QB Alex Smith
(2013 QB Rank—#16, 14.9 FPts/G)
Former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith proved that the success he enjoyed during his final years in San Francisco was more than just a product of being on a great team, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the best record in the league through the first half of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, he and the Chiefs were unable to hold off the eventual AFC champion Denver Broncos in the division, but fantasy owners were pleased at the production they got from their quarterback over the second half of the schedule. Despite the team struggling in the wins column and sitting its starters in Week 17, Smith was able to contribute a total of 17 touchdown passes from Week 11 through Week 16, and whereas previously in his career he had never thrown more than 20 touchdown passes for an entire season, he was able to finish 2013 with a total of 23. His 431 rushing yards were also sixth best among all quarterbacks, making him an underappreciated fantasy asset in the running game. With a more difficult schedule on the horizon in 2014, Kansas City is unlikely to replicate the kind of success it had in 2013, which could mean less wins for the team but perhaps more passing opportunities for Smith, particularly late in games. A reduction in efficiency should also be expected due to the Chiefs strength of schedule, but the potential for more total pass attempts could make Smith a high-end QB2 option with low-end QB1 upside.
RB Jamaal Charles
(2013 RB Rank—#1, 20.8 FPts/G)
Not since the days of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have the Chiefs had a fantasy producer anywhere near the level of running back Jamaal Charles. Charles, who was a consensus round 1 pick in 2013, lived up to the hype and then some with a monstrous fantasy season that made him the top-scoring fantasy back in practically all formats. Although he finished third in rushing yards, his 693 receiving yards were nearly 100 yards better than the next best back (Danny Woodhead), and his 19 total touchdowns were five more than that of any other rusher. You will hear whispers about increased opportunities for backup Knile Davis, but Charles will likely shoulder another heavy load in 2014, which makes him one of a few candidates for the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy football drafts this season. Of course, the high number of touches also makes Charles a candidate for injury, but given the lack of true “feature backs” remaining in the league, the potential reward far outweighs the risk of drafting Charles with your top draft pick this season.
RB Knile Davis
(2013 RB Rank—#53, 3.3 FPts/G)
The tremendous season Jamaal Charles had already made the backup running back position in Kansas City an afterthought, but a measly 3.45 YPC average made Knile Davis even more irrelevant in the Kansas City offense. Although he did vulture two touchdowns from Charles earlier in the year, Davis’ only real value in 2013 came in Week 17 when the Chiefs sat their offensive starters, leading to a 27-carry day. He made the most of that opportunity, at least from a fantasy perspective , by rushing for 81 yards and two scores. Davis could see more touches in 2014, but he will remain essentially a non-factor for fantasy purposes unless there is an unfortunate injury to Charles. Even then, Davis is not nearly the talent that Charles is and could still end up sharing carries, most likely with 2014 fourth-round draft pick De’Anthony Thomas. Davis is a handcuff, but not a particularly enticing one until he can prove that he is a more effective runner.
WR Dwayne Bowe
(2013 WR Rank—#47, 5.6 FPts/G)
A disastrous 2013 season for Dwayne Bowe owners is now in the rearview mirror, but those who took a chance on the formerly elite wideout will find it hard to forget the horrendous production they received. Bowe delivered just five touchdown receptions on the season despite having some of the best quarterback play the team has seen in years, and failed to surpass 70 yards in any single game. He led the team with 105 targets, but caught just 57 of those and appeared to be a victim of the age bug, as he seemed slower and perhaps even less motivated than in years past. However, in spite of his disappointing output a year ago, Bowe remains the clear top target in the Kansas City offense. Unfortunately, that also means the team hasn’t invested in other options at the position to help pull away the defense’s attention, which could translate to another frustrating season for Bowe owners. His days as a WR1 are likely over, but the veteran’s savvy still gives him WR2 upside with a WR3/4 price tag. For what it’s worth, Bowe has changed his diet and training routine and reported to the team in the best shape of his career.
WR Donnie Avery
(2013 WR Rank—#64, 4.1 FPts/G)
A few long passes throughout the course of the season made Donnie Avery’s numbers look at least serviceable, as he caught 40 balls for 596 yards on the season, but those stats alone do not tell the story of the 12 games of three or fewer fantasy points that Avery gave fantasy owners. Although he was very clearly the No. 2 option in an uninspiring group of Kansas City wideouts in 2013, his upside is very limited. He and A.J. Jenkins will enter the season in what will likely be an open competition for the spot across from Dwayne Bowe, but Avery doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, especially given his tremendous inconsistency.
WR A.J. Jenkins
(2013 WR Rank—#131, 0.7 FPts/G)
A former first-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, A.J. Jenkins is now getting a second chance at an NFL career, this time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The team traded for him prior to the 2013 season, but to say they used him sparingly would be an understatement. Jenkins caught just five total passes through the first 16 games of the season before getting a bit more of an opportunity in Week 17 when the Chiefs rested their starters. In that game, Jenkins showed flashes of what made him a first-round NFL draft pick, catching three passes for 67 yards. He will need to mature both on and off the field before he is given an opportunity to start across from Dwayne Bowe, but his potential upside is certainly higher than that of Donnie Avery. Jenkins is not likely to be drafted in most fantasy leagues unless he wins the job outright. Even then, he would be a late-round flyer with a high likelihood of terrible fantasy production.
TE Anthony Fasano
(2013 TE Rank—#42, 2.1 FPts/G)
Anthony Fasano became the Chiefs’ primary tight end in 2013 after a preseason injury sidelined Tony Moeaki. Given the success that Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker had with Alex Smith back in San Francisco, fantasy owners likely expected better from Fasano than the 32 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns that they got. Surprisingly enough, Fasano wasn’t even the team’s most-targeted tight end in 2013, as Sean McGrath was targeted 40 times compared to Fasano’s 33. Nevertheless, Fasano remains in line to be the team’s top tight end in 2014, more likely due to his ability as a blocker than as a pass catcher. The opportunities for goal line catches are there, as usual, but there’s nothing to suggest that Fasano is suddenly going to emerge as a fantasy star in 2014.
TE Travis Kelce
(2013 TE Rank—#102, 0.0 FPts/G)
Travis Kelce, a third-round draft pick in 2013, was certainly somebody that Chiefs fans had high hopes for this past season, given the relative lack of firepower in the offense. However, an unfortunate knee injury ended up costing Kelce his entire season, derailing what could have been a year with plenty of opportunities for production as a pass catcher. Kelce was a dynamic tight end in his senior season of college at the University of Cincinnati, where he caught 45 passes for 722 yards and eight touchdowns. The chances of Kelce breaking out as an elite fantasy tight end are slim, but he is probably the most likely player in the offense to be fantasy relevant at the position, even though he is also the kind of player who could end up giving his owners practically nothing. Kelce won’t do much work in minicamp but should be active during training camp at the end of July.