Chiefs' fantasy questions for the offseason

Posted Feb. 15, 2012 @ 10:52 a.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

16th in a series.

Every skill position is a question mark for fantasy owners as we look at the Chiefs entering the offseason. They already have their new head coach in Romeo Crennel and just signed Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator. His name might not be familiar to some fantasy owners, but he was the Dolphins' coordinator last season and before that he was the Browns' offensive coordinator. Neither of those offenses is going to inspire fantasy owners to look toward the Chiefs, though just because someone's not the sexy pick doesn't mean he won't succeed.

Daboll and Crennel have to decide on a quarterback and figure out how to handle the backfield with Jamaal Charles coming back from injury. There are also questions with the receivers after Dwayne Bowe and the tight ends as well. Daboll wants to run an offense that uses the no-huddle more often and with various schemes and packages.

Will QB Matt Cassel be the starter?

Daboll was the WR coach with the Patriots when Cassel was there in 2005 and '06, giving Cassel familiarity and an edge going into the offseason. If the team brings back free agent Kyle Orton, who wants to start, he and Cassel will be in a battle for the starting job. Every time Cassel shows promise, he ends up disappointing fantasy owners.  Before his hand injury in 2011, in nine games, Cassel averaged 190 yards 1.1 TDs and one interception. He had three games without a touchdown pass and four more with only one, leaving only two multi-TD games.

Orton has said that he's not sure if he'll return, as he believes this is Cassel's team. He's correct in that assessment, as the Patriots' ties are clear in the coaching staff and front office. Orton's a quality veteran, who can be a stopgap QB, so he will have a few suitors. For now, Cassel enters the season atop the depth chart but with his current play and a new offensive coordinator — familiarity or not, he's not someone you want to put on your radar in the offseason.

Can RB Jamaal Charles return healthy enough to compete?

Charles is expected to make a full recovery from his ACL tear and will be at offseason workouts. History has shown there's a long rehabilitation process, with a return to pre-injury form not coming until the second year following the surgery. There are always exceptions, but the only player I can recall to come back without setbacks was Terry Allen, the former Vikings and Redskins running back.

As the featured back, Charles could be overvalued and you don't want to overpay. Despite Dexter McCluster having his touches managed, he will eat into some of Charles' touches. Jackie Battle is a free agent and would have no value with Charles back. Thomas Jones likely will not be brought back. Right now, Charles is on schedule to return without any problems, but training camp and preseason games will settle his true value for fantasy owners. I traditionally stay away from players coming back from ACL tears their first year back and suggest the same to you. However, keeper-league owners should keep him on their rosters as he'll play this season, and if you waive him the odds of being able to reclaim him down the road are unlikely.

Will WR Dwayne Bowe stay a Chief and will Jonathan Baldwin step up?

Bowe is a fantasy beast. His numbers are rarely down despite bad QB play, but he's a free agent and is looking for a deal similar to Jets WR Santonio Holmes' five-year, $45 million contract. Bowe is worthy of the figure based on talent. He turns 28 years old this year and is at a point where he should be ready to take the next step as a team leader. He had an average last season of 5.1 catches for 72.44 yards and 0.31 TDs on 8.8 targets in 16 games. If he's not re-signed, expect the team to apply the franchise tag. While he might have some questions because he's a free agent, he will stick around one way or another.

Baldwin was a rookie with some potential but injured his thumb in a locker-room fight and missed the first five games of the season. In his 11 games, he totaled 21-254-1 on 53 targets. He'll compete with Steve Breaston for playing time and both can play the outside and slot positions. Breaston did impress at times and tallied 61-785-2 on 98 targets.

Is there any talent at the TE position?

Tony Moeaki is on schedule to return from his torn ACL and will take part in off-season workouts. Moeaki is a forgotten man but in 2010 he caught 47-556-3 on 73 targets. He won't be on anyone's radar heading into the 2012 season but has some potential.

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