The 2021 NFL Season is upon us and the Music City Drive In has you covered. We’ll be previewing all 32 teams, as well as our picks for award winners and playoff participants each day through Monday, September 6. Check back daily at 4 p.m. EST for each new piece in our preview series.
Coming off a Super Bowl championship, the Chiefs headed into 2020 as favorites in the AFC. They lived up to the billing, getting past the Cleveland Browns in the Divisional Round and the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game on the way to a second straight Super Bowl. But on the way to the big game, the Chiefs suffered a pair of injuries to their starting tackles, leaving the squad vulnerable. The Buccaneers took advantage, harassing Patrick Mahomes all game long. Now, the Chiefs are back on the hunt, hoping to make the Super Bowl for the third year in a row.
It was a fairly quiet off-season for the Chiefs, who saw veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins move on to Baltimore, veteran running back Damien Williams depart for the Bears and veteran left tackle Eric Fisher head off to the Colts. Job one seemed to be re-building the offensive line, which led to a pair of transactions. The Chiefs signed Patriots’ guard Joe Thuney and later traded a First-Round pick for Ravens’ tackle Orlando Brown.
The focus on the men up front continued in the 2021 NFL Draft, where the Chiefs spent a Second-Round pick on Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey. The team spent another Second Round Pick on linebacker Nick Bolton and snagged tight end Noah Gray to add to the stash of weapons.
At the top of the list is Mahomes. He played in 15 games and finished as QB4, just over 24 points behind No. 1 finisher Josh Allen. He’s a lock for Top 5 and a fairly safe bet for QB1. Behind him is a stable of backs led by second-year man Clyde Edwards-Helaire. CEH, the only back taken in the First Round of the 2020 NFL Draft, finished as RB22. He has a gimpy ankle but should be OK for the regular season. I have him finishing as a solid RB2 again, with Darrel Williams and Jerrick McKinnon providing depth in the backfield.
In the receiving game it’s all about Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Kelce finished as the TE1 in 2020 and should be drafted there in 2021. He’s the lone TE that’s a consensus First Round pick. Hill is a near lock for Top 5 at receiver, too, and should be drafted accordingly. Beyond that are more questions than answers. Watkins’ departure opens the door for third-year receiver Mecole Hardman, who is competing for targets with DeMarcus Robinson. Hardman is my pick to finish the highest among the rest, but he’ll be lucky to crack the Top 60.
For fantasy gold it’s about Mahomes at QB, Kelce at tight end, Hill at receiver and CEH are running back.
The Chiefs have ruled the AFC West for years and I don’t see that changing. I see the Chiefs finishing as a top seed in the AFC yet again and making a run for a third straight Super Bowl. I’m not sure they get there, but the Chiefs figure to be a contender deep into January.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.