Whether you’re a die-hard Chiefs fan or a fantasy football player who drafted Travis Kelce in the first round, yesterday’s news that Kelce hyperextended his knee less than 48 hours before Week 1 came as a massive shock.
Kelce is doubtful to play vs. the Lions on Thursday Night Football, so the Chiefs will turn to a combination of Noah Gray and Blake Bell to fill the void at tight end.
The organization is high on Gray’s receiving chops but Bell is more experienced, so which tight end should bettors and fantasy football players trust?
Noah Gray vs. Blake Bell: Which Chiefs Tight End to Trust?
Betting markets indicate Gray is the favorite to replace Kelce’s production, with the third-year player out of Duke listed at +190 to score a touchdown vs. the Lions while Bell is +480.
That falls in line with each player’s typical role, as Bell is used primarily as a blocker or ball carrier in short-yardage situations while Gray poses more of a downfield threat. Gray hauled in 28 passes for 299 yards and a touchdown last season, showcasing a chemistry with Mahomes that Bell hasn’t yet.
To Bell’s credit, he hasn’t been given much of a chance. He suited up for only three games last year and hauled in just two passes, so it’s far more likely that the Chiefs rely on him to block while Gray gets opportunities in the passing game.
It’s impossible for Gray to bring everything to the table that Kelce does and unfair to ask him to, but he’s got a much better shot given his skillset than Bell does. He averaged 10.7 yards per catch last season and impressed in training camp.
Gray received at least one target in every game in 2022, including in the playoffs, so Andy Reid and the coaching staff trust him. I expect Mahomes to spread the ball around to make up for Kelce’s absence, but Gray should have ample opportunity to deliver.
Don’t go expecting Gray to turn into a first-round value at tight end in fantasy, though he’s capable of putting up a solid performance tomorrow night vs. the Lions.
If you’re looking to back the Chiefs, new users at FanDuel who bet $5 or more will receive a GUARANTEED $200 bonus PLUS $100 off NFL Sunday Ticket this season! Just sign up for FanDuel, deposit at least $10, then bet $5 or more and you’ll get $200 in bonus bets plus your discount whether you win or lose. Sign up now!
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.