ESPN’s fantasy expectations for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin have him with about the same numbers as last year, setting up an interesting choice whether he can exceed them in 2016.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: 82 receptions, 1,093 yards, 5 TDs
Over or under: These numbers seem modest for Maclin, who is unchallenged as the Chiefs’ go-to wide receiver. He caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns last season, his first with the Chiefs, despite missing a game because of a concussion. Alex Smith will target Maclin more than any of the other receivers, so it’s reasonable to think Maclin will at least reach his numbers from last season. Maclin topped 80 catches just once in five seasons with the Eagles before he joined the Chiefs. But he was Philadelphia’s unquestioned No. 1 receiver in just one of those seasons, when he caught 85 passes and set or tied personal bests for yardage and touchdowns in 2014. If he doesn’t score at least five touchdowns, the Chiefs should be in trouble.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: 38 receptions, 466 yards, 2 TDs
Over or under: Take the under here. These numbers are similar to the ones Wilson produced last year, his first as a full-time starter. But his playing time could get squeezed this season. Chris Conley is going to play more than he did as a rookie last season and the Chiefs are also going to find a role for rookie Tyreek Hill, their fastest player. As long as Smith has Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce to throw to, opportunities are going to be limited for their other receivers.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: 37 receptions, 414 yards, 3 TDs
Over or under: If Conley hits these numbers, he would more than double his production from 2015, his rookie season. Conley caught 17 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown last season. But look for Conley to play a lot more than he did last season. A closer examination of Conley’s rookie season reveals he was productive in his limited playing time. He had his best game of the season and caught his only touchdown in the game that Maclin missed because of injury. Conley also caught a touchdown in the playoff victory over Houston when he entered the lineup because of another Maclin injury. Conley should put his extra playing time to good use this season and beat ESPN’s fantasy projection.
Who else could see time: The Chiefs have expectations for Hill. Combined with his skills as a kick return specialist, he could post significant numbers. Veteran Rod Streater is having a solid training camp. He probably won’t get a lot of playing time unless there’s an injury on the depth chart above him. But in that case, Streater could be productive for the Chiefs.