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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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(12:52 am ET) The Seahawks will insert fullback Will Tukuafu into the starting lineup, according to the Associated Press. 

Will Tukuafu signed with the club Wednesday, and will replace Derrick Coleman. Coleman began the year as the team's primary option, but was placed on the IR Saturday. Robert Turbin had served as the team's temporary option at the position with Coleman out, but will assume his normal role as backup running back with Tukuafu in tow. 


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The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


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(12:39 am ET) Saints running back Travaris Cadet failed to make much of an impact in his team's 28-10 Week 9 victory over the Panthers Thursday night.

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The Saints will host San Francisco in Week 10.


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by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Saints wide receivers Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks each had quiet performances in a Week 9 victory over the Panthers on Thursday.

Colston came down with a 22-yard pass from Drew Bress on the second offensive series of the night and only had two catches the rest of the way. He caught all three of his targets for 36 yards. Cooks had a similar night, as he came down with two receptions -- one for 18 and another for 5 yards -- on back-to-back plays on the opening drive, but was limited to only one grab the rest of the way. He caught all three targets for 38 yards in a 28-10 victory.


Saints WR Kenny Stills racks up 72 yards Thursday night
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills enjoyed another productive performance, cracking the 70-yard mark in a Thursday night victory over the Panthers in Week 9.

Stills had a costly drop on the opening drive which resulted in an interception by D'wan Edwards. He bounced back with catches of 16, 9 and 17 yards in the second quarter. He was targeted eight times and finished with five catches for 72 yards in a 28-10 victory. He has 373 receiving yards through eight games, most by any other rookie receiver this year.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


Saints TE Jimmy Graham scores, looks like old self in Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) Saints tight end Jimmy Graham appeared to be back to his old self, scoring his fifth touchdown of the season Thursday night against the Panthers in Week 9.

After a pass interference penalty that brought the team to the 1-yard line, Graham came down with a reception in the end zone for a 1-yard score with three seconds remaining in the first half. He caught five passes for 50 yards and a score at halftime. He only caught two passes the rest of the way and finished with seven grabs for a team-high 83 yards and score on seven targets in a 28-10 victory.

Graham has scored in back-to-back games. He'll look to extend his scoring streak to three at home in Week 10 against the 49ers.


Saints' Mark Ingram cracks century mark, scores twice Thursday
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(12:06 am ET) Saints running back Mark Ingram found the end zone for the second consecutive game, scoring twice and leading his team to a 28-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 9 Thursday night. 

Ingram barreled into the end zone from 3 yards out late in the first half. He also aggravated a right shoulder injury in the first half and played through the pain in the second half wearing a sleeve. walked into the end zone from 3 yards out on a draw play with 5:34 remaining in the game to secure the win.

He took 30 handoffs for 100 yards and two scores, notching back-to-back career highs in carries over a five-day span. He caught one of two targets for 10 yards. He has 272 yards and three rushing touchdowns over that span.

He'll look to stay red-hot Week 10 at home against San Francisco.


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(12:03 am ET) Panthers kicker Graham Gano hit his only field goal attempt Thursday against the Saints. 

The Panthers offense had a tough time getting anything going, limiting Gano's chances. His only attempt came with 12:57 left in the contest. Gano managed to hit from 31 yards out. He also managed one extra point attempt.

Gano will look for more Week 10 against the Eagles. 


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(12:02 am ET) Saints quarterback Drew Brees worked past a couple of early turnovers and scored two touchdowns to lead his team to their first road win of the season Week 9 at Carolina.

Brees had two turnovers over the first 10 minutes of the game. He was picked off by Dwan Edwards on a tipped pass from Kenny Stills on the opening drive of the night. On the ensuing drive, he lost a fumble after Erik Lorig got pushed back into him while trying to pass protect. 

Brees bounced back with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with three seconds remaining in the first half. He gambled on a 4th and goal in the third quarter, leaping over the goal line for a 1-yard score -- his first rushing touchdown of the season.

Brees compiled 297 yards through the air while completing 24 of 34 passes. He added one touchdown and one interception, registering a 94.9 passer rating. He was sacked four times and rushed for 2 yards and a score on four carries in a 28-10 victory.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


 
 
 
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