Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has shown off some serious explosiveness in the preseason thus far. Before the bandwagon fills up and Kelce is claimed by those intrigued about his upside, fantasy owners may want to take a closer look at the second-year playmaker after Sunday's display against the Carolina Panthers.
Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray entered the game in the third quarter and tossed a 43-yard touchdown to Kelce. Granted, it was against Carolina's backups, but the big-play potential Kelce has is undeniable.
It was a quick strike up the seam, an abrupt stiff arm and before fans at Bank of America Stadium knew it, Kelce had rumbled into the end zone for a jaw-dropping score. Kelce wound up with four receptions for a game-high 63 yards.
Rotoworld's Evan Silva was impressed, alluding to Kelce's 2014 preseason debut, when he had a 69-yard TD reception from Chase Daniel:
Travis Kelce has displayed physically dominant traits in each of the #Chiefs first two preseason games. Dominating people.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) August 18, 2014
Kelce was a 2013 third-round pick out of Cincinnati but played in just one game as a rookie due to a knee injury. Now, he could be in line for a big role in Kansas City's offense.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is a brilliant tactician and relies on a short, efficient passing attack to put points on the board. Having someone like Kelce as a dynamic receiving threat at the tight end position, though, would add a new wrinkle.
Reid coached Brent Celek to success during his time in Philadelphia, and he knows how to capitalize on players with Kelce's abilities. Comcast SportsNet's John Middlekauff likes Kelce's chances of succeeding under Reid's tutelage:
Travis Kelce looks like he's gonna be a star. Andy can coach TEs, major difference maker potential— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) August 18, 2014
Entering a contract year, Alex Smith needs all the help he can get with a Chiefs receiving corps that features Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery as the top two options. There is a huge drop-off thereafter, too.
Smith praised Kelce's offseason work ethic, per The Kansas City Star's Terez A. Paylor:
I think everybody was extremely happy for Travis. He’s been through a lot. Obviously, it’s been a long time since he’s seen action. But I think everybody can verify, the guy never leaves the facility. This offseason, OTAs, training camp, he’s been there rehabbing, putting in extensive hours, trying to get healthy.
What's nice is that Kelce has a veteran to learn from in Anthony Fasano, along with a magnificent running back in Jamaal Charles to draw the majority of the opposing defense's attention.
Kelce can be split out wide and win more often than not thanks to his incredible combination of speed and 260-pound size. This is the first good look fans have gotten at Kelce since he entered the NFL, so projecting his fantasy value is tricky at the moment.
Athletic tight ends are being utilized more often in the passing game than ever, though. In fantasy keeper leagues, there is no reason not to take a flier on Kelce at this point, because he ought to be available at the moment in many leagues.
Just act quickly. Kelce could very well be the next monster receiving tight end, and it would go a long way in helping Kansas City secure a second straight playoff berth in 2014 should he maintain his preseason form. If Kelce becomes a star, there will also be plenty of happy fantasy owners that took a chance on him while he had excellent value—as he does now.