Dwayne Bowe was one of the fantasy MVPs of 2010 when he led all receivers with 15 TD receptions and finished as the No. 4 scoring fantasy receiver after an 11-game injury plagued season in 2009.
But 2011 was a step backward for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Bowe. Injuries cost the Chiefs a chance to repeat as AFC West champs and Bowe’s TD total fell to five––ending the season as the No. 14 fantasy wideout.
QB Matt Cassel going down in Week 9 (broken hand) seemed to be the cause for the drop in Bowe’s production. He had four of his five receiving TDs before Cassel’s injury. He didn’t add the last TD until Week 16 with Kyle Orton at QB.
Still, Bowe is a no-doubt-about-it No. 1 receiver and in the prime of his career.
His TD potential should approach double digits once again with steady play from Cassel and, so far in the preseason, Cassel has looked up to the task. Cassel was 5-of-6 with a TD in the Chiefs’ preseason opener and 13-of-18 for 142 yards against the Rams in the second preseason game.
In addition, the Chiefs have one of the best running back tandems around with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis creating a nice thunder and lightning attack. The Chiefs’ running game was lacking punch last season after Charles went down with a season-ending ACL injury in Week 2.
Dexter McCluster, Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle combined for only three rushing TDs and the Chiefs had just five total as a team in 2011––a healthy Charles and a rejuvenated Peyton Hillis will keep defenses honest, opening up more red-zone opportunities for the 6’2”, 220 lb Bowe.
Bowe was a training camp holdout while hoping to negotiate a long-term deal that never came to fruition. The Chiefs used their franchise designation on Bowe, which he will play under this season and make $9.5 million.
The holdout is unlikely to have a negative impact on the veteran’s season. Bowe will be able to shake the rust off in the Chiefs’ final two preseason contests—coach Romeo Crennel has already said that Bowe will play Friday against the Seahawks.
Currently, Bowe’s ADP is at 56. As the 19th WR taken on average, Bowe is being undervalued. The Chiefs’ offense will be sharper and better equipped in 2012 and as a centerpiece of the offense, Bowe will be a beneficiary.
A further fall in the ranks of fantasy WRs seems highly unlikely, with a return to 15 TDs and beyond expectation, Bowe is a good bet for 8-to-10.
Certainly, we will know more about Bowe’s status after his first preseason performance. But, considering the play of Cassel so far (who was a key to Bowe’s success in 2010), Bowe is a strong candidate to finish in the top 10 of fantasy WRs.