in June, when he said “I’ve never really talked about my contract or anything like that so I don’t really want to start doing that now.”
It’s a fair point, but he’s also never entered a contract year. There was never much to talk about. Patriots coach Bill Belichick also refused to address Brady’s contract situation at minicamp.
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In terms of deep passes, though, Mahomes left a fair number of big-play opportunities on the table. The first half of the regular-season loss to the Patriots comes to mind as a place where Mahomes narrowly missed scores. He more than made up for the misses, of course, but it’s scary to say that there might even be more chances for him to make magic happen in 2019.
The fourth cornerback spot doesn’t have much clarity heading into training camp. Former AAF all-league player Keith Reaser is in his second stint with the Chiefs, and will be competing with sixth-round rookie Rashad Fenton, second-year sixth-rounder Tremon Smith and undrafted free agent rookie Mark Fields. I don’t have much confidence that Smith will stick — he was mostly a kick returner last season and that role has effectively been filled by wide receiver Mecole Hardman. It’s hard to have an opinion on the other three candidates, so we’ll just see how it all plays out this preseason.
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