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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
Standout snags Thursday give hope to Panthers WR Stephen Hill
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill flashed some of the potential Thursday that he never reached with the Jets. He caught three deep balls, beating starting cornerback Josh Norman on one of them.

But such achievements are quickly forgotten in May. If Hill doesn't produce when training camp and the preseason games roll around, he will be in the same predicament he has been in since August.

That's when he was waived by the Jets and landed on the Carolina practice squad. And that is not where a player with his talent belongs. But Hill, a second-round selection in 2012, only caught 45 passes for the Jets in his first two seasons combined, so he must prove his worthiness all over again.

Quarterback Cam Newton ran downfield to congratulate Hill on his catch against Norman, which pleased the wideout. He was encouraged by his performance.

"Today was pretty good," he told the Charlotte Observer. "I made a couple big plays, but still need to work on some things when it came to individuals."


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"I'm getting a lot of mental reps right now," Benjamin said. "Right now, it's about getting healthy and getting back on the field.

"It's up to the trainers. Right now they're just taking their time with it."

The Panthers want to be careful with their second-year player.

"Kelvin tweaked it a couple of weeks ago. Coming out of a break, he slipped a little bit on the wet turf and strained it," coach Ron Rivera said. "We're being a little bit cautious, but the unintended consequence that's been a plus has been getting [Devin Funchess]snaps."

Benjamin set a rookie record with 1,008 yards receiving last season.


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(4:00 pm ET) Steelers rookie linebacker and first-round pick Bud Dupree needed all of three practices to sense a difference in his development as an NFL player.

The game is already slowing down.

"The first day was kind of fast for me and the rest of the rookies, but I feel like we are adjusting well and learning the plays on the go," he told the team website. "I think I am adjusting fast to the playbook. I know a lot of it right now, but I want to keep on learning."

Much has changed since rookie minicamp. The game definitely speeds up when the veterans arrive.

"All the vets already know where they are going, know their assignments already," Dupree said. "They have been through a lot of game experience so they know what to expect. Me and the rest of the rookies are just going on what we see right now."

Dupree is especially tuned in to what his fellow linebackers are doing. He is taking their advice in adjusting to a new defense.

"All the fundamental things you need to learn playing football and learning the plays more precise so you don't have to think about it while you're on the field. Just small things like that."


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He went undrafted in 2005, he was signed and cut by the Browns, the Saints signed him but thought so little of him they sent him over to NFL Europe. Moore overcame all of that to enjoy nine seasons with the Saints, which included a pivotal role in the team's Super Bowl championship in 2009.

Moore is now trying to revive his career after finding himself on his third team in as many seasons, per ESPN.com.

Moore signed with the Steelers after the Saints released him, but after not being able to establish a role within the Steelers' offense he was released. The Lions signed Moore to a one-year contract in early May. 

“At this point in the game, I just want to play,” Moore said. “I’m not really exactly looking for the biggest pay day. I’m looking for an opportunity to go in and play and help the team win. Detroit made sense for me for numerous reasons."

Moore has 360 career catches for 4,479 yards and 40 touchdowns in his 10-year career.


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(3:29 pm ET) Packers coach Mike McCarthy emphasized during organized team activities that outside linebacker Clay Matthews will play multiple positions this season, per the Journal Sentinel.

"Clay Matthews is a great pass rusher. He's going to continue to play as many different positions as we can get out of him," McCarthy said. "We need to utilize him as much as we can. Talked to Clay a couple times early in off-season program and meetings he's been through. He's moving around."

Matthews spent a lot of time playing on the inside of the defense last season and in his exit interviews he said the coaching staff discussed keeping him at multiple spots.

Matthews recorded 61 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles for the Packers last season.


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(3:27 pm ET) With Ryan Clady sustaining a torn ACL on Wednesday, the Broncos put in rookie Ty Sambrailo at left tackle during Thursday's practice, according to the team's website

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"He's not a rookie anymore," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. "As of today he's about a four-year veteran."

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The 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, despite playing in just 12 games.

Beckham said that the receiving corp next season will be much improved and it will be harder for teams to gameplan against just him.

"You know you have [Victor Cruz] and [Reuben Randle], it's going to be hard to double or have a safety over the top with the stuff that we have going on," Beckham said. "I don't think it's going to be beneficial for them."


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(3:08 pm ET) The Browns announced on Thursday that defensive lineman Ishmaa'ily Kitchen has signed his tender agreement with the organizaton

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Free agent QB Michael Vick: 'Last year was a wake-up call'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:08 pm ET) Veteran quarterback Michael Vick is a man without a team. He's 34 years old. And the last game he played in the NFL caused him to be benched.

Vick hit rock-bottom with a 7-for-19 effort for the Jets in a loss to Buffalo last November. But he's working to prove that he'd be a worthy addition.

"I still feel like I can help a football team win a couple of games," he told the Virginian-Pilot.

Vick, who has been working out at a facility owned by former Dolphins standout receiver Chris Chambers, questioned his drive after last season. He said he went "back to the drawing board" and sought to gain five pounds while maintaining his speed and quickness against linemen and linebackers who have gained a step on him over the years.

"At the end of the day, football is what I love to do," he said. "When you have passion for it, you have to sacrifice and put the hard work in. ... Sometimes, it takes certain things to wake you up and (last year) was certainly a wake-up call for me."


 
 
 
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