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Rashee Rice

Is KC sitting on the next breakout receiver?

I like the look of Rashee Rice. He’s shown the most (by far) of Kansas City’s receivers, and I expect they’ll be asking him to do a lot more next year. With Travis Kelce being 34, they need to be prepared for other players to start picking up more of the production in their passing game.

Kansas City (at least for now) doesn’t have another receiver of note. Kadarius Toney produced some notable games and plays in his first two seasons, but they’ve soured on him to the point where they weren’t even activating him late in the season – he’ll be moved in the offseason. And Kansas City’s other wide receivers are clearly of the supporting cast variety – Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Mecole Hardman, Justyn Ross, Skyy Moore, Richie James. I don’t see a scenario where one of those guys kind of steps up or ignites, becoming a top-40 receiver.

Rice had a real nice rookie season, chipping in some big games. He caught 8 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown in the playoff win over Miami, and he had two other 100-yard games in the regular season. In his last six regular-season games, he caught 43 passes for 518 yards and 3 TDs, underscoring that we might be looking at one of the top dozen wide receivers in the game. That’s over 7 catches per week.

But I wish they had done a little more with him. Most of his catches came on quick throws around the line of scrimmage, with the hope he’d use his size and power to generate yards after the catch. Sometimes those work; sometimes not so much. Rice wasn’t a big factor in the Super Bowl, catching 6 passes for 39 yards. And his 8 catches at Baltimore in the AFC Championship totaled only 46 yards (that’s 5.8 yards per catch, which is more what you would expect from a lesser running back).

Patrick Mahomes (who has one of the strongest arms in the league) threw 102 passes in Rice’s direction in the regular season, but they averaged a depth of target of only 4.8 yards. Of the 34 other wide receivers with at least 100 targets, all but one averaged at least 3 more yards per play. Another 45 wide receiver saw at least 50 targets, and they also all averaged more yards per target than Rice.

(The 35 wide receivers with at least 100 targets are listed below, ranked by average depth of target.)

WIDE RECEIVERS: AVERAGE DEPTH OF TARGET
PlayerTgtRecYardsTDADOT
Amari Cooper, Cle.128721,250514.3
DeAndre Hopkins, Ten.137751,057714.1
Mike Evans, T.B.136791,2551314.0
Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.105751,342713.8
George Pickens, Pitt.106631,140513.5
Chris Olave, N.O.138871,123513.3
Calvin Ridley, Jac.136761,016813.2
DK Metcalf, Sea.119661,114812.8
Justin Jefferson, Min.100681,074512.6
Jordan Addison, Min.108709111012.5
DeVonta Smith, Phi.112811,066712.1
Marquise Brown, Ari.10151574411.9
A.J. Brown, Phi.1581061,456711.7
Terry McLaurin, Was.132791,002411.5
Drake London, Atl.11069905211.5
Elijah Moore, Cle.10459640211.0
Davante Adams, L.V.1751031,144810.9
DJ Moore, Chi.136961,364810.9
Nico Collins, Hou.109801,297810.9
Tyreek Hill, Mia.1711191,7991310.8
Tyler Lockett, Sea.12279894510.8
Stefon Diggs, Buff.1601071,183810.3
Garrett Wilson, NYJ168951,042310.2
Jaylen Waddle, Mia.104721,014410.1
Jakobi Meyers, L.V.1067180789.7
Keenan Allen, LAC1501081,24379.6
CeeDee Lamb, Dall.1811351,749129.5
Puka Nacua, LAR1601051,48669.1
Chris Godwin, T.B.130831,02429.0
JaMarr Chase, Cin.1451001,21678.4
Zay Flowers, Balt.1087785858.4
Michael Pittman, Ind.1561091,15247.9
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.1641191,515107.8
Adam Thielen, Car.1371031,01447.5
Rashee Rice, K.C.1027993874.8

I’m not trying to scare anyone away from Rice. (I expect I’ll be drafting him some next year.) I think he can do more and will do more. But I wish we had seen a little more proof of concept late in the season.

—Ian Allan

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