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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
Rams QB coach is a big fan of Sam Bradford
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:53 am ET) Rams quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke is perfectly happy with starting quarterback Sam Bradford, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Love him. Love him," Weinke said when asked about Bradford. Weinke, who has evaluated quarterbacks for a couple of seasons now, said Bradford had one of the best pro days he's ever seen. "A few years ago when Andrew Luck came out they said who would you compare him to? And I said the closest I would see is Sam Bradford."

As part of Weinke's interview process with the team, he met with Bradford for roughly three-and-a-half hours. It wasn't really a formal meeting, though, it was more so the two could get to know eachother. 

Bradford has reportedly been granted permission to seek a trade, but it doesn't appear Rams' ownership wants to part with the 27-year-old quarterback. 


RB Steven Jackson, cut by Falcons, isn't planning to retire
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Though he's without a team at the moment, running back Steven Jackson has no plans to retire. 

The Falcons officially released Jackson Thursday night, with immediate questions emerging about his future. On his own website, though, Jackson posted a statement saying he isn't hanging up the cleats just yet.  

"A lot has been written lately about my future," Jackson wrote. "There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defense over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game -- let's just say you were really feeling me at that point.

"Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior's heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it."

Jackson also admitted his two seasons with the Falcons were a disappointment as the organization did not reach the postseason in either season. He combined for only 1,250 yards in 2013 and 2014 after posting eight consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards when he was with the Rams. 


Raiders expected to release safety Tyvon Branch
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Raiders will be parting ways with safety Tyvon Branch, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora

Branch only played in three games during the 2014 season due to a foot injury that placed him on injured reserve. That followed his 2013 season in which Branch was only able to participate in two games. 

However, Branch could be a commodity in what is otherwise considered a weak safety market. 

Branch signed a four-year, $26..6 million contract with the Raiders in 2012, with $17.6 million guaranteed.


Browns working to re-sign CB Buster Skrine
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Browns are hopeful they can re-sign cornerback Buster Skrine but are probably going to have to try to do so after he hits the free agent market, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Skrine had a single-season best four interceptions in 2014 and will be someone that could command a hefty price tag on the open market. The Plain Dealer reports that Skrine is expecting anywhere from $5.5 million to $7 million per season. 

The Browns should be in a good position to match an offer for Skrine. Depending on what the 2015 cap number per team is, the Browns are likely to have well over $30 million to spend in free agency. 


Colts, Matt Hasselbeck agree to one-year contract
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) It looks like Matt Hasselbeck's NFL career will extend at least one more year. 

The Colts reached a one-year deal with backup quarterback Hasselbeck, the team announced on Thursday. 

Hasselbeck, 39, will enter his 17th year in the NFL. After starting out as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay for his first two seasons in 1999 and 2000, he joined the Seahawks via a trade and quickly established himself as a starting-caliber quarterback. 

In 16 NFL seasons, Hasselbeck has totaled 34,948 yards, 203 touchdowns and 148 interceptions. He'll be the top candidate to back up Andrew Luck next season. 


Report: Vikings, Adrian Peterson can communicate with each other
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Now that Adrian Peterson has been moved back to the Commissioner's Exempt list, the Vikings can reach out and communicate with him, according to a report from Pro Football Talk

Peterson had been suspended by the NFL until April 15 and upheld by an arbitrator. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Doty overturned the arbitrator's decision, sending the case back down to go through the CBA. The NFL has removed the suspension, for now, while moving Peterson back to the Commissioner's Exempt list. 

The NFL announced in a statement that it is appealing Doty's ruling

Since the Vikings want Peterson to remain with them, they can now reach out and hold talks directly. While suspended by the NFL, the Vikings were unable to communicate with him. This is an interesting development because the Vikings have publicly stated they want him to stay in Minnesota. 

However, at least one report as indicated Peterson wants to leave and continue his NFL career elsewhere


Falcons release running back Steven Jackson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Falcons released running back Steven Jackson on Thursday, the team announced.

Jackson was owed $3.75 million in 2015, but with running back Devonta Freeman on the roster, it appears Jackson is expendable. In 2014, Jackson rushed for 707 yards and six touchdowns on 190 carries.

By cutting Jackson, the Falcons saved $3.7 million against the salary cap, reports the NFL Network.


Redskins sign Ricky Jean Francois to three-year contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Redskins signed defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois to a three-year deal Thursday, reports the NFL Network.

The deal is believed to be worth $9 million with $4 million guaranteed. With incentives, the deal can reach $11.25 million.

Jean Francois was cut by the Colts on Monday. In 2014, Jean Francois totaled 28 tackles and three sacks.


Report: Browns believe they still have a shot at Josh McCown
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Browns remain confident that they can snag quarterback Josh McCown from the free agent ranks, according to a report from ESPN.com

McCown visited the Browns this week and has also received interest from the the Jets, Bills and Bears. The Browns are in the market for a starting-caliber quarterback with Brian Hoyer possibly leaving in free agency and with Johnny Manziel's status up in the air with the off-field issues hes working through. 

McCown threw 13 touchdowns to just one interception with the Bears in 2013, doing this while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler. His performance earned him a contract with the Buccaneers, though injuries and poor play resulted in a season that saw him throw 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. 

McCown was released by the Buccaneers earlier this offseason. 


Report: Cardinals sign cornerback Damond Smith
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Cardinals signed cornerback Damond Smith on Thursday, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Smith did not play during the 2014 season after being cut by the Chiefs. He has never played in an NFL game.


 
 
 
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