2013 Team Outlook: Kansas City Chiefs
QB Alex Smith, KC - Quality Backup
Update (10/20): Alex Smith has been a game manager all season and that is not good for fantasy owners. Sure he's winning games for the 7-0 Chiefs, but he's not posting great stats in the process so his fantasy numbers have been mediocre at best. This trend will likely continue as the Chiefs continue to win games.
Finally, the Chiefs have a competent QB. Hey, Matt Cassel was good for a while, until he wasn't. As a 49er, Smith posted some of the best numbers of his career the past two seasons, though we're not talking Brady-esque stats. Assisted by a stout run game and a playmaking defense, the former No. 1 overall pick's role in the offense was essentially to manage the clock and not turn the ball over. As a member of the Chiefs, Smith will have to air it more as a way to compensate for other unit shortcomings and because Andy Reid's system demands heavy aerial work. Kansas City has some explosive weapons with Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but there are questions surrounding WR2, TE and the offensive line. There is a chance Smith will continue what he started in San Francisco, but we're not sold on that quite yet. Hey, he was benched. Until we see him in action, it is probably best to draft Smith as a low-end QB2.
QB Chase Daniel, PHI - Low Potential
Thought he's made only nine pass attempts during his three-year career, the Chiefs gave Daniel almost $5 million in guaranteed money to come backup Alex Smith this season. Some say this is because Daniel backed up Drew Brees the past few years. Others believe the Missouri product is head coach Andy Reid's new project. No matter the reason, Daniel only takes the field if Smith goes down with an injury or bombs beyond belief. Should he play, don't get carried away with those free agent dollars.
RB Jamaal Charles, KC - Stud (low risk)
Update (8-16): That's it this preseason for Charles. According to a report, the Chiefs will hold their starting RB out of Kansas City's remaining preseason games after he suffered a mild foot sprain in the opener. As long as he's good for the real season opener, then resting now is arguably a good thing. Charles remains part of the RB tier following Adrian Peterson.
Update (8-13): Charles suffered an injury during Monday's practice, which doctors later diagnosed as a foot strain. For now, Charles' football status is considered day-to-day, a major relief for the Chiefs and fantasy footballers. In PPR format, he's currently listed as FFToolbox's No. 2 running back. Assuming no change in medical prognosis, Charles remains a high pick and an exciting option this season.
After missing nearly the entire 2011 season due to a torn ACL, Charles bounced back last year with monster campaign, rushing for 1,509 yards while tacking on 236 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The mighty production came while part of an offense that often looked appeared lost or helpless. At least the overall dysfunction led to 320 touches for Charles, who showed he could handle the workload, though his week-to-week stats had noticeable peaks and valleys. Expect better days for Charles and the entire offense this season with new head coach Andy Reid running the show. The west coast offense Reid likes to run should result in fewer carries, but more receptions for the slithery back. This means if you're in a points-per-reception league, Charles should be gold, no less than a top 3-5 selection.
RB Shaun Draughn, SF - Low Potential
Draughn carried the ball 59 times for 233 yards with a pair of touchdowns last season. When playing behind a great back such as Jamaal Charles, numbers like these are what one would expect. In 2013, Draughn might be lucky to reach such heights now that Knile Davis is in the mix for the No. 2 job. More than in the mix, the bruising rookie is the favorite for the gig if he avoids the fumblitis situation that haunted him at Arkansas. At that point, perhaps Draughn is the technical backup. However, Davis would get first crack if Charles went down, which leaves Draughn as waiver wire fodder.
RB Knile Davis, KC - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The rookie out of Arkansas has all the tools to be a valuable asset to the Chiefs offense. That is if his ankle can hold out and he can learn how to hold on to the ball. In between injuries, the bruising back posted impressive stats at Arkansas as he led the SEC with 1,322 yards in 2010. Then he missed 2011 with a broken ankle, and then he received only 112 carries last season. Kansas City saw enough to select Davis in the third round and he likely ends up as Jamaal Charles' backup/handcuff. If he avoids fumbles, perhaps more can be expected, but for now only draft Davis as a late round sleeper.
RB Dexter McCluster, TEN - Deep-league Only
Is he a receiver, a running back or maybe a little of both? The problem with McCluster is nobody knows where he is going to line up. Actually, that should be a problem for defenses, but through three seasons, it hasn't. In that stretch, the 5-foot-9 McCluster had 144 carries and 119 receptions with a total of four touchdowns. Expect Andy Reid to frequently use the hybrid threat in the slot...and outside...and lined up, well, everything, but mostly inside where Kansas City can take advantage of mismatches. Until the Chiefs do exactly that with McCluster, don't plan to draft the speedster until the final rounds at best in 12-plus team leagues.