Kansas City Chiefs: 2015 Outlook

 
 
 
 
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Kansas City Chiefs

By Shawn Childs, Monday, June 15, 2015

The Chiefs have played well over the last two years with Andy Reid as the head coach. They have gone 20-12 with one playoff berth. Last yea,r Kansas City showed growth in their defense. They allowed the second-lowest amount of points (281) in the league while allowing the seventh-lowest amount of total yards (330.5 YPG), which was 17 slots higher than 2013. Their offense finished only league average in points scored (353). They have ranked below 20th in the league in total yards (318.8 in 2014 – 25th) in eight of the last nine years. The Chiefs have outscored their opponents by 197 points over the last two years, which a huge step up from the previous six years (-688 points). Reid is 150-105 in his career as a head coach with 10 playoff experiences over his 16 year career. Doug Pederson returns for his third season as the offensive coordinator. Doug has nine years of experience playing in the league as player and six years working under Reid at various positions. Bob Sutton returns to run the defense, a position he has held over the last two years. Prior to 2013, Sutton spent 13 seasons on the Jets' coaching staff with three seasons as the defensive coordinator.

Free Agency

The biggest changes in the offseason for Kansas City were on the offensive line. The Chiefs signed G Ben Grubbs, who is a former first round draft pick in 2009. Grubb delivered a slightly below league average year in 2014 after being asset in his career in both run- and pass-blocking. They also brought in G Paul Fanaika. Fanaika was one of the worst linemen in the league in 2014 with huge negative value in all areas in the game. Paul will compete for a backup job. 2014 starting C Rodney Hudson left to play with the Raiders. Hudson played well in both run and pass blocking while showing growth in each season after being selected in the second round in 2012. G Mike McGlynn left to play for the Saints roster after delivering two straight horrendous seasons. They also released T Ryan Harris who has been a below average player over the last two years.

WR Jeremy Maclin was the best offseason move for the Chiefs this spring. He'll give Kansas City a legit WR1 with big-play ability. He'll replace WR Dwayne Bowe who left to play with the Browns. WR A.J. Jenkins was brought in for WR depth.

Kansas City lost S Kurt Coleman and CB Chris Owens from their secondary. Coleman played well in pass coverage as a backup player (eight catches in 16 passes defended for 76 yards with no TDs and three INTs. Owen allowed a 64.9 percent completion rate for 462 yards and four TDs as a part time player in 2014.

Draft

The Chiefs focused on their second and third levels of their defense with four of their first six picks in this year's draft. Kansas City drafted CB Marcus Peters with the 18th pick overall and CB Steven Nelson on the third round. Peters has the all-around skill set to start in his first year in the NFL, but he needs to prove he is mentally ready to handle the stresses that come with playing at the next level. Marcus will have value in press coverage, but he may lack the speed to stay with elite burners on deep plays. Nelson has risk in man coverage while offering support in the run game. His best value will come with safety support over the top. Steven competes hard, but he needs to prove he can handle the step up in competition.

In the fourth and the fifth round, the Chiefs added LB Ramik Wilson and LB D.J. Alexander. Wilson will have the most value in a defense with a strong defensive line where he can roam free to attack the line scrimmage. Alexander has elite speed for his position with solid tackling skills and value in pass coverage. Both players will compete for backup jobs.

With their second pick, Kansas City selected G Mitch Morse. Morse has plus strength with some quickness and a solid feel for the game. He'll offer upside in both run and pass blocking and the talk on the street has Mitch developing into an asset at the center position.

WR Chris Conley was picked in the third round. He has elite speed (4.35 forty) with solid strength and size (6'2" and 213 lbs.). Chris has a good feel for running routes, but lacks elite quickness which leads to him struggling to get separation at the line of scrimmage against press coverage. Conley has some questions about his hands and he needs to establish he can work in the middle of the field.

With their second pick in the 5th round, the Chiefs drafted TE James O'Shaughnessy. James is a pass-catching TE with enough speed to make big plays down the middle of the field. He needs to add more strength to earn more playing time. O'Shaughnessy will need time to develop and is very firmly behind TE Travis Kelce on the depth chart.

DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches will have value attacking the line of scrimmage with his quickness, but he tends to mediocre after contact with no real plan of attack other than creating havoc. Rakeem plays hard, but he needs to add more strength to gain playing time.

With their last pick, Kansas City decided on WR Da'Ron Brown. He has solid hands with speed and strength, but his technique is well below par. His lack of acceleration will lead to him being a low-level backup in the NFL.



Kansas City Chiefs CB Marcus Peters

Offensive Line

The Chiefs finished 10th in rushing yards (1,918 yards) while averaging 4.6 yards per rush with 18 rushing TDs.

LT Eric Fisher was selected with the first pick overall in the 2013 draft. He's allowed 14 sacks, 16 QB hits, and 59 QB hurries in his two years in the league with below par value in run blocking. Fisher has the pedigree, but he still has a lot of work to do.

LG Ben Grubbs will be an upgrade for sure at this position. He's only allowed seven sacks over the last three years, which was helped by the quick decision making by QB Drew Brees. Ben is expected to upgrade the run game as well. Grubbs is a former first round draft pick.

C Eric Kush will compete with rookie C Mitch Moore for the starting job at the center position. Kush was only on the field for 73 plays in his rookie season in 2013 after being drafted in the sixth round. Last year he didn't play in any game. His scouting report suggests he has upside, but he has a lot to prove. Moore will be transition to the center position so it may take him some time to become NFL ready.

RG Jeff Allen was selected in the second round in 2012. His season ended after Week 1 due to an elbow injury that required surgery. In his two seasons as the starter at left guard, Allen has been a poor run and pass blocker.

RT Donald Stephenson missed the first seven games of 2014 after being suspended for four games due failing a drug test. In the two previous years, Stephenson was a below average-pass blocker with limited value in run blocking.

Last year Kansas City only attempted 30.8 passes per game, which was at least 10-percent lower than the league average. Even with low pass attempts (493), their offensive line allowed 49 sacks (7th). The Chiefs were 29th in the league in passing yards (3,182) with 18 TDs and six INTs.

This line has as much risk as reward. The upside is the left side of the line if Fisher makes a huge step forward. Teams are going to attack the right side of the line. The high upside by RB Jamaal Charles somewhat masked their weakness in run blocking. Overall, this line is below average with their biggest area concern is pass blocking.

Schedule: Offense

The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing TDs touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing TDs (TDS).

This information is based on 2014, which will work as our starting point for 2015. We'll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

2014 Average: The league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2014.

2014 Results: This is the results for each team in the NFL.

2015 Adjustment: Based on the 2014 league average and the 2014 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat and the basis for strength of schedule.

The Chiefs have four tough matchups against the run – DET, BAL, and DEN (X 2). The Lions game will be much easier with DE Ndamukong Suh no longer on the roster. Kansas City only has what I would call a premium matchup in the run game – Cleveland. They have eight below average matchups against the pass. The Bears and the Ravens look to be the best matchups against the pass, but Baltimore should be much better against the pass with healthier CBs.

Offense

Kansas City ran the ball 46-percent of the time in 2014. They completed 29.7-percent of their passes to the RBs and 30 percent to TEs. This led to one of the weakest WRs opportunities in the league (40.3-percent). WRs ended up catching only 129 passes for 1,589 yards with no passing TDs.

Smith is a solid game manager with some upside with better weapons at the WR position. Last year, he had the worst WR corps in the league and one of the weakest pass-blocking lines in the NFL. Alex was sacked 49 times with no TDs to a WR all season. Somehow he completed a career high 65.3 percent of his passes (full season). Over his last three games of the year, Smith threw for 901 yards with three TDs. He only had two games with three TDs in 2014. He's been sacked 39 times or more in three of his last four years. Alex has never passed for more than 3,400 yards in any season with his career-high in passing TDs being 23 in 2013. Over the last two years with Kansas City he has rushed for 785 yards with two TDs. His offensive line will still have weakness and his WR corps gets an uptick with Maclin added. Smith is a boring, low upside QB who plays for a team that prefers to run the ball, which is more of a result of below-par WRs. Alex now has three playmakers (Charles, Macklin, and Kelce). Smith only has matchup value in 2015 as a backup QB.


Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith

There was something strange about Jamaal's 2014 season. After catching a career-high 70 passes on 104 targets in 2013, the Chiefs only threw the ball to Charles 59 times last year, which led to only 40 catches for 291 yards. He lost 2.6 yards per catch, but Jamaal averaged 5.0 yards per rush that was the identical number from the previous year. His lack of success in the passing game wasn't due to lack of opportunity as Kansas City completed 95 passes for 760 yards with eight receiving TDs to RBs. On the year, Charles only had one 100-yard rushing game. If you throw out the first two games when he had limited action due to his ankle injury, Jamaal averaged 16.6 touches per game compared to 21.9 in 2014. His opportunity dropped by 24.3 percent. A big part of his failure was lingering injuries (ankle, back, and knee). Overall, RBs had 479 touches in 2014. Charles has five 1,000 yard seasons. He also has 33 TDs in his last two seasons. He'll enter 2015 at age 28 with questions about his upside. I have to believe the ankle issue was the big reason for his decline in value in the passing game. Jamaal is the most explosive back on the team with a 300-plus touches opportunity if healthy. Let's shoot for 250 rushes for 1,200-plus yards with 50 catches for 400-plus yards and 15 TDs or a 300-point season with more upside with better play by the offensive line.


Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

When given a starting opportunity, Davis has delivered four strong games (442 combined yards with five TDs). His success in those games was created by plus touches (26.5 per game). As exciting as his success in those games may look, Knile is only averaging 3.5 yards per rush in his career. Last year, the Chiefs gave him 150 touches, which was more of a result of Charles being limited. Over the last nine games of the year, Kansas City just about fazed him out of the offense (42 touches for 167 combined yards with three TDs). Davis has talent, but he is more of a grinder who needs volume to deliver any value. His lack of explosiveness will lead to Charles being pushed as much as possible in 2015. Knile should get 100 touches at a minimum with no real value without Jamaal out of the lineup. He's a must-handcuff with solid value if asked to start.

Maclin is coming off his best season in his career when he set career highs in catches (85), receiving yards (1,318) and targets (141). His success was even more exciting considering that he missed all of the 2013 season with a torn ACL. Last year, he had four 100-yard receiving games, seven games with five catches or more, and seven games with 10 targets or more. His value did take a hit when Mark Sanchez took over at QB in Week 9. Jeremy has scored 35 TDs in 75 career games. Last season was Maclin's first real opportunity to be a WR1 and this will be repeated with the Chiefs. The question will be the level of involvement in the passing game. Kansas City only completed 129 passes for 1,589 yards with no TDs to WRs in 2014. I expect Maclin to command at least 55 percent of this production, which will be about a 70-catch opportunity for about 1,000 yards and a half dozen TDs. This projects to be a backend WR2 in PPR leagues. Game score will lead to him having many highs and low.


Kansas City Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin

In his four years at Georgia, Conley caught 117 catches for 1,938 yards with 20 TDs. His best year was his senior season when he caught 36 passes for 657 yards with eight TDs. Chris has excellent size (6'2' and 213 lbs.) with plus speed (4.35 in the forty at this year's NFL combine), but his release and hands have some risk at the next level. His speed may play well in this offense as a one-dimensional speed threat. Conley only holds value in Dynasty formats.

He has a lot in common with RB Dri Archer, but Archer has more speed and much more strength. He had a nice start to his junior season in college with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games (252 yards and 5 TDs) before going down in Week 3 with an ankle injury that cost him over a month of the season. When he returned, De'Anthony wasn't the same player he showed in his first two years at Oregon (2,346 total rushing and receiving yards with 32 TDs). His biggest asset is his value in the passing game (113 catches in his career). At the combine in 2014, he ran a 4.50 - forty yard dash which was just about NFL average for RBs. His eight reps in the bench press just shows he has a lot of work to do before making an impact in the NFL. Thomas' future value at the next level will be a pass- receiving back on specialty plays where an offensive coordinator will try to get him matched up with linebackers. He has no value in pass-protection so he'll be on the sideline on most third downs and long passing plays. As a runner, he won't run the ball up the middle with success. He'll offer speed to the outside and he could be electric if he can get in the open field. Thomas is an upside returner, but his lack of strength could lead to fumbles. The Chiefs gave him 37 touches for 269 combined yards and two TDs (one on a punt return) in 2014. De'Anthony is still young with explosiveness. The Chiefs are going to try to get him involved by using him in the slot this year. Kansas City has weakness at WR2 and WR3 so Thomas may have a 50-catch opportunity will occasional value as a RB2. He's a must-watch this summer. Think you've got what it takes to win the Fantasy Football World Championship? Click here to learn more!

In his four year career at Georgia State, Wilson caught 175 passes for 3,190 yards with 23 TDs. In his senior year, Albert had 71 catches for 1,177 yards with eight TDs. He flashed 4.4 speed at the 2014 NFL combine while showing some need to add strength. In his rookie season with the Chiefs, Wilson caught 16 of his 28 targets for 260 yards and no TDs. He lacks height (5'9'), but he is built like a RB with solid value in the open field. His technique needs works and Albert needs to prove he is willing to work to reach the next level in his game. The WR core is thin for Kansas City, but Wilson still needs work. He has almost no value in the season-long draft season.

Avant had a tough time fitting in with two teams in 2014 (34/353 and one TD) after fading in his last season with the Eagles in 2013 (38/447 and two TDs). With Andy Reid as the head coach, Avant showed value as the third WR when he caught 50 or more passes in three straight years. Jason has only caught 13 TDs in 132 career games with only 52 starts. His talent is high enough to earn WR3 targets for Kansas City, but this may only lead to 40 catches. Avant has very little Fantasy value unless an injury occurs ahead of him on the depth chart.

Despite only starting 11 games, Kelce finished as the No. 1 option in the passing game for QB Alex Smith. Travis caught 67 passes for 862 yards with five TDs on 87 targets. He caught 77-percent of his chances, which is a strong sign going forward. Kelce was expected to add speed to the tight end position for the Chiefs in 2013, but he suffered a knee injury in mid-August, which led to a minor surgery in early October. Kansas City put him on the IR and he finished 2013 with only one active appearance on the roster. Travis didn't play one down that year. Kelce showed some upside in his last season at Cincinnati in college when he caught 45 passes for 722 yards and eight TDs. Kansas City ended up completing 96 passes for 1,110 yards with eight TDs to their TEs in 2014. Kelce should be in position to grab a bigger piece of the pie with TE Anthony Fasano no longer on the roster. I expect Kelce to lead the team in catches and I see a solid 80-catch year with an outside shot at 1,000 yards receiving and about seven TDs. Travis has a chance to be a top three TE in 2015.


Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce

Santos looked shaky out of the gate when he missed two of his first four chances, but he made 14 straight field goals over the next 11 weeks. His fantasy value didn't emerge until the last two weeks of 2014 when Santos made four FGs in both weeks. He finished with 25 successful kicks on 30 tries (83.3-percent) while being perfect on his 38 field goal kicks. Kansas City only let him try two field goals from 50 yards or more (one made). The Chiefs scored 40 TDs and 25 FGs on their 175 possession in 2014. Cairo doesn't look like a top 12 kicker in 2015 due to low scoring ability by this team, but his leg looks strong enough to deliver winning weeks if needed.

Kansas City will face seven teams with weak rushing defenses with most of those games coming over the second half of the year. Their two toughest games against the run are Houston and Cincinnati. They have three bad matchups against the pass – PIT and DEN (X 2) and seven games against teams with below average passing attacks.

The Chiefs finished 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed (2,036), but they only allowed four rushing TDs. Kansas City allowed 4.7 yards per rush.

Their best player by a wide margin is LB Justin Houston. He was a beast in the pass rush (23 sacks, eight QB hits, and 56 QB hurries) while adding solid value in run support. LB Tamba Hali added value in the pass rush (six sacks, seven QB hits, and 31 QB hurries), but his success was well below his best years in the NFL. Hali was only a neutral run stopper. LB Derrick Johnson missed most of 2014 with torn Achilles. He is expected be ready for the start of the season. Johnson was selected in the first round in 2005 so he is at the end of his career. His best asset is pass coverage. The last linebacker slot is up for grabs with LB James-Michael Johnson and LB Josh Mauga playing poorly in 2014. The Chief also have the services of 2014 first round draft pick LB Dee Ford who had minimal value off the bench last year. His best skill is rushing the QB.

2012 first round draft pick NT Dontari Poe had a career high seven sacks in 2014, but he faded badly against the run after showing promise in this area in the previous year. DE Jaye Howard was unimpressive in his first season as a starter. DE Mike Devito also saw his 2014 season end after one game due an Achilles injury. Devito's only asset is stopping the run.

CB Sean Smith was one of the top cover cornerbacks in the league in 2014. Receivers caught 49 of 86 targets for 597 yards with three TDs and one INT. His success was a huge step up from his previous couple of seasons. Rookie CB Marcus Peters is expected to win the other starting job at corner. Peters has cover skills, but NFL QBs will test his weakness in his first season. His game will improve with more experience, but he will allow a couple of long TDs. Both starting safeties are no more than league average.

Last year, Kansas City had 46 sacks while allowing the second lowest amount of passing yards (3,252) in the league. Receivers only gained 6.4 yards per catch with 22 passing TDs allowed and six INTs.

This defense is loaded with talent at linebacker with four first round draft picks on the roster. Unfortunately, two of those players are at the end of their careers. Their defensive line doesn't look like an edge and the Chiefs have one strong CB. A plus pass rush with help the risk in pass coverage. If the Chiefs' run defense improved and their offense did a better job scoring points, this defense would have a lot more upside when offenses become one dimensional. Kansas City will attack the QB and they flashed scoring ability on defense over the last two years. They need someone to step up and become a playmaker in the secondary to help increase the Ints production. This defense has top-10 value.