Chiefs look for Reid to revive Arrowhead
HC A.Reid, QB A.Smith,
CB S.Smith, CB D.Robinson,
LB A.Jordan, TE A.Fasano,
WR D.Avery, OL G.Schwartz
DL G.Dorsey, OT E.Winston,
RB P.Hillis, WR S.Breaston,
QB M.Cassel, S A.Elam
The Kansas City Chiefs have talent throughout their roster. Despite a two-win season, the Chiefs had six players selected to the Pro Bowl (one on offence, four on defence, and one on special teams.) It was the first time ever a team with less than six wins had so many representatives at the meaningless end-of-year showcase.
The Chiefs had talent last year, but what they didn’t possess was a worthy quarterback or head coach.
New general manager John Dorsey is hoping he has remedied those problems with the off-season additions of Alex Smith and Andy Reid to replace the departed Matt Cassel and Romeo Crennel.
Smith started just nine games last season but it was his breakout 2011 campaign, in which he threw for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions that has Chiefs fans excited for future possibilities.
And Reid comes to Kansas City a former Coach of the Year with a career head coaching record 130-91-1.
Both came available for the Chiefs for a reason however. Smith spent years struggling in San Francisco as the first overall draft pick in 2005 until head coach Jim Harbaugh helped turn him into a successful starter two years ago. Of course by then the 49ers had grown impatient with the University of Utah product and drafted his replacement in Colin Kaepernick, who took over the reins in San Fran on a permanent basis midway through last year.
Despite modest success in Philadelphia, Reid could never get the Eagles over the hump – he came closest in 2005 when they reached the Super Bowl – and more recently the team’s had bigger struggles, paving the way for his departure.
As much talent is laden throughout Kansas City’s roster, their fate is still most closely tied to the additions of Smith and Reid. If Reid can help Smith continue the success Harbaugh unlocked in him two years ago, the talent on offence, defence, and special teams will have a chance to carry the Chiefs to contention.
The talent on offence comes in the form of an explosive runner, Jamaal Charles, a talented but inconsistent top receiver, Dwayne Bowe, and what should be a solid offensive line, led by tackles Branden Albert and first-overall draft pick Eric Fisher.
Charles’ impressive return from a serious knee injury was overshadowed by Adrian Peterson’s MVP campaign coming off a similarly brutal knee injury. Had Peterson not rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 12 scores, Charles’ 1,500 yard, five touchdown campaign would have garnered a lot more attention.
The 26-year-old should still have a lot of tread on his tires, and two seasons removed from a torn ACL with a presumably better passing game for opposing defences to key on, has a good chance of bettering his 2012 numbers. Charles won’t be putting up Peterson numbers, but should once again be a top back, at least in terms of fantasy numbers.
After two years of playing for a contract, Bowe reached a long-term deal with the Chiefs this off-season, keeping him in KC for the next five seasons. The 28-year-old’s last two seasons were impressive (very impressive considering Kansas City’s QBs), recording over 1,100 each year and a combined 20 touchdowns. If the first-rounder from LSU can stay ‘contract year’ hungry for this season, Smith has a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to, something he didn’t always have in San Francisco.
Another luxury Smith has heading into the season is two capable protectors flanking the offensive line. Albert, a first-round pick in 2008, has proven an above average left tackle during his five years in the league and was franchised tagged by Kansas City this off-season.
Perhaps planning for an Albert-less future, the Chiefs used their first-overall pick on Fisher, who looks every bit the part of a franchise left tackle.
While the team may eventually lose Albert to free agency, for now the team can enjoy two studs manning the tackle positions and making sure Smith has the time to run an effective offensive attack. (-Ben Fisher, TSN.ca)
Three Pro Bowl linebackers lead a defence that for the most part looks solid on paper, but at least last year failed to deliver on the field. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, and inside ‘backer Derrick Johnson were all selected to the Pro Bowl last season after combining for 196 tackles and 21 sacks.
There was also talent in the secondary with Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and high profile cornerback Brandon Flowers, and on the defensive line with 11th overall draft pick Dontari Poe.
AFC WEST PROJECTIONS
Division Winner, 1st round bye
Moving in right direction
Severe lack of talent
Arguably worst team in NFL
But Kansas City consistently ranked in the bottom half of major defensive statistical categories. The Chiefs were 20th in yards allowed (356.5 per game) and 25th in points allowed (26.6 per game.)
While they ranked a respectable 12th in passing yards allowed (220.8 per game), their biggest problem was against the run, ranking 27th in the league (135.7 yards allowed per game.) As impressive as their linebacking corps is at getting to opposing QBs, they need to find a way to be stouter against the run, and if they can get anything out of former third-overall pick Tyson Jackson at DE, it would be a bonus.
The addition of cornerback Sean Smith, at a reasonable three-year, $18 million deal, will help out the secondary, but likely isn’t enough to push the unit from solid on paper to solid on the field.
There’s no question the Chiefs will be better in 2013, but they’re going to have to be a lot better to be relevant coming off a 2-14 season. If Smith plays like he did the past two seasons, and not the first five of his career, the Chiefs could make some noise in a weak AFC West. But without Harbaugh pulling the strings, there’s reason for speculation Smith can rival his 2011 season. It says here the most likely scenario is Smith’s performance falls somewhere in between his early-career lows and more recent highs, and Kansas City falls somewhere in between worst team in the league and playoff contender. (-Ben Fisher, TSN.ca)
Special Teams: K R. Succop, P D. Colquitt, KR D. McCluster, PR D. McCluster
Special Teams: K R. Succop, P D. Colquitt, KR D. McCluster, PR D. McCluster
Fantasy - By The Numbers
Expectations are higher for the Chiefs' offence with Andy Reid taking over head-coaching duties and QB Alex Smith figuring to be an upgrade at quarterback.
Get ready for the fantasy season with the latest from TSN.ca.
Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF
Fantasy Schedules: AFC | NFC
2013 Auction Values: Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Depth Charts: AFC | NFC
Smith has never thrown 20 touchdown passes in a season, nor has he passed for even 3,200 yards in a season, but he's only played 16 games once and did complete better than 70% of his passes before getting hurt and losing the starting job in San Francisco last season.
RB Jamaal Charles rushed for a career-high 1,509 yards last season, but has yet to score more than eight touchdowns in any single season; perhaps this will be the year. WR Dwayne Bowe averaged 61.6 yards per game last season, the second-lowest mark of his career, but an upgrade at quarterback does lead to the possibility of better numbers for Bowe, WR Donnie Avery and TE Tony Moeaki, though the latter two are only going to have value in deep leagues.
ILB Derrick Johnson has 214 solo tackles over the last two seasons, ranking second in the league, so he and SS Eric Berry are the most appealing Chiefs defenders for fantasy purposes. Pass rushing OLB Tamba Hali could be valuable enough if he can hit double digit sacks, as he has 35.5 sacks over the last three years, ranking fifth. (-Scott Cullen)