Fantasy spin: Cassel traded to Chiefs

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Patriots have traded QB Matt Cassel to the Chiefs in a deal that has huge fantasy implications.

Cassel found immense success in the absence of Tom Brady last season, throwing for 3,693 yards with 23 total touchdowns (21 passing, 2 rushing).

Not bad for a quarterback who hadn’t started a game since high school.

That sort of success will have fantasy leaguers excited about the prospect of Cassel starting for a new team in 2009.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, formerly employed by the Patriots, knows Cassel’s strengths and had enough faith in the quarterback to acquire him and likely allow him a prominent role in the offense. New coach Todd Haley‘s offense should be pass-laden and utilize the shotgun formation, so Cassel should be set up for success.

But as we learned from Derek Anderson last season, there are no guarantees in this sort of situation. Anderson came out of nowhere to become a fantasy starter in 2007, only to flounder in 2008 and ultimately lose his job to Brady Quinn.

Looking at Cassel’s statistics from last season, it’s pretty evident that he can put up good fantasy numbers against weaker defenses. In the five games in which he threw for multiple touchdowns, only one came against a defense (Oakland) that finished in the top 10 against the pass.

Overall, however, Cassel was very ordinary. In fact, he threw for two or more touchdowns in just 31 percent of his starts, and that was in an offense that included WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

While his value obviously increases as a result of the trade, fantasy leaguers shouldn’t overrate Cassel in 2009. He’ll be a borderline No. 1 quarterback with more value against lesser opponents, but he won’t be the next Brady.

Speaking of Brady, the move also indicates that the Patriots are comfortable with his rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery. Barring setbacks, the newly-married Brady should be seen as the No. 2 quarterback in fantasy football behind Drew Brees.

This deal also means the end of the excitement around Tyler Thigpen, who helped countless fantasy leaguers win a championship in 2008. Unless Cassel falters in the preseason, Thigpen will have little value.

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