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Market Movers: identifying the best and worst player values on the Chiefs

With no game for the Chiefs in Week 10, we’re breaking down the roster in terms of ‘relative value.’

Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 23-20 in over time during an NFL game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Relative value in stock market terms is a way to compare the value of a stock with that of other companies, often by comparing the market price to the earnings per share (P/E ratio).

This allows for a better comparison than price or earnings alone.

For this week’s edition of Market Movers, we’ll do our own version of a relative value calculation by comparing players’ ranks to their salary cap hit for 2020. Players with the biggest difference between their current ranking and their salary cap hit represent the best bang-for-the-buck on the Chiefs roster. Others have the exact same ranking in each category, indicating that they are performing exactly the level you’d hope for given their salary cap hit. But those whose cap hit ranking is far higher than their current performance might represent a red flag (or sell signal) if things don’t turn around after the bye.

Here are some of the notable players in each category based on this week’s Market Movers database.

Top 3: best value on the roster

NFL: NOV 01 Jets at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  1. L’Jarius Sneed: Anytime a rookie on a fourth-round contract is arguably your team’s best player at a premium position, that’s a great value. When that position is also one where the team is notably thin, it’s massive. For this Chiefs team to become a dynasty, it will need great value at some positions where they aren’t able to invest significant assets. From what we’ve seen so far of Sneed, assuming he returns to the field after the bye and keeps on his current trajectory, he has the best value on the entire roster.
  2. Tershawn Wharton: A close second when it comes to relative value is undrafted free agent-turned-defensive line stud, Turk Wharton. Wharton is showing an explosive first step when rushing the passer and grown-man strength when playing the run. Coming from a small school and stepping right into a difficult position is a remarkable feat. The Chiefs clearly got a steal in Wharton.
  3. Mike Danna: By now, the pattern is clear. Day-three draft picks and undrafted free agents who contribute early in their careers are the best value available to a team — other than a franchise quarterback on a rookie contract. Danna rounds out the top three best values on the Chiefs, given his solid play and bottom-four cap hit. He’s shown enough in his rookie campaign to prove he belongs on the field, with heady, consistent play.

Three valued exactly right

NFL: NOV 01 Jets at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  1. Tanoh Kpassagnon: Kpassagnon hasn’t taken the massive leap we hoped to see this season, but he’s still a part of the rotation that can hold his own. The challenge with Kpassagnon is the fact that he’s in a contract year, and he may be difficult to value. At his current cap hit of just over $1.3 million, he’s producing as you’d expect. But there could be a difference in how he values himself and how the market values him this offseason. Given what we know so far, he might not be in line for the raise he’s likely expecting.
  2. Darrel Williams: Many are down on Williams lately, given his diminished role and limited production. But, remember, he’s a former undrafted free agent on the third year of his deal, so he’s carrying one of the smallest cap hits on the team. At that rate, getting a special teams contributor and a depth player on offense isn’t bad.
  3. Tyrann Mathieu: “The Landlord” gets his checks (third-highest cap hit on the roster), but he’s worth every penny. What he brings to the defense as a versatile playmaker and a coach on the field makes him one of the three most valuable players on the roster. Mathieu is all about accountability and isn’t satisfied even when the defense plays well.

Bottom 3: worst value on the roster

Carolina Panthers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images
  1. Chad Henne: This isn’t a knock on Henne, necessarily, but anytime the team’s backup quarterback is the 18th-highest cap hit on the roster, that’s not great value. Add in the fact that the Chiefs have other cheaper options behind Mahomes, and Henne sticks out a bit on this roster.
  2. Austin Reiter: Reiter has a top-15 cap hit this season and lost his starting job for at least part of the year. We’ll see if he or Kilgore gets the nod after the bye, but either way, the Chiefs aren’t getting great return on their investment in Reiter thus far.
  3. Harrison Butker: Butker has been a roller coaster this season, which is not something you want to say about a kicker. There’s nothing more important than consistency when it comes to the position. Even though Butker was largely responsible for a win, with multiple 58-yard field goals, he could just have easily cost them another game or two with missed extra points. He’s well-paid for a kicker, so hopefully he can clean up whatever is causing his struggles during the bye week. If not, his stock is looking quite overvalued.