When it comes to expectations for fantasy football QBs during the ’09 season, arguably no signal caller is more uncertain than Matt Cassel. While Cassel displayed glimpses of greatness in a loaded and well coached New England offense, he now finds himself in dreaded Kansas City under rookie head coach Todd Haley (offensive coordinator in Arizona last season).
According to reports from mini camp, Cassel appears to be more than up for the challenge and should snag the starting job from Tyler Thigpen who had a solid ’08 campaign in his own right. The question is, will he have the tools at his disposal necessary to make the transition to Kansas City a successful one?
In terms of fantasy value, the jury is still very much out, but we will do our best to shed some light on the subject with the facts we currently have.
First and foremost, we all know that the Chiefs are not exactly stacked on either side of the ball and the loss of stud tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Falcons probably won’t help matters. The good news is that the cupboard isn’t completely bare and there are some potential playmakers to work with in this offense. Cassel’s top weapon of choice is likely to be WR Dwayne Bowe. Bowe has emerged into a solid receiving threat and playmaker, however, the departure of Gonzalez will surely bring plenty of extra attention his way from opposing secondaries. The Chiefs hope to alleviate some of the heat on Bowe with speedy wideout Mark Bradley and newly acquired possession receiver Bobby Engram (formerly with the Seahawks). Although Bradley spent a good portion of last season on the sidelines with injuries, he proved to be more than capable when healthy, and Engram could be the perfect compliment for this offense out of the slot; a position he had great success at in Seattle in a similar offensive scheme. If he can return to form, stay out of trouble, and stay healthy, Larry Johnson could also play a bigger role as a receiver out of the backfield this season and also aid in opening up the passing attack in general if successful running the ball.
The bigger question with regard to Cassel could be coaching. A first year head coach in Todd Haley with a brand new offensive system could create some stumbling blocks for Cassel. Fortunately, Cassel is very much a student of the game and the offensive system in question has a proven track record of success. It should be very similar to the system Haley was in charge of last season in Arizona, and we all know the positive results it yielded for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals alike. It is a system that relies heavily on the passing game and should benefit Cassel’s fantasy value tremendously if things click, but that's a big if. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between running an offense and being a head coach. While Todd Haley has a proven track record as an assistant coach in Chicago, Dallas, and most recently as OC in Arizona, he has absolutely no head coaching experience to speak of. On top of that, Haley surely lacks the knowledge and experience of a Bill Belichick, who was very much responsible for Cassel’s success and maturation last season in New England.
On paper, there is promise, but there are so many different elements that go into making a QB successful in the NFL, and frankly, we won’t truly know if the right dynamics and chemistry exist in Kansas City for Cassel to make a major fantasy splash until he hits the field in week 1.
In our opinion, this season could go either way for Cassel. Surely, he will hit some rough patches and a huge fantasy flop is not entirely out of the question, but there is also the potential for a lot of success in this offensive system. Cassel should be considered a high risk/high reward prospect for your fantasy draft.
For more info on Matt Cassel and over 200 other NFL fantasy football prospects, be sure to sign up for the Mac Bros free fantasy football draft kit which will be released mid-July. In the immortal words of Bluto from Animal House, it don’t cost nothin’, so be sure to get on board with the best fantasy football draft analysis on the net and dominate your league.