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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
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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