Rashee Rice Fantasy Outlook: Can the Rookie Emerge as the WR1 in Kansas City?

Kansas City Chiefs WR Rashee Rice has potential in an elite offense, but can he be a viable fantasy football option as a rookie?

Rashee Rice caught 96 balls for 1,355 yards and 10 scores in his last season at SMU, production that caught the eye of the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft as they looked to replace JuJu Smith-Schuster (78-933-3 in 2022).

Travis Kelce is the unquestioned alpha pass catcher in this offense, but there are plenty of targets to go around and no other proven options. Can Rice fill in as a reliable contributor both for the Chiefs and fantasy football purposes?

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Rashee Rice’s Fantasy Outlook

Rice brings with him a nice size/speed profile to a receiver room that is high on pedigree and low on professional production. Joining him in the race to earn targets from Patrick Mahomes is the oft-injured Kadairus Toney (2021 first-round pick by the New York Giants) and Skyy Moore (2022 second-round pick by KC).

Marquez Valdes-Scantling returns for a second season with the team after catching a career-high 42 balls last season.

The fact that 42 catches was a career-best for a player who has been in the league for five seasons in nothing but elite offenses tells you about MVS’s role (as does his career yards per catch average of 17.2), but the magic of Mahomes knows no bounds … MVS had 116 yards and a TD in the AFC Championship win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Isiah Pacheco profiles as the feature back in this offense, and while he offers little versatility, Jerick McKinnon remains on this roster and will see his fair share of targets. As long as Andy Reid is in town and #15 is under center, this offense is going to pile up the points.

But do they need any single receiver to offer consistent-enough production to translate into fantasy football value?

Does Kansas City Need To Have a Fantasy-Viable WR?

Mahomes threw for 511 more yards last season than any other quarterback in the NFL, and yet, we never felt good about playing one of his receivers.

Among Chiefs WRs who played at least 10 games last season, Smith-Schuster was WR34 in PPG, and the team’s next-best fantasy option was Valdes-Scantling … at WR69. Here are some more 2022 numbers for your enjoyment that illustrate that the right answer might be “no one” when questioning which Kansas City receiver will emerge this season:

  • Weeks 1-5: zero Chiefs WR games with over 90 yards
  • Weeks 8-18: zero Chiefs WR games with over 90 yards
  • Seven times did a Chiefs WR reach 14.5 fantasy points … six individual WRs had more such games

That said, there is validity to chasing the idea of a cheap receiver emerging as “the guy” in Kansas City.

There were 13 instances last season in which a receiver saw at least seven targets, and receiving seven looks from Patrick Mahomes is worthy of a starting spot in most fantasy leagues.

Should Fantasy Managers Draft Rice at His ADP?

Outside of the top 60 at the position, there is no real risk in throwing a dart on the talented rookie. Personally, I prefer Donovan Peoples-Jones at this point in the proceedings, but I have just about everyone else in this range (receivers like Michael Gallup and DJ Chark) behind Rice.

In selecting Rice, you’re drafting the hope at a role as much as you are the player. In that vein, I have no issue in taking two of Kansas City’s receivers after Round 10 and just hoping one pays off.

Of course, if you go this route, you have to be patient early, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to get Mahomes targets in my lineup!

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