Fantasy Football Impact: The Kansas City Chiefs Hire Andy Reid
After a couple days of speculation, it is now a done deal. The Kansas City Chiefs will hire former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid as their next head coach. Reid will certainly bring with him a similar offense to what he had during his 14 seasons in Philadelphia, and he will also have full control over personnel with Friday’s dismissal of general manager Scott Pioli. Reid had drawn interest from the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, but the fact Kansas City will have the number one pick in April’s draft may be appealing to him.
The Chiefs have some talent in place offensively, but shortcomings at quarterback with another injury-shortened and ineffective season for Matt Cassel in 2012 held them back significantly. Brady Quinn started eight games in the just completed season, which should tell you all you need to know about Kansas City’s offense.
Reid’s presence will create some positive buzz in fantasy football circles, as he generally had very good offenses with the Eagles during his tenure. Let’s take a closer look at how Reid’s hiring will impact the Chiefs’ players from a fantasy perspective.
If anyone can rebuild Cassel’s confidence and make him into a competent NFL quarterback again, it is probably Reid. If nothing else, Reid has the ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks as Donovan McNabb had a very good career during his time in Philadelphia and Michael Vick had one to the best seasons of his career in 2010. Reid also has to be considered a solid evaluator of quarterbacks, as the Eagles traded McNabb and Kevin Kolb before both guys showed significant warts playing for other teams.
Cassel may have to restructure his contract in order to stay in Kansas City, as he is due to make $7.5 million next season. Quinn is slated to be a free agent and may not be back, and the only other quarterback under contract for next season is 2011 draft pick Ricky Stanzi.
The Chiefs could, and should, draft a quarterback in April. But that may have to come in later rounds, as there is not a prospect currently regarded highly enough to be worth the top overall pick. If Reid determines Cassel is not the answer for 2013, signing a quarterback in free agency is also a strong likelihood.
Reid’s offenses in Philadelphia were traditionally among the most pass-happy in the league, so whoever starts under center may be worth consideration as a QB2 in 12 and 14-team leagues next season.
He was certainly overshadowed by the remarkable season Adrian Peterson had coming off a torn ACL, but Jamaal Charles set career-highs in rushing yards (1,509) and carries (285) after missing all but two games in 2011 due to a torn ACL of his own. He was also a threat as a pass catcher, with 35 receptions for 236 yards, and his lack of touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) can be chalked up to the ineptitude of the Chiefs’ offense.
Peyton Hillis had a disappointing season with the Chiefs in 2012, with just 309 yards and one touchdown on 85 carries along with 10 receptions, and as a pending free agent may not be back with the team next season. His breakout 2010 season with the Cleveland Browns seems like a lifetime ago now, and Hillis may simply never return to fantasy relevance wherever he winds up playing.
Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray may both be in the mix behind Charles on the depth chart next season, but it would certainly take an injury for either guy to have any significance to fantasy owners.
During Reid’s time in Philadelphia, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy were the both excellent fantasy contributors as runners as well as primary options in the passing game. Touchdowns did not come in bunches due to the pass-oriented tilt of Philadelphia’s offense, but McCoy did have 20 total touchdowns in 2011 (17 rushing, three receiving).
Charles should again be the centerpiece of the Kansas City offense in 2013, and he is likely to be one of the first running backs drafted next summer.
The Chiefs have some uncertainty here with top wide receiver Dwayne Bowe slated to be a free agent, and there is little else behind him currently in place. If Bowe stays in Kansas City, which is not expected at this point as long as the rib injury that ended his 2012 season is not a lingering issue, he would be the second-best fantasy option on the team after Charles.
2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin has underachieved during his first two seasons with just 41 total receptions for 579 yards and two touchdowns. But he could be Kansas City’s top wide receiver next season, and entering his third NFL season a breakout could come with more opportunities available.
Steve Breaston is under contract for the next three seasons, but he was a healthy scratch multiple times this past season and only had seven catches for 74 yards in 10 games played. He has had a few productive seasons during his career, including 61 receptions for 785 yards during his first season with the Chiefs in 2011, but fantasy owners can probably safely ignore Breaston in 2013.
Dexter McCluster had a fairly productive 2012 season under the circumstances, with 52 receptions for 452 yards and one touchdown. But his role in the running game was significantly diminished, as he had just 12 carries for 70 yards compared to 114 carries for 516 yards in 2011. Without a fairly significant upgrade under center McCluster will not be roster worthy in the majority of fantasy leagues, but at the very least he is an intriguing player that could start to fulfill his potential with Reid calling plays.
Devon Wylie and Junior Hemingway were both drafted in 2012, but only Wylie put up any statistics as a rookie with just six catches for 53 yards in six games played. Both guys have a very long way to go before fantasy owners should take notice.
Leaving out Terrell Owens’ two-year run in 2004 and 2005, the Eagles never had an elite wide receiver during Reid’s time there. But DeSean Jackson and to a lesser extent Jeremy Maclin have been relevant for fantasy owners in recent years, and even Kevin Curtis had a nice season in 2007 (77 receptions, 1,110 yards, six touchdowns).
The potential for a significant volume of targets may keep a couple of Chiefs’ wide receivers on the fantasy radar in 2013, but if Bowe is gone good luck finding a consistent option here.
Tony Moeaki missed the entire 2011 regular season with a torn ACL of his own, but returned to health this year and had a fairly productive campaign with 33 catches for 453 yards and one touchdown in 15 games played.
Moeaki should be a significant part of the Chiefs’ passing game in 2013, regardless of any changes or upgrades the team makes at wide receiver in free agency or the draft. His durability is a concern, as he did not play all 16 games even in the two seasons he was mostly healthy, but he has intriguing upside potential for fantasy owners if he can stay on the field.
Tight ends did not always put up big numbers in Philadelphia during Reid’s tenure, but L.J. Smith had two seasons with at least 50 receptions in 2005 and 2006 (111 receptions and eight touchdowns in that span) and Brent Celek had three seasons with at least 57 catches and 18 total touchdowns over the last four seasons.
I think Moeaki will be worth drafting as a TE2 in 12 and 14-team leagues, with the potential to become a legit TE1 if Kansas City makes some sort of upgrade at quarterback.
Charles is clearly the most fantasy relevant player on the Chiefs’ roster, and Bowe will be second if he winds up returning. After that, fantasy football owners will be left taking fliers on players like Cassel, Baldwin, Moeaki and McCluster and hoping for the best if they choose to use a draft pick on another Kansas City player. Even Reid’s presence as a good offensive mind can’t make up for the talent shortcomings on the roster during his first season.