July 20, 2024

Dynasty Dilemma: Rashee Rice

 

I’m going to begin by stating that I, Brendon Booth, H A T E the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, I don’t say that because I’ve been a Raiders fan for over 40 years, although I do for that reason, as well. It’s simply this: as a fantasy football analyst, I hate the fact that the Chiefs have rostered seven wide receivers and nobody knows what to do with them. I say this as an owner of Kadarius Toney. I say this as an owner of Justyn Ross. I say this as a 30% shareholder of Deneric Prince who was squeezed off of the 53-man roster to make room for KC’s 7th WR. And I say this as an NON-owner of Rashee Rice, in spite of the fact that I would like to have him on one or more of my rosters.

Rice was a stud at pass-heavy SMU. He was drafted by the Chiefs in the 2nd round of the 2023 draft and you would think that draft capital would quickly earn him a heavy role in the Chiefs offense. There is just too much competition in that WR room to get a great feel of how he is going to be deployed. If he is an integral piece, earning a high enough target share from Patrick Mahomes to be relevant in fantasy, then he could be a nice waiver wire pick-up for you, if he’s available. This is our dynasty dilemma. Let’s dig a little deeper on this rookie, though, and see if we can figure something out together.

As I said, Rice holds 2nd round draft capital. While one of the prime indicators of fantasy success for wide receivers is being drafted in the first round, there are plenty of 2nd rounders that hold significant value. Christian Watson, George Pickens, and the Chiefs’ own Skyy Moore were all 2nd rounders in 2022. 2021 saw Elijah and Rondale Moore both go early on Day 2. In 2020, the 2nd round WRs included Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, Jr., and personal favorite Van Jefferson. While all of these guys vary in their potential offerings, you can see how 2nd rounders can be viable assets.

On the field, Rice presents some true upside. While his 4.51 combine 40-time isn’t ideal, Rice offers elite level explosiveness with a 1.49 10-yard split placing him in the 92nd percentile, and a 41-inch vertical jump, good for a 96th percentile spot. In basketball, they call that “jumping out of the building.” His 6’1″, 204 lb frame makes him big enough to be a contested catch target and a red-zone threat as he plays even bigger than his stature. Rice is more than capable as a route-runner in short and intermediate situations but is even better on deep throws, and he is good at creating yards after the catch. He also shared college targets with fellow SMU teammates, now in the NFL, Danny Gray of the 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles TE Grant Calcaterra.

Rashee Rice offers the size, skillset, athletic profile, and college pedigree that you want, and the draft capital of at least 6 WRs in the top 48 of dynasty rankings. His current DynastyPros ranking of 53 just screams “SLEEPER.”

Did I mention that I hate the Chiefs’ WR situation? Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore are poised just under TE Travis Kelce as starting targets for Patrick Mahomes. Justin Watson, Justyn Ross, Richie James, and Rice round out the receiving corps, with Rice listed on the depth chart as the backup Z, or flanker, to Toney. Now, Toney has a pretty sketchy injury history which could lead to the perfect opportunity for Rice to slide into the starting mix, but the Chiefs have stated that Rice, along with Ross will “start out as ‘package’ players.” So IF there’s an injury to Toney and Rice graduates to the flanker role, there could be some value there.

Depth chart position isn’t the only thing working against Rice. Let’s take a second and look at his teammate Skyy Moore and HIS situation as a rookie in Andy Reid’s offense. Moore, again, also a 2nd round pick was limited to the point of irrelevance as a rookie. Moore is slightly smaller and a little bit faster than Rice, and is more suited to the Y or slot role, and he earned lower than a 30% target share as a rookie, in 16 games. He had 22 catches for 250 yards, had an average target depth of 7.7 yards, and earned just 5.7% of team air yards. Contrast that with fellow rookie George Pickens who, albeit in a different role, had one-third the drop rate of Moore and almost four times the receptions on three times the targets, an aDOT of 14.7 yards, and 27.4% of team air yards. If the Chiefs believe the best thing for Rice is to slowly acclimate, his only spot in your roster is on the taxi squad.

The final drawback to Rice hasn’t anything to do with situation or ability, it’s in his attitude. He has been reported as “nonchalant” in his intent and “takes plays off.” He also hasn’t shown a desire to increase his commitment to detail as a route runner and chooses to “get by” on size and physical abilities rather than technique. Reports are that he ran a very limited route-tree in college and a poor attitude means that he could be in trouble if he is supposed to improve in the NFL. If all Rice wants to do is run downfield and catch jump balls for glory, there is a place for that, but it won’t equate to much production.

After investigation, I might be better off, at this point, not owning any shares of Rashee Rice, and you may be, too. That means, however, that his value is at an all-time low. If his usage rate mirrors Skyy Moore’s as a rookie, Rice will definitely be worth a stash if you have a taxi squad spot open. His value is that of a handcuff running back or a mid to late 2nd round rookie pick in 2024 or 2025. If you are trading with a Rice owner, don’t be afraid to add him to the receiving side in exchange for a 3rd rounder or a Jordan Mason type. If waiting on his potential, which he has plenty of, is good enough for Andy Reid, it should be good enough for us.