Xavier Worthy Finds the Perfect Fantasy Football Home With the Chiefs

May 03, 2024
Xavier Worthy Finds the Perfect Fantasy Football Home With the Chiefs

With the 28th overall selection of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected wide receiver Xavier Worthy. The Chiefs goaded the AFC-rival Buffalo Bills into allowing them to move up the four spots to ensure they attached the speedster to Patrick Mahomes. The draft pick feels vaguely like the Mecole Hardman selection in the 2019 Draft when the team believed that Tyreek Hill could be suspended for multiple games.

Though Rashee Rice (facing possible suspension) hasn’t flashed the type of game-breaking abilities that Hill did when in a Chiefs uniform, Worthy should work out far better in an NFL uniform than Hardman has. When Worthy and Rice eventually hit the field together, they will offer upside at the position that Kansas City hasn’t had since the 2021 season.

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Xavier Worthy’s Prospect Profile

Coming into the 2021 recruiting class, Xavier Worthy was a four-star recruit and the No. 13 wide receiver in the country. After flirting with enrollment at Michigan, he ended up joining Texas to pair up with new head coach Steve Sarkisian because he “liked the way he utilized DeVonta Smith” when they were both at Alabama. As a diminutive prospect himself, he believed this would be his best road to college production.

Worthy exploded onto the scene as a freshman in 2021, racking up 12 touchdowns and 8.5 yards after the catch while operating mainly from the outside. Prophetically, he would eventually slide into a role not dissimilar to that of DeVonta Smith’s senior year at Alabama. Worthy would line up out-wide on 59.5% of his snaps and out of the slot on 39.9% during his final season, nearly identical to Smith’s numbers (63.1% and 36.9%).

Xavier Worthy College Career Statline
Year Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns YPRR aDOT
2021 103 62 981 12 2.61 13.4
2022 113 59 757 8 1.91 17.6
2023 119 75 1,014 5 2.14 10.3

As you can surmise from his three straight 100+ target seasons, Worthy was more than just fluff on the field. He led the team in receiving yards over each of those seasons, maxing out at 1,014 yards in 2023, when he was targeted nine or more times in seven of fourteen games. Though he was used extensively in the screen game (39% of his receptions came from behind the line of scrimmage), he still had a respectable 10.3 average depth of target, thanks to consistent usage in the deep game.

He consistently used his speed to blow by defenders both before and after the catch, finishing fifth in YAC (7.6) among this draft class in 2023, while accruing 71 plays of 15+ yards over his full college career.

Where Worthy struggles with his 5’11”, 165-pound frame likely doesn’t come as a surprise; over the middle of the field and contested catches. Per PFF, he converted only five of his 21 contested catches (23.8%) and according to Sports Info Solutions, he averaged only 7.0 yards per target over the middle in ‘23, ranking 121st/167 qualifying wide receivers.

There’s a reason some people view Xavier Worthy as a one-trick-pony (for some reason the dissonance grew louder after he ran a 4.21 40-yard dash), but his college numbers show a very productive receiver if he lands in a situation where the play-caller can use him in interesting ways. And he just so happened to fall into that situation at the next level.

How Xavier Worthy Fits with the Chiefs

Immediate comps to Tyreek Hill are mostly unfounded, but that doesn’t mean Worthy can’t create separation in much the same way, or that he isn’t a terror with the ball in his hands. Some more apt comps from around the prospecting industry include Jordan Addison (JJ Zachariason), Marquise Brown (Emory Hunt), and DeSean Jackson (Matt Waldman). Not a bad group of players, and certainly a few options you can imagine winning inside an Andy Reid offense. As a matter of fact, Jackson kicked off his career with three straight 900+ yard seasons under Reid, including a 1,056-yard season in which he hilariously got there on only 47 catches.

Worthy isn’t going to replicate that bonkers season when Jackson had a 16.1 aDOT, but he’ll be well-equipped to come out of the gates and take advantage of the potent Chiefs screen game. The table below shows some basic receiving stats regarding the Chiefs' screen game over the last four seasons, with their league-wide ranks in parenthesis.

Chiefs Screen Game, 2020-2023
Year Receptions Yards WR Receptions WR Yards
2020 56 (9th) 415 (6th) 22 (18th) 188 (11th)
2021 68 (4th) 536 (5th) 29 (9th) 234 (6th)
2022 70 (6th) 532 (1st) 20 (17th) 127 (14th)
2023 91 (1st) 646 (1st) 45 (1st) 276 (1st)

We’re obviously hoping for more than just screen passes out of Worthy’s rookie season, but Kansas City is inclined to get their playmakers the ball in the open field, and that benefits the former Longhorn for Year 1. The ever-evolving usage of “cheat” motions will also get their new weapon a head of steam at the snap, which is a terrifying proposition for one of the fastest wide receivers we’re likely to see on an NFL field in 2024.

While the team was limited with what they could do with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson on the outside last year, Worthy adds another dynamic to the offense when he’s not screaming down the sideline on nine routes.

Projecting the Chiefs Offense in Fantasy Football

The clear beneficiary to the rookie addition is tight end Travis Kelce, who has long padded his stat lines by eating in space created by zone defenses. Kelce barely missed his eighth-straight 1,000-yard season last year (984), but he still led the position in yards per route run (2.35) against zone defenses. We should expect that to continue as Worthy helps to spread the defense thin to compensate for his speed. Sam LaPorta earned the right to jump up to the consensus TE1, but it would come as no surprise if Kelce re-takes his throne.

The rest of the wide receiver room's floor(s) are marginally capped, as Worthy is likely to take many (but not all) of the quick-game targets. Ceiling games are still very much in play for both Marquise Brown and Rashee Rice, though.

Brown should be considered a high-end WR3 who will still pop for WR1 performances, even with the sudden bevy of mouths to feed. Rice is the more likely downgrade with Worthy’s addition, and his looming suspension isn’t helping matters. Of his 100 targets during his rookie season, 28 of them came behind the line of scrimmage, the fourth-highest mark among all wide receivers. Worthy is, in all probability, going to eat into that, reducing Rice to a lower-end WR3 who can also have the occasional blowup game.

With the new talent surrounding him, monster Patrick Mahomes games should also be on the horizon. He is back in set-it-and-forget-it territory after a relatively down year in fantasy, as evidenced by his over/unders at sportsbooks, which currently have the line set at 34.5 touchdowns.

Xavier Worthy finds himself in a fantastic offensive environment, and though he may have some duds along the way, his upside in an Andy Reid offense lands him in the same fantasy range as Brown and Rice.

Bottom Line

  • Xavier Worthy was drafted in the best situation to showcase his skillset.
  • Though he may have some issues over the middle and at the catch point, Worthy has the speed and route-running acumen to leave defensive backs trailing.
  • The space the rookie can create underneath should boost Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce’s fantasy floors—as if they needed any help.
  • According to current Underdog ADP, the Chiefs 3WR set is coming off the board as: WR35 (Rashee Rice), WR36 (Marquise Brown), and WR37 (Xavier Worthy). It’s hard to argue against taking a stab at any of them at that draft capital (~6.02), and I think Worthy may end up switching spots with Rice at some point in the offseason, making him my preferred target as it stands right now.
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