August 04, 2009

No NFL passing offense underwent as big of a transformation this offseason as Kansas City's, which added a new quarterback, new system, and said goodbye to last year's leading receiver, tight end Tony Gonzalez.

But with change comes opportunity, and Chiefs camp is one place fantasy owners have been scavenging this summer in search of prospects ready to rise to the challenge.

With Gonzalez gone to Atlanta, it leaves Dwayne Bowe as the team's primary target. Fantasy owners are now interested to learn who will serve as the No. 2 receiver. The leading candidates are 13-year veteran Bobby Engram -- brought in from Seattle in March -- and Mark Bradley, who caught 30 passes for the Chiefs last season.

The player who rides shotgun next to Bowe can offer fantasy owners value as a solid No. 4 wide receiver in most leagues. But in the eyes of fantasy owners it'll be one of the tightest camp battles going on this summer. Just how tight? According to the latest Average RapidDraft Position data, fantasy owners have selected Bradley at pick No. 135 overall on average; Engram comes in close behind at 137.

Why Bradley will win the job: Next to Bowe, Bradley is the highest ranking receiver to return to Chiefs camp. After three dismal seasons in Chicago, where he caught no more than 18 passes in any one season, Bradley found a home in Kansas City in 2008. During one five-week stretch he caught 23 passes, including three scores. In Week 10, Bradley had perhaps his finest day as a pro, catching nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs are looking to build a new passing offense around new quarterback Matt Cassel, and Bradley's 2008 campaign may have sold team officials on why he deserves to be part of the franchise's long-term planning. Besides, his stiffest competition (Engram) is 36 years old and has recorded three or fewer touchdown catches in seven of the past nine seasons.

Why Engram will win it: No receiver in camp -- including Bowe -- has the experience or numbers under his belt that Engram does. He's just one year removed from a 94-catch season, and in 13 games last season he hauled in 47 passes for a shaky Seattle passing offense. In fact, in his first week back Engram caught eight passes for 61 yards; in his final two games of the year he caught six balls in each contest for a combined 115 yards -- evidence this 'old man' has still got it. Engram is a possession receiver able to alleviate the void left by Gonzalez and his 96 catches from a year ago, and it could be argued that he is a better complement to Bowe than Bradley. Engram is a late bloomer, and so fantasy owners must believe that he has one more good year left in him.

Don't forget about: Devard Darling

The 27-year-old Darling has caught just 37 catches during his career, including 17 for Kansas City last season. But seven of those grabs came in the final three weeks of the regular season, including a 33-yard score against Miami in Week 16 -- Darling's only touchdown of the season. It suggests Darling may just be finding himself as an NFL receiver, and that he's ready for a workload increase. Kansas City is also not done shopping the market for help. This week the team worked out several veterans, including former New York Giants wideout Amani Toomer, who caught 48 passes last season and is a full year younger than Engram.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Engram

In dynasty leagues Engram doesn't even belong in the discussion, but there is good reason to think he can produce at least one more productive season. The only knock on Engram is age, and if fantasy owners can buy Torry Holt in a Jaguars jersey it isn't much of a stretch to think Engram can make as smooth of a transition in Kansas City colors. And in comparing what Bradley is capable of and Engram has already proven, well ... there just is no comparison. At best Bradley can be a 50-catch receiver. Over the last half dozen years, when healthy, that's been Engram at his worst.

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