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Not Quite the King of the Cassel

It’s September 7, 2008, and you are sitting with a huge grin on your face because you roped in Tom Brady as your fantasy quarterback during your draft. You smile knowing that you can just plug him into your starting lineup every week except for his bye and you will be good to go. Then all of a sudden, Bernard Pollard, a name you didn’t even know before just now, dives forward and sends your fantasy championship dreams into a tailspin. If you were smart, you jumped on the waiver wire that second and picked up Matt Cassel, who very well may have led you to a championship as well. Don’t expect that to be the case this year.

Throughout his miraculous 2008 campaign, the media put on their best fireside chat voice and shared the story of how
Cassel hadn’t started a game since high school. How he rode the bench at USC behind names like Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. And how the player in the last year of his rookie contract was going to make himself a very rich man by season’s end.

The Patriots slapped the franchise tag on him and then later shipped him to

Kansas City
to become the next Len Dawson. Sorry Chiefs fans, don’t get your hopes up too high.

In case you forgot, in New England,
Cassel was playing with Randy Moss and Wes Welker as his wide receivers, and he was also surrounded by underrated role players such as Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney and Benjamin Watson. Not to mention the fact that he could stand behind one of the best offensive lines in football after every snap.
Cassel finished 2008 with a QB rating of 89.4, threw for just under 3,700 yards and had 21 touchdown strikes … fantasy heaven for an owner who took a chance on him.

But now, let us travel 1,500 miles westward to where
Cassel now calls Arrowhead Stadium home. Arguably,
Cassel has an even better running game to support him with Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles sitting at one and two on the depth chart. But gone are the days of Welker and Moss tearing apart defenses and finding every single inch of open field. Instead,
Cassel is now throwing the ball to Dwayne Bowe. And that’s it. I don’t see Mark Bradley, Devard Darling or Bobby Engram putting up big numbers. In short,
Cassel went from being surrounded by a Jeremy Piven-esque entourage to hanging out in a boys’ club of B- and C-list Joe Schmoes. The cherry on top of this sundae? Even when

Kansas City
was longing for a good wide receiver in the past, they had least still had Tony Gonzalez. Too bad he’s in

Atlanta
now and the new starter is Brad Cottam, who has a whopping seven catches for 63 yards in his career.

I find it a little odd that during the Cassel “sweepstakes” (if you dare to call it such) that the two teams that were running and gunning for him were
Kansas City and

Denver
. A little odd that both teams are in the AFC West? Sure, but even more odd that the Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is former Patriots vice president of player personnel, and the Broncos head coach is former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The two men clamoring for him the most worked with him in the past. Why wasn’t the rest of the league buzzing about picking him up? You might argue that Pioli and McDaniels worked with him everyday and know what he brings to the table, but I look at it as the rest of the league just didn’t like what they saw.

I think you could pretty much plug any half-decent quarterback into an offense consisting of
New England’s unlimited source of weapons and he would put up over 3,000 yards. Put them in

Kansas City
and it’s a whole new ballgame. So when you’re sitting in the middle rounds of your draft looking for a quarterback after all the top names are gone, you might want to skip past Cassel and move to the next guy on your cheat sheet.

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