Kansas City Chiefs
|By Chris Weeks, Monday, October 21, 2013|
QB Alex Smith - Quality Backup
Update (10/20): Alex Smith has been a game manager all season and that is not good for fantasy owners. Sure he's winning games for the 7-0 Chiefs, but he's not posting great stats in the process so his fantasy numbers have been mediocre at best. This trend will likely continue as the Chiefs continue to win games.
Finally, the Chiefs have a competent QB. Hey, Matt Cassel was good for a while, until he wasn't. As a 49er, Smith posted some of the best numbers of his career the past two seasons, though we're not talking Brady-esque stats. Assisted by a stout run game and a playmaking defense, the former No. 1 overall pick's role in the offense was essentially to manage the clock and not turn the ball over. As a member of the Chiefs, Smith will have to air it more as a way to compensate for other unit shortcomings and because Andy Reid's system demands heavy aerial work. Kansas City has some explosive weapons with Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but there are questions surrounding WR2, TE and the offensive line. There is a chance Smith will continue what he started in San Francisco, but we're not sold on that quite yet. Hey, he was benched. Until we see him in action, it is probably best to draft Smith as a low-end QB2.
RB Jamaal Charles - Stud (low risk)
Update (8-16): That's it this preseason for Charles. According to a report, the Chiefs will hold their starting RB out of Kansas City's remaining preseason games after he suffered a mild foot sprain in the opener. As long as he's good for the real season opener, then resting now is arguably a good thing. Charles remains part of the RB tier following Adrian Peterson.
Update (8-13): Charles suffered an injury during Monday's practice, which doctors later diagnosed as a foot strain. For now, Charles' football status is considered day-to-day, a major relief for the Chiefs and fantasy footballers. In PPR format, he's currently listed as FFToolbox's No. 2 running back. Assuming no change in medical prognosis, Charles remains a high pick and an exciting option this season.
After missing nearly the entire 2011 season due to a torn ACL, Charles bounced back last year with monster campaign, rushing for 1,509 yards while tacking on 236 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The mighty production came while part of an offense that often looked appeared lost or helpless. At least the overall dysfunction led to 320 touches for Charles, who showed he could handle the workload, though his week-to-week stats had noticeable peaks and valleys. Expect better days for Charles and the entire offense this season with new head coach Andy Reid running the show. The west coast offense Reid likes to run should result in fewer carries, but more receptions for the slithery back. This means if you're in a points-per-reception league, Charles should be gold, no less than a top 3-5 selection.
RB Knile Davis - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The rookie out of Arkansas has all the tools to be a valuable asset to the Chiefs offense. That is if his ankle can hold out and he can learn how to hold on to the ball. In between injuries, the bruising back posted impressive stats at Arkansas as he led the SEC with 1,322 yards in 2010. Then he missed 2011 with a broken ankle, and then he received only 112 carries last season. Kansas City saw enough to select Davis in the third round and he likely ends up as Jamaal Charles' backup/handcuff. If he avoids fumbles, perhaps more can be expected, but for now only draft Davis as a late round sleeper.
RB Shaun Draughn - Low Potential
Draughn carried the ball 59 times for 233 yards with a pair of touchdowns last season. When playing behind a great back such as Jamaal Charles, numbers like these are what one would expect. In 2013, Draughn might be lucky to reach such heights now that Knile Davis is in the mix for the No. 2 job. More than in the mix, the bruising rookie is the favorite for the gig if he avoids the fumblitis situation that haunted him at Arkansas. At that point, perhaps Draughn is the technical backup. However, Davis would get first crack if Charles went down, which leaves Draughn as waiver wire fodder.
WR Dwayne Bowe - Solid/Safe Pick
Update (10/20): The Chiefs continue to win and that's all that matters, right? Well for fantasy owners, winning is not always the greatest thing. Bowe's numbers have slumped this season becuase the Chiefs are winning. At one time Bowe was a must start, but now he is nothing more than a flex or bye week fill-in.
Profile: If you're going to be a top tier receiver in the NFL, you need a quality quarterback throwing you the ball. Thus far in Bowe's career he has had less than stellar passers throwing him the ball. Alex Smith should help some, but your mileage may vary on the definition of "some." One might argue that Smith's presence means Bowe could finish among the top-10 wide receivers. Perhaps, but dropping outside of the top-24 is also a possibility. At least with Smith and Andy Reid's play calling presence, Bowe should remain useful more often than not. After scoring 15 touchdowns in 2010, the 6-foot-2 target caught eight over the last two seasons. Again, more help should lead to more production. Ideally, his newly minted contract does as well. After the top 15-18 wide outs are gone, start looking in Bowe's direction, especially as your team's second or third receiver.
WR Dexter McCluster - Deep-league Only
Is he a receiver, a running back or maybe a little of both? The problem with McCluster is nobody knows where he is going to line up. Actually, that should be a problem for defenses, but through three seasons, it hasn't. In that stretch, the 5-foot-9 McCluster had 144 carries and 119 receptions with a total of four touchdowns. Expect Andy Reid to frequently use the hybrid threat in the slot...and outside...and lined up, well, everything, but mostly inside where Kansas City can take advantage of mismatches. Until the Chiefs do exactly that with McCluster, don't plan to draft the speedster until the final rounds at best in 12-plus team leagues.
WR Donnie Avery - Deep-league Only
Last season was Avery's most productive as a pro, but don't count on a repeat performance. The sixth-year receiver out of Houston posted career-high numbers in receptions (60) and yards (781 yards) with three touchdowns. These numbers came while playing in the Colts downfield passing attack and with Andrew Luck, a better QB than fellow No. 1 pick and Chiefs starter Alex Smith. While there's a chance Avery could work his way into a starting role, it's not likely. Even if he sees significant playing time, that just means more opportunities for him to drop passes, a frequent issue during his career. Consider Avery a dark horse fantasy option but at this point, the risk far outweighs the reward.
WR Jon Baldwin - Bust (overvalued)
Before his rookie and second season, we looked at Baldwin and thought that maybe this is when it all comes together. Alas, we're still only imagining as the former first round pick has 41 receptions and two scores in 26 games. Baldwin has tremendous size (6-foot-4) and natural ability, but he hasn't been able to put that talent to use in the NFL. Having a high-percentage passer like Alex Smith should help with better throws, but that probably won't be enough. For those thinking this could be Baldwin's year, we should not that taking any NFL starting WR in the final round or two is fine and he might beat out Donnie Avery for the starting job opposite Dwayne Bowe. However, he shouldn't beat out more worthy fantasy options for a spot on your roster.
Update: Jon Baldwin was traded to the 49ers in a straight up trade with the Chiefs for second year wide receiver AJ Jenkins. Trash for trash? Maybe. Baldwin could slot right into the WR4 spot in the Niners offense, or he could get cut before the season. Let's see how he adjusts.
WR Jamar Newsome - Not Draft Worthy
There isn't much in the way of interesting pieces on the Chiefs receiver depth chart once we get past the top four targets, led by Dwayne Bowe. Newsome, who had only five receptions for 73 yards as a rookie, is among the "other" options, along with Junior Hemingway, Terrance Copper and Devon Wylie. Unless something happens to a couple of guys ahead of him, there is no need to even monitor these players.
TE Travis Kelce - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (10/20): Kelce was placed on season ending IR due to a right knee injury.
Profile: Will the Chiefs bring Kelce along slowly or throw him immediately into the fray. This is the question fantasy owners would like answered sooner than later, especially with so much uncertainty at the tight end position this season. Kansas City's long-term answer at TE caught eight touchdowns last season for the Cincinnati Bearcats, which explains in part why he's considered a sleeper option. Kansas City also has vets Anthony Fasano and Tony Moeaki on the roster. Daring and deep league owners can certainly take a shot on Kelce as a backup if he ends up Kansas City's starter, but realistically he's a wait-and-see waiver option.
Update 9/1: TE Tony Moeaki has been released, which means bigger things for both Anthony Fasano and rookie Travis Kelce. Still hard to count on either as a viable TE2, but the upside is there in deeper leagues.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
TE Anthony Fasano - Deep-league Only
Update (8/21): It looks like Alex Smith and Fasano have developed a nice bit of chemistry in the preseason. After Bowe, there is no clear cut second receiver on the team; if the preseason is any indication of what we'll see this season then Fasano appears to be taking over that role. The drawback here is that fellow TE Travis Kelce has also performed well. At this point, it looks like a two man race with Fasano holding the slight edge.
The Chiefs signed Fasano to a four-contract, indicating he's the starter, though incumbent and oft-injured Tony Moeaki remains on the roster. Realistically, the ex-Dolphin is a placeholder until rookie Travis Kelce takes the job. Whether that happens in 2013 is uncertain and Fasano has been a decent bye week option, scoring 14 touchdowns over the past three seasons. He has good hands, knows his way around the red zone and is a quality blocker and the Chiefs. If indeed he is the starter, Fasano could be an in-the-pinch fill in owners can grab off waivers.
Update 9/1: TE Tony Moeaki has been released, which means bigger things for both Anthony Fasano and rookie Travis Kelce. Still hard to count on either as a viable TE2, but the upside is there in deeper leagues.Injury Status: Out - Concussion
TE Tony Moeaki - Not Draft Worthy
Update (8/26): In Saturday night's win over the Steelers, Moeaki suffered a broken shoulder. I know it is hard to believe Tony will miss time due to an injury, but it's happening again. This leaves Fassano and rookie Travis Kelce (who is suffering from a knee injury) as the only viable TE options in KC.
Any initial hope that Moeaki would be a nice replacement for Tony Gonzalez faded once knee injuries became the norm. The Chiefs were obviously concerned enough to sign Anthony Fasano and draft Travis Kelce, moves that put Moeaki's role and roster spot in jeopardy. There is no reason to consider the 26-year-old for fantasy unless a dramatic turnaround occurs.
Update: 9/1 Tony Moeaki has been released from the Chiefs.
PK Ryan Succop - Bye Week Fill-in
Better offense means more chances for Succop, who will be fantasy-worthy here and there in 2013. For example, two games against the Raiders. Actually, Alex Smith's time with the 49ers included many a strong game for his kicker, which actually makes Succop a semi-sleeper, as far as kickers go. Regardless, there are better draft-day options.
Kansas City Defense - Bye Week Fill-in
Injuries crushed this unit a year ago. When healthy, there are legitimate playmakers at all three levels, including safety Eric Berry, pass rusher Tamba Hali and nose tackle Dontari Poe. Still, the KC defense allowed over 26 points per game and ranked 29th in sacks. If the Chiefs become a surprise playoff contender, this side of the ball will have improved lots, but let that improvement show before putting the defense on your fantasy roster.