In part one of the offseason boredom profile series we covered who the Chiefs have at QB and RB. In part 2 we’re going to take a look at the WRs and TEs.
Dwayne Bowe is now the 3rd highest paid wide out in the NFL behind Larry Fitzgerald and Megatron. He got hit with the franchise tag through a very rough 2012 season and was on the verge of taking his talents to South Beach before the Chiefs cleaned house and John Dorsey (presumably) convinced Bowe to stick around. He’s spent all of his 6 seasons with the Chiefs, producing career statistical highs in 2010 when he caught 72–1162–15 with Matt Cassel (unbelievable at this point right?). He’s had three other 1,000+ yard seasons and could have ended up with 1000 yards last year if he hadn’t ended up on IR with three games to go. Bowe sits behind only Tony Gonzalez as the Chiefs most prolific receiver holding career averages of 4.7 catches for 65 yards. He’s only 28 and has thus far spoken very positively about working with new QB Alex Smith, so Bowe seems to be in a great situation to have a solid bounce back season. The depth chart after Bowe holds a lot of question marks so he’s the clear top WR threat on the Chiefs and has publicly stated that he wants to lead the league in catches and TDs this year. With players like Calvin Johnson steamrolling every game, Bowe at #1 seems a little out of reach but the man is at the top of his game and has been hovering in the top-25 (top-5 in 2010) through most of his career. Having Jamaal Charles to distract defenses doesn’t hurt either. His biggest limitation this year seems to be Alex Smith (could be worse) and we won’t have a good answer on that for a few months. Bowe a good Chief to own.
The Chiefs signed Avery to a 3 year $8.55 million deal in March. He’s been with the team for the whole offseason but has missed some OTAs because of a high ankle sprain. Avery is often injured and has dealt with injuries throughout his entire career. He was drafted by the Rams with the 33rd pick in 2008. Avery rose to the top of the second round thanks to a great pro day at Houston where he ran a 4.35 40. Since being drafted in 2008 by the Rams, Avery has been knocked off the field by a medley of injuries including but not limited to: pelvic bone cracks, hip cracks, stress fractures, hamstring woes; shoulder, foot, rib and hip injuries in 2009 alone, a concussion in 2010 and one in 2012 and a torn right ACL in 2010 that kept him out of football for a year. In his single season with the Colts Avery did play all 16 games, posting his career best stat line at 60-781-3 but was usurped by the now sophomore T.Y. Hilton before leaving Indianapolis as a free agent bound for Kansas City. Aside from persistent nagging injuries, Avery was also tied with Hilton for the worst drop rate in the NFL last season. Avery is fast (when healthy) and has flashed great play making ability (when healthy) but has not shown any consistency (because he’s never healthy). As it stands, Avery is a major contender for the starting spot across from Dwayne Bowe and would be relied on to stretch the field. If he wins the job (and stays healthy), Avery could be in a productive WR2 position come regular season. As we haven’t seen Avery do much over the off season because of another injury, we have nothing to base any expectations on until training camp. Avery carries a ton of risk and moderate upside.
Coming out of Pittsburgh, Jon Baldwin was compared to Vincent Jackson because of his top flight size and leaping ability (42” leap at the combine) but was considered a raw route runner and labeled a diva. The Chiefs picked him up with the 26th pick in 2011 hoping he’d storm the field across from Dwayne Bowe but Baldwin has struggled in his first two seasons (taking into some consideration terrible quarterback play). He’s also done little to shed the diva label, breaking his hand before the start of his rookie season in a fight with brick house RB Thomas Jones, causing Baldwin to miss his first four games. Baldwin shows well in practice each offseason but then falls off the map in the regular season, playing only 30% of the offensive snaps and so far producing stat lines of: 21-254-1 in 2011 and 20-325-1 in 2012 with a lot of career 1 catch games. The third year receiver has generated some positive comments this offseason (as usual) but I’ve also read reports that Andy Reid is no dedicated fan of Baldwin. The Chiefs didn’t spend a significant 2013 draft pick on a WR though, so Baldwin is likely assured a roster spot. The real question seems to be how he’ll perform compared to Avery in the preseason. Baldwin has been completely irrelevant in his first two years but might be forced into the spot light at any point this season because Avery carries a long injury history with him. If Baldwin tops Avery for the starting job, he’ll see a healthy stream of targets and could be in line for relevant production. With elite skill that has yet to surface, Baldwin is a player to watch with one eye on his future and one eye on his past.
McCluster was the Chiefs major WR addition in the 2010 draft. Conveniently, Andy Reid apparently loved McCluster coming out of Ole Miss but the Chiefs swiped DMC at 36 before Reid and Philly got to pick at 37. McCluster is labeled a “joker” because he has skill at multiple positions and can contribute all over the field. He’s is a talented open field runner and is pretty fast (4.56 40 at the combine and a 4.45 at the Ole Miss pro day) but is small and gadget players are often more useful to a NFL team than to a fantasy owner. McCluster has seen plenty of snaps both in the slot and outside, returns kicks and also receives regular carries, producing these receiving/rushing stat lines: 21-209-1//13-202-1 in 2010, 46-328-1//114-516-1 in 2011 and 52-452-1//12-70-0 in 2012. With Andy Reid in KC, McCluster seems to be destined for heavy use and will hopefully capitalize on the opportunity to attain the production that the Chiefs are still hoping for. He doesn’t have much standing in his way this fall and could become the Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush in the new KC offense. That chance to succeed is there. He could also continue to suffer from the lack of a defined role and continue to put up the same stat line each year. A risky play until we know more but the upside is present.
Copper is the aged veteran of the Chiefs WR corps. His career started out in Dallas in 2004 as an UDFA from East Carolina. For two years Copper chipped in at WR and on special teams for the Cowboys before spending a few years with the Saints and Ravens prior to being bounced around by the Chiefs until he signed a three year contract in July of 2011. At 31, Copper has only 84 career catches for just over a 1000 yards and 6 TDs but has a nice spot as a veteran, special teamer and occasional receiver. There’s no real guarantee that Copper will keep his roster spot in 2013 but his salary is not very burdensome at only $840,000. He will very likely be irrelevant to the 2013 fantasy scene.
Mardy Gilyard has had a turbulent few years since being drafted 99th overall in 2010 by the Rams. He put up two productive years at Cincinnati (81-1276-11 in 2008 and 87-1191-11 in 2009), had a good showing in the Senior Bowl, and demonstrated some speed (4.44 at proday) and jumping ability (39” vertical) leading up to the draft. Gilyard was intended to run the slot but got a bad start in the pros with a late graduation date, inopportune hamstring and wrist injuries and poor playbook knowledge. Gilyard didn’t stand in the best light at training camp and was released by the Rams a year later bouncing between the Jets and the Eagles (under Andy Reid) before latching on in KC (under Andy Reid). Reid obviously likes something about Gilyard and wants to give him a shot at some field time. Similar to Jon Baldwin, Gilyard got a bad start and needs work. Not yet useful for fantasy owners as it stands today.
Wylie is a shifty slot guy. He didn’t put up huge numbers at Fresno State (often due to injury) but got drafted 107th overall in 2012 by the Chiefs. He ran a 4.37 40 (faster player in Fresno history), has a 39” jump and a reputation as a good route runner who is quick off the line. Wylie contributed 6 catches on twelve targets for 53 yards his rookie season and returned some punts. He looks to stay at about the same place next year maybe as a 5th or 6th receiver. Not on the fantasy radar for now.
Newsome started as an UDFA with the Jags and was waived in Sep. 2011. The Chiefs picked him up after a brief stint with the Steelers and activated him in November 2012. After Dwayne Bowe landed on IR, Newsome saw some action in the back half of the season and totaled 5 catches for 73 yards on 16 targets. Not guaranteed a roster spot, he’s unlikely to contribute to fantasy.
Hemingway was a late 7th round pick out of Michigan in 2012 and sat on the edge of the roster bubble with the Chiefs last year. He’s been getting snaps in the ongoing minicamps will fight for a job at the bottom of the depth chart.
Bellamy played both WR and CB at Louisville and signed on with the Chiefs as an UDFA. He spent some time on the practice squad and as an active player in 2012 (3 games). He’s got a couple of kick returns under his belt, has 2 catches for 25 YDs from the 2012 preseason and did make the practice squad. He’s currently working at Chiefs OTAs.
Fresh out of Jackson State, Richardson had a couple of productive years: 37-896-11 as a junior and 50-896-11 as a senior but went undrafted. He signed with the Chiefs in May as an UDFA. He’s fast (4.38 40 at pro day) but very lean.
As a senior at Boise State, Shoemaker led the team catching 62 balls for 994 yards and 16 TDs. He signed on with the Bucs practice squad after the 2012 draft but was released early and signed with the Chiefs in January.
Hammond played 48 games at Florida and posted a 22-295-3 line as a senior. He ran a 4.47 40 and put up 19 reps on the bench at his pro day. Fast and strong, he’s probably just a camp body.
The top guys in the position to start for the Chiefs are all former first and second round picks, so that’s something to consider . Bowe stands in the best spot to deliver good fantasy value but we won’t know more about the others until preseason. The spot across from Dwayne Bowe is the big question and seems to be between the developing Baldwin and the injury prone Avery (with a good chance to rotate anyway). Whoever wins the job could see a moderate amount of targets but it would be a pretty big surprise for Alex Smith to blow up for 5k+ yards this season (hell, even 4k) and elevate more than two or three Chiefs skill players to fantasy relevance. The WR corps will be sharing limited targets with the TEs and the RBs so expectations have to reflect reality. We’ll know more about Alex Smith v 8.0 as the offseason progresses and adjust the receiver values accordingly.
Heading into the final year of his rookie deal, Moeaki needs a productive 2013. He’s been hampered with injuries his whole career (losing all of 2011 with an ACL tear in the preseason) but has flashed receiving ability and shown some prowess at blocking. In his first year, Moeaki topped Tony Gonzalez’s rookie receiving record for TEs but hasn’t improved from that impressive mark after two (not including 2011) seasons. To his credit, Moeaki has done well despite his injuries and played in 15 games both in 2010 and 2012, accruing 556 Yds and 3 TDs (15th in yards, catches and targets among TEs) in the first year and 453 Yds and 1 TD (dropping Moeaki at around 30 among TEs in the same three categories) in the second. As with all pass catching Chiefs his play has been hampered by poor QB play for a while so we may not really know the true state of Moeaki’s ability from his statistical marks. However those gains are our fantasy points and he hasn’t done much to establish himself as an asset. Andy Reid has been observed lining up two TEs at Chiefs offseason workouts and we could infer that Reid intends to use his TEs but Moeaki has so far sat out his offseason (arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the year) and we haven’t yet seen him in Reid’s scheme. The top TE (maybe even two) for the Chiefs could prove to be a roster worthy player depending on Reid’s passing strategy but Moeaki is a big question mark right now and doesn’t have a history that builds confidence in fantasy owners.
Fasano came to KC when he signed a 4 year, 16 million dollar contract in March. The 6’4, 255 pound Fasano is a product of Notre Dame and was drafted by the Cowboys with the 53rd pick in 2006. After two years behind Jason Witten, Fasano was then traded to the Dolphins in 2008 for a 4th round pick. He stayed in Miami (starting 76 games and catching 177 passes for 23 TDs) until joining the Chiefs. Fasano has earned his keep as a solid blocker through his career and has also caught 205 balls for 2,373 YDs and 24 TDs. He’s not a prolific receiver statistically but he has shown well as a red zone target catching 5 TDs last season all of which in the red zone and 4 of them within the 10-yard line. He also caught Ryan Tannehill’s first TD pass in week 2 against the Raiders (for whatever that’s worth). Reid could use him more as a receiver this year and will most definitely employ Fasano’s blocking ability to clear the way for Jamaal Charles and keep Alex Smith protected. Having just signed a multi-year contract Fasano has a guaranteed spot in Kansas City but comes with no guarantee to be a fantasy asset. He’s never seen a lot of targets so who knows what would happen if Fasano suddenly got 80 or 90 passes thrown his way but after this long, expectations should be tempered.
Kelce is an interesting new piece for Andy Reid to move around. He’s big (6’6 260) and fast (4.62 40 at his pro day) and can block well (NFL.com draft profile calls him a “tremendous blocker”) both in line and at the second level. He had a good senior year as a receiver (so far his only good year though) catching 45 passes for 722 YDs and 8 TDs with great movement after the catch. The Chiefs saw enough to take Kelce with the first pick in the 3rd round despite documented off the field issues (suspended the entire 2010 season). With Tony Moeaki resting his knee after arthroscopic surgery, Kelce has been getting plenty of reps behind Anthony Fasano. So far this off season, Reid has moved Kelce around the field and considers him a legitimate threat as a receiver. Kelce has compared himself to Jeremy Shockey but some analysts have thrown Rob Gronkowski around as another comparison. Kelce could be on the field a lot as a rookie as a blocker and could see a steady flow of targets as the Chiefs lack a definite second WR target behind Bowe. If he can pick up the offense quickly and get in sync with Alex Smith, Kelce could be a moderately useful fantasy player in 2013.
Harris is a converted power forward who played college basketball for Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was given a shot to work out with the Chiefs this off season. Harris did play football in high school and intended (almost attending Arkansas State but not qualifying academically) to play in college but ended up playing basketball. He has demonstrated advanced athletic abilities (4.52 40 at 6’7 237) but needs a lot of work before he’s ready to contribute on the field. There have been some very successful transitions to playing TE from basketball (Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez) so his is a name to watch in the future. Harris’ college coach even thought that Harris would be better at football than basketball and Andy Reid has already mentioned Harris positively to the media. He’s still not guaranteed a roster spot and would be far off the fantasy radar even if he did but his development is one to keep an eye on.
Brock has been trying to find an NFL home for several years now. He played at Rutgers starting a handful of games in 2007 and 2008 before going undrafted in 2009. He’s spent a lot of time on practice squads around the league (Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Bears, Cowboys and Raiders) before finally being promoted from the Bills practice squad in 2011. Brock joined the Chiefs in February and can be ignored by fantasy owners.
The Chiefs have a couple intriguing options at TE. In Fasano they’ve got a still young, dependable veteran who can block and provide a red zone target. Moeaki is on the ropes but a full two years removed from his ACL tear might show a return to form. Kelce is a relatively unknown commodity who could be a strong blocker and potential downfield threat. Strong blocking will grant a lot of playing time and Reid might end up running with two TEs (might rotate all three) anyway. To me this is a total toss up as each player offers some enticing qualities on the field. A good training camp battle is coming up.