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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
Giants pulling long-term contract offer to Jason Pierre-Paul
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/6/2015) In the wake of a Fourth of July fireworks mishap, the Giants on Monday pulled their long-term contract offer to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who remains hospitalized in Miami, per NFL.com insider Ian Rapaport. 

The Giants had applied the franchise tag to Pierre-Paul this offseason, but the player has not yet signed it, technically leaving him not under contract with the team. The Giants move to yank the longer deal is a bit of gamesmanship, since according to Rapoport, Pierre-Paul was not going to sign the $60 million deal anyway. 


Bills sign veteran tackle Wayne Hunter
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/6/2015) The Bills took another step to shore up their offensive line, signing veteran tackle Wayne Hunter to a one-year deal Monday, per the National Football Post. 

Hunter, who has not played in the NFL since 2012, did spend three years with the Jets under new Bills coach Rex Ryan from 2009-2011. 

Hunter's deal is reportedly worth $870,000.


RB Khiry Robinson could be odd man out in Saints backfield
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/6/2015) Running back Khiry Robinson is a fan favorite with the Saints, but the third-year pro, who once was viewed as a breakout candidate for the team, may find his role squeezed by the presence of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, per ESPN.com. 

Robinson dealt with a broken arm last season, which limited him to 12 carries and 32 yards over the final 10 weeks of the year. The Saints then re-upped with Ingram and brought in Spiller to replace Pierre Thomas, meaning Robinson will have to fight hard in training camp to establish a role. 

"I just gotta keep working," Robinson said. "It's all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it's a good thing we've got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we've got another player right up there to do the same thing."


Report: Giants Jason Pierre-Paul hurt in fireworks accident
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul reportedly hurt his hand in a Fourth of July fireworks accident in Miami, according to the Daily News

The paper reports that the injury is not considered career-threatening, but that varying accounts of what happened have been reported. The Giants have not confirmed nor denied the incident. 

The Giants applied the franchise tag to Pierre-Paul this offseason, but the 26-year-old has not yet signed it as he seeks a long-term deal, meaning that he technically is not under contract. 

Pierre-Paul had 53 tackles and 12 1/2 sacks last year for New York. 


Report: Torn pectoral sidelines Vikings CB Josh Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) The Vikings secondary took a hit last month when cornerback Josh Robinson sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle, a league source has told ESPN.

The nickel back played in 690 snaps last season and was expected to battle several others for playing time. The injury could sideline him from training camp and land him on the PUP list.


Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Skins LB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery -- not just for football, but it makes my everyday life feel better, so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


 
 
 
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