On June 2nd the Kansas City Chiefs released veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. After his release the team now has Tyreek Hill and Chris Conley penciled in as the starters.
The move is rather strange consider Head Coach Andy Reid was at Maclin’s wedding just a few weeks ago. Maclin had also skipped his honeymoon for voluntary OTAs.
Financially the move isn’t so puzzling. By releasing Maclin as a post June 1st release the Chiefs save about $10 million dollars in cap space and need it to sign the rest of the rookie class. Now the Chiefs have just $7.7 million dollars invested on 11 wide receivers currently on the roster.
Maclin was never asked to take a pay cut and with other ways to create cap space, I’m not sure why the Chiefs released him. It could be a signal that the team has adjusted course and gone from a win now team to a team building for the future around first round pick Patrick Mahomes for next season. Maclin did struggle with injuries last season. His release opens up more playing time and targets for the younger receivers. However, it leaves the Chiefs with very little experience at the wide receiver position.
With Maclin gone expect more productive fantasy football seasons for both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce among others. Obviously both Hill and Kelce are due for more targets but now also face more attention from opposing defensive coordinators.
Kelce is the focal point of the Chiefs passing game and will be relied on even more now. Expect Kelce to have a decent uptick in targets and catches this season. In standard leagues and especially in PPR leagues Kelce should now be drafted ahead of Greg Olsen. Kelce could be in line for around 95 catches 1,300 yards and eight to ten touchdowns this season.
Hill, a 2016 fifth round pick, came onto the scene midway through the 2016 season and showed to be more than just a dangerous return specialist. Hill’s fantasy value gets a solid bump with Maclin gone. In the five games Maclin missed during the 2016 season with injuries, Hill averaged 15.6 fantasy points per game; compared to 13.3 with Maclin in the lineup.
Expect Hill to have an expanded role and number of targets this season. Hill becomes the Chiefs’ number two option behind Kelce. Hill’s home run big play ability makes everyone of his touches even more valuable.
Hill should be in the ball park for around 75 catches 1,000 yards and six touchdowns this season receiving. Don’t forget Hill will get touches in the ground game on jet sweep like plays. Plus if you play in a league where you get points for kick and punt returns his value only goes up.
Now that the Chiefs have moved on, Maclin must do the same. Three potentially good landing spots for Jeremy Maclin and what his fantasy value is for the 2017 season.
The Ravens, already lacking pass catchers, just lost tight end Dennis Pitta to a career ending hip injury. Maclin would provide experience and depth to the wide receiver position. The only receiver currently on the roster with more than 33 career catches is Mike Wallace. Maclin would give Joe Flacco another down field threat to pair with Wallace and insurance if Breshad Perriman gets injured again. If Maclin lands with the Ravens he easily could cut into Wallace’s targets. Expect Maclin to finish with around 70 catches for 800 yards and six touchdowns.
The Lions were had three wide receivers on the field 66% of the time last season, ranking sixth in the league. After deciding not to resign Anquan Boldin in free agency the team lacks a proven number three receiver behind starters Golden Tate and Marin Jones. Maclin would fit in nicely in offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. While Maclin might not start, he still should have a strong fantasy season. Maclin could be in line for a 60 catch, 700 yards and six touchdown 2017 season.
The Bills are a run first team but like to throw deep off play action to Sammy Watkins. However, the options to start opposite of Watkins are inexperienced. Rookie Zay Jones, Philly Brown and Andre Holmes are currently competing for the starting role. With Watkins’ injury history the Bills would be at risk starting two receivers with little experience. Maclin would give the team a threat opposite of Watkins, who will cut down on the number of double teams Watkins will see. If Watkins has another injury, Maclin has the ability to becomes the teams number one receiver.
Given the Bills run first philosophy Maclin wouldn’t have a strong fantasy season unless Watkins misses serious time with an injury. Expect Maclin to be in the ballpark for 50 catches, 600 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 if he joins the Bills. He certainly could have a good chance to do so if it’s up for former Eagles teammate LeSean McCoy.
Overall, Maclin’s release was surprising but the Chiefs still have two FLEX players you should consider drafting in the top 50. Depending where Maclin ends up he could put up WR2 like numbers and have a better fantasy season then he would have had in Kansas City.