For some reason, the Kansas City Chiefs seemed adverse to taking advantage of Travis Kelce‘s talents in 2014. Fantasy Football players were left scratching their heads when the Chiefs needed to move the ball, but the team didn’t use its 6-foot-5, 260-pound weapon.
What we know now, however, is that the underutilization of Kelce was intentional. The Chiefs’ tight end stated that “My knee still wasn’t full strength last year, which is why I’m excited about this year. Now I get the time to take a full offseason and get my legs ready and get my upper body and my explosiveness back that I know I really had. I didn’t really feel that comfortable out there on the field but we made it work.”
In standard scoring leagues for 2014, Kelce finished sixth in receptions and receiving yards, and totaled 67 receptions, 862 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns. In terms of Fantasy Football points, Kelce was the eight-highest scoring tight end.
Fantasy Football players will obviously drool over what a healthy “Zeus” can do in 2015, and there is good reason to believe he will have a strong season.
2015 Fantasy Football: Travis Kelce
Even with the addition of Jeremy Maclin, quarterback Alex Smith still has an affinity for tight ends.
Here are the numbers for Smith’s tight ends in the past two seasons with Kansas City.
In 2013, Chiefs’ tight ends accounted for 21% of Smith’s passing yards and 16% of his passing touchdowns. With Kelce in the lineup for 2014, tight ends accounted for 34% of Smith’s passing yards and 50% of Smith’s touchdowns. While the increase in in passing yards and touchdowns may seem related to the lack of weapons at the wide receiver position, it is actually more correlated with Jamaal Charles‘ decreased role in the passing attack. Charles went from 693 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns in 2013, to 291 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in 2014.
From this information, Fantasy Football players need to be more concerned with Charles’ involvement in the passing attack than Maclin’s.
Concerns for Kelce in 2015 Fantasy Football Leagues
Even if Kelce is Smith’s go-to-guy, that doesn’t automatically mean he can finish as a top-five Fantasy Football tight end. Since entering the league, Smith has never thrown more than 23 touchdown passes, and when he has played 15 or more games in a season, he averages 18.5 touchdown passes.
I’m not saying that the yards won’t be there, and in PPR leagues, Kelce could rack up four-five points each game from just catching the ball. Even with a decreased role in the passing attack, Charles is still an excellent dual-threat back, and he could cut into Kelce’s Fantasy Football points.
Kelce’s current ADP is currently near the end of the fifth round, which isn’t a bad spot to select him.
I think as the season gets closer, less-experienced players are going to draft him as early as the third round. When I look at the receivers going in the third round, I would take a pass on Kelce at that particular spot. I would much rather have T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, or Mike Evans.
You have to look at your opportunity costs(who are you missing out on drafting because you took a certain player in a certain spot?). In the fifth round, Keenan Allen, Golden Tate, Jordan Matthews, DeSean Jackson and Victor Cruz are currently being drafted. While I really like Matthews, I would feel much better owning Kelce in the fifth round and passing on Allen or Tate, than owning him in the third, and passing on Hilton, Jeffery or Evans.
If you plan on drafting a running back in the third or fifth round, you will also be missing out on some opportunities by selecting the Chiefs’ tight end too early. Alfred Morris, Mark Ingram, Justin Forsett and Carlos Hyde are all currently third-round picks. Frank Gore, Isaiah Crowell and Giovani Bernard are currently fifth-round picks. I wouldn’t feel bad about missing out on Gore, Crowell or Bernard, but I personally wouldn’t want to select Kelce over Morris.
Barring any injury, there shouldn’t be any reason that Kelce doesn’t find himself as a top-five tight end in 2015. There is one question you need to ask yourself: How big of a price are you willing to pay for Kelce?