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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
Report: Vikings' Adrian Peterson won't attend OTAs on Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is reportedly set to skip organized team activities on Tuesday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson is frustrated with management in Minnesota for not showing him support through his legal case for child abuse. Peterson has not participated in any offseason activities so far, but skipping Tuesday's workout will cost him $250,000 in bonuses if he does not attend 90 percent of OTAs and minicamps.

Peterson has three years, $44.25 million left on his contract with Minnesota.


Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu finally cast-free
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/24/2015) After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu enters training camp almost completely healthy, without a brace on his knee or cast on his thumb, per NFL.com. 

The Cardinals will need a healthy Mathieu to offseason the loss of former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In two seasons, Mathieu has 100 tackles and three interceptions but has been hampered by nagging injuries. 

"It just feels good to be free," he said. 


Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


 
 
 
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