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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Kansas City Chiefs

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Andy Reid knows how to get the most out of his running backs. He's made a living of getting dominant performances from the position, and Jamaal Charles took advantage under his tutelage in 2013.

Charles should be great again this year, and he enters Draft Day as the consensus No. 1 overall pick in all leagues. He was the No. 1 running back last year with 259 carries for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns and 70 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. The rushing touchdowns, catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns were all career highs.

Reid, going back to his days with the Eagles, now has coached a running back to seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons, eight 1,500-total yard seasons, 10 seasons with at least 50 catches and six seasons with at least 10 total touchdowns. There's a lot to like about Charles again in 2014.

Yes, the Chiefs lost three offensive linemen from last year with Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah leaving as free agents, but Reid is confident in his group up front. And you should be as well given his track record and Charles' talent.

Reid also did well with quarterback Alex Smith, who had a fantastic campaign with 3,313 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 61 percent completions, and he added 431 rushing yards and one touchdown. Smith finished as the No. 14 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues, but he showed plenty of promise with eight games with at least 20 Fantasy points, including three of his first four and four of his last five. Smith will remain a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this year, but you know he's someone you can rely on if needed.

Now, if only Reid could get a big year out of Dwayne Bowe, who was a tremendous bust in 2013. Bowe had one of the worst years of his career last season with 57 catches for 673 yards and five touchdowns. He reached double digits in Fantasy points just five times, and he looked nothing like a No. 1 receiver.

We're hopeful Bowe will bounce back -- it would be hard for him to be worse -- but Fantasy owners need to see it first. He's only worth drafting with a late-round pick in the majority of leagues.

Reason for hope ... Dwayne Bowe

Bowe has the talent to be a quality Fantasy receiver. He showed that in 2010 when he had 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns, which was part of a four-year stretch where he had 70-plus catches and at least 1,000 yards three times.

He struggled last year as Smith was conservative with his throws downfield, and Bowe didn't reach double digits in targets until Week 9. But once Bowe got involved, he showed signs of life.

He reached double digits in Fantasy points in four of his final seven games, including the playoffs against the Colts, when he had eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. The catches and yards were easily a season high.

This offseason, Bowe appears to be on the right track. He hired a nutritionist and a personal trainer for the first time in his career, which shows he's motivated. And you have to hope another year with Smith in Reid's system should help him succeed.

The Chiefs also didn't bring in anybody to upgrade their receiving corps, even losing No. 2 receiver Dexter McCluster as a free agent to the Titans. The Chiefs need Bowe, and we hope he will respond. The good news is this season you can draft him as a No. 4 receiver with a late-round pick, and he should reward you based on that value.

Name to remember ... Travis Kelce

One reason the Chiefs feel good about their receiving situation is getting Kelce back from injury. He could be a difference maker in the passing game.

Kelce missed his rookie season after having microfracture surgery on his knee, but all reports this offseason are positive. And he has plenty of ability after he had 45 catches for 722 yards and eight touchdowns at the University of Cincinnati in his final year.

The Chiefs got only 53 catches from tight ends last year, so an upgrade is needed. And Smith has a good history with playmaking tight ends going back to his days with the 49ers and Vernon Davis.

You're not going to draft Kelce in the majority of leagues, but he is someone to keep an eye on during the year. If he starts off playing well then add him off waivers, because he could definitely finish the season as a Top 12 tight end if he can stay healthy and prove deserving of a featured role.

The ultimate handcuff ... Knile Davis

2013 Touches Leaders
775 total touches
Jamaal Charles 329 (259 car., 70 rec.) 42.5%
Knile Davis 81 (70 car., 11 rec.) 10.5%
Dexter McCluster 61 (8 car., 53 rec.) 7.9%
Dwayne Bowe 57 rec. 7.4%
Donnie Avery 42 (2 car., 40 rec.) 5.4%
All Others 205 26.5%

As we said earlier, Reid knows how to get tremendous production from his running backs. And should something happen to Charles then Davis will benefit with ridiculous stats.

We liked the way Davis played last season when he got the chance to start. It was Week 17 at San Diego with Charles resting for the playoffs, and he had 27 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the season with 70 carries for 242 yards and four touchdowns and 11 catches for 75 yards.

We're not expecting Davis to have an expanded role because the Chiefs need Charles on the field, but he should be more involved in his sophomore season. Every Charles owner needs to spend a late-round pick on Davis, just in case something happens. And even if you don't draft Charles, Davis is worth a flier because you could be sitting on a lottery ticket.

Schedule analysis

The Chiefs benefitted from a lot of games against backup quarterbacks last season, which helped their DST dominate. We still expect the DST to be a No. 1 option, especially with what should be a standout pass rush, but there will be a regression. On offense, the Chiefs get to face the NFC West, which won't be easy, especially with road games at San Francisco in Week 5 and Arizona in Week 14. The good news is Kansas City faces Oakland in Week 15 for the first round of the Fantasy playoffs, which should help Charles at a crucial time.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 2 receiver? Donnie Avery could open the season as the No. 2 receiver opposite Bowe, which only excites opposing defensive backs. He only had 40 catches for 596 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. A.J. Jenkins and Junior Hemingway will be in the mix, but none of these receivers are worth drafting in the majority of Fantasy leagues. Keep an eye on how the Chiefs use rookie De'Anthony Thomas, who could help replace McCluster. But Bowe is the only Chiefs receiver worth using heading into the year.

Who's the starting tight end? Anthony Fasano will look to remain the starter in 2014, but he has minimal Fantasy value. He only had 23 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns in 2013, so he's not an option for Fantasy owners. But Kelce could be, and we hope he starts in Week 1. If Kelce can prove his knee is 100 percent and does well in training camp and the preseason, he would attract plenty of interest from Fantasy owners on Draft Day. But he has to prove that he deserves the starting job over Fasano with a strong performance this offseason.

Bold prediction

I'm not expecting Bowe to return to his 2010 form because 15 touchdowns are hard to duplicate. But he could return to the 2008 version of himself when he had 86 catches for 1,022 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a Top 20 Fantasy receiver that season, and that's the expectation if things go his way. You should plan on Bowe playing much better than last season, and he will reward Fantasy owners this year with a bounce-back performance.

Injury report

Travis Kelce (knee), probable for start of training camp.

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Player News
49ers K Phil Dawson scores five points vs. Chargers Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:14 am ET) 49ers kicker Phil Dawson made five extra points but missed his only field-goal attempt in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Dawson didn't have much of a shot at converting his lone field-goal try, as his team tasked him with attempting to avoid overtime by nailing a 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He didn't come close, and the 49ers went on to lose in overtime.

Dawson has made 23 of his 29 attempts this season and is now 5 for 8 from 50 yards or more. He'll square off with the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree plays sparingly vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree managed just one catch for five yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Crabtree, who was questionable to play Saturday due to a knee injury, remained on the sidelines for large portions of the game, even donning a baseball cap at one point. It appeared he was set to play only in an emergency situation. However, the receiving corps was struck by multiple injuries, leaving the team to turn to Crabtree late, and he recorded his only catch in overtime.

Crabtree will try and heal up in time to serve a larger role in his team's season finale against the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers WR Anquan Boldin catches seven passes vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin recorded a team-high seven receptions on nine targets for 61 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Boldin managed more than half of the team's receiving production Saturday, as the other San Francisco players combined for only 53 yards on eight receptions, though rookie Bruce Ellington did managed to catch a touchdown.

Boldin had his best performance since a nine-catch, 137-yard breakout in Week 12. He's racked up 81 receptions for 981 yards with four touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals, a team for which he played from 2003 to 2009. He'll be looking to secure his seventh career 1,000-yard performance in the season finale.


49ers WR Bruce Ellington scores twice in Week 16 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington tallied three rushing attempts for 12 yards and a touchdown and added an eight-yard touchdown reception in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Ellington scored both of his touchdowns in the second quarter, first hauling in the eight-yard touchdown on a play-action pass for which he was wide open. He then added the rushing touchdown on a jet play on third-and-goal where he took the ball on the move immediately after the snap and found a crease on the right side for the score.

It wasn't all positive for the rookie, as he was ruled out in the second half with a hamstring injury. If he can heal sufficiently during the upcoming week, he'll be in line to face the Cardinals in Week 17.


49ers RB Frank Gore rumbles for 158 yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) 49ers running back Frank Gore racked up 26 carries for 158 rushing yards with one touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Both numbers represent season highs for Gore, who hasn't had a better rushing day since the 2009 season. He set the tone early, shaking off would-be tacklers en route to a 52-yard score less than two minutes into the game. Gore continually proved difficult to tackle, as he would have managed his third 100-yard game of the season even without the long touchdown.

Gore is now up to 962 rushing yards and four rushing scores on 230 carries. He has a reasonable shot at cracking the 1,000-yard mark in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals.


49ers QB Colin Kaepernick tallies 151 rushing yards vs. Chargers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:54 am ET) 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for jsut 114 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions but added 151 rushing yards on seven carries in his team's 38-35 overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 16.

Kaepernick had little trouble picking up chunks of yards against a defense that seemed adverse to tackling -- the 49ers set a new team record with 355 rushing yards in the game -- but his highlight came on a 90-yard scamper where he went untouched after crossing the line of scrimmage, with the Chargers committing a penalty on the play for good measure.

The rushing touchdown was the first of the season for Kaepernick, and his 151 rushing yards marked a new regular-season high. However, he's also failed to top 175 passing yards in any of his last four games. The 49ers will look to close out the season in strong fashion when they face the Cardinals in Week 17.


Chargers K Nick Novak nails game-winner in Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:49 am ET) Chargers kicker Nick Novak made his only field-goal attempt Saturday, hitting the game-winning kick from 40 yards out in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Novak had all week to think about missing two of his three attempts against the Broncos in Week 15 but drilled the key attempt early in the overtime period to send the Chargers home with a win. He also added five extra points, giving him his best point total in three December contests. Novak has a matchup with the Chiefs on the calendar for Week 17.


Chargers WR Malcom Floyd scores key TD in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd caught just four of his season-high 10 targets for 50 yards Saturday but also scored a crucial touchdown in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Floyd hadn't been on the same page as quarterback Philip Rivers for much of the night but came through when it mattered, hauling in the game-tying touchdown on an 11-yard post play with just 29 seconds left in regulation. He's up to 49 receptions, 827 yards and six touchdowns going into a Week 17 matchup with the Chiefs.


Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman catches seven passes Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman racked up seven receptions on nine targets for 79 yards in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

The coaches opened the second half with Inman in the lineup and the team down 28-7, and the little-used receiver was able to reward the gamble with an excellent half of football, picking up all his receptions in the second half. It was the first time this season Inman had even seen a target in a game, but he was able to pick up three first downs, including one on a crucial fourth-and-10 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and his team down seven points. The Chargers tied the game two plays later before winning in overtime.

Inman may have earned himself a significant role in his team's Week 17 matchup with the Chiefs, especially if Keenan Allen is unable to return to action.


Chargers TE Antonio Gates scores twice in Week 16 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates caught seven of his nine targets for 92 yards with two touchdowns in his team's 38-35 overtime win over the 49ers in Week 16.

Gates had a quiet first half but helped lead the charge to come back from a three-touchdown deficit. His first score was on a one-yard catch on third-and-goal that he juggled a bit, but he was able to hang on while taking a hit at the goal line. His second score was on a wide-open 21-yard reception in the fourth quarter to bring his team to within one touchdown.

It was the fourth multiscore game of the season for Gates, who is now up to 65 receptions, 754 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. He'll match up with the Chiefs in Week 17.


 
 
 
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