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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Kansas City Chiefs

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Last season we predicted the Chiefs would turn into an offensive juggernaut. They had a favorable schedule, added a proven offensive coordinator in Charlie Weis and brought in quality talent in running back Thomas Jones, tight end Tony Moeaki and offensive linemen Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann.

Kansas City made the playoffs, and in the process got career years from Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe. But this season, things could get a little difficult.

The schedule is definitely tougher, especially with road games at Indianapolis, New England, Chicago and the Jets and home games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Weis is gone, returning to college to run the offense at the University of Florida. And Kansas City has to hope Cassel, Charles and Bowe continue to play at a high level.

We're not worried about Charles. While the schedule will make it difficult for him to dramatically increase last season's performance – he had 230 carries for 1,467 yards and five touchdowns and 45 catches for 468 yards and three touchdowns – he should take on more work from Jones, who had 245 carries for 896 yards and six touchdowns and 14 catches for 122 yards.

The additional touches should allow Charles to finish with elite numbers. He should be considered a No. 1 Fantasy running back and is worth drafting in the Top 4 overall picks. As for Jones, he is only worth drafting with a late-round pick in standard leagues since his best days are behind him at 32.

Bowe also remains a standout Fantasy wide receiver, and he has become a No. 1 option. He led all wide receivers in touchdowns last year with 15 while adding 72 catches for 1,162 yards.

His touchdowns will go down, but he will still produce enough to be worth drafting as early as Round 3. Cassel will continue to rely on Bowe as his No. 1 target even though the Chiefs spent a first-round pick on receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

Speaking of Cassel, he's the one player of this trio who should suffer a decline. He had 3,116 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions last year with 125 rushing yards to finish as the No. 12 quarterback in standard leagues. He is not going to be that productive this season.

Bust … Matt Cassel, QB

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Matt Cassel
Running Backs
Jamaal Charles
Thomas Jones
Wide Receivers
Dwayne Bowe
Jonathan Baldwin
Dexter McCluster
Tight Ends
Tony Moeaki
Kicker/DST
Ryan Succop
Chiefs DST

Cassel is coming off a career-best season in 2010, and Fantasy owners want to know if he can build off those stats in 2011. Last year, Cassel took advantage of playing in Weis' offense and utilized all of the weapons, especially Bowe, who also had a career year. The good thing for Cassel in 2011 is Bowe is back, he has a strong running game with Charles and Jones and a young tight end in Moeaki. The bad news is Weis is gone, and there's really no quality No. 2 receiver opposite Bowe even with the addition of Baldwin. Coach Todd Haley should still be able to get enough out of Cassel to make him successful, but keep in mind prior to Weis joining the Chiefs, Cassel was mediocre in 2009. We consider Cassel a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues. He's good enough to be a bye-week replacement or start in an injury situation, but he's not someone you want to trust in your lineup on a weekly basis even in 14- or 16-team leagues. Consider drafting him with a late-round pick.

Late-round flier ... Tony Moeaki, TE

Moeaki was a surprise rookie in 2010, and he will look to play even better in his second-year in 2011. He got off to a hot start with two touchdowns in his first three games and became a hot commodity off the waiver wire, but he scored just once more for the rest of the year as he dealt with injuries. He finished the season with 47 catches for 556 yards, which was good enough for second in catches and yards in Kansas City behind Bowe, but that says more about the lack of receivers for the Chiefs than Moeaki's talent. Still, if you're looking for a No. 2 Fantasy tight end in deeper leagues, Moeaki is worth drafting. He has the potential for 50-plus catches, 600-plus yards and about six touchdowns, and he should be considered a good bye-week replacement during the year.

Keeper-league candidate ... Jonathan Baldwin, WR

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on Baldwin, who played at Pitt. Baldwin started 27 games for Pittsburgh the past three seasons, at both flanker and split end, and totaled 128 catches for 2,337 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Chiefs hope he will pair nicely with Bowe and give them a pass-catching tandem to be feared. Baldwin needs some work adjusting to the next level after leaving college earlier than desired. Expectations are small for Baldwin in 2011, so keep him limited to a late-round pick in keeper leagues. His only benefit in 2011 could be as a red-zone threat, which is an area where Kansas City struggled last season.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
BUF @DET @SD MIN @IND bye @OAK SD MIA DEN @NE PIT @CHI @NYJ GB OAK @DEN

The Chiefs had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL last year, but this season things get a little tougher. The season starts out easy with matchups against Buffalo and Indianapolis in the first five weeks, but it progressively gets difficult as the year goes on, including a five-game stretch at New England, Chicago and the Jets and home against Pittsburgh and Green Bay. You're not going to bench Charles during those matchups, but you can't expect him to dominate like he will against most other opponents.

Training camp topics

2010 Touches Leaders
* includes postseason
Player Touches
Jamaal Charles 285
Thomas Jones 265
Dwayne Bowe 73
Tony Moeaki 48
Dexter McCluster 45

The Chiefs know who their go-to guys are on offense in Cassel, Charles and Bowe. Jones will be a significant contributor, Moeaki has plenty of potential at tight end and Baldwin will be worked into the mix heavily.

But one player in Kansas City needs to make a dramatic improvement this season, and that's second-year receiver Dexter McCluster. He was terrible as a rookie in 2010 with fewer than 300 total yards and one touchdown. He had just 18 carries and 21 receptions.

McCluster could see more time at running back this year to help give him extra touches, but he needs to be more productive with the ball in his hands. Fantasy owners should avoid him in the majority of leagues on Draft Day, but if he plays well early in the season then he is worth adding off the waiver wire.

Injury update

Brad Cottam (neck; questionable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
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(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

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"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

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Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


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(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


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"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


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The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


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(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

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