With 3 preseason games out of the way and cuts looming, I'm set to make my 53 man roster prediciton. I better do it quick, because the very first cuts (Penney and Schiltz) are already coming in.
(3) Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray
Smitty, the White Mamba, looked excellent last night. Perhaps giving him real wide receivers will pay off. No, I do not think Andy Reid, despite his history of wheeling and dealing backup QBs, is looking to unload Chase Daniel. Chase's contract makes him fairly difficult to trade and a team would have to feel he's a starter to make that trade. Who is that desperate? Even the Jets (a team others have mentioned) have Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Bryce Petty. Unless QBs get slaughtered across the league, he's going to stay here and be a more than capable backup. He'd be a more like trade candidate at the deadline than now. Murray really didn't play at all this preseason until last night, but other than an early interception he looked fantastic.
(3) Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West
JC still looks like his old self. Davis still has some issues, but is respected, especially among fantasy players, as one of the best backups in the league. Many have said West has been on fire this preseason, some even calling for him to be the new #2 behind Charles. That seems like hyperbole to me. While West does seem to be a far better receiver than Davis and hence should see some situational touches, a little success against backups in the preseason should not hold as much weight as proven success during the regular season.
(1) Anthony Sherman
(6) Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, De'Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley, Jason Avant, Frankie Hammond Jr.
Maclin has looked as good as advertised. Wilson had a shoulder injury last night. I don't think we yet know the extent of it, but it could affect him early in the season despite that he's otherwise expected to start. DAT is also shaking off an injury, but nothing worth considering an IR spot. He will continue to primarily be a gadget player and special teamer, but I expect to see him get more and more involved as a WR as the season goes on. Conley hasn't shown much this preseason until he caught 3 passes for 30 yards last night, but he still is in the mix for time at the slot right away. Avant will be an underrated stabilizing force in this receiving core despite that many want to see him run out of town for the crime of being too old. Is this freaking Logan's Run? I went back and forth a bit before settling on Hammond over Williams. I couldn't justify keeping both. While DAT was hurt last year, Hammond was an excellent return man, averaging 13.3 yards per punt return on 15 returns and 37 yards per kick return, albeit on just 2 kicks. That might not be reason alone to keep him, but he's also had a great preseason and has been in our system longer. I think people also overestimate the likelihood that someone will swipe Fred Williams off of the waiver wire. He's been in the league for 4 years now, not even earning any preseason playing time until this year. He's not the younger or more promising of the two. It's great that he's caught all 8 targets thrown his way this preseason and I think the coaching staff likes him, but not enough to lose someone else over.
(3) Travis Kelce, James O'Shaughnessy, Richard Gordon, Demetrius Harris*
With Harris likely on the PUP list to start the season, I moved up Shaggy and went for Richard Gordon as the 3rd TE. I had a hard time deciding between Gordon and Ryan Taylor. They're both veteran journeymen. Gordon is bigger and the more freakish athlete, so I chose him. He's also listed ahead of Taylor on the depth chart for what it's worth.
(9) Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Zach Fulton, LDT, Jarrod Pughsley, Eric Kush
I think the starters to open the season will be the first 5 as listed. After that, I think the depth is still a modest improvement over last season. Noticeably absent from my final roster is Paul Fanaika and Derrick Sherrod. The Chiefs are trying out Fanaika at RT, but that's actually a position he tried out in Philly when he was there with Coach Reid. I don't expect that to suddenly click.
(6) Dontari Poe*, Allen Bailey, Mike DeVito, Mike Catapano, Jaye Howard, Hebron Fangupo, Rakeem Nunez-Roches
The Chiefs are likely to keep an extra DL until Poe returns. Poe should remain on the PUP list until he's ready to return. Bailey, DeVito, and Catapano look like a devastating trio of DEs to shuffle. Howard has been playing in place of Poe in the middle of the line and appears to be doing well. Fangupo is the most likely man out when Poe returns. Then again, I wouldn't be that surprised to see the Chiefs try to sneak Nunez- Roches to the practice squad, since he doesn't figure much in their near term plans. Nick Williams is another serious contender to make the final roster.
(5) Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Dezmon Moses, Frank Zombo
Houston and Hali are still probably the best one-two combo in the league. Ford has been playing very good this preseason, as has Moses. I eventually decided on Zombo for his special teams contributions over Josh Martin.
(4) Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson, Josh Mauga, DJ Alexander
DJ continues to be the gold standard at LB. Wilson has been playing very good filling in for Mauga and might have earned a starting spot. DJ Alexander will likely play a ton of special teams as well. Many fans seem overly devastated at the injury to Justin March, an undrafted rookie free agent many of you haven't even heard of, but most of that is based on him "standing out" in practice, particularly against the pass. I'm sorry, that just isn't much to go by. Some guys shine in practice and disappear when the lights come on. I put even less of a premium on training camp, doubly so against other backups, than I do on preseason games. I imagine they'll put March on IR to start the season, possibly with the designation to return, but as I understand it that would require placing him on the 53 man roster first, risking another player to the waiver wire.
(5) Sean Smith*, Phillip Gaines, Marcus Peters, Jamell Flemming, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper
Smith will serve a 3 game suspension and shouldn't count against the roster until that's over. That's the only reason I think Cooper makes the opening roster. I even considered having them open the year with only 4 CBs and using their safety depth to fill out the field in nickel and dime formations.
(5) Husain Abdullah, Ron Parker, Eric Berry, Tyvon Branch, Kelcie McCray
Insane depth here. I saw a tweet where a guy thought it was nuts the Chiefs were lining up Berry, Branch, and Sean Smith with the #2s last night. This is a very good thing. McCray is another key special teams player.
(3) Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos, James Winchester
Winchester and East have been battling for the long snapper position. By most accounts it's a close race, but the team has continually placed Winchester ahead of East on the depth chart. Perhaps that's meaningless, but this is hardly the most important battle to focus on anyway.
That's what I'm going with for now. Won't take long to find out how wrong I am. I might not necessarily even be right about who does and doesn't count against the roster at the start of the season, but I tried my best. Wouldn't be that surprised to see the Chiefs looking for a DL, CB, or TE on the waiver wire.