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Offseason Primers: Kansas City Chiefs

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You've heard it before, but the NFL has become a passing league. For every team but Kansas City it appears.

Can Alex Smith solve that problem? The Chiefs traded for Smith from the 49ers this offseason, and he's expected to be the starter. But he has a lot of work to do to turn this passing game around.

The Chiefs had eight passing touchdowns in 2012. No, that's not a mistake. Eight. Matt Cassel threw six, and Brady Quinn provided the other two. To put that in some context, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in Week 6 at Houston by himself.

2012 Touches Leaders
975 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Jamaal Charles 320 (285 car., 35 rec.) 32.8%
Peyton Hillis 95 (85 car., 10 rec.) 9.7%
Shaun Draughn 83 (59 car., 24 rec.) 8.5%
Dexter McCluster 64 (12 car., 52 rec.) 6.5%
Dwayne Bowe 59 rec. 6.0%
All Others 354 36.3%

The passing game in Kansas City was obviously a mess, with Dwayne Bowe disappointing and then hurt, and no secondary receiving option stepping up. Cassel was eventually benched for Quinn, and the Chiefs closed the season without a touchdown pass in their final four games.

Now, there was one lone bright spot -- Jamaal Charles. That is, when former coach Romeo Crennel remembered he was on the team. Charles bounced back from a torn ACL in 2011 and returned as an elite Fantasy running back. But the offense as a whole struggled, which is a big reason why Crennel was fired after going 2-14.

In comes Andy Reid, who was considered an offensive guru during his 14-year run as the Eagles head coach. He has a lot of work to do, and getting Smith is a start. The Chiefs also locked up their No. 1 receiver by signing Bowe to a five-year contract in March.

Reid now has to find some other weapons for Smith, and we hope he can develop Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster into reliable playmakers along with the additions of Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano. It's clear the Chiefs can't get by with Bowe as the only legitimate threat in this passing game.

Reid also has to lean on Charles, who is ready for a heavy workload. But he would be much better off with at least some threat of a passing game.

Jamaal Charles -- Coaching impact

2012 Target Leaders
475 pass attempts
Dwayne Bowe 114 24.0%
Dexter McCluster 77 16.2%
Tony Moeaki 56 11.7%
Jamaal Charles 49 10.3%
Jon Baldwin 47 9.8%
All Others 132 27.7%

Charles just had an amazing year in 2012. Coming off a torn ACL, he set career highs in carries (285) and rushing yards (1,509) despite having three games with fewer than 10 carries -- what was Crennel thinking those weeks? When he had 17 or more carries, which happened nine times, he finished with double digits in Fantasy points. He also showed his explosiveness with two games with at least 226 rushing yards. Now he gets Reid as his head coach, and he could turn Charles into a beast. While Reid was in Philadelphia he had three primary running backs in Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. That trio combined for six 1,000-yard rushing seasons, seven 1,500 total-yard seasons, nine seasons with at least 50 catches and five seasons with 10 total touchdowns. The last two times Charles played a full season -- which was 2010 and 2012 -- he had at least 1,700 total yards and six total touchdowns. When you add up everything in his favor it makes Charles a slam-dunk first-round pick in 2013, and he could have a career year.

Dwayne Bowe -- Bust

Bowe returned to the Chiefs as a free agent, and while the decision was good for his bank account, it will not help his Fantasy value. If he left the Chiefs it would have been the best thing for him -- even with the addition of Smith. Bowe was a star in 2010 with 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was serviceable in 2011 with 81 catches for 1,159 yards and five touchdowns, but he was terrible last year with 59 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns. Blame Cassel and Quinn if you want. Blame Crennel and hope the addition of Reid will help, which it should. But Bowe would have been better off with a better quarterback. Smith is not going to help him return to his 2010 form, and there are those around the NFL who questioned how Bowe would do after getting a new contract based on his attitude. He is still worth drafting as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick. And we'd love to sit here and say he's the next Vincent Jackson, who got paid last season and had a tremendous year, but we don't know if Bowe has that same ceiling.

Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster -- Late-round flier

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Alex Smith Undrafted
Jamaal Charles 4-10 overall
Peyton Hillis Undrafted
Dwayne Bowe 70-78 overall
Jon Baldwin Undrafted
Dexter McCluster Undrafted
Donnie Avery Undrafted
Tony Moeaki Undrafted
Anthony Fasano Undrafted

Even with Bowe back and the addition of Avery there's a chance one or both of these receivers could play at a high level now that Reid is running the team. Reid should maximize the potential for Baldwin and McCluster -- if they have any. Baldwin has been a bust so far in his career, but this is his third season, which is typically when receivers have a breakout campaign. Through two years, Baldwin has combined for 41 catches, 579 yards and two touchdowns. He failed to reach double digits in Fantasy points in any game in 2012, and he has a lot to prove. McCluster has yet to establish himself as an asset to Fantasy owners, but this might be the year he breaks out. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract, so he has the motivation of a new deal. And McCluster is coming off his best season in 2012 with 52 catches for 452 yards and one touchdown. He also added 12 carries for 70 yards. We don't recommend drafting Baldwin and McCluster in the majority of leagues, but there could be a chance for both to contribute this season, especially under Reid. Keep them on your radar coming into the year.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Packers' Sam Shields thinks Dez Bryant caught the ball
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Along with the Cowboys, Packers cornerback Sam Shields said he also believes wide receiver Dez Bryant made the catch during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional game, reports ESPN.

While Shields initially said 'The refs made a good call on that,' he now admits Bryant secured the ball properly.

"It was a catch," Shields said. "But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that's what the refs came up with. I never said he didn't catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch."


Brian Hoyer wants to compete for starting QB role in Cleveland
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) Quarterback Brian Hoyer is open to returning to the Browns in 2015, if he is given a chance to compete for the starting role, Hoyer's agent Joe Linta told NBC Sports.

Hoyer started the first 13 games of the season and went 7-6. However, he was replaced by Johnny Manziel.

"I think the only thing that would make him not [want to] come back is if they said Manziel or whoever we take in the draft or whoever we sign in free agency is going to be the starter and you will only be the backup," Linta said.

Hoyer is set to become a free agent in the offseason and Linta added he expects to meet with the Browns soon to discuss their options.


Colts' Andrew Luck considered skipping Pro Bowl
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) After losing 45-7 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admitted he thought about not playing in the Pro Bowl, reports The Indianapolis Star.

Luck felt embarrassed after the championship game and had to think about turning around and playing a week later.

"I mean, it is a privilege, but I am hurting in a sense," Luck said. "But I realize it's an honor to be voted in and the fans really enjoy it. So, I did it."

While Luck was proud of his team for advancing to the championship game, he said this season’s playoff loss was worse than the previous two.

"I think every loss in the playoffs leaves a really, really terrible taste in your mouth," Luck said. "But this one has been worse than the other two because we did get so close. And the way we lost, it was just embarrassing."


NFL warns Marshawn Lynch with 15-yard penalty for obscene gesture
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) The NFL has issued a warning to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch if he decides to make his obscene gesture in the Super Bowl, vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told ESPN Saturday. If Lynch performs his gesture, Seattle will be assessed a 15-yard penalty.

Meaning if Lynch makes his gesture after scoring a touchdown, the kickoff will be from the 20 yard line. Lynch was fined $20,000 for making his gesture after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game last week.


Matthew Slater: NFLPA 'instructed' Pats not to address Deflategate
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater told reporters that the NFL Players Association has "instructed" New England players to not publicly address Deflategate, according to the team's official website. The 29-year-old Slater is a team representative for the union.

"I'd love to get into that with you, but we have been instructed by our union as players to reserve comment on this situation," Slater said. "It's an ongoing investigation, so in order to protect our players, we’re going to go ahead and not talk about that."

The NFL found 11 of 12 game balls the Patriots used in the first half in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Colts were significantly underinflated after being deemed legal before the game. The investigation is being led by NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash and Ted Wells. The league has yet to release its findings.

Coach Bill Belichick also addressed the media in an impromptu press conference to reveal that his team conducted an "internal study," which revealed that the Patriots "followed every rule to the letter."

Like Slater, Belichick vowed not to speak on Deflategate again. New England will square off against Seattle in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.


Report: Colts LB Andrew Jackson arrested for DUI, careless driving
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Colts linebacker Andrew Jackson was arrested in Kentucky early Friday morning for careless driving and DUI, per the Indianapolis Star. He was booked just before 5 a.m. and released from jail at 12:30 p.m. the same day.

Jackson, a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Western Kentucky, was a marginal contributor for Indianapolis last season, contributing only on special teams and short-yardage scenarios. He registered 10 tackles and one sack in 13 games his rookie season.


Justin Forsett: The Ravens 'expressed that they want me back'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Justin Forsett told reporters following Friday's Pro Bowl practice that the Ravens have expressed interest in bringing him back next season, according to NFL.com. Forsett, who replaced Arian Foster's spot in the exhibition game, noted that he has not engaged in any contract discussions with the team, but remains optimistic of a possible deal in the offseason.

"That is the plan, they gave me my shot, they trusted me and believed in me enough to give me that shot so I'd like to stay," Forsett said. "They expressed that they want me back. I want to be back, so we'll see what happens."

Forsett, 29 is seeking his first multiyear contract of his career after playing for five teams in seven seasons. He broke out for 1,266 rushing yards this season, fifth-most in the NFL, and led all running backs with 5.4 yards per carry.


WR Emmanuel Sanders says Peyton Manning will return to Broncos
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Although Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' only communication with Peyton Manning was through a postseason text message, he believes that the veteran quarterback will return for another season, he told NFL.com on Friday.

Sanders and the Broncos were eliminated by the Colts in the AFC divisional round. Since that loss, the Broncos' coaching staff has been overhauled, with coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase heading to Chicago.

"Well, Gase is definitely in Chicago right now," Sanders said. "And Peyton says he's going to come back, but I'm not really worried about it, I really just want to win a Super Bowl. So that is all that is on my mind."

Gary Kubiak was hired to take Fox's place in Denver, and Sanders said that if Manning doesn't return, backup Brock Osweiler would fit "really well" in the team's new offensive scheme.

"Yeah, I think Brock is a quarterback that is on the rise, he's going to continuously get better and I feel like Kubiak's offense fits him really well," Sanders said.

Sanders signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Broncos last March. He earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after totaling 101 catches for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns -- all career highs.


Seahawks GM on Lynch: 'I kind of love his act'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Seahawks general manager John Schneider said little Friday about Marshawn Lynch's future with the franchise.

"I mean, he's under contract next year," Schneider said in an interview with The Seattle Times. "He's a warrior. Goes out there every weekend and lays it on the line. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better running back in the National Football League."

Lynch has been rumored to be cut after this season to save money. He is set to make $5 million in base salary in 2015. Schneider also said he has no problem with the way Lynch behaves both on and off the field.

"I kind of love his act," Schneider said.


Colts' Robert Mathis may not be ready for training camp
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is still recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon and could miss an extended period of time, including training camp, general manager Ryan Grigson said.

"No, he’s still in recovery," Grigson said when asked if he’s confident Mathis will be ready for training camp. "He’s a freak and you hope that he has an athletic genetic freak type of recovery so that he’s ready day one of training camp. But that information is not clear yet or a timeline is not there because it’s a tough injury. Hopefully in a couple months from now, we’ll be able to have some information on that."

Mathis torn the tendon in early September and missed the entire season. Without Mathis, the Colts were led by rookie Johnathan Newsome with 6 1/2 sacks in 2014.

"Obviously having [Mathis] out was a big hole," Grigson said. "But we don’t make excuses. That stuff gets forgotten and it should because a lot of teams win without key players. The next man up is for real. We found a way to still get pressure and play without his presence, but it makes it a heck of a lot harder, I promise you that. Just having him out on the field, even if he didn’t get out of his stance, it’s still going to command two blockers or more. That completely changes the complexion of a game just having him physically out there."


 
 
 
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