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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
Shoulder issue has Steelers QB Bruce Gradkowski sidelined
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has been dealing with a sore shoulder for most of the last two months and is not ready for training camp.

"A couple weeks ... I'm not sure," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about a timetable for his return. "It's nothing serious. I am thankful that we have a long training camp and we have plenty of time."

Gradkowski will almost certainly be out when his team plays in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9.


Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney lands on PUP list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Texans injury-plagued outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney hoped for availability to start training camp, but that will not happen. He has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Clowney, however, is expected to return by the end of August, per NFL.com. His placement on the PUP list will allow the team to hold him back for the first six weeks of the regular season if his surgically repaired knee is not ready.

He can be activated at any point during training camp.


Eagles release RB Matthew Tucker
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Eagles have waived running back Matthew Tucker with a non-football injury, per ESPN.

Tucker spent the last two seasons with the team, but mostly on the practice squad. He did earn playing time in two games as a rookie in 2013, though with no rushing attempts.


Colts LB Robert Mathis still not cleared for on-field activities
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, who missed the 2014 season due to a torn Achilles, has yet to be cleared for on-field activities, owner Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star on Monday.

"The good news is Robert is trending in the right direction," Irsay said. "We're all very excited and pleased with the progress that he's making. The timetable is unknown. Will it be October 15? Will it be September 15? I really, at this point, no one knows.

"We just want to make sure that he's ready-ready when it's time to go. He can come in, have a couple of years with us at this point in his career, and be the difference-maker he was. We're really excited about the prospect. Really, it's only been good news."


Raiders LB Sio Moore begins training camp on PUP list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Raiders placed linebacker Sio Moore on the PUP list Monday. The third-year linebacker was placed on IR late last season due to a hip injury.

He can return to practice when he passes a physical examination.


Buccaneers re-sign DL Da'Quan Bowers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Buccaneers re-signed defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers on Monday. Bowers had been an unrestricted free agent since March.

Bowers has spent his entire career with the Bucs since being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has totaled 66 tackles and seven sacks in 50 NFL games.


Report: Jonathan Martin (back) retiring from football
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Former Dolphins and 49ers offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who played a major role in Miami's bullying scandal, is retiring from the NFL due to a back issue that will require surgery, a source told NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport. 

Martin was waived by the 49ers in March and picked up by the Panthers; however, the back injury would have kept him out of action for the entire season, and Martin decided to call it quits.

Martin left the Dolphins during the 2013 season citing locker room issues that mainly included bullying by teammate Richie Incognito. He was traded to the 49ers, where he was reunited with his former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, starting nine games with the team. 


Browns coach Pettine: Josh McCown the 'likely' QB starter
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Browns coach Mike Pettine, during a session with local reporters on the verge of the team's training camp, reiterated that veteran Josh McCown is the likely starter at quarterback, with Johnny Manziel entrenched in the No. 2 spot, per the Akron Beacon Journal

Pettine added that while he couldn't guarantee McCown would start in the season opener against the Jets, that the experienced signal-caller is firmly the team's top choice at the position heading into camp. 


Redskins QB Colt McCoy confident he can still start in NFL
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Heading into training camp, Colt McCoy remains confident that he can be a starter in the NFL but also realizes the Redskins' QB role belongs to Robert Griffin III, per The Washington Post

McCoy, who signed a one-year deal with Washington after starting one game last season, said he decided to return to the Redskins based on the coaching staff and not his chances to play this year. Even though Griffin is the incumbent, McCoy believes he could step in and contribute.

"I don't think I would be continuing to play if I didn't believe in my heart that I could start every week in this league," he said.


Saints LB Junior Galette passes physical, will be released
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Saints linebacker Junior Galette, who was informed of his release by the team Friday after his January arrest for domestic violence and his role in a video where he apparently was shown striking a woman with a belt during a brawl, passed his final team physical, setting the official stage for his release Monday, per The Times-Picayune.

The physical was necessary because Galette missed time during OTAs and all of minicamp with a pectoral injury, which Galette downplayed. Galette will not pass through waivers and will be free to sign with any team. 


 
 
 
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