Out of nowhere, the Kansas City Chiefs were somewhat of a fantasy football darling in 2013.
The defensive unit emerged into one of the best in fantasy, scoring a touchdown seemingly every single week. They led the league in defensive touchdowns per game and finished as a number one D/ST 50 percent of the time, a number good enough for third-best in football. And, of course, they had arguably the best player in fantasy football at their disposal. Kansas City surprised many, en route to an 11-5 record and a playoff birth.
So what does 2014 have in store?
Make fun of him all you want, but Alex Smith was good last year.
During his inaugural season with the Chiefs, Smith threw for 3,300 yards, 23 touchdowns and tossed just seven interceptions. Many people constantly complained about his inability to throw the ball down field, but it didn’t kill his fantasy value, as Smith finished as a top-15 fantasy signal callers, despite ranking 44th in vertical pass attempts per game (7.9). The Chiefs ranked just 24th in passing plays of 20 yards or more last year, while Smith made his impact with the short-passing game. 139 of Smith’s 238 fantasy points came off short passes last year, the 10th-most among quarterbacks (via ESPN). That’s almost 60 percent of his fantasy points, as head coach Andy Reid and is style of offense really helped Smith excel. The presence of Jamaal Charles in the passing game paid dividends for Smith, which we will get into later.
Smith is more of a bye-week option, but a good one. He won’t ever really kill you in a given week, as he posted an insanely low BDR (bad decision rate) of 0.9, showing that he won’t take unnecessary chances, though, it does limit his upside a bit. He only averaged 15.9 fantasy points per game last year, indicating a low floor and low ceiling, but his rushing ability played a major factor, as he set a career high in rushing yards (431), while running for a score as well. And, from weeks 12-16, Smith showed what he is still capable of doing.
During this span, Smith was the third-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football, proving that when you have an elite back in a friendly offense, you can post strong numbers, despite how often you throw the ball down the field. Consider Smith a QB2 in two-quarterback leagues, or an ideal streaming option.
Bless you, Jamaal Charles.
First of all, bless you for having the shortest holdout ever. Holdouts tend to result in disaster for running backs, and I’m glad to see Charles back at camp. Secondly, bless you for having an insanely elite fantasy football campaign last year.
So many people were worried about the presence of Andy Reid and his West Coast attack. And sure, Charles did see his carries drop from 285 to 259, but it was well worth it when you consider that he caught an insane 70 balls on an even more insane 104 targets (led RB). That was 38 more than his previous career-high. He had more receptions than anyone on the Chiefs, including wide receivers. His 19 overall scores were the most in football, en route to the top finish among fantasy running backs, scoring almost 300 points. There was only one week last year where Charles wasn’t a top-12 fantasy back, finishing as one 93.8 percent of the time. And while everyone may make the case that Peyton Manning was the MVP of the fantasy campaign, to me, it was Charles because of how scarce running back is, compared to quarterback. According to CBS Sports leagues, 25 percent of teams that made it to the finals owned Charles, while just 16 percent had Manning on their team.
Now that the holdout is over, consider Charles with your number one pick.
Meanwhile, make sure you snag Knile Davis toward the end of your draft, too. Davis has a rare combination of size and speed (227 lbs, 4.37 speed), and when Charles was resting last year, Davis was pretty darn good himself.
The addition of pass-happy Andy Reid was supposed to help the fantasy prospects of Dwayne Bowe— not hurt it.
The new regime killed Bowe’s fantasy value, as it consisted of short-passing to the tight ends and running backs, while Bowe struggled to see consistent looks down the field. His 103 targets, 57 receptions and 673 yards were all the second-lowest of his career, while his 34 targets of 20 yards or more down field ranked an ugly 49th among wide receivers. Bowe has just no upside in this offense, generating a start-worthy week just five times this past season. I mean, the guy averaged just six fantasy points per contest. Six. Bowe is still 100 percent draftable, and could serve as a decent value, as he is currently coming off the board as the number 39 wide receiver in the ninth round.
This receiving corp is one of the worst in football.
If you’re looking for a fantasy sleeper, consider tight end Travis Kelce, who could be a security blanket for Alex Smith and his checkdown ways. With Dexter McCluster off to Tennessee, the Chiefs will be looking for another pass-catcher to emerge, and Kelce should be a good fit for this offense.