2014 Fantasy Football Deep Sleeper: Kansas City Chiefs WR A.J. Jenkins
In his rookie season, Jenkins played in just three games and was targeted only once, which he dropped. His 37 snaps in 2012 would be near the expected amount for a rookie WR selected with a fourth or fifth-round draft pick, but according to the bar set by those who play his position currently and from years past, he falls into the “failed to meet expectations” category for a first-round selection.
In week three of 2013, the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a player-for-player trade involving Jenkins and WR Jon Baldwin, who the Chiefs took in the first round in 2011. Jenkins now found himself entering a Chiefs locker room three weeks into the 2013 season as the team was still finding its way in a revamped offense after the arrival of new HC Andy Reid. The Chiefs were 3-0 when Jenkins arrived, and would go on to win their first eight games.
In his 13 games as a Chief in 2013, Jenkins managed to secure his first career reception (511 days after being drafted), but finished the season with just eight catches on 17 targets from former 49ers teammate Alex Smith. Jenkins turned those eight catches into 130 yards, good for a 16.3 YPC average.
In regards to the Chiefs’ 2014 fantasy outlook, there are several factors that could open up the possibility for Jenkins to be a valuable contributor in 2014. The Chiefs are aware of Smith’s ability to make things happen on the ground, which he proved he possess by his performance last season. However, Smith isn’t the type of QB a team wants running the ball that many times per season.
Expect Smith to give passing plays more time to develop in 2014 and to rely on his legs less than he did last season. The more time Smith spends in the pocket, the better, particularly if you decide to invest in Dwayne Bowe or Jenkins this coming year. Secondly, don’t expect Jamaal Charles to be the Chiefs’ leading receiver again in 2014, even though he proved he could handle any combination of touches tossed his way.
Teams with limited offensive threats that are also predominantly one-dimensional are much easier to defend against in today’s NFL. Reid will make the passing game more of a factor in his second year, and that means more balls to go around to the WR who proves he is worth the start opposite of Bowe.
Jenkins has the physical attributes and a potential opportunity to live up to his first-round selection with the Chiefs in his first full season in Kansas City. At the very least, the 2014 season will give us the answer to the question: how badly does he want it?
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