The Gut Check No.495: Revisiting the Chiefs Backfield

Matt Waldman revisits the Kansas City Chiefs backfield as fantasy leagues head into the playoffs. 

In August, I performed a detailed examination of the Chiefs backfield. Here are Cliff's Notes on what I thought in August before the Chiefs acquired LeSean McCoy.

I had McCoy ranked as a low-end fantasy starter most of the summer and higher than any staffer throughout the preseason as a Bill. I immediately made him my top-ranked Chief RB and kept him as a fantasy starter in value upon learning the news.

Still, I cautioned that McCoy and Damien Williams would go through the Andy Reid committee experience as described in the link above and the highlights below, which countered our most visible industry analysts who believed Damien Williams would be the bell-cow:

  • Andy Reid will use a committee when his backfield lacks experience and or skill due to injuries and suspension.
  • Reid will elevate a committee back to a high-volume starter if he proves his value or the depth is lacking.
  • Damien Williams is a competent NFL contributor with size, speed, and receiving skills.
  • Williams's competence does not make him especially creative against tighter creases and he hasn't proven to possess strong processing speed and agility in moderately difficult, but executable scenarios for an NFL starter.
  • Carlos Hyde and Darwin Thompson display compelling creativity, power, and processing speed in more difficult situations. They may not only reduce Williams' potential volume but also push him out of the committee by taking away various roles:
    • Red zone and short-yardage (Likely Hyde but Thompson has underrated power).
    • Passing downs (Thompson if he displays good pass protection).
    • Two-minute offense (Thompson--see above).
    • Early-downs (Both)
  • The Chiefs play in a division that's generous to running backs as runners and/or receivers so as long as Williams earns volume, he should deliver starter production in leagues using 2-3 runners in a lineup.
  • Williams's value has been largely touchdown-dependent.
  • Hyde and Thompson have shown enough that Reid doesn't feel tied to Williams. This happened when Spencer Ware overtook a committee of Charcandrick West and Cyrus Gray and also when Kareem Hunt performed well to cut into Ware's hold as a starter before Ware suffered a season-ending injury.
  • Williams remains draftable, but the best potential draft value might rookie Darwin Thompson.

After 12 weeks of Chiefs games, here are the facts about the Kansas City backfield and considerations for how to proceed down the stretch with Kansas City runners.

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