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Ride with Reid: Fantasy value in Chiefs backfield

By Jared Smola 1:06pm EDT 6/30/17


Go ahead and make your Andy Reid jokes. The walrus. The Kool-Aid Man. Whatever gets you a good laugh.

Then draft his RB.


Andy Reid’s history

Reid’s offenses have regularly produced a top 16 PPR RB. Check it out:

Reid has been a HC for 18 seasons. He’s had a RB rank 16th or better in PPR points in 14 of them. That includes 9 top-10 finishes and 5 top-5s.

Here are the 4 exceptions:

2000 - Duce Staley missed 11 games. He ranked 14th in PPR points per game. Darnell Autry served as the lead back with Staley sidelined and finished 30th in points per game.

2003 - Reid deployed a committee backfield with Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter. Westbrook finished 20th in PPR points despite ranking just 36th among RBs in total touches.

2009 - LeSean McCoy’s rookie year. He shared the backfield with Westbrook for the 8 games Westbrook played. In the other 8, McCoy averaged 13.7 PPR points. That pace would have landed him 13th over a full season.

2015 - Jamaal Charles goes down with a season-ending torn ACL in Week 5. He was sitting 2nd among RBs in PPR scoring at that point. From Week 6 on, Charcandrick West ranked 19th.

So even in the 4 seasons in which Reid’s offense didn’t produce a bulk-points top 16 PPR RB, there was plenty of fantasy value to be found in his backfield.

Now, you can certainly argue that Reid has benefitted from working with top-notch talent in Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. But none of those guys were 1st-round picks. Westbrook and Charles were 3rd-rounders. So perhaps Reid deserves some credit for making them as productive as they were. He’s also churned top-16 seasons out of lesser talents in Spencer Ware and Duce Staley.

So we’ve established that Reid’s backfield is fertile ground for RB production. But what does that mean for 2017?


Spencer Ware vs. Kareem Hunt

These guys will duke it out for the starting job this summer.

Ware is coming off a mixed 2016 campaign. Over his first 6 games, he racked up 415 yards and 2 TDs on 78 carries — an uber-impressive 5.5 YPC. He added another 231 yards on 13 catches. Only 14 RBs scored more PPR points than Ware during that stretch, despite the fact that it included his bye week.

His momentum was halted, though, by a Week 8 concussion. He missed the following game and wasn’t the same guy when he returned. Over his final 7 games (he also sat out Week 17 with injured ribs), Ware took 112 carries for 411 yards and 1 TD. He caught 16 balls for 134 yards and another score and still ranked 18th among RBs in PPR points. But he wasn’t nearly efficient, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.

It was still a solid season in sum. Ware averaged 4.3 yards per carry, 13.5 yards per catch and ranked 22nd among 42 qualifying RBs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

It certainly wasn’t good enough to lock him in as Kansas City’s 2017 starter, though. The team traded up to select Hunt in the 3rd round of this spring’s draft. The 5’10, 216-pounder set a Toledo record with 4,945 career rushing yards on a 6.3 per-carry average across 4 seasons. That included a 1,475-yard 2016 campaign, when Hunt finished 2nd in the country in missed tackles forced, according to Pro Football Focus.

Hunt also flashed some receiving chops last year. After totaling just 32 receptions over his first 3 seasons, he racked up 41 grabs for 403 yards (9.8 YPC) and a TD last year.


Draft cost

History tells us there’s a good chance 1 of these guys will produce as a top 16 PPR RB this season. Which one is anyone’s guess at this point. We should have a better idea as we get into training camp and preseason action in August.

The good news, at least for now, is neither guy is too pricey. Ware is lasting into the 6th round as the 23rd RB off the board. Hunt’s ADP is in the mid-9th as RB38.

Both guys are actually sitting a bit higher in ADP than they are in our PPR rankings. But their ceilings extend well beyond our current projections.

Hunt is the preferred target at this point as the cheaper of the 2. But you could even draft both and trust in Reid to again produce a top 16 PPR RB.


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