The Chiefs experienced a roller-coaster ride last season. After losing its first three games by an average of 27 points, it went on a four-game winning streak. That success did not last long however, as the Chiefs did a 180 degree turn and suffered a four-game losing streak. Head coach Todd Haley was eventually let go after going 5-8. Interim coach Romeo Crennel took over and pumped life into his team, even handing the Green Bay Packers their first and only loss of the regular season. By ending 2011 on a strong note, he aims to lead the Chiefs to more wins in 2012.
Aside from Matt Cassel's four-touchdown Week 5 performance against the Indianapolis Colts, there was not much to like about his 2011 season. Before breaking his right hand in Week 10 (ending his season) he only threw for multiple touchdowns in one other game. Finishing with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, there's not much to be optimistic about even with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in town. Cassel does not have a strong arm and lacks mobility, limiting him to being a backup fantasy quarterback. He will continue to manage games and let the rushing attack and defense carry them to victories.
Once Jamaal Charles went down with a torn ACL in Week 2, the hopes of the Chiefs and fantasy owners alike went down the drain. With nearly a full calendar year to recover, Charles should be inching closer to full health. Still, it may even take several weeks before he starts to resemble his old self. Since so much of his game revolves around speed and cutting, there are concerns if his knee can handle the punishment. But prior to his injury, Charles was one of the top backs in the league. From 2009-10, he totaled 3,352 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. Judging by those numbers, Charles is a game changer when he touches the ball. He carries risks, but has considerable upside as a No. 2 fantasy running back if he is near 100 percent. To help ease Charles back to form, the Chiefs signed Peyton Hillis in the offseason. Hillis was a major disappointment last season, playing in just 10 games while rushing for three touchdowns. But reuniting with his offensive coordinator in Daboll, Hills could have a bounce-back year. In Hillis' breakout year in 2010, he had 1,177 rushing yards to go along with 11 scores under Daboll. Unless Charles suffers a major setback, those numbers will be hard to duplicate in a backup role. However, Hillis is capable of approaching double-digit scores as a goal-line option even if Charles receives his regular playing time. The former Cleveland Brown is a must-own handcuff if you select Charles.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Dwayne Bowe is clearly the best receiver in Kansas City. However, he is better served as a No. 3 fantasy wideout with so many factors working against him. The offense will emphasize the run, Cassel is an average quarterback and the receivers and tight ends should be more involved. Bowe has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but his touchdowns dropped significantly from 15 in 2010 to five last season. He'll provide solid value with yards and catches, just don't expect anything more than five to six scores. Steve Breaston's stats did not look much better coming over from Arizona. He'll pitch in with about 55 receptions for 740 yards and a score or two. Entering his sixth NFL season, Breaston has very little upside playing behind Bowe. Jon Baldwin should put up better numbers in his sophomore season now that he has had a full year under his belt. With only 21 receptions and one touchdown a season ago, his production can only go up. Baldwin is a big target with size and speed who could be utilized in the red zone. Still, he has a ways to go before he can be counted on in fantasy.
Tony Moeaki missed all of last season with a torn ACL but did showcase his talent two years ago as a rookie. He's expected to see plenty of snaps, but Kevin Boss will be playing alongside him. Neither tight end is recommended in fantasy given the conservative offense and timeshare at the position.
The Chiefs are not expected to turn into an explosive offense anytime soon, which caps Ryan Succop's fantasy value. Succop was one of the lower scoring kickers in the league last year, making just 24 field goals and 20 extra points. Even though the Chiefs should be better offensively, Succop is not a desirable option.
Defense is Crennel's calling card and this unit has potential under his guidance. Star safety Eric Berry returns from a torn ACL, Brandon Flowers is developing into an elite cornerback and a Tamba Hali is becoming a dominant sack artist. Losing Brandon Carr hurts the secondary, so the Chiefs signed former Oakland Raider Stanford Routt as his replacement. Kansas City also spent their first-round draft pick on Dontari Poe with the hopes of bolstering their defensive line. The Chiefs defense is heading in a positive direction, but monitor their performance over the first several weeks before picking them up.
Travis Chan is a fantasy sports enthusiast and contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Travischan1.
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