The Fantasy Football Impact of Rashee Rice to the Kansas City Chiefs

May 04, 2023
The Fantasy Football Impact of Rashee Rice to the Kansas City Chiefs

With the 55th pick in the NFL Draft, The Kansas City Chiefs traded up to select SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice, making Rice the seventh receiver off the board. Taken slightly ahead of where he was projected to go in the Draft, fantasy players might be rushing to draft a second-round receiver on arguably the best passing offense in football but Rice has work to do if he will impact redraft leagues in his rookie season.

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Rashee Rice’s Prospect Profile

Rice is a six-foot, 200-pound outside receiver with impressive athletic attributes. As a senior, he had one of the most productive seasons in the country, catching 96 balls for 1,355 yards and 10 scores. However, from an evaluation standpoint, Rice checks more boxes as a long-term project than as an immediate starter.

From Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception profile on Rice, here are some of the things that may be of concern in his rookie season:

  • Rice flashed big plays but lacked consistency.
  • Rice showed some of the lowest scores in success rate against both man and zone coverages
  • As a route-runner, Rice needs a ton of development. Even on his preferred deep routes, Rice can get great separation on one play and be passive the next.
  • He has struggled with contested catches and can turn catches that should be easy into 50/50 balls.

This is one of the tougher assessments you will see of a rookie wide receiver but the silver lining for Rice is that he is going to a team without an obvious number-one wide receiver.

How Rashee Rice Fits Into the Chiefs’ Passing Game

It’s no secret that Rice is going to a great passing offense—in 2022, the Chiefs ranked first in passing rate over expectation, pass EPA per play, and virtually any other passing metric you can find. Despite their passing prowess, Kansas City hasn’t traditionally been a team that offers multiple fantasy-relevant pass-catchers. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce cornered the target share when they played together and in 2022, the Chiefs mostly took a committee approach to replace Hill.

After letting JuJu Smith-Schuster and other ancillary players walk this offseason, nearly 25% of the Chiefs' targets from last season are up for grabs. Kelce should continue to lead the way but after that, it’s anyone’s guess how the target share will play out.

While Skyy Moore and Richie James will likely compete for Smith-Schuster’s vacated slot targets, Rice will be in contention with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney, although Toney was used in more of a gadget role last year. Other than Valdes-Scantling, no player in the Chiefs' wide receiver room has proven that they can be trusted to stay on the field.

In addition to Rice’s need to improve in multiple areas, Andy Reid has typically been reluctant to give young players—such as Moore and Mecole Hardman in recent years—big roles right away.

Projecting the Chiefs’ Passing Attack in Fantasy Football

As this roster stands, there isn’t a player beyond Kelce that can comfortably be penciled in for more than five targets per game. As we have seen the Chiefs do in the past, they will adjust to their players' strengths and take advantage of matchups, creating a frustrating environment for fantasy owners and prognosticators.

Here is how the Kansas City wide receivers are currently being drafted in best ball leagues following the NFL Draft.

Kansas City Chiefs WR Underdog ADP
Player Current ADP Pos Rank
Kadarius Toney 78.5 WR37
Skyy Moore 124.2 WR55
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 155.5 WR66
Rashee Rice 157.5 WR68
Richie James 213.0 WR92

The only player in this group that I want to be ahead of is MVS and that is only by a slight margin. MVS is the only Chiefs pass-catcher besides Kelce that has proven that he can stay on the field under Andy Reid and he should have an unimpeded role on the outside while the other veterans compete for similar targets or manufactured plays.

It’s also worth noting that the Chiefs recently re-signed running back Jerick McKinnon, who earned 71 targets last season.

With that said, the uncertainty in how targets play out makes it worth loading up on players in this offense, but the preference should be to draft them when they fall past ADP.

As for Rice specifically, his prospect profile and the Chiefs' history with young players make him overvalued, even as late as he is going in drafts. His direct competition as far as ADP goes is MVS and that looks like an easy choice right now.

The Bottom Line

  • The Chiefs traded up and may have even reached to draft Rashee Rice, even though he has great physical attributes and produced huge numbers his senior year.
  • Rice’s prospect profile shows a player that is a long-term project whose upside will come down the road rather than a player who is ready to consistently contribute right away.
  • Beyond Travis Kelce, almost all of the Chiefs' pass-catchers are being drafted too high. The best bet to outperform his ADP is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who is being selected as the WR66, 156th overall.
  • The rookie hype is already showing up with Rice, who may barely see the field in his first year but is being drafted at virtually the same spot as MVS.
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