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