Just call him Mr. Incognito.
Dwayne Bowe has managed to stay consistently lukewarm in league circles despite six years of play that has ranged from respectable to outright jaw-dropping.
Never has he failed to eclipse 990 receiving yards or five touchdowns after playing in 16 games, a feat that he has accomplished four times.
His 15 touchdowns in 2010 trails only Calvin Johnson for the most in a single season among active players. He’s a 6’2”, 221-pound possession monster with respectable 4.51 40 speed that can make juggling catches like this.
So why the lack of buzz? Bowe has been mired in hapless Kansas City, forced to make due with the lame duck quartet of Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen, Tyler Palko and Matt Cassel under center.
A Chiefs quarterback has only broken 3,000 yards once since Bowe entered the league in 2007. Kyle Orton, currently a backup on the Cowboys who only started four games for the Chiefs in 2011, is arguably the best passer that Bowe played with.
Until now, that is. Kansas City finally addressed its quarterback conundrum and landed Alex Smith from the 49ers. Smith is somewhat of the dink-and-dunk school of passing, but by that token Cassel has a masters degree from the university of duck-and-cover.
Smith and new head coach Andy Reid represent the new era of Chiefs offense, one that includes a dominant Dwayne Bowe. Fantasy owners take note, this WR2 is well worth the investment. Here are five of the many factors that make Bowe a must-grab for winning fantasy rosters.
1. Alex Smith is a formidable NFL quarterback
The addition of Smith should not be undersold when it comes to Bowe’s resurgence.
Smith hasn’t guided a receiver to 1,000 yards since entering the league, but the trend likely ends in 2013. The 49ers were an established power run club while Andy Reid’s Eagles were more focused on integrating running backs as part of a fluid overall passing game. Smith will have a chance to play a pivotal role in the offense instead of merely managing the game, translating to more touchdowns and deep opportunities.
Even if Smith isn’t a roaring success in Kansas City, he should attempt enough passes to break the 3,000-yard mark, and Bowe has compiled multiple 1,000-yard seasons with far less.
2. Bowe is a durable, low risk option
In six years, Bowe has missed eight games, five of which came in 2012. He is not the type to become a start/sit nightmare for owners because of a gimpy knee or twisted ankle, an invaluable asset in crucial weeks at the end of the season.
Bowe’s 2012 performance was one that included a rare three game absence due to injury. Though he still managed 800 yards over 13 games, a paltry three touchdowns sealed the season as one of his worst.
The decreased output made him unworthy of his low WR2 billing, but Bowe was hardly a season-ending detriment to teams like some other top flight players (Larry Fitzgerald, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Ryan Mathews among them).
High reward is nice, and Bowe presents the opportunity for breakout numbers, but low risk is equally crucial. He is an annual lock for at least 800 yards and five touchdowns when healthy.
3. There are no other players worthy of consideration in the passing game
The Chiefs do not employ anything close to an established second receiver.
Donnie Avery is coming off a career best 781 yards of receiving in Indianapolis last season, but he works best from the slot and no longer has the benefit of a top 15 quarterback like Andrew Luck. After that comes a slew of inconsistent athletes - Jon Baldwin, converted running back Dexter McCluster and tight end Tony Moeaki. None of the three have ever produced more than 560 yards or three touchdowns in a season.
Running back Jamaal Charles is a likely candidate to finish second on the team in receiving with of screens and dump-offs alone, which shouldn’t phase a downfield threat like Bowe in the least.
4. Bowe is squarely in his prime
Bowe enters the season at 28 years old, an age that some data suggests as the start of decline for wideouts. However, with so little tear to go with his wear, Bowe seems unlikely to torpedo at such a tender age.
Nor is an increase in years the definitive kiss of death for No. 1 receivers. Two recent age 28 success stories come compliments of Andre Johnson in 2009 (1,569 yards, 9 TDs) and Brandon Marshall in 2012 (1,508 yds, 11 TDs).
With plenty of NFL know-how and a healthy composition, 28 seems like the perfect age for Bowe to compile one of his best fantasy seasons to date.
5. Andy Reid’s offense maximizes passing
Yes, another case of the “new coach does wonders” adage.
The biggest change that Reid brings from the City of Brotherly Love comes in sheer passing volume. Eagles quarterbacks outpaced the Chiefs 1733 to 1450 in passing attempts since 2010, and that was with the scramble-first Michael Vick taking the majority of snaps in Philadelphia.
The Eagles’ two-headed receiving monster of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin has combined for more than 200 targets each of the past three seasons. Bowe is likely to command at least 75 percent of that number with an established pocket passer and so little else on the depth chart.
After seven tumultuous years, it finally appears that Dwayne Bowe has received the supporting cast that he deserves, one that can vault him to a second Pro Bowl and plenty of highlight reel performances.