Cleat Geeks

#ManCrush Monday Series: Patrick Mahomes

This is the second in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all.

 

After my first #ManCrush David Johnson led me to a fantasy championship in the first year of my dynasty league, I began my first dynasty off-season. I enjoyed watching college football, particularly my alma mater Michigan State, but I didn’t pay attention to much outside the Big 10. I had never been in a position to analyze and predict for myself who would be successful in the NFL and who I should try to add to my fantasy roster. Naturally, I started with the first position on the list: quarterback.

I didn’t know who the top prospects were at the time and I didn’t have anyone specific in mind to start with, so I went with the statistical leaders for the 2016 season. I love analytics and statistics, although I know they are influenced by offensive scheme and level of competition. The first number I saw? 5052, the most passing yards thrown by a quarterback in 2016. That quarterback’s name? Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. Never heard of him. I followed his row across to find that he had thrown for 41 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, had a completion percentage of 65.7%, and also added 12 touchdowns on the ground. Who was this guy?!

Time to watch some highlight videos. It was love at first sight. Mahomes’ ability to sling the ball all over the field with ease, fit the ball into tight windows, make off-platform throws, extend plays with his legs, and create explosive plays made him the kind of player I wanted on my team. As a Packers fan, I thought of Brett Favre before I ever even read any NFL player comparisons. I couldn’t get enough; I watched every highlight video on him I could find.

After I had exhausted all videos YouTube had to offer, I read up more on his journey through high school and college. He was a three-sport phenom at Whitehouse High School (TX), excelling in baseball and basketball in addition to football. As a two-year varsity starting quarterback, Mahomes was a human highlight reel. He was named the Texas State Football Player of the Year as a senior. To be voted the best football player in the state of Texas is definitely saying something. Coming into college, he had full ride scholarship offers from Rice and Oklahoma State for football, and a full ride scholarship for both baseball and football from Texas Tech. He also had a chance to be drafted into the MLB with his 93mph fastball and overall athleticism. He chose to forgo the professional baseball route and committed to Texas Tech to play football.

It turned out to be the right choice for young Mahomes, as he successfully beat out Davis Webb in 2014 and forced him to transfer to California. Webb had forced Baker Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma following injury in 2013. I won’t get into that whole complicated situation. Webb ended up being drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft by the New York Giants. Mayfield is one of the top five quarterback prospects in the 2018 draft. In week 8 of the 2016 season, Mayfield and Oklahoma defeated Mahomes and Texas Tech in an absolute shootout in which Mahomes threw for a school record 734 yards.

There were many mixed opinions on Mahomes entering the combine and then the draft. His arm talent was undeniable, but the fact that he played in the Red Raiders’ Air Raid offense at Texas Tech and that he could be reckless with his throws at times left him open to criticism. He drew the label of “gunslinger”, which can be both good and bad. He was perhaps the most polarizing prospect entering the 2017 draft. In the end, the Kansas City Chiefs made one of the most surprising moves and traded their 27th pick, a 3rd round pick, and a 2018 1st round pick to Buffalo for the opportunity to grab Mahomes at No. 10 overall in 2017.

Throughout the off-season, there was plenty of hype about the future of the Chiefs and incumbent quarterback Alex Smith, who had earned the label of “game manager” throughout his career, the opposite of “gunslinger” Mahomes. Smith silenced doubters with the best season of his career statistically, even though the Chiefs finished 10-6 after a 5-0 start and lost by a single point to the Titans in the AFC Wild Card game. Fans pleaded for a chance to see their first round pick all season, but Mahomes’ only start came in week 17 against the Denver Broncos, with Kansas City scraping out a 27-24 victory over their division rival.

Fast forward to now. The Chiefs apparently saw enough from Mahomes in limited action to hand over the reigns, as they traded Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. If you thought the hype train was going before, climb aboard the 2018 version. The Chiefs were busy in free agency, retaining speedster D’Anthony Thomas and signing one of the top free agent wide receivers in Sammy Watkins. It would appear that the Chiefs are building an offense to suit the strengths of their new quarterback. It’s also worth noting the only other quarterback on the roster is Chad Henne. The combination of skill position players the Chiefs now possess (Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Watkins, Chris Conley, and Travis Kelce) makes them a potential nightmare for opposing defenses.

As a dynasty team owner, I am all in on Patrick Mahomes. He is the only player I own in both of my leagues. There will certainly still be a learning curve, but with the weapons he has at his disposal and the wisdom and experience in developing quarterbacks that Andy Reid has, Mahomes may make the jump into the next tier faster than his peers. I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store for the Chiefs.

 

 

 

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