The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t offer many must-have players when fantasy football owners were drafting their squads for this season.
After watching quarterback Matt Cassel founder in 2009 and the offseason acquisition of Thomas Jones — which crowded the backfield for Kansas City’s best player, Jamaal Charles — many owners said no thanks and moved on.
Who knew the Chiefs would become one of the better teams in the AFC with the league’s top rushing attack?
Kansas City has become a team with players who warrant consideration to pick up or move from the bench to your starting lineup. Amid the bye weeks and a long list of good players who are doubtful or questionable, most fantasy teams have voids to fill, and a few Chiefs players should shine.
Week 7 begins a stretch in which Kansas City faces weak defenses: Jacksonville, Buffalo, Oakland, Denver and Arizona — five games in five weeks against opponents who are a combined 10-18.
Through the Chiefs’ 3-0 start, many dismissed the quality of those wins. However, in Kansas City’s past two losses — at Indianapolis and Houston — it gained respect and unveiled deeper aspects of its offensive playbook.
The running game has been outstanding, with both Jones and Charles on pace to top 1,000 yards this season, and Cassel’s leadership and overall play are big parts of the Chiefs’ resurgence.
Cassel could be worthy of a start or two, considering he threw three touchdown passes in two of his past three games.
In Week 6, he finally got Dwayne Bowe involved after the wide receiver had caught only nine passes in the first four games. Against Houston, Bowe had six receptions, 108 yards and two touchdowns. Many fantasy teams have Bowe deep on their benches or have released him.
Injuries and byes are keeping some of the league’s best tight ends out this week. Vernon Davis, Chris Cooley and Antonio Gates are questionable and should play, but Owen Daniels, Dustin Keller and Dallas Clark are on byes. Clark is expected to be out even longer because of a wrist injury. Enter Tony Moeaki, the rookie Chiefs tight end who leads the team in receptions and is a major component of Kansas City’s offense.
Here’s a look at other potential pickups for Week 7:
■ Patrick Crayton, WR, Chargers: With Gates, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee banged up, look for Crayton to put up numbers similar to his output in Week 6, when he had six catches for 117 yards. Floyd is doubtful to play, and Crayton would have a quarterback throwing to him who leads the league in yards passing. Facing a weak New England secondary makes Crayton the week’s most attractive buy.
■ Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: Quarterback Tom Brady and Branch picked up right where they left off. It was as if they hadn’t been apart for five years, as Brady targeted Branch 12 times in Week 6. He ended the day with nine receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game should have plenty of scoring, with Branch playing a big role.
■ Danny Woodhead, RB/WR, Patriots: He’s filling Kevin Faulk’s spot, but the role looks much more expanded than what Faulk’s has been. Woodhead is a tough runner who led the team in carries (11) and yards (63) in Week 6. He also caught fives passes for 53 yards. In some fantasy leagues, Woodhead qualifies as a running back and a wide receiver, which enhances his value.
■ Chris Ivory, RB, Saints: Pierre Thomas is expected back soon, so Ivory might be poised for only one more solid week. He showed what he can do in Week 6 at Tampa Bay, carrying 15 times for 158 yards.
■ Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks: The week after Branch gets traded, Williams comes in with a 10-catch, 123-yard day. It looks as though coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck have the confidence in Williams to make him their featured guy.
Bye weeks: Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, New York Jets
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director who covers all sports for multiple publications. He can be reached at MM.Roberts7@gmail.com.