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Cassel could miss extended time with hand injury

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Posted Nov. 14, 2011 @ 3:49 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated Nov. 14, 2011 @ 9:26 p.m. ET

Chiefs head coach Todd Haley announced on Monday that QB Matt Cassel suffered a "significant hand injury" during the team's Week 10 loss to the Broncos and that his season may be over.

Cassel was sacked four times and hit on 12 other occasions against Denver. The last of those four sacks, when the QB was sandwiched between Broncos defenders Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, was apparently the play where Cassel suffered the hand injury. He did not join the Chiefs' offense on the field when they took the field following the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.

Tyler Palko, who was 5-of-6 for 47 yards filling in for Cassel, is expected to start in Week 11 against the Patriots on "Monday Night Football." The game was supposed to mark Cassel's return to New England, where he played before being traded to Kansas City in 2009.

 

The way we see it

The Chiefs were in deep trouble even with a healthy Cassel, but now their task becomes tougher with Palko under center. The team has very little depth at QB, and Palko will have an uphill climb to keep the team competitive in an upcoming stretch of tough games.

 

PFW fantasy spin

Cassel's hand could cost him the season, but the truth is that fantasy owners gave up on him weeks ago. He has a per-game average of 190.3 yards, 1.1 TDs and one interception, showing he was only waiver-wire material. His direct loss will not hurt any fantasy owners. It's the team around him that Tyler Palko could hurt. Palko does have football smarts but would be a better game manager. Yet, the Chiefs lack a strong rushing attack, and this is an offense built to pass. Palko can move in the pocket, and we hope that'll buy him time to get the ball to the receivers. Don't expect much as the team will probably simplify the playbook a bit to ease the transition.

The wide receivers starting with Dwayne Bowe will take a slight hit, but Bowe has played with poor quarterbacks in the past. Now is the time to buy low on Bowe because if any receiver can maximize his targets, it's Bowe. Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin will suffer the biggest hit, but don't drop Breaston as much as stash him on your roster and give Palko a couple of weeks to see what he can do. Baldwin is still on most waiver wires and should remain there right now.

RB Jackie Battle's numbers have been dropping each week, and his value was lessening. When the Chiefs fell behind in Week 10, they went to a more pass-heavy scheme that used Dexter McCluster more than Battle. There's a slight chance McCluster's numbers could see a bump with the short passing game, but that's being a bit speculative. Both McCluster and Thomas Jones should remain on waiver wires. Jones doesn't take a hit because he had no fantasy relevance.

Palko's smart, athletic and now has the shot he's been waiting for. Let's see what he has to offer before trying to move Bowe or drop Breaston.

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