When I put my early 2011 fantasy football wide receiver rankings together I struggled deciding between Larry Fitzgerald and Dwayne Bowe for the final spot to round out the top five. When my friend asked me if we had a draft tomorrow if I would really take Fitz over Bowe. I stuck with my rankings, but decided to explore it further.
I have always been a huge Larry Fitzgerald fan, both for his ability on the field and the way he carries himself off of it. Even with the warning signs heading into last year (Kurt Warner’s retirement, Anquan Boldin’s departure) I ranked him number three heading into the season.
He didn’t have a bad season by any means, as Fitz caught 90 passes for 1137 yards and six touchdowns. It was his fourth straight 1000+ yard season (would have been six if he wasn’t limited to 13 games in 2006), but it was a far cry from what he’s done recently. The previous five seasons saw Fitz top 1400 yards on three occasions and record double-digit touchdowns on four.
Meanwhile Dwayne Bowe went gangbusters. Bowe finished with fewer receptions (72) than Fitz, but had a little more yardage (1162). The major difference was in touchdowns scored. Bowe led all receivers with 15 scores, trailing only Arian Foster (18) for the league lead. He had three more scores than the next two receivers (Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson). They were also the most in the league since Randy Moss’ record-setting 2007 campaign (23).
There are some concerns with Bowe. Charlie Weis is gone. Bowe had just 16 touchdowns in his first three seasons in the league. His 1162 yards were a career high. Conditioning has been a concern in the past, with is worrisome without OTAs.
Bowe is in a contract year though so he has plenty of reasons to stay in shape.
Choosing Bowe over Fitz mainly comes down to Arizona quarterback situation. If the Cardinals trade for Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb then I would most likely switch the two. There are no guarantees that they will land either of them so I’ll stick with Bowe over Fitz for now.
Who do you like heading into the 2011 season?

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I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Matt Cassel underwent an appendectomy. There is talk that he may try to gut it out and play through the pain. Given the Chiefs’ ties to Bill Belichick, I caution you that it is likely just gamesmanship. The Chiefs will likely play it safe and rest Cassel this week despite facing the Chargers in a key AFC West showdown.
Regardless if he plays, he’ll be in quite a bit of discomfort. He’d also be facing San Diego’s top-ranked pass defense (186.3  yards allowed per game). He simply cannot be in your fantasy lineup. Since the Chiefs have such a tough draw, I would not recommend using Brodie Croyle if he gets the nod.
You likely weren’t going to use Cassel against the Chargers anyway so let’s get to the other decisions. What should you do with Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Tony Moeaki?
With Cassel likely out, I expect a heavy dose of the run. The Chargers have been effective stopping the run as well, ranking fifth with just 95.3 yards per game, but Kansas City is not an ordinary team when it comes to running the ball. They lead the league with 175.2 yards per game. I like both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to continue putting up big numbers.

Tony Moeaki has been good enough at times, but he is not an option that I would want to roll with in the fantasy playoffs against the top-ranked pass defense with a backup quarterback. That’s just too big of a risk.
What about Dwayne Bowe? I had him as my top-ranked receiver for the second straight week, and I’m beginning to think that was a jinx. He got shut down last week by Champ Bailey and the Broncos. Then his quarterback has surgery. Clearly he can’t be the top option anymore this week, but he still has to be in your fantasy lineup. He’s just too good to sit.

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The Chiefs were 25th in total offense, but finished just outside the top ten in rushing offense thanks to Jamaal Charles’ Chris Johnson impersonation from Week 10 on. Of course, they muddied his fantasy waters by bringing in Thomas Jones. I don’t expect the team to be much better, but there will be some viable fantasy options once again.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:   Moderate
They have a couple of tough games against San Diego at home in Week 14 and in Tennessee in Week 16. Between that they get to take on the Rams in St. Louis.


Five Star Fantasy Options


Four Star Fantasy Options
Jamaal Charles – The way  he finished the season averaging 143.1 total yards (121 rushing) and a TD over the last eight games was fantasy gold last year. I would have had higher expectations for Charles if Thomas Jones wasn’t brought int.


Three Star Fantasy Options
Thomas Jones – He’s not the primary ball carrier, but Charles has just 257 career carries. There is no proof that he can carry the load for a full season. If he goes down, Jones’ becomes a legit RB2. He has value in flex leagues because he’ll likely get the ball in the red zone.


Dwayne Bowe – Bowe was a major disappointment last year as he quickly became entrenched in Todd Haley’s doghouse. He has the potential to breakout, but do temper your expectations until he proves he’s taking the right mental approach.


Two Star Fantasy Options
Matt Cassel –  With Charlie Weiss on board, I expect more out of Cassel. That depends on the protection his line gives him. He has two RBs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, as well as Bowe and Chris Chambers, who re-emerged last year. He has the potential to be a solid QB2 this year.


Chris Chambers – Almost as improbable as Jamaal Charles’ finish was Chambers. He had nine catches for 122 yards and a score in seven games with San Diego. He took off with the Chiefs catching 36 passes for 608 yards and 4 TDs in nine games.  His upside is limited, but he gives you good depth at WR.


One Star Fantasy Option
Dexter McCluster – He could be this year’s version of Percy Harvin. He’s super athletic and can do a variety of things on offense. Consistency will likely be an issue.


Chiefs Defense/Special Teams – The Chiefs have some nice games on their schedule such as Browns in Week 2, the Bills in Week 8, the Raiders in Week 9, the Seahawks in Week 12, and the Rams in Week 15. They had just 22 sacks and 15 INTs last year so they should probably go undrafted. You can pick them up for a spot start if they show improvement.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

End of Dwayne Bowe

17 November 2009

Dwayne Bowe catch
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

OK, it’s not technically the end for Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe, but he will be out for four weeks after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This failed test could also ensure that he won’t be back with the Chiefs next year as he already was in Coach Todd Haley’s doghouse earlier this year.

Bowe is set to return in Week 15 against the Browns. While it would be hard to use him in the fantasy playoffs after a month-long hiatus, it is the Browns. He finishes up against Cincinnati. No way I’d gamble on Bowe in the fantasy championship against the Bengals.

If you can afford to sit on him for four weeks I suggest you do so for that Browns game. If you can’t, start shopping the waiver wire. Here are some possible replacements.

Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans
Patrick Crayton, Dallas Cowboys
Laveranues Coles, Cincinnati Bengals
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts
Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams
Chris Chambers, Kansas City Chiefs

Happy Birthday Denny!

Before we get started, click here for my Week 11 NFL Picks.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week. Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matt faces the Giants on the road this week. The G-Men are coming off a bye and will be trying to stop the bleeding of a four-game losing streak. Ryan will likely be without Michael Turner to keep the Giants honest. It could be a long day for Ryan, who historically has struggled against the NFC East.

Games against NFC East:  3
QB Rating:  70.4 (lowest against any division)
Yards per game:  203.3 (second lowest behind NFC North)
TD/INT:  5-5
Fantasy Points per game:  13.36

Thomas Jones, RB, New York Jets
Jones travels to New England to take on the Patriots following their embarrassing loss to Indianapolis on Sunday Night Football. Bill Belichick almost always takes away a team’s best weapon, and Jones is that. They held him to 54 yards on 14 carries in their first meeting. In his last five meeting against the Patriots, Jones has averaged just 65.4 total yards and scored just one TD.

Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis Colts
With all of the RB injuries this past weekend, you probably don’t have the luxury to sit a guy like Addai, even if he faces Baltimore’s tough run defense on the road. I know it won’t make up for the Colts leaving Baltimore, but the Ravens would like nothing more than to spoil the Colts’ quest for a perfect season. He’s had mixed results against the Ravens over the past couple of years. In two games he has three total TDs, but just 33.8 total yards and averaged just 2.3 yards per carry.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver Broncos
With Kyle Orton (ankle) either out or limited as the Broncos collide with the Chargers for first place this weekend, Marshall’s value takes a huge hit. Chris Simms is a big step back from Orton, and San Diego has been better than average against the pass. It’s not like Marshall has a good track record against the Broncos, even with a capable QB. In his last five games against them he has a solid 83.4 yards per game against them, but just one TD. Four of those games came with Jay Cutler at the helm, who is an upgrade over Orton, let alone Simms. In his earlier game against the Chargers he was held to 49 yards on five catches.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Just when he was getting on a roll (71.8 yards average over his last five games with 2 TDs), Bowe gets to face Pittsburgh. Though Troy Polamalu will likely miss the game, Tyrone Carter played well in his last start for Ryan Clark. The Steelers held Chad Ochocinco to 29 yards last week and will look to bottle Bowe up as well.

***UPDATE:  Dwayne Bowe suspened four games for postive PED test***

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers - You have to play him because he’s taking on St. Louis, but there is a good chance that this game gets out of hand early and the Pack let Ryan Grant handle the heavy lifting.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans - Johnson has a tough matchup this week playing the Jets on the road.  You can’t bench your first-round pick in Week 3, especially after his monster performance against the Texans, but expect something closer to his Week 1 numbers.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions - It seems like I’m picking on the second-year backs in the early going.  I’ll pile on with Kevin Smith.  I don’t like his matchup against Washington.  If he’s not active in the passing game, it will be a long day for his fantasy owners.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - Bowe faces the Eagles this week.  That ought to be a lot of fun, especially after they got crushed by the Saints.  You almost have to play him, but don’t pencil him in for too many points.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals - Ocho gets to go up against the Steelers this week.  It’s a home game for the Bengals, but still a tough draw.  Carson Palmer will have his hands full.  Ocho and Palmer were both impressive against Green Bay, but the Steelers are going to be fired up after falling to the Bears.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Matt Schaub
- Schaub opens the season at home against the New York Jets, who look to have much improved defense under Rex Ryan.  The Jets are going to put a lot of pressure on the Texans.  Schaub is dealing with a sprained ankle, and with his injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were knocked out of the game.

Running Backs
Chris Johnson 
- I know it’s tough to bench your #1 pick, but Johnson will have his work cut out for him facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers should be fired up to defend their title at home.  Johnson had a nice game against the Steelers at home last year (16 carries for 69 yards, TD), but playing in Pittsburgh is a different story.

Darren McFadden - Many are expecting Run DMC to make a big step forward in 2009.  While I agree with them, I don’t see it happening this week.  The Chargers’ defense was awful last year.  They want to make a statement to the NFL that they’re back.  The Chargers offense is so high-powered that the Raiders will likely being playing from behind, limiting the opportunities for McFadden to showcase his talents.  Finally, it’s not clear how the Raiders are going to split up their carries.  I’d look elsewhere for my RB2.

Wide Receiver
Dwayne Bowe
- Kansas City is a mess.  Facing Baltimore is no way for Todd Haley to get off to a fast start.  Bowe will get plenty of Raven attention, and with either a injured Cassel or a backup QB under Center, I just don’t like Bowe’s prospects.

Braylon Edwards - Braylon is a guy that I expect to bounce back in 2009, but whoever wins the starting gig is going to be under heavy pressure.  If Edwards still has a problem holding on to the football, it could be a long game for the former Wolverine.

Here are some Wide Receivers and Tight Ends putting up serious preseason numbers.  Let’s take a look and see if they have a chance to translate some of that preseason production into fantasy worth in regular season play. 

Jonathan Stupar, Buffalo Bills - Stupar leads the NFL with 15 preseason receptions for 155 yards and a TD.  He’s third on the Bills’ Tight End depth chart so don’t get any thoughts of fantasy worth.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans - Now Cook is a TE with some fantasy value.  The Rookie out of South Carolina has 12 catches for 120 yards in the preseason.  With Tennessee’s limited options in the passing game, Cook could become one of their more reliable targets.  He’s worth taking as a TE2.

Chris Henry, Cincinnati Bengals - As long as he can stay out of Roger Goodell’s office, Henry has a chance to really break out this year.  He has 11 catches for 155 yards and 2 TDs.  Now that he seems to have put his troubles behind him, he could put up huge numbers in a full season.  He is going in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, and could end up putting up WR2 or WR3 numbers. 

Dwayne Bowe catch
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
- For all the talk of Bowe not fitting into the Chiefs’ system or being at odds with Todd Haley, he has looked good in the preseason games with 8 catches for 107 yards and a TD. If you moved him down in your WR rankings, you may want to move him back up.

Troy Williamson, Jacksonville Jaguars - The former #1 bust leads the NFL with 221 preseason receiving yards on 7 caches.  He caught a pair of deep balls for the bulk of the yardage. It’s great to see him make some plays, but I wouldn’t trust him to continue to produce.  His hands have long been a question mark.

Chad Ochocinco TD
Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals
- Ocho has 142 yards on 5 catches.  He even added an Extra Point.  More importantly he has kept relatively quiet.  If he can avoid being a distraction, he should be a real nice WR2 this year.

David Clowney, New York Jets - Clowney is hoping to be the next third year WR to break out.  He has five receptions for 135 yards and 2 TDs this preseason.  He is fighting with Chansi Stuckey to start opposite Jerricho Cotchery.

Justin Harper, Baltimore Ravens - Harper has been productive in the preseason games with 6 catches for 119 yards, but has dropped too many passes in practice.  For a team with a limited passing game, dropping passes is a good way to be buried on the depth chart.

Laurent Robinson, St. Louis Rams - Laurent has taken advantage of Donnie Avery’s foot injury by catching 7 passes for 117 yards.  He is going to start for the Rams so he’s worth grabbing in deep leagues, but he likely won’t be a viable fantasy option this year.

Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints - Meachem has been a sleeper candidate the past two years now.  He has 5 catches for 106 yards, including a 64-yard TD.  If he can get on the field, he has a great chance to be productive in that offense.  Draft him as a fantasy reserve and hope for the best.

Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers – This list is littered with third-year WRs.  Legedu has 5 catches for 84 yards and 2 TDs.  He is buried as the Chargers #4 WR behind Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers, and Malcom Floyd.  It’s also an offense that throws heavily to TE Antonio Gates and RBs LT and Darren Sproles.  Don’t expect much from a fantasy perspective from Naanee this year.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

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Dwayne Bowe catch
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

I was expecting big things out of Bowe this season, but I wasn’t expecting it to be his waistline.  Thankfully Bowe, who was overweight and out of shape dropped the weight and reported to camp lighter than he played last year.  So far Bowe likes his new build.  The goodwill didn’t last long though as new Coach Todd Haley isn’t pleased with Bowe’s conditioning.  Mark Bradley and Devard Darling practiced with the first team on Monday. Bowe is easily the best weapon on the Chiefs, but it could be a long, frustrating year for Chiefs fans and Bowe owners if he continually clashes with Haley.

Bow had a solid, not spectacular, season with 86 receptions for 1022 yards and 7 TDs, which came on the heels of a 70 reception, 995 yard, 5 TD rookie season.  He finished with just two 100+ yard games and only had four 90+ yard games.  He was more of a force in PPR leagues than traditional leagues. 

This year is different though as Todd Haley brings a more offensive mindset, and it appears as if Matt Cassel will be an upgrade at QB, although it remains to be seen if he was simply a product of New England’s system or if he can flourish elsewhere.

With the questions that surround Bowe I would prefer to have Bowe as a WR2.  I would look to draft him in the late third or early fourth round.  I’m predicting 90 receptions for 1100 yards and 7 TDs.

Kansas City Chiefs Preview

3 September 2008

For the Chiefs to even remotely have a chance, Larry Johnson is going to have to return to form.  It’s that simple.  He is easily the best player on the Offensive side of the ball for the Chiefs when he is healthy.  Unfortunately his foot gave him fits last year.  He appears to be strong, and I don’t see as heavy a workload this year.  I expect Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles to get into the mix as well.  Aside from LJ, the Chiefs have an emerging star wideout in Dwayne Bowe and the best offensive Tight End in the history of the game in Tony Gonzalez.  Brodie Croyle will lead the charge, but if the season gets away from them, don’t be surprised if they turn to Tyler Thigpen.  Devard Darling left Baltimore, and is in line to start opposite Bowe.  He and Gonzo will draw a lot of attention so Darling and company should be able to operate quite freely.  The Chiefs drafted Offensive Lineman Branden Albert, who should hold down the Left Tackle spot.

Defensively the Chiefs will have to make due without Jared Allen.  They have weapons in Tamba Hali (7.5 Sacks) and rookie Glenn Dorsey.  They have some excellence at Linebacker in Derrick Johnson (94 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 2 INTs), Napoleon Harris (116 Tackles) and Donnie Edwards (104 Tackles).  Bernard Pollard (90 Tackles) and Jarrad Page (59 Tackles, 3 INTs) provide strength in the Safey positions.  Patrick Surtain and Rookie Brandon Flowers will hold down the Cornerback spots.

This is going to be another tough road for Kansas City.  The playoffs are out of the question.  7 Wins is not though.  That’s where I put them.

Fantasy-wise the Chiefs have three options.  Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, and Dwayne Bowe.  I don’t even want to hear about other Chiefs getting picked up.

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