Patrick Mahomes may be the driving force behind the Kansas City Chiefs’ high-powered offense but tight end Travis Kelce is the engine that runs that offense.
Kelce was already a stud before Patrick Mahomes arrived in Kansas City. But since Mahomes got his first start for the Chiefs, Kelce has found an extra gear. He’s caught at least 1,000 yards in four straight seasons, including three with at least 1,150 receiving yards.
Travis Kelce is technically a tight end but last season, he spent half of his snaps as an inline player. Per Pro Football Focus, Kelce had more plays as a wide receiver this season (280) than in the slot (266). In so many ways, Kelce plays like a wide receiver in the Chiefs offense. During the previous NFL season, he put up elite wide receiver numbers while playing tight end.
These were his stats and ranks at his position during the 2019-20 season:
- 1,220 Receiving Yards (1st)
- 76.8 Receiving Yards Per Game (1st)
- 97 Receptions (1st)
- 6.1 Receptions Per Game (2nd)
- 136 Targets (1st)
- 8.5 Targets Per Game (2nd)
Despite objections from the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs have the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce.
A Prolific Run
Kelce was drafted by the Chiefs with the 63rd pick overall in 2013. But after undergoing knee surgery, he was placed on the injury reserve and played only one game during the entire season while not recording any statistic. His first full season in 2014 was also his breakout year. He played in all 16 regular-season games and caught a total of 67 catches for a total of 862 yards with five touchdown receptions. Five years later, Kelce has put up one of the most prolific runs in the history of the tight end position.
The 30-year old Cincinnati product finished the 2019-20 season with a total of 97 catches for 1,229 yards. There have only been four seasons in the history of the NFL where a tight-end has put up similar numbers. Tony Gonzales did it in 2004 while Jimmy Graham put up such season in 2011. The other two seasons belong to Kelce, and he did it in consecutive years from 2018 to 2019.
Only four tight-ends in the history of the NFL have ever caught at least 1,000 yards in four different seasons: Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzales, Jason Witten, and Kelce. Kelce is the only one to do it in four consecutive seasons and he has a chance to put up a fifth straight one next season.
If you ask the betting gods, they believe that Kelce is a lock to top the 1,000 receiving yards total next season the oddsmakers are putting Kelce’s 2020 receiving yards total at 1,125 yards.
Let’s take a look at Travis Kelces’ 2020 receiving yards prop bet:
Kelce Has Been Productive and Healthy
Except for his rookie season, Travis Kelce has been a very healthy player. He’s missed only one game in the last six seasons and he’s played every game in the last two NFL seasons. Injuries can happen to anyone and injuries can hurt prop bets for season totals but given his track record, there’s no indication that Kelce will miss a significant number of games this season to hurt his receiving yards total.
On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes missed two games last season due to injury. However, Kelce still caught over 1,200 yards which are over the current total of 1,125.50. The total is a bit high given that Kelce isn’t a wide receiver but if Mahomes can stay healthy, it’s a total that can easily be exceeded by Travis Kelce.
In the 29 games where Patrick Mahomes started and finished the game unhurt, Kelce has averaged 86.2 receiving yards per game. If you translate that to a 16-game season, Kelce would put up a total of 1,322 receiving yards. If Kelce continues to average 86.2 receiving yards alongside a healthy Patrick Mahomes, he would need only 13.06 games to hit the 1,126 mark. If Kelce plays in all 16 games this coming season, he would have to catch a total of 76.34 yards per game to surpass the betting total of 1,125.5 receiving yards.
Odds from Bovada as of 06/03/2020
Little Margin for Error
But while I think that Kelce is going to have another healthy season, you can never tell what will happen during a particular NFL season. It’s a man’s league and a hard-hitting one as well so despite being in 100% health, everyone’s going to get banged during the regular season and the possibility of injury is always there.
Should Kelce miss at least three games next season, then that is going to hurt his statistics. There is little margin for error here and we hope that both Kelce and Mahomes are healthy to justify these odds. Other factors could lead Kelce’s numbers to go down.
With the 2020 season schedule already affected by the coronavirus pandemic, will the offenses be on point despite a possible delay to the start of the season? Will the Chiefs rest their key players more often after a long playoff run last year? What if the Chiefs have already clinched their division title in Week? Will Kelce and Mahomes be rested for the playoffs.
Travis Kelce has caught more than 1,125 yards in the previous two seasons and he’s caught at least 1,125 in three out of the last four years in the NFL. He is undoubtedly in his athletic prime and there is no question that he is going to top this number for as long as he stays healthy and as long as Patrick Mahomes doesn’t get hurt.
Prediction: Over 1,125.5 yards