2012 Fantasy Football Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

Contributed by: Jason Buettner
Last Updated: Aug 01, 2012 12:16 PM

If it were not for the St. Louis Rams last season, the Kansas City Chiefs would have scored the least amount of points in the NFL.  Points in the NFL typically translates to points for your fantasy team.  If you were heavily relying on any Kansas City Chief last season, chances are you got burned.  

Whether from injury, underproduction, or a comical quarterback unable to throw to a top wide receiver, it was doubtful that any Kansas City Chief pushed your team into the playoffs.  For your upcoming drafts, any of you thinking about taking a Chief, I have this to say; wait and see.  At least for the early rounds

Kansas City has three major players coming back from injuries (two from ACL tears), one hoping to revive his career, and finally one who hasn't been spotted in camp yet, but who might be the one Chief you should look at.


Matt Cassel: 
2011 stats: 160/269-59% Completion-1713 Yards Passing-6.73 Average-10 Touchdowns-9 Interceptions.

Cassel had the misfortune of breaking his thumb in week nine and missing the remainder of the season.  However unfortunate the injury, it was extremely unfortunate for those who were actually starting Cassel on a regular basis.  He only averaged 5.8 points per game and tossed a meager 10 touchdowns while throwing nine interceptions.  Also, not once did Cassel have a game where he eclipsed 200 yards passing.

You can make an argument that his numbers suffered because he lost tight-end Tony Moeaki and star running-back Jamal Charles to keep defenses honest in defending the run.  But Cassel has proven to be to much of an injury risk throughout his career and has become more a dink and dunker in the passing game, even with star wide-out Dwayne Bowe.

With Charles back and the addition of Peyton Hillis, expect Kansas City to rely heavy on the running game this season. He may be effective if they are able to run play-action, but for now if you play in a 12-man league, I would stay away and see how he does. If you play in a pretty deep league he's a back-up at best.

Speaking of back-ups:

Brady Quinn & Ricky Stanzi:  Quinn was signed in the off-season away from Denver, where he did not play at all last season. Stanzi was a fifth round draft choice out of Iowa in 2011 who also did not take a snap.  Both will compete for the back-up spot with maybe a shot at dethroning Cassel.  This is a competition to watch in the pre-season, especially if you are in a deep league and get stuck with Cassel as a back-up.  Quinn has failed at every stop he has been in, while no one knows what Stanzi is really capable of.  Keep an eye on this match-up as the winner will more than likely come into play if and when Cassel goes down.

Running Backs

Jamal Charles: 2010 stats: 1467 Rushing Yards- 5 Touchdowns.

Raise your hand if you took Jamal Charles within the first three rounds last year (my hand is down, but my friend Andy M. high in the sky). Now raise your hand if you picked up Jamal Charles on the waiver wire in 2010 (Andy M's hand is still raised).  Point is, he helped so many in 2010 and caused a cluster crisis at running back for so many in 2011. So, what do we expect in 2012?

He's coming off an ACL injury he suffered in week two. Granted he's had a whole year to heal, but everyone's healing process is different. Will he still be effective to cut and make guys miss? Will he still have explosive speed? So far so good, but for those of you that take him know this.

First off, in 2010 he was splitting time with an aging and ineffective Thomas Jones, so he wasn't getting all the carries. Nor was he scoring touchdowns at a massive rate either.  These are two major factors from 2010 that will carry over into 2012.  He will once again split time, but this time it's with a running back that is looking to revitalize his career. So if you draft Jamal Charles you better pick up.....

MUST HAVE HANDCUFF Peyton Hillis: 2011 stats: 587 Rushing Yards- 3 Touchdowns.

Hillis, who was in a very public contract dispute last season did what most free agents don't do....stink it up.  True, he suffered a laundry list of injuries last season, but, when he was in the line-up he was extremely ineffective.  He was another player that if you picked him up off the waiver wire in 2010 (like my friend Carl B.) he really helped your team out. However, if you drafted him high last season (like Carl B.) he was more than likely dropped and possibly bounced around in your league.

Hillis is looking healthy and was signed to a one-year deal that will give him a chance re-build his image and only expect to shoulder half the burden of a running game, something that may benefit him more than Charles.

If you draft Charles, you must draft Hillis right away!  Expect to see Charles take a lot of the first down and second and long carries, while Hillis handles a bulk of the short yardage and vultures touchdowns away from Charles.  Kansas City is going to run the ball, that is no secret, but don't feel you have to take these guys super early, they will more than likely be available in the middle rounds.

Dexter McCluster: 2011 stats: 516 Rushing Yards- 1 Touchdown- 46 Receptions- 328 Receiving Yards.

McCluster ended up taking on a little more than coaches probably intended last season. However, McCluster did surprisingly well, especially if you were in a PPR league and you were forced to play him as a flex-option.  However, don't expect him to put up the same kind of numbers this season.

Unless Charles and/or Hillis go down, his role in the back-field may be limited to only third down plays, which won't constitute enough help to any fantasy team.  Also, he is going to have some competition this year, both at returning kicks with Devon Wylie, and at the third-down back with....

Cyrus Gray (Rookie Watch) The 5-10, 198 pound sixth round draft choice put up back-to-back 1000 yard rushing seasons at Texas A&M.  But his rushing skills are not why Kansas City drafted him. Gray is very good at catching the ball out of the backfield and it is believed that he will compete with McCluster and more than likely win the role.  Watch the competition between them in pre-season and if Gray wins the role or makes the team, always be watchful about the numbers he is putting up, he could be a potential replacement in 2013.

Wide Receivers

TOP FANTASY TARGET DWAYNE BOWE: 2011 stats: 81 Receptions- 1159 Receiving Yards- 5 Touchdowns

I don't care that he is not in camp, he will be. When he does come in finally Dwayne Bowe will tear it up.  Because, if there is one that is almost certain in professional sports, it's that in contract year, you will have one of the best years ever! (unless you are Payton Hillis).

Bowe is extremely capable of this. If you are doubting me, look at the numbers he put up with the trio of mediocre to laughable quarterback play last season (Cassel, Tyler Palko, and Kyle Orton).  If anything has slipped, it has been his touchdowns, which went from 15 in 2010 to five in 2011.

If lack of touchdowns last season are your concern, or the fact he only had three 100+ yard receiving games, let them be quelled. He still put up enough points to rank 14th amongst wide receivers in most standard leagues. Facts are, he is their number one target, he is a dominant receiver that will get the ball and give you a steady drip of double-digit points. I agree he may not be your number one receiver (although he was mine last year), but he's a pretty solid number two, with tremendous upside, and depending how long he holds out, you may be able to snag him towards the latter half of the early rounds.

Steve Breaston: 2011 stats: 61 Receptions- 785 Receiving Yards- 2 Touchdowns

Last season was somewhat of a success and disappointment for Breaston owners.  On one hand, he didn't get hurt, like he had a knack for in Arizona. On the other, his numbers weren't super impressive.  He didn't display the deep threat that he was two seasons ago. Therefore lacking his touchdown receptions and only putting up one 100+ yard receiving game.

With steady quarterback play this season, Breaston's numbers have a shot at improving, however, it wasn't like the first nine games of the season when Cassel was around Breaston was tearing it up. With the emergence of Jon Baldwin and the addition of rookies Devon Wylie and Junior Hemmingway, it's hard to figure where Breaston's role on this team will end up.

Monitor his reps and playing time in pre-season before spending a late round draft pick on him, odds are he could end up as the number three receiver on the team, or at worst number four.  If those are the cases, you can always pick him up on the waiver wire if he starts to show signs of putting up big points.

SLEEPER Jon Baldwin: 2011 stats: 21 Receptions- 254 Yards- 1 touchdown

The 2011 first rounder out of Pittsburg will get a shot this year.  There was rumors and whispers that he was drafted to eventually replace Dwayne Bowe (kind of why Kansas City is in the situation they are in now).  He missed the first five weeks last season, and when played put up very meager numbers.

So, why should you take a flier on Baldwin?  According to reports, Baldwin is taking reps as the number one wide receiver.  So, even if Bowe does come back, it's more than likely that Baldwin has replaced Breaston and will start the season as the number two guy on the depth chart.  

From reports that I have read online, Baldwin has really done well and is making some remarkable catches and strides.  He is a big guy 6-4, 215 pounds, so he is going to cause some match-up problems. Plus, if Bowe gets off to a sluggish start, Baldwin will have good re-pour with Cassel, and they hopefully won't skip a beat.

If management wants to out Bowe, they could be constructing their passing attack around Baldwin, if that is the case, expect a big year from this guy. Totally worth taking in the middle to late rounds.

BREAK OUT ROOKIE Junior Hemmingway:

Hemmingway could end up being the steal of the draft! A seventh round pick up out of Michigan that amassed 1638 career receiving yards and six 100+ receiving games.  He started 38 games for the Wolverines and for two years in a row led the Big 10 in yards per-catch.  Hemmingway is a big guy, 6-1, 225 pounds who shows great speed, athleticism, and a knack for extending plays (something he did a lot at Michigan with Denard Robinson at the helm).  If he plays well, he could end up swiping the number three wide-receiver role from Steve Breaston.  

For now, there are 13 wide outs in camp and he is just a new face on the field, but I believe you have to watch this guy, he will get his chance to shine, and when he does scoop him up off the waiver wire.

Tight Ends

Kevin Boss: 2011 stats: 28 Receptions-368 Yards- 3 Touchdowns

If you are searching for impact tight ends, Boss will not be your guy.  Boss had an extremely disappointing year with Oakland last year and had career low's in all categories since becoming a starter.  In all honesty Boss has always been a mediocre tight end that occasionally will put up more than 10 points a game.  With the return of Tony Moeaki, Boss may turn into more of a run blocking tight.  Keep an eye on Boss however, it seems that just when you think he has no value he starts catching touchdown passes.  Wait to see how Boss gets used before you pick him up.
Tony Moeaki: 2010 stats: 47 Receptions- 556 yards- 3 touchdowns
Moeaki had a breakout rookie year and last year people expected these numbers to go up.  Unfortunately, his ACL decided to tear.  If Moeaki is healthy, he is going to be a big part of this offense and you may see his red-zone production go up.  But it may be a little foolish to think that he will produce the same rookie numbers, especially with the addition Boss in the line-up.  
Just like Boss, wait to see how Moeaki comes back from injury before you waste a draft pick on a guy that is only going to get partial playing time.
Ryan Succop: 2011 stats: 20/26 FGM/FGA- 20 XP
The one bright spot about Succop is that 50 yards and beyond he went 3/3, other than that there is not much to talk about here.  There are better kickers on your draft board, and ones that will play for teams that score more points.
I doubt anyone rolled with the Chiefs defense last season, and it may be wise to do the same again this year.  The Chiefs got steam rolled last year in regards defending the run.  They ranked 26th in the league giving up 132 rushing yards a game.  Yes, they added a massive rookie nose tackle to help address that, but Dontari Poe may be the biggest boom or bust first round pick of the draft, so it may be safe to assume he will do anything to help.
Last season the Chiefs defense had five games in which their team defense put up negative fantasy points.  With their schedule this year, playing teams like Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, I would avoid the Chiefs defense come draft day.

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