How much can a player improve in one offseason? Just ask Dwayne Bowe, who has gone from being a perennial fantasy dog to one of the most effective receivers in the league in only one season.
A year ago, the Chiefs' top wideout was aging veteran Chris Chambers. The reason for that? Bowe was busy serving his four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. And in the 11 games in which he was active in 2009, he spent most of his time dropping passes — a league-high 11 for those keeping score. There might not have been a receiver in the NFL with a lower production-to-talent ratio last season.
Fast-forward one year, however, and it wouldn't be far-fetched to say that Bowe is playing better than any wideout in the game. His 13-catch, 170-yard, three-TD performance last week at Seattle was tremendous in and of itself, but the longer-term roll he has been on is even more remarkable.
These are Bowe's numbers in his last seven games: 49 catches for 733 yards and 13 TDs. Yes, you read that correctly — in less than half a season, Bowe has more scores than most wideouts will finish with for the season. It's an unfathomable run that likely has positioned his owners in a great spot to make the fantasy playoffs.
The fourth-year receiver deserves credit for recommitting himself to the game in the offseason and realizing that this could be his last chance to prove that he belongs with the NFL's elite at his position. For as much of a disappointment as he was in '09, he has made up for it by playing out of his mind this season and helping lead the Chiefs to a 7-4 record.
It's worth mentioning the impact that Bowe's emergence has had on QB Matt Cassel's stats. Cassel has thrown a sparkling 18 TD passes and only one interception in the same seven-game stretch. Those numbers are hard to believe from a guy who's known as more of a game manager. But the facts are the facts, and Cassel is now someone whom you can put in your lineup and feel confident about, especially against a team like Denver, which he faces this week.
Whether it has been his extra effort, the motivation of Todd Haley, the schemes of Charlie Weis or a combination of all three, Bowe is finally realizing his full potential and becoming a fantasy great in the process.