We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy football questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Chiefs Fantasy Football Preview comes courtesy of Arrowhead Pride.
1) Now that the Herm Edwards era has come to a close, there were several big changes for the Chiefs this offseason. Maybe the biggest was the trade for former Tom Brady replacement and lifelong backup QB, Matt Cassel. Did Cassel prove he can be a productive QB in the NFL with last season’s performance, or was he product of the Belichick system? What type of season do you expect from Cassel as a Chief?
It remains to be seen whether Matt Cassel is a product of the New England system. One statistic that seems promising is his completion percentage. He completed over 63% of his passes while starting 15 games for the Patriots last season. I tend to think that if you can hit an open receiver in New England, you can hit one in Kansas City. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the Belichick system was flawless last season. The Patriots offensive line gave up 11 more sacks than the Chiefs offensive line.
Obviously, Tony Gonzalez is gone which will certainly not help Cassel’s production. But with Todd Haley’s resume in the passing game, a guesstimation of his production would be somewhere around 3,000 yards, 18-20 touchdowns and 12-15 interceptions. He nearly had a 2:1 TD:INT ratio last season even though the first handful of games the coaching staff restricted him.
2) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe emerged as significant fantasy threat last season, amassing over 1000 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns. How will his production in 2009 compare, was ’08 just a taste of Bowe’s potential?
I expect Bowe to put up similar numbers to his first two seasons in the NFL. A lot of folks have made an issue over him being in the top five in the NFL in drops but rarely does a receiver amass 2,000 yards receiving in their first two seasons. Wide receiver has historically been a position that doesn’t produce immediate results but Bowe is bucking that trend.
Gonzalez is gone, which would affect Bowe in one of two ways: A) Give him more opportunities to catch the ball or B) draw the double teams to him causing his stats to drop.
He’s a big, strong wide receiver and has proven himself his first two seasons so another 1,000 yard, 6-8 touchdown season should be in his future.
3) Does Larry Johnson return to rushing dominance and fantasy stud in 2009?
Unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, if healthy and on the field (big if), LJ can still run the football with the best of them. But things like injury, which caused him to miss a chunk of games in 2007, and over-use (NFL record number of carries in 2006) usually don’t get better with age. He’ll be turning 30 in November, which is the magic age for running backs to drop off in terms of production.
There are so many variables with LJ to predict his numbers, but if he’s on the field all 16 games I suspect he’ll approach 1,000 yards and hit 8-10 touchdowns.
If you’re a LJ fantasy owner, please protect yourself with a solid back up if (and probably when) his production isn’t what you expect it to be.
4) With the departure of future Hall of Famer, Tony Gonzalez (to the Falcons), the Chiefs appear to have a major hole to fill on offense. What player(s) steps up to hopefully fill the void left by #88?
There won’t be another tight end like Gonzalez with the Chiefs (and probably the NFL). Brad Cottam will likely take his spot but with only 21 career catches while at the University of Tennessee, Cottam won’t treated as a wide receiver in fantasy leagues like Gonzalez was. He’s a blocking tight end who might get a few looks in the red zone because of his height (6’7″).
Bobby Engram was signed as the slot receiver in the offseason. When healthy, he’s still a reliable safety valve for Cassel.
If Mark Bradley, likely to be the Chiefs #2 wide receiver, can stay healthy (never has before) he could surprise some folks. In the games he appeared with the Chiefs last season, he put up some decent numbers. But his health has always been a problem and was even cut from the Bears, which is apparently “where wide receivers go to die.”
5) The Chiefs seem to have focused heavily on defense in the past few drafts, that being said are they any breakout candidates on the offensive side of the ball that fantasy owners should be aware of?
Like I mentioned above, Mark Bradley could be a fantasy break out option. With Gonzalez gone, someone out there is going to get an opportunity to catch some balls that previously weren’t there. Bradley’s health is a major, major factor though. He might be worth a flyer in the late rounds or a good bye-week filler.
Without Tony Gonzalez, this offense is completely different so until we actually see the Chiefs on the field it’s all a mystery.
Matt Cassel: 3,00 yards, 18-20 touchdowns, 12-15 interceptions
Larry Johnson: 800-1,000 yards, 8-10 TDs, 250 rec. yards
Dwayne Bowe: 80-90 receptions, 1,000 yards, 8-10 touchdowns