A year after taking Skyy Moore with the 54th pick in the 2022 draft, the Chiefs selected Rice with the 55th pick in 2023. The best format for drafting Rice is in rookie-only drafts of Dynasty leagues, where you don't have to be as concerned with him picking up Andy Reid's offense early in the year because not many rookies have. In that format, Rice is worth a Round 2 pick. In redraft, and he's a very late dart throw at best. The expectation is that he'll enter the season as WR4 at best, and there is a chance he is behind Justin Watson to begin the year as well. Once he is fully acclimated, Rice is the closest thing the Chiefs have to a traditional X receiver and could be the long-term answer there.
Rice got nice draft capital (55th overall pick) and joins a highly productive Chiefs passing game with an unproven WR corps.
It makes the rookie worth monitoring closely throughout the summer – and worth considering as a late-round flier in fantasy drafts.
What We Learned Last YearThe Chiefs moved up eight spots in this spring’s draft to select Rice 55th overall. He was the seventh WR off the board.Rice is coming off a big senior season at SMU: 96 catches, 1,355 yards, and 10 TDs.He ranked ninth among 286 qualifying WRs in yards per route run (3.05) and seventh in Pro Football Focus receiving grade last year.Rice also led SMU in catches as a sophomore and junior.He’s position versatile, playing 82% of his snaps out wide last year but 94% of his snaps in the slot back in 2021.He showed well at the Combine, registering a 4.51-second 40 time with a 95th percentile vertical and 86th percentile broad jump at 6’1 and 204 pounds. He earned a 95th percentile Relative Athletic Score.The knocks against Rice:He was a four-year college player.He’s already 23 years old.He played against lower-level competition in the American Athletic Conference.
What to Expect in 2023Rice joins an Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes-led offense that’s ranked top-6 in passing yards and TDs in five straight seasons.There’s opportunity in the WR corps. 135 targets (20.7% of the total) from last year’s team are gone with the offseason departures of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Kansas City only added Rashee Rice in free agency. Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Justin Watson return. None of those guys have reached 700 receiving yards in an NFL season.GM Brett Veach suggested that the team views Rice as a potential replacement for Smith-Schuster. Rice spent time out wide, in the slot, and even attached to the line of scrimmage at rookie minicamp. Kansas City has finished top six in passing yards and TDs in all five seasons with QB Patrick Mahomes as the starter. Chiefs WRs have ranked 15th or better in total WR PPR points in all five of those seasons, so there are certainly fantasy points to be had here.
Rice was selected in the second round of April's draft. The SMU product's usage and production progressively grew during his four collegiate seasons, but he really broke out in 2022, posting a 96-1,355-10 receiving line in 12 games. That included a massive 32% target share. He primarily worked outside (69% perimeter) and in the short area (9.0 aDOT) and will need to clean up drops (24 in 44 games). He has a good size/speed combo and posted an impressive 41-inch vertical at the combine. Especially in Kansas City's elite, pass-heavy offense, Rice has a path to Year 1 fantasy-relevance in a wide-open WR room led by the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore. He's a fine mid-to-late-round flier.