The Kansas City Chiefs have won the AFC West six years in a row and have looked unstoppable. They still have Patrick Mahomes, but star wide receiver Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. This will be Mahomes’ first season without him, which creates an interesting position battle that the team isn’t used to having. Kansas City brought in wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster to be the new WR1, and there is a competition behind him.
There’s also been a new addition to the backfield. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones signed with the Chiefs in free agency. Clyde-Edwards Helaire hasn’t impressed since Kansas City used a first-round pick on him in 2020, which creates the position battle against Jones ahead of camp.
In this series, we will look at the most important fantasy football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity is king in fantasy, as you can’t produce fantasy statistics without getting on the field. So, the first step when looking for value plays is to project — correctly — which players will win training camp battles.
Here’s a look at our picks to win the training camp battles for the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of your 2022 fantasy football drafts.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Ronald Jones II vs. Jerick McKinnon
Update: Jones hasn’t done much to win playing time this training camp. He’s been behind rookie Isiah Pacheco and McKinnon, while Edwars Helaire has remained the starting back. There’s a real chance he could be cut, per Jonathan Jones.
Our pick to win: Ronald Jones
For being on a team with arguably the league’s best quarterback, Edwards-Helarie didn’t really take advantage. He also had trouble staying on the field a year ago as he missed seven games. Edwards-Helaire ran the ball 119 times for 517 yards and four touchdowns while adding 19 receptions on 23 targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns. These are fine numbers, but they aren’t the expected numbers for the starting running back for the Chiefs through 10 games.
Jones was signed in free agency after finishing out his rookie deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A year ago, he played in 16 games and had 101 rushing attempts for 428 yards and four touchdowns as the backup. With Tom Brady as his quarterback, he added 10 receptions on 13 targets for 64 additional yards. Keep in mind that he amassed these stats as the backup behind Leonard Fouurnette. Jones gets a bad rap for issues holding onto the ball but only fumbled twice last season.
McKinnon only had 12 rushes, and 20 targets in 13 games played, so I don’t think that he will factor into this positional battle. Jones should be the starter coming out of camp.
Mecole Hardman vs. Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Skyy Moore vs. Josh Gordon
Our pick to win: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
This feels like the Moneyball scenario where the Oakland Athletics tried their best to replace Jason Giambi when he was no longer with the team. Instead of replacing him, they made up for him in the aggregate. Enter Hardman, MVS, Moore and Gordon as Kansas City try to find a way to replace the production of Tyreek Hill.
Hardman and Gordon benefit from the rapport with Mahomes as incumbent wide receivers. Hardman played in all 17 games and caught 59 of his 83 targets for 693 yards, with all of those stats ranking as the third-most on the team. He only found the endzone twice, so I don’t think he comes out of camp as the WR2 behind Smith-Schuster. Gordon played in 12 games but only caught five passes for 32 yards, so he is a non-factor.
Valdes-Scantling is my pick to be the second wideout in the offense coming out of camp. He should have the edge over the rookie Moore, and his game mirrors Hill’s the most. MVS played the first four years of his career with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The duo never seem to get on the same page, but MVS did have at least one touchdown of at least 60 yards in each season. He is a speedster and will be Mahomes’ new deep threat. Kansas City just needs to get Valdes-Scantling into space, and they will see why he will be a solid second option in the receiving game.