It’s a big transition year for the Kansas City Chiefs. Romeo Crennel did well enough with the team as interim last year to get the nod as Head Coach for this season. They have some nice pieces but what can it amount to and who should we target for fantasy football?
Zach Thompson, FantasyCPR: Hey Patrick, thanks for helping us get a insider perspective on the Chiefs as we get geared up for our fantasy drafts. The big story from Chiefs camp early seems to be Dwayne Bowe. What’s up with Bowe? Is he going to sign and how will this impact his value this season?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: Man, I’m not sure what is going on. I thought Bowe holding off on signing for leverage during the negotiations but once the deadline passed for him to sign a long-term deal, I expected he’d sign his tender and show up to camp on time.
Other than avoiding injury, he’s really hurting himself by refusing to report. He can’t change his situation. He has to play under the tag. All he is doing by staying away is making himself look bad. He also is not getting in football shape and not learning the new offense. This is going to have a negative impact on him when he does show up. It will also hurt the team. If what Bowe wants is a big contract, having a terrific 2012 season is what would help him get it. Going like this, I don’t see that happening.
Z: Bowe’s production is closely tied to the evolution of Matt Cassell. What’s your view of his production for the coming year? He’s not getting drafted or ranked in the top 15 in most places that I’ve seen. What’s his upside and how can he get there?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: Cassel has very low upside for fantasy. He rarely throws for a ton of yards and the only season where he put up impressive TD numbers was 2010 when he threw 27. Still, the Chiefs are a run first and ask questions later team. They are designed to limit the load put on Cassel.
When protected Cassel can do a nice job and he will avoid interceptions. If you are in a bye week and you see the Chiefs are taking on a cupcake defense, Cassel could be a decent fill-in. Other than that, there are probably better options out there.
Z: Another player on the Chiefs who is recovering from injury that I haven’t heard much about is Tony Moeacki. Moeacki was showing some promise before going down when he was given the opportunity as a pass catcher. Can he be a sleeper this year and is he fully over his injury?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: He is certainly a sleeper. He is talented, he can block and he is a heck of a pass catcher. Cassel is much better throwing over the middle than to the outside so Moeaki is likely to benefit from that.
The problem with Tony is injury concerns. If you can snag him for value as a 2nd TE, I’d definitely do it but his injury history is too questionable for me to advise taking him too early. Make no mistake, however, if you do land him, he has skills and will produce for you.
Z: Who else do you think will emerge in the receiving game? Is Jon Baldwin worth targeting on draft day?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: Target Baldwin. This is a guy that you should be able to get for good value considering his poor rookie season. The reports out of camp on him are very positive so far. Also, remember that Dwayne Bowe is holding out. If and when he does show up, he is going to be way behind. Baldwin is benefiting from all the extra practice snaps. He is a big receiver who loves to go up and get the ball. He should be near the top of most sleeper lists this season.
Z: Another fascinating situation is emerging in the Chiefs backfield. Jamaal Charles is supposedly back from injury. Is he a top ten back this year?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: Yes. Jamaal Charles is one of the best backs I have ever seen. Don’t let his season off fool you. He is tough and usually guts through injuries. If he can be on the field, he will be.
Fantasy experts will tell you to watch out for Peyton Hillis stealing touches from Jamaal. Don’t buy it. The Chiefs plan to give each of these guys about 250 carries. Charles is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.
Is there a risk with him coming off the ACL injury? Sure. But take it from someone who has watched Charles his entire career, this guy is worth the risk. If you can snag him early in round 2, you had better do it. I’d even say the end of round 1 depending on how things are shaking out.
Don’t worry about Hillis. Charles’ best season came in 2010 when he shared time with Thomas Jones. Jones got more carries than Charles and Charles still rushed for nearly 1,467. On 230 carries. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry. He has averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his career.
In 2012 he will be playing behind the best offensive line the Chiefs have had since he came into the NFL.
Oh yeah, and he’s only 25.
Z: I think the time-split can be great for the Chiefs, but will drive fantasy owners crazy. Is there a place for Dexter McCluster in all this?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: From what I am hearing from camp, they are using him mostly as a WR again. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is going to use McCluster but I would avoid him. He is just too small to ever get enough touches to be a great fantasy value. He could prove me wrong this year but I wouldn’t recommend taking him very early.
Z: The growth on the defensive side of the ball was huge for the Chiefs last year. Can they be even better this year, or do you think they’ll take a step back? Who will be new key playmakers for KC?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: If everyone stays healthy, the Chiefs should easily have a top ten defense. Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Brandon Flowers are your playmakers. This is a defense that could come up with a lot of interceptions this year. They will be under the radar and could be a shrewd defensive pickup this season.
Z: What was your reaction to the Chiefs draft?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: Other than Dontari Poe (NT) it was a depth draft. The Chiefs really added to their lines but I don’t see many of the rookies making much of an impact. Though you might want to keep an eye on RB Cyrus Gray this season. If something happens to Charles or Hillis, I have a hunch he will see time.
Z: Last one, give me your realistic expectation for the Chiefs this season. The AFC West should be fascinating to watch. Do you think they can get into the playoffs in their first season under Romeo or are they still a few pieces away?
Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict: The Chiefs have a very real shot to win the AFC West. I think the team is talented enough that their basement is 8-8 and their ceiling is 12-4. It all comes down to the players staying healthy and of course, Matt Cassel playing well. If the Chiefs stumble this season, it will likely be Cassel’s doing. It would be a big disappointment if the Chiefs weren’t in the division race all season long.
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