Kansas City Chiefs: Is Matt Cassel a Viable Quarterback in Fantasy Football?
With the NFL regular season upon us, football fans are working on putting together their rosters for fantasy football. With many quarterbacks being taken early, such as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, fans hope that these premier passers can help them accumulate a lot of points on game day.
One quarterback fans are avoiding in the draft is the Kansas City Chiefs' Matt Cassel. Understandably so, Cassel is ranked the 25th-best quarterback on fantasy football for this season. It is no surprise that his name gets tossed around in the latter rounds of fantasy football drafts. But football fans should consider Cassel as their backup quarterback to start off the regular season.
Cassel's career in Kansas City has not been a perfect one. After being traded to the team in 2009 from the New England Patriots, Cassel worked with a different offensive coordinator each season.
In 2009, he tried to learn Chan Gailey's offense under then-new head coach Todd Haley. But Haley relieved Gailey of his duties at the time and made himself the new offensive coordinator while also serving as a first-year head coach during Cassel's first season with the Chiefs.
Cassel went on to put career-high numbers in 2010 with Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator, but took a step back in 2011 when Bill Muir took over. Cassel and the offense experienced a lot of inconsistency before Cassel went down with a season-ending hand injury, missing the final seven games of the season.
So with Cassel now getting ready to work with his fifth offensive coordinator while preparing for his fourth year on the team, why should fantasy football fans be confident with the former USC product on their roster?
Cassel's 2012 season will be unique and better than before. He won't have Haley as his head coach after the two found themselves butting heads on the sidelines.
Cassel now has Brian Daboll as his offensive coordinator. Daboll has not had a lot of success in the past due to the level of talent in Cleveland and Miami. In Kansas City, Daboll has a quarterback he can rely on in Cassel, who in turn can count on the players around him this season.
He already has a reliable offensive line and it was shown in Week 1 of the preseason against the Arizona Cardinals. Cassel and his backups, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi, were protected well the entire game, with the offensive line giving up no sacks.
Cassel performed well in 2010 when the Chiefs ranked first in the NFL in rushing. Two seasons ago, Cassel threw 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions with a top-ranked rushing attack. With the Chiefs' rushing game looking to return to its 2010 form with Jamaal Charles returning from injury and Peyton Hillis signing in the offseason, expect Cassel to improve from last year.
In the receiving game, Cassel has weapons everywhere on the field. Jon Baldwin had a quiet rookie season due to the lockout and his thumb injury, which forced him to miss five games. Baldwin and Cassel were on the field for only four games last season, and the two will be hoping that some improved chemistry will lead to better production between them.
Cassel also has Steve Breaston, who stepped up as a receiver during Baldwin's absence. Behind Baldwin and Breaston, Cassel knows what he has in Dexter McCluster, who can use his speed to gain a lot of yards after a catch.
Cassel also has two tight ends who can help him get out of trouble while under pressure. Tony Moeaki is returning from his injury, while Kevin Boss joined the team in the offseason and can help Cassel move forward with the offense.
The biggest name on the Chiefs' receiving corps who has yet to report to training camp is Dwayne Bowe, who is currently sitting out with no contract, taking his time before he has to sign his franchise tender. It was not long ago that Bowe helped the Chiefs take the AFC West in 2010 with a 15-touchdown season, leading all receivers in the league in that category.
The moment Cassel snaps the football to take a three-step drop, he has a reliable target no matter where he looks.
Fans should consider Cassel as a backup for the first couple of weeks in fantasy football. If Cassel performs well in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, then he deserves heavy consideration for starting in Week 2 on the road against the Buffalo Bills, who finished 26th in total defense last season.
The following week, the Chiefs travel to play the New Orleans Saints, who ended the season 24th in total defense. Cassel will also face the San Diego Chargers in Week 4, who finished 16th in total defense, and has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6, the 2011 season's 30th overall in total defense.
The Chiefs have a favorable schedule in the month of December from Weeks 13 through 17, with four of five teams who finished either 20th or below in total defense. If Cassel has played exceptionally well in 2012, he could be the secret key to winning a fantasy football league late in the season. Given the easy schedule in December, he is worthy of consideration to start over most quarterbacks by this time.
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