Travis Kelce’s fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

Travis Kelce had a breathtaking season, and his fantasy outlook positions him as a league leader again, but should you draft him at his ADP?

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce finished as a TE1 in 93% of his active games last season. The Chiefs may have lost Super Bowl LV, but Kelce’s fantasy football outlook in 2021 is excellent as a key contributor in Kansas City’s offense. Can Kelce return value on his ADP as the top fantasy tight end?

Travis Kelce’s fantasy outlook for 2021

Kelce averaged 9.7 targets, 7 receptions, 78.3 receiving air yards, 94.4 receiving yards, and 21 PPR fantasy points per game last year. These per-game numbers were on par with the top wide receivers in the NFL.

The only other players who averaged more targets per game than Kelce were DeAndre Hopkins (10), Stefon Diggs (10.5), Keenan Allen (10.5), and Davante Adams (10.6). Diggs (96) and Adams (98) were the only players who averaged more passing yards per game than Kelce. This track record of success should continue for the veteran tight end who turns 32 in October.

Since 2016, Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill have accounted for 1,217 targets, 11,535 receiving yards, and 85 touchdowns. In one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, Kelce had a 25% target share last season.

The Chiefs averaged 414.7 total yards (1st) and 28.5 points per game (6th). Kansas City leans heavily on quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the passing game. Since 2018, Mahomes has averaged 36.7 pass attempts and 308 passing yards per game. When targeting Kelce in 2020, he had a passer rating of 125.

Kelce’s biggest competition for targets is Hill. Hill finished last season with 87 receptions, 1,276 receiving yards, and 15 receiving touchdowns. He also scored 2 rushing touchdowns. Mahomes is expected to record roughly 630 pass attempts in 2021, and both Hill and Kelce project for 140+ targets.

Mecole Hardman projects to emerge as the Chiefs’ No. 3 receiving option this season. Furthermore, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will also see an increase in targets as a receiver out of the backfield.

In order to benefit the run and passing game, the Chiefs made considerable improvements to the offensive line.

Revamped offensive line

The Chiefs were aggressive this offseason in rebuilding the offensive line. The unit dealt with multiple injuries throughout 2020. Unfortunately, the offensive line was in shambles by the time the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers.

Kansas City was without its top three offensive linemen, and it showed. During the game, Mahomes was under pressure for a high percentage of pass attempts. As a result, general manager Brett Veach was very proactive and successful in addressing the offensive line.

The Chiefs enter 2021 with adequate depth to weather the ups and downs of an NFL season. Having the proper pass protection is important considering how often Mahomes drops back to throw.

The Chiefs are rumored to use more two-tight end sets in 2021 with Kelce and rookie Noah Gray. This is exciting because it creates mismatches and opens additional avenues for head coach Andy Reid to exploit.

Many defenses adjust to two-tight end sets by bringing in more linebackers in an attempt to match the personnel. This puts Kelce and Gray at a significant advantage because of their route-running ability. Therefore, the veteran tight end should pick up statistically in 2021 where he left off last year.

Fantasy projection

Kelce has averaged 8.2 targets, 5.8 receptions, 74.7 receiving yards, 66.7 receiving air yards, and 16 PPR fantasy points per game since 2015. In 2021, he projects for around 155 targets, 112 receptions, 1,332 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns.

Travis Kelce’s ADP

Kelce is the first tight end off the board in the first round of fantasy drafts when reviewing redraft ADP data from Fantasy Football Calculator. This trend is similar in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship, where Kelce has an ADP of 8.59 as the TE1 overall. Meanwhile, his ADP in PPR formats on Sleeper is 11.7.

Should you draft Kelce in 2021?

Yes! Outside of Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle, the tight end landscape in fantasy football is as desolate as the wasteland in the Mad Max films. Kelce provides you a significant advantage at a position with so few difference makers. He could finish this season as the TE1 in fantasy.

Eric Moody is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). He is also the co-host of the In The Mood for Fantasy Football podcast. You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

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