Chiefs Fantasy Footballers: Sleepers and Keepers
Fantasy football is the most important non-important thing in the world. I think we can all agree on that. Nothing is more satisfying than crushing your friends, family, and co-workers in a game that has no practical value. The tiniest edge can mean the difference between league champion and telling your buddies how lucky they were to beat you.
The Chiefs were terrible last year. That’s no secret. Amateur fantasy players will stop there, note that Jamaal Charles is good, and move on with their day. You’re not an amateur, though. And you understand that the picks you make in the later rounds are what will win your league. With that, let’s take a look at what the Chiefs potentially offer in fantasy football.
Pretty much the only surefire “you absolutely should draft this man” skill position player on the Chiefs. While the myth on Andy Reid is that his backs don’t get the ball enough, history has shown that backs in his offense can put up monster fantasy seasons.
While JC had a relatively quiet 3rd preseason game, fantasy players know what they’re getting here. And in addition to being one of the best runners in the game, Charles is finally going to be used as a receiver in space. Reid has had him line up all over the field. In PPR leagues he is a legitimate top pick. In the first preseason game Charles touched the ball 8 of 14 snaps on his lone drive.
It’s also worth noting that Reid elected to use Charles on the goal line in that first preseason game. Charles took advantage by scoring the TD. The lone weakness for Charles has long been his lack of rushing TDs. However, in a much-improved offense he should get more cracks at the end zone, and Reid looks fine with using him in goal line situations. All this only increases his value as a fantasy back.
However, if you do pick up Charles it’ll be important to handcuff him to Knile Davis, who is indisputably JC’s primary backup and is looking to see some snaps in relief. Davis has flashed some extreme big play potential on his own, so this handcuff doesn’t hurt as much as some do (especially if he continues to return kicks for TDs).
Over the course of the first 2 preseason games, Bowe was targeted exactly one time by Alex Smith and did not have a single reception. Naturally, the internet collectively decided to move on from Bowe because “Alex Smith never throws to WRs” and other such in-depth analysis.
Then, on Saturday, Smith targeted Bowe 8 times in the first half. Bowe collected 6 receptions for 73 yards and came within a poor downfield block by Donnie Avery from breaking loose for a huge gain on one of those receptions.
Of course, once people have made up their minds about a fantasy player, they often tend to stick with that initial opinion. This creates an opportunity. Bowe should not be your #1 receiver, but he could make for a very solid #2 and just might fall far enough that you can get him for a bargain price. Being able to steal a solid #2 WR later in the draft is what separates a solid fantasy team from a great fantasy team.
Obviously, Smith isn’t your starter. Unless you’re in a 20-team league or something. However, is he viable as a backup?
In a 10 team league, I’d say no. There are just too many question marks as to exactly what Reid is going to do with his offense. Yes, they’ll throw the ball. But will they throw it as much as Reid traditionally has, or are they going to go with a more conservative version of the west coast offense? Early returns indicate the latter. Smith plays conservatively unless forced to do otherwise. And while he’s very good at playing that way and moving the chains, that doesn’t make for a great (or even good) fantasy season.
On the flip side of that, Smith looked very sharp against the Steelers in the all-important (for fantasy, at least) 3rd preseason game, despite not having any running game to speak of. So what I guess I’m really saying is “shrug.” I will say that in multiple fantasy leagues I haven’t felt the need to take him at all.
(Now, just to be clear, this is only for those hardcore folk who are playing in 12-15 team leagues and/or have 3 WRs instead of a flex)
Deep, deep, deep sleeper alert! Andy Reid appears to have been slow-playing Donnie Avery. First, Dorsey signed Avery for starter money (at least with the 1st year being guaranteed). Next, Reid proceeded to play Jon Baldwin instead of Avery opposite Dwayne Bowe, making me want to peel my face off. Then, upon trading Baldwin (yay!), Reid promptly inserted Avery into the starting lineup.
The result was promising for Chiefs fans and fantasy owners looking for a very late round steal. Avery had 6 catches on 9 targets for 54 yards. Those aren’t “wow” stats, but what was interesting was the way in which Avery was used. Many assumed Avery was brought on board to stretch the field, but Avery ran almost exclusively short, quick routes. He also displayed the ability to get separation very quickly, which worked well on a night where the Steelers were bringing the heat.
Again, Avery is not a #1 or #2 WR. In a league where you’re carrying 3 WRs, though, it could be a different story. He does have some potential value, especially if they keep taking advantage of his quickness in Reid’s offense.
All Chiefs TE’s
I’m going to go ahead and group them all together because frankly, there’s not a whole lot there. Anthony Fasano has been a favorite target of Alex Smith this preseason (shocking no one), so if you’re in a deep league and you’ve ignored TE until the very late rounds, he’s a steady pick who’ll net you some catches and yards every week. But really, he’s not worth drafting at all, since the odds are very good that you can just snatch him up later on in the year.
Tony Moeaki has gotten injured (again, shocking no one) and was already delegated to 3rd string. He’s a nonfactor.
Rookie Travis Kelce is more interesting. Now, if you’re not in a keeper league, feel free to move right along. Because barring a major surprise, Kelce isn’t going to be doing enough this season to justify drafting him.
That said, Kelce is well worth a flyer in a keeper league. He’s 6’5″, 260 pounds, and one of the most athletic big guys I’ve ever seen. He was clocked at a low of 4.52 seconds in the 40 (with an official time of 6.64). He can flat out FLY. He also has (despite a couple of drops this preseason) solid hands if college tape is any indication. He also shows a very physical side, which means he won’t be kept off the field because of an inability to block.
If I were to pick one guy to take in a keeper league besides Jamaal Charles, it would be Kelce. Just so much upside.
Now before you laugh and shut off your computer, hear me out. In 3 preseason games, the Chiefs ST unit has returned 2 kickoffs for touchdowns. They also have multiple OTHER returns (both punt and kick) for over 40 yards. They’ve been off the charts.
Additionally, you need to remember that this fantasy defense and actual defense are two very different things. Fantasy defense is about sacks, turnovers, and scores (both defensive and via ST).
Now the Chiefs defense was miserable at these things last year, as they were running Romeo Crennel’s “bend but don’t break,” ultra-conservative 2-gap 3-4 defense. This year, under new DC Bob Sutton, that’s been different. Very different. Sutton’s been more aggressive in preseason with (mostly) vanilla defenses than Crennel ever was. He’s sending blitzes from all over the place and having his DL (including 2nd year physical freak Dontari Poe) attack individual gaps rather than simply hold the line.
Of course, such an aggressive attack leads to big plays given up sometimes. As a Chiefs fan, this concerns me. But as a fantasy owner, you don’t really need to care about that kind of thing. Combine this with how staggeringly good the Chiefs’ ST unit has looked, and this is at least a D/ST group to look at come draft time.
Overall, the Chiefs aren’t a very strong team fantasy-wise. BUT, since they happen to be a team that is overlooked by most of the NFL, there is a good chance some of the players discussed here could provide value later on in the draft. Again, it’s not the first 3-4 rounds of the draft that win your league. That part is easy.
But grabbing a guy in the 7th that turns into a solid #2 WR? Or grabbing a keeper who blows up next year? Or getting a 3rd WR in the 13th round that actually produces? That stuff is what makes you a champion. Well, a fake football internet champion. But still.