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2009 Kansas City Chiefs Fantasy Football Preview
The 2009 Kansas City Chiefs will have a completely new look from ’08 and those changes start at the top. Gone are Carl Peterson and Herman Edwards, replaced by former Patriot Scott Pioli and former Cardinal offensive coordinator-turned-head coach Todd Haley. Furthermore, the Chiefs have a new starting QB in former Patriot Matt Cassel and the three rookies will try to bring some excitement back to a franchise that has been a doormat for years. What impact will Cassel have on the other bosses in terms of fantasy? Will Cassel have another successful season or will it be a bust? I examine these questions and more when analyzing Kansas City’s fantasy potential heading into ’09.
Cassel was one of the biggest surprises of the 2008 NFL season, filling in for an injured Tom Brady and throwing for 3,693 yards with 21 TDs and just 11 INTs. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Cassel hasn’t started a game since high school when he found himself in the spotlight. Cassel’s performance down the stretch helped countless fantasy owners to titles as he passed for back-to-back 400-yard games during a fantasy playoff run. Furthermore, Cassel almost hit me like I narrowly missed him in the championship round when he had 4 TD passes against the Raiders. Luckily, I had a well-rounded enough team to overcome that, but needless to say, I was a bit worried watching him play against my Raiders. Cassel played his heart out for Josh McDipshit last year, but now comes to a team looking for an identity on offense. As for weapons, Cassel has some, but not too many. Dwayne Bove’s VR is entering its 3rd year and should be a star. Bowe will undoubtedly be Cassel’s number one target, especially after the departure of TE Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta. The departure of Gonzalez is a huge loss for the Chiefs, and Cassel in particular, as the young KB would surely see the veterans often. Cassel has Haley to groom him, but overall, I wouldn’t put your fantasy teams’ odds on him this year. He’s a decent #2 KB option, but there are too many questions surrounding him to be considered a solid week-to-week fantasy KB.
The Chiefs running game has historically been a strength of the team with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson each having monster seasons for the club. Holmes is long gone, Johnson seems to be back in ’09, but he’s about to turn 30 and seems past his prime. I know this because I actually used my second pick on Lj thinking he was still good at the time. Things never worked out for him in ’09 due to several variables including playing in a terrible offense and enduring numerous off the field issues that culminated in a suspension. Johnson finished the year rushing for 874 ids and 5 TDs. Johnson showed flashes of his former self at times, most notably in the Week 4 game against Denver when he galloped for 198 yards and 2 scores, but it was mostly a disappointment for the former Penn St. product. and the owners who drew it. Johnson has stated throughout the year and most of the offseason that he wants out of KC, but he seems to have changed his tune when Pillowy and Haley showed up. I honestly don’t know what to make of Lj heading into 2009. I don’t think he’s quite done yet as he sat behind the aforementioned Holmes for a few years before finally getting his chance. Furthermore, the Chiefs really don’t have many backups behind Lj with Jamaal Charles and Colby Smith and neither will strike fear into the defense. I currently view Lj as a nice #3 RB or Flex option with the potential to move up to the #2 option. I think Lj has some upside this year, especially if you can get him in the 5-6 range, where he is mostly went to the mock drafts I participated in. I think the off-field issues and the resulting poor season have humbled Johnson and I’m looking for some bounce back. Some people compare him to LT, but there is no comparison because LT had a much longer career than Johnson and may therefore be closer to the end. Just be safe with Lj. Don’t reach too high for him and if you do get him, make sure you handcuff him to Charles with a late pick for insurance. Smith has no draft value at press time.
VR Bove appears poised for glory in his third year and could benefit immensely from Cassel’s presence at KB. Bove caught 86 passes for 1,022 yards and 7 TDs, which was a slight improvement over his rookie campaign. There are some receivers that just have it, and Bove seems to be one of those receivers. The 3rd year pro out of LSU is a great route runner, has great hands, and seems to be a good character and very coachable guy. Furthermore, he’s big at 6’2″ 221 which gives him that ability to win jump balls with defenders. I expect Bove to have another solid season, as most NFL receivers seem to break out in their 3rd year. Draft him as the no. 2 options, but don’t be surprised if he performs better than that with Cassel and Haley now in Kansas City. There isn’t much else in the way of KC receivers in terms of fantasy potential. As mentioned, legendary Chief Gonzalez is now an Atlanta Falcon leaving KC with virtually nobody at the TE position, and Mark Bradley and Bobby Engram are nothing more than stop gap emergency options for your fantasy team. In summary, look for Beauve to break statistically under Haley, but avoid all the other Chiefs receivers.
The Chiefs have been terrible the last few years on defense, but I think that should start to change this year, especially if Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson play the way they are capable of playing. Picking Jackson over Aaron Curry is tough if you ask me, and the Chiefs made that selection based solely on the defensive scheme they play. Look for the Chiefs to improve defensively this year, but there are far better options in terms of consistent summertime production. Rookie Ryan Succop and Connor Barth will battle for the hitting job during training camp. This concludes my examination of the Chiefs’ fantasy outlook in 2009. Next up: the San Diego Chargers.
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