After finishing 4-12 in 2007, and losing nine straight games to end the season, everyone around the Chiefs franchise figured things could only get better in 2008.
Actually, that was not the case as Kansas City lost 10 of their first 11 games, and finished a disappointing 2-14 in 2008.
Due to their struggles, ownership decided to fire third-year head coach Herm Edwards and replace him with Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
In his short stay in Kansas City, Edwards could muster only 15 wins.
Haley has spent the last 14 years as an assistant coach (his most recent stint being the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals) with four different NFL franchises, but 2009 will be his first experience as a head coach.
Look for the offensive minded coach to bring new life to a Chiefs squad that averaged just 18.2 points-per-game last season.
Despite having just two wins in ’08, and struggling to score points at a rapid pace, the Kansas City offense still had some fantasy stalwarts.
The offensive production was led by veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez.
He finished the season with the most fantasy football points at his position, and turned in eight games with at least 10 fantasy points. Unfortunately, Gonzalez was dealt in the off-season and is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
Another key contributor was wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. The second year wide-out performed as a WR2 and finished his breakout campaign with 86 receptions for 1,022 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
The biggest surprise came from the quarterback position, as little known Tyler Thigpen took advantage of injuries to produce 2,994 total yards and 21 total touchdowns despite starting just 11 games.
Throughout the season, Cassel played like a poised veteran, and when it was all said and done he finished with 3,693 passing yards, 21 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.
These statistics were good enough to make Cassel a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2008, but the change of uniform to a lowly Kansas City squad could hurt his progression moving forward.
No doubt about it, this is an upgrade for the Chiefs at the quarterback position in 2009, but with Cassel having limited weapons at his disposal, don’t expect him to build on last season’s success. Still, he is a solid QB2 in all scoring formats.
Tony Gonzalez (TE) – It’s amazing to think there will be an NFL season without “Touchdown Tony” sporting his Kansas City red and white, but that will be the case in 2009.
After spending his first 12 seasons with the Chiefs, Gonzalez was traded in the off-season to the Atlanta Falcons for a future draft pick. The future Hall-of-Famer had arguably his best season of his career in 2008 (10 touchdowns), and he leaves behind 916 receptions, 10,940 receiving yards and 76 career touchdowns.
The Chiefs passing offense ranked 18th in the NFL last year, but the loss of Gonzalez will be a big burden to overcome because last year he was responsible for over 30-percent of the teams receiving yards and 40-percent of the teams receiving touchdown totals.
ROOKIE TO WATCH
Tyson Jackson (DE) – Unless you play in an individual-defensive-player (IDP) league, Jackson won’t have any fantasy football value, but he will be an immediate impact player to a Chiefs defense that had a league low 10 sacks in 2008. Jackson might not be able to help the sack totals, as he is more of a rush-stopping specialist, but he should be able to free up some room for Glenn Dorsey and the linebackers to hit the quarterback. From a fantasy standpoint, you should only consider drafting Jackson in a dynasty league or if you are a junkie and play in an IDP only league.
BRUNO BOYS SPOTLIGHT
Larry Johnson (RB) - After back-to-back less than eye-catching seasons, all eyes are on Johnson entering 2009.
Despite rushing for just 559 yards and three touchdowns in 2007, many fantasy owners hoped for a bounce back campaign and used their second round pick on him last season.
This turned out to be a disaster of a choice as Johnson finished with just 874 rushing yards and five touchdowns while missing four games due to injury.
Even worse, over 20-percent of his production came in one game, when he torched the Broncos for 198 rushing yards and two scores.
The fact that he is no longer considered a RB1 will alleviate some of the pressure, but if Johnson doesn’t produce this time around look for him to be on the same career path of Shaun Alexander, released and unemployed.
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