Fantasy Football: What a Full Season for Tyreek Hill Means for the Chiefs
Last season's WR1 in fantasy football formats is now available for the entire 2019 NFL season.
After a four-month-long investigation by the NFL, it was announced today that Tyreek Hill will not be suspended -- at all -- for the upcoming season. Hill is now free to join all team activities, and the Chiefs will be welcoming him back at the start of training camp on July 27th.
For fantasy football owners, the impact is obvious. Hill is in consideration for a first-round selection. So what all does the news mean for Hill and the rest of his teammates?
Familiar Chiefs Faces
Tyreek Hill isn't the only player who is impacted by this news, as several other Chiefs players will see their fantasy stock shift.
Most notably, Sammy Watkins' stock drops. Last year, Watkins was the WR37 in half-PPR formats on a per-game basis. The news also stifles the hype on second-round NFL Draft selection Mecole Hardman, whose average draft position has crept into the 11th round of fantasy drafts, per Fantasy Football Calculator.
Watkins will now revert back to the role he had last year as the second wide receiver behind Hill. Injuries are still a concern for Watkins as he only played 10 games in 2018 and hasn't played all 16 games since his rookie season. We still expect Watkins to finish as a top-20 wide receiver with 74 receptions, 1,016 receiving yards, and just over 9 touchdowns while tied to what is projected to be the NFL's most efficient passing offense.
Hardman, however, will now have a tougher time being fantasy relevant with the return of Hill, as he's moved all the way down to our 67th ranked wide receiver. Once expected to replace Hill as the speedy deep threat, Hardman now projects to fill in as the third receiver in three-receiver sets.
As for tight end superstar Travis Kelce, he remains at the top of his position. While some may downgrade Kelce now that Hill will be taking more targets away from him, keep in mind that he was able to lead the league with Hill on the field last year. Furthermore, the presence of Hill will certainly keep the middle of the field open for Kelce thrive in, as he did last year. According to TheQuantEdge, Kelce had a target rate of 26.2% on more than 900 snaps sharing the field with Hill.
Running back Damien Williams could see a drop, too. His receiving workload dropped based on the on/off splits from last year with Hill on the field. Even though he's still projected as a top-10 running back overall, Williams' 51 projected receptions is the second-lowest mark among top-10 backs.
Finally, Patrick Mahomes was already expected to be the number-one quarterback yet again, but having his top receiving threat available for the entire season makes his case for repeating as the top quarterback that much stronger.
Hill's 2019 Fantasy Outlook
Tyreek initially comes in as our WR6 in half-PPR leagues, with a projected line of 87 receptions, 1,424 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Aside from a slight decrease in touchdowns, this is almost directly in line with his production in 2018, when he finished as the top fantasy wideout.
He has also proven to be one of the most efficient receivers over the past several years. Last year he finished with a Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) of 131.91 (good for third in the league), improving from his 90.93 mark in 2017. Among more than 100 receivers with at least 100 targets since 2016, Hill's 0.82 ranks him sixth.
While the lack of suspension is great news for Hill for now, keep in mind that Hill isn't totally out of the clear, as he still possesses some risk while he's involved with the legal situation.