QB Alex Smith
(2012 QB Rank – #31, 15.2 FPts/G)
With Matt Cassel having proven he wasn’t the quarterback to take the Chiefs deep into the playoffs, Kansas City traded for former San Francisco starter Alex Smith in the offseason. Smith is coming off his most impressive run as a starter, having taken the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in 2011 and leading them to a 6-3 record last season before suffering a concussion and losing his job to Colin Kaepernick. Smith represents a big upgrade over Cassel, but he has enjoyed his greatest success when asked not to do too much. While the “game manager” label isn’t the death knell for an NFL quarterback, it just might be for a quarterback’s fantasy prospects, and that has been the case with Smith. Eight years into his career, he has topped 3,000 passing yards just once and has never thrown 20 touchdown passes. In Kansas City, he will be united with head coach Andy Reid’s heavily passing based offense, but the Chiefs lack proven playmakers outside of running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Add it all up and there isn’t much that suggests Smith will achieve fantasy glory in 2013. He rates as a lower-tier QB2 with little upside.
RB Jamaal Charles
(2012 RB Rank – #8, 13.2 FPts/G; #9 PPR, 15.4 FPts/G)
Coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2011 season in Week 2, Charles had an outstanding season with 1,509 rushing yards, 236 receiving yards and six touchdowns. What’s more is that Charles was remarkably consistent, topping 100 rushing yards in seven games and hitting double-digit fantasy points in nine games. If you make the assumption that he wasn’t fully healthy for all of 2012, then the sky is the limit in 2013. While new head coach Andy Reid can go pass heavy at times, his running backs have always been a big part of his passing attacks, and Charles is one of the league’s most explosive receivers out of the backfield. He was disappointing in that role last season, averaging just 6.7 yards per reception, but a 500-receiving-yard season isn’t out of the question in 2013. With the offensive line having been fortified with the selection of Eric Fisher, and with Alex Smith a clear upgrade over Matt Cassel, the Chiefs offense should see significant improvement this year. Consider Charles a mid-tier RB1 with the upside to finish the season in the top three at the position.
RB Knile Davis
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
The Chiefs swung for the fences with a compensatory third-round pick in this year’s draft, taking Arkansas product Knile Davis. Possessed with blazing speed and solid size at 6’0″ and 226 pounds, he was injury-prone in college and only marginal productive. Fortunately for Davis, new head coach Andy Reid had success last season in developing a very similar player in Bryce Brown. Davis faces little competition in earning the top backup role behind Jamaal Charles, with only modestly talented Shaun Draughn in his path. Look for Davis to win that battle. But if Charles were lost to injury, rest assured the Chiefs would move to a committee approach in their backfield. Davis is a decent dynasty prospect but is waiver wire material in redraft formats.
RB Shaun Draughn
(2012 RB Rank – #61, 3.7 FPts/G; #53 PPR, 5.4 FPts/G)
After emerging as the Chiefs main backup to Jamaal Charles in 2012, Draughn’s reward was to see the team use a third-round pick to acquire Knile Davis. Davis offers far more potential than the 6’0”, 205-pound Draughn, who averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season while hauling in 24 receptions for a paltry 158 yards. While Draughn figures to earn a spot on the Chiefs roster in 2013, he is unlikely to earn even a marginal role in the team’s offense, barring injury to Charles or Davis.
WR Dwayne Bowe
(2012 WR Rank – #45, 7.5 FPts/G; #43 PPR, 12.1 FPts/G)
Bowe once again enters the season as the Chiefs main threat at wide receiver with little in the way of proven production behind him. That allows defenses to focus on him, and while he is certainly deserving of being a true No. 1 receiver, he cannot be considered an elite talent at the position. Still, even with the subpar quarterback play he had to endure in 2012, Bowe racked up 801 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. With Alex Smith now under center, look for that production to increase as Bowe’s solid size (6’2”, 221 lbs.) and better-than-average speed are a solid fit with new head coach Andy Reid’s offense. However, six years into his career, we have a good read on Bowe. Hs he has never topped 1,200 receiving yards and has only one season with more than seven touchdown catches. If that sounds like WR2 territory, it’s because it is. Consider Bowe a very safe, mid-tier WR2 in 2013.
WR Donnie Avery
(2012 WR Rank – #46, 6.1 FPts/G; #42 PPR, 9.8 FPts/G)
Playing in the Colts’ pass-heavy offense in 2012, Avery put together a career year with 60 receptions for 781 yards and three touchdowns. Who’s to say he can’t replicate that production in Andy Reid’s pass-heavy offense in Kansas City? Well, the Colts liked to throw it deep, which fit well with Avery’s deep speed; Reid, on the other hand, tends to focus on more intermediate passes, which isn’t Avery’s strength given his 5’11”, 200-pound frame. His path to the starting lineup looks reasonable with only the disappointing Jonathan Baldwin in his way, but with the biggest hole in quarterback Alex Smith’s game being his accuracy on deep passes, we don’t like Avery’s chances at repeating his 2012 success this season. Consider him worth a late flier in 14-team leagues.
WR Jonathan Baldwin
(2012 WR Rank – #100, 2.8 FPts/G; #99 PPR, 4.2 FPts/G)
The writing is on the wall for the Chiefs’ 2011 first-round pick. Baldwin was impressive during the 2012 offseason and the expectation was that he would continue that progress into the regular season. But when the regular season opened, it was the same Baldwin the Chiefs saw as a rookie, when he caught just 21 of 52 targets for 254 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin topped 60 receiving yards just twice and had less than 20 receiving yards in eight of 14 games on his way to a 20-reception, 325-yard, single-touchdown performance for the season. Baldwin’s route running and command of the playbook hasn’t improved, and he has caught just 41.4 percent of his targets during his two years in the league. With Donnie Avery having been signed in the offseason, Baldwin is in danger of losing his starting spot—although his skill set would suggest a solid fit with new head coach Andy Reid’s offense. However, he is only worth grabbing off the waiver wire if he starts producing on a consistent basis.
WR Dexter McCluster
(2012 WR Rank – #75, 3.9 FPts/G; #68 PPR, 7.3 FPts/G)
The Dexter McCluster love continues to roll on, at least among Kansas City coaches. That certainly shouldn’t be the case for fantasy owners. This season it’s Andy Reid’s turn to gush about McCluster’s value as a receiver and runner in the Chiefs offense. While he was mildly productive when Jamaal Charles was injured in 2011, scoring a pair of touchdowns and accumulating 844 total yards, McCluster offers virtually no big-play ability as a receiver, which is what his main role is expected to be in 2013. He is shifty but not fast, averaging 7.1 yards per reception in 2011 and 8.7 last season. With Donnie Avery having joined the Chiefs, the team now has a slot receiving option that offers big-play potential, and that figures to hurt McCluster’s playing time. Move on, folks.
TE Tony Moeaki
(2012 TE Rank – #34, 3.7 FPts/G; #33 PPR, 6.0 FPts/G)
The good news for Moeaki is that new head coach Andy Reid has a long history of getting solid receiving production from modestly talented tight ends. The bad news is that the Chiefs’ 2010 third-round pick has had constant knee problems, missing all of the 2011 season due to an ACL injury which appeared to hinder his play for much of the 2012 season. Also, Kansas City has brought in veteran Anthony Fasano and rookie third-round pick Travis Kelce. While Moeaki displayed solid potential as a rookie, hauling in 47 receptions for 556 yards and three touchdowns, the team appears set to go in a different direction at the position, barring a career year from him in 2013. And with Fasano and Kelce on the roster, it doesn’t appear Moeaki will get enough playing time to make that happen. He isn’t worth owning this season.
TE Anthony Fasano
(2012 TE Rank – #28, 4.0 FPts/G; #28 PPR, 6.5 FPts/G)
Looking to add competition at the tight end position and provide insurance for injury-prone starter Tony Moeaki until rookie Travis Kelce is ready to contribute, the Chiefs signed former Dolphin Anthony Fasano in the offseason. Fasano is a solid blocker and decent receiver on underneath routes and dump offs, but he offers virtually no big-play ability, having averaged a career low 8.1 yards per reception last season. Since he has topped 40 receptions and 500 receiving yards just once in his seven-year career, we know his upside. Basically, he doesn’t have one. There are far better options to roll the dice on in 2013.
TE Travis Kelce
(2012 TE Rank – N/A)
The Chiefs used a 3rd round pick to acquire Kelce in this year’s draft and there is a chance he could earn significant playing time at some point during the 2013 season. The Cincinnati product was a productive receiver in college but may not be ready to overtake Tony Moeaki and Anthony Fasano early in his rookie season. He has some upside as a dynasty league prospect but isn’t expected to be fantasy worthy in 2013.