Kansas City Chiefs
|By Jeb Gorham, Saturday, August 16, 2014|
QB Alex Smith - Sleeper (undervalued)
Smith could be considered a sleeper given his current QB rankings. He had his best season ever in 2013 with over 3,300 passing yards and nearly 500 rushing yards. His 23 passing touchdowns and only seven interceptions last season were enough to make him the occasional matchup start or bye week replacement. Smith has Charles to lead the rushing attack and it looks like his receiving corps is taking shape. Bowe and Avery provide solid targets. As the 24th ranked QB, Smith should be easier to draft this season if you are looking for a QB who can perform at a near QB1 level. The offense will revolve around the run and short/intermediate passes. Since Smith won't be asked to truly carry the offense, his ceiling is limited as a QB2 for fantasy owners.
RB Jamaal Charles - Stud (low risk)
FANTASY ROYALTY: Charles is the ultimate fantasy stud. His 1,287 rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs produced his best fantasy season to date. On the receiving side, Charles doubled his 2012 receiving targets and gained nearly 700 yards through the air, along with seven touchdowns. Charles should see continued chemistry with Alex Smith and continue to be the focal point of this offense's game-plan. He has been the Chiefs' MVP four of the last five seasons. Charles is a no-brainer in fantasy circles and should be off the board with either the first or second pick in redraft.
Editor's note: Expecting Charles to replicate his 2013 numbers isn't wise. During his three best seasons as the Chiefs' primary back (2009-10, 2012), he scored 22 total TDs. Last season, he scored 19 total TDs. A big year could still be on the way; however, a regression toward the mean is a more logical outlook. The wild card is head coach Andy Reid. His presence obviously did wonders for Charles' production. It just wouldn't make much sense to expect him to do it all over again after smashing most of his personal bests by a wide margin. Also, losses to the offensive line are never easy to work through and the Chiefs have had their share of offensive line issues this off-season losing three key starters to free agency.
RB De'Anthony Thomas - Dynasty Only
De'Anthony Thomas is listed at number three on the running back depth chart, but figures to be more of a slot receiver than anything else in Reid's offense. Almost used like Percy Harvin (where he can line up off the line), Thomas can go in motion and create matchup problems. Thomas has been compared to former Chiefs' WR Dexter McCluster with his returner skills and pass-catching abilities. We'll see how he figures into the mix his rookie season, but for now he is a dynasty only option.
RB Knile Davis - Fantasy Handcuff
Knile Davis is one of the few true fantasy handcuffs. Not only is Charles already an obvious example of a back who might need a handcuff after having missed almost all of the 2011 season due to injury, Davis would completely take the reins as the driver of the Chiefs' offensive attack. Davis looks to be fully healed from the fractured leg he sustained in last year's playoffs and must be ready to spell Charles in this 2014 campaign. Davis could easily get more work if KC chooses to rest Charles more often this season. Grab Davis in your draft with confidence if you can afford the roster spot for a handcuff and hope he gets more opportunities.
RB Cyrus Gray - Not Draft Worthy
Cyrus Gray has 16 carries over his two years with the team. Being buried on the depth chart severely limits his already very low potential. Gray will not be relevant unless Charles and Davis go down. Even then, he has some competition for his roster spot. He has two years left on his initial rookie contract, so his bargain price-point may keep him around.
WR Dwayne Bowe - Bust (overvalued)
Bowe is on the bubble as a WR2/WR3 pick-up for most fantasy owners; some might even call him a gamble. Bowe can be a quality backup as it all depends upon your league size. Alex Smith and Bowe found some late season chemistry and the former LSU receiver put up some solid games from Weeks 11 to 16. We all know that Bowe has big play potential, yet he appears to be past his prime.
Update (8/15): Bowe will be suspended in Week 1 for his violation of the league's substance abuse policy. In his absence we might see more of Travis Kelce in Week 1.
WR Donnie Avery - Deep-league Only
Avery is another 30-year-old receiver on the Chiefs, Dwayne Bowe being the first. Speaking of Bowe, he is entrenched as the number one wideout, but Avery (and the up-and-coming A.J. Jenkins) will likely battle it out for the WR2 spot. So far Avery is winning this battle and getting the first-team reps; Jenkins has been slowed by injuries. Avery should be looked at as a deep-league only player at this stage since he only posted 40 receptions for less than 600 yards and two TDs last season. He now has more competition for snaps with De'Anthony Thomas and Junior Hemingway seeing slot work. It's highly unlikely Avery is ever productive enough to crack a starting lineup in the vast majority of leagues.
WR A.J. Jenkins - Low Potential
Since being shipped over in a trade from San Francisco, A.J. Jenkins will be looking to take control of the number two WR spot while in competition with Donnie Avery. Jenkins is battling injuries, so it is unlikely he can make an impact until the preseason. It appears that Jenkins will have to try and work his way into the mix with Bowe, Avery and now De'Anthony Thomas and Junior Hemingway possibly taking over the slot.
TE Travis Kelce - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
UPDATE: Kelce showed breakaway speed in the pre-season. It's just one game though. Let's keep watching.
Travis Kelce had micro-fracture surgery in October 2013 and is in the starting tight end conversation with Anthony Fasano (aka an injury waiting-to-happen) and Sean McGrath. Of this bunch, Kelce appears to be the leader so long as he can get reps in camp and prove he has some worth to Alex Smith. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Kelce can provide a big target over the middle and when healthy, he will have a chance to prove himself. His fantasy potential this season is limited to only deep-league only option or perhaps a very, very deep sleeper.
TE Anthony Fasano - Low Potential
After leaving Miami, Anthony Fasano was supposed to pick up right where he left off as a potential fantasy backup. Unfortunately, he only played nine games last season after being out with ankle, knee and head injuries. This season he has to deal with the upside of Travis Kelce and Sean McGrath to compete with and looks to be sliding down the depth chart. Fasano is the starter in name only.
PK Ryan Succop - Quality Backup
Ryan Succop missed some short-yardage field goals last season and is not part of a high-scoring offense. For these reasons, he is a quality backup at best. With just 22 made FGs last season, he would need a significant increase in his attempts to crack the Top 12 at his position.
Kansas City - Stud (low risk)
The Kansas City defense should once again be an excellent unit. Despite the release of Brandon Flowers (which opened about $7.5 million on the salary cap), the Chiefs have some solid talent returning and will now have more money to re-sign Justin Houston.
Editor's note: Kansas City relied heavily on a blitz-happy approach to create turnovers and force QBs into mistakes. They'll use the same approach again in 2014. One major concern is that the Chiefs ranked 25th against the pass and 22nd against the run last year. Kansas City's defense really fell apart by the end of the year as offenses made the proper adjustments to exploit their defense. This group, like almost all DSTs, is not a sure thing.