With fantasy football drafts kicking into high gear over the next week, it’s time to look at the fantasy prospects for the 2013 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs. Fantasy football owners are not sure what to expect out of many Chiefs players this year, but they DO know that outside of RB Jamaal Charles, the putrid collection of fantasy players on the team last season might have been one of the worst in fantasy football history. Six Pro-Bowlers, my butt!
However, a new year brings with it a new main man in the front office in former Green Bay Packers personnel man, John Dorsey, but more importantly, former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. During his 14-year tenure in Philly, Reid’s teams provided a bounty of good fantasy players and a handful of truly elite fantasy players.
The Chiefs will probably need a year in Reid’s system, plus an influx of better talent (“See ya later, Jon Baldwin!”) before fantasy owners will see anything resembling what he put together in Philly. But, that doesn’t mean Kansas City doesn’t offer some good value in this season’s draft.
Here is how I see the Chiefs contributing to your fantasy football championship this year, basing my rankings on a 12-team league using standard fantasy scoring rules and a roster of 22 players.:
Starter – Alex Smith
Back-ups – Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
The Chiefs problems at quarterback last year became the stuff of fantasy legend (well, legendary if you were starting whatever defense was playing AGAINST the Chiefs that week), so it wasn’t a surprise to see Reid and Dorsey target disposed 49er QB Smith to come in and take over the starter’s duties.
Smith is a highly-intelligent QB that will take a sack or throw the ball away before tossing an interception which will be helpful if your league penalizes turnovers. Unfortunately for fantasy, he is not the kind of elite QB that throws for 300 yards and 2-3 touchdowns every week. I personally like Smith more than many of the online sites have him ranked, but even I admit that his strengths are not what wins you fantasy championships over the long haul.
QB draft projection: I would comfortably draft Smith somewhere in the Round 13 or 14 area. He can be a solid back-up for your team as a mid-level #2 fantasy QB, with the potential of being a nice sleeper pick if he takes to Reid’s system quickly. Daniel and Bray should be left to your waiver wire unless Smith gets hurt.
Starter – Jamaal Charles
Probable back-ups: Knile Davis, (Shaun Draughn or Cyrus Gray)
Charles is far and away the most impactful fantasy player on the Chiefs and the second-best player (WR Dwayne Bowe) isn’t even that close. Charles is an elite fantasy back and has a chance in Reid’s offensive scheme to be a fantasy MVP. Charles will be catching more passes and if you play in a PPR (Points Per Reception) league, his is a top-5 pick in the draft. The ONLY knock on Charles in fantasy is his lack of touchdowns scored, but listening to Reid talk this preseason, it looks like Charles will get an opportunity to become this generation’s Marcus Allen. Allen, if you remember, had a nose for the end zone and always got the ball at the goal line. Charles could have a legitimate shot at double-digit touchdowns this year.
Davis is still adjusting to being a running back in the NFL. He drops his head down when hitting the line of scrimmage and fumbles the ball too much. Oh, and he can’t block a defender in the backfield if his life depended on it. The good news is that all three of those things can be fixed with a little bit of time and some good coaching, which he should get from the Chiefs. Davis is a logical handcuff player if you took Charles with your first pick. I also like Davis late in your draft as a deep sleeper.
RB draft projection: Charles could come off the board as early as the #2 pick in the draft behind Adrian Peterson if you think his touchdown totals will hit double-digits. Anywhere after pick #5 in your draft is a steal. Davis can be picked up during the last five rounds of your draft if he’s your fourth or fifth fantasy RB.
Starter: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster
Back-ups: You don’t need to care at this point.
To put it simply, there’s Dwayne Bowe and then a bunch of guys that should end up undrafted and on your waiver wire. OK, to be fair, if you take either Avery or McCluster late in your draft as your fifth or sixth WR, you should be all right. McCluster has slightly higher value in PPR leagues as I think he’s going to see a lot of passes on third-and-long. As a Chiefs fan, I have high hopes that Avery can somehow stay healthy and catch 70 passes. But, as a fantasy football guy, I see 45 catches and 3 touchdowns in his future. I hope I’m wrong.
Bowe is considered a sleeper in this fantasy draft despite the fact that he is one of the better-known receivers in the game. The Chiefs schedule is packed with teams that give up tons of fantasy points to wide receivers and now that Bowe has a competent quarterback that can get him the ball in stride, he could match the production he had back in his career year of 2010 (72 catches, 1162 yards, 15 touchdowns).
WR draft projection: Bowe is a strong #2 fantasy receiver and will probably have to be taken by the fifth round. Any time after the fifth round is excellent value for Bowe. Avery and McCluster are late-round draft picks as deep fantasy back-ups.
Starter: Anthony Fasano
Back-Up: Travis Kelce and (for now) Tony Moeaki
Tight end has become one of the deepest positions in fantasy football over the past five years. Right now, the Chiefs don’t have a stud fantasy tight end. Anthony Fasano is undraftable as there are at least 20 other tight ends that will put up better numbers. If you play in a dynasty league where you can keep players for a certain number of years, Travis Kelce is the guy I would target late in your draft – say the last four rounds. Tony Moeaki has a fractured shoulder and his prospects of even being on the Chiefs roster at this point are shaky.
TE draft projection: Take Kelce late in dynasty leagues or if your league plays two tight ends. Avoid Fasano for now because he’ll be available on your waiver wire if you need him later.
Kicker: One of the mild surprises of the off-season is that Reid and Dorsey didn’t even bring in a rookie free agent to compete with Ryan Succop for the KC kicking job. One of the tried and true strategies in fantasy football is to not draft your placekicker until the last three rounds of your draft. In the NFL, the fantasy point differential between the top kicker and the 15th is usually just a small handful of points. Leave Succop on your league waiver wire and don’t draft him.
Ok … your Chiefs Examiner tries hard not to be a homer when it comes to fantasy, but I LOVE the Kansas City defense/special teams this year, especially because I can guarantee you that they will be available later in your draft to be your back-up D/ST. Almost all the national sources you can use for your draft preparation (ESPN, NFL.com, Rotowire, Sporting News, etc.) all have the Chiefs D/ST ranked in the low-20’s at best. And, based on their performance last year, I can’t argue with that ranking.
However, if your league gives special teams points to the defensive unit and NOT the individual player that scores a touchdown, I think the Chiefs can be the biggest sleeper of the year. Fans have already seen several kick returns of over 50 yards, and two 100+-yard touchdown returns in three games on special teams, so if the defense can force more turnovers this year than they have in the past (and it would be almost impossible NOT to do that), the Chiefs might be a starting-caliber fantasy unit that you picked up in the 17th round. A steal ….
That’s my look at the fantasy impact of the Chiefs this year. Last year got me so depressed with fantasy that I stopped writing weekly articles about the Chiefs fantasy prospects (“Play Jamaal Charles, bench everyone else.”) around Week 6. However, this year I plan on doing an article every Wednesday looking ahead to the upcoming opponent.
Because the Chiefs CAN’T be worse than last year, right?
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