Every year, the NFL sees a cellar dweller from the prior year's campaign rises up from the ashes and shocks the public with a sudden boon of proficiency. Figuring out who that team might be before it happens is nearly impossible, mostly because team chemistry and confidence don't show up on paper. Nevertheless, year in and out, we idiots try like hell to wipe the film off our crystal ball and, with careful analysis, get the edge over the random, dart-throwing mouth-breathers.

However, this time around, I'm not going to pronounce my most-likely-to-succeed. Instead, I've identified a handful of teams that bettered themselves the most in the off-season and hope that one of them on the list gels so I can finally prove that thorough examination of the facts consistently beats dumb luck and gut feelings.


After a strong offseason, there's genuine optimism in Buffalo for the first time in over a decade. Despite a second half collapse, the Bills showed flashes in 2011 that justified the hope for semi-resurgence. With the addition of $100M Super Mario, the Bills have assembled a very high-profile pass rush (on paper). While Shawne Merriman, Mario Williams and first round pick CB Stephon Gilmore give the defense some much needed swagger, the offense was also bolstered with the addition of NC State's WR T.J. Graham and the return of injured Marcus Easley at the wideout spot.

Though QB Vince Young has been an inconsistent commodity throughout his career, the prevailing opinion is that if he were to succeed in any NFL offense, Chan Gailey's spread is the absolute best fit. If QB Ryan Fitzgerald's physical limitations surface again in 2012, don't be surprised to see more of Vince in the mix.

From a fantasy perspective, the Bills two best options remain the versatile RB Fred Jackson and the unpredictable WR Stevie Johnson. Though RB CJ Spiller had bursts in 2011, he's still going to play second fiddle to the most underrated back in the AFC. Which WR steps up to play opposite Johnson is the biggest question mark this year - and we're banking on the talented Easley. David Nelson will fill the slot role again. Nelson's solid play made Roscoe Parrish expendable. He proved to be a favorite Fitz target last year and is a good sleeper for the later rounds.


Arguably, no team was hit harder by injuries in 2011 than Kansas City. The early loss of a star collection of players to knee injury (RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and TE Tony Moeaki) set the tone for the rest of the year.

While we remain skeptical about QB Matt Cassell's moxie as a starting QB in the NFL, there is no denying that he's heads and shoulders better than the fiasco that was Tyler Palko. Todd Haley's stubbornness to stick with Palko, arguably the worst QB to ever start in the 21st century, ultimately led to his departure. With Romeo Crennel taking over the coaching reins, there will be a much greater emphasis on the run and KC will have an impressive thunder and lighting ensemble with Peyton Hillis and Jamal Charles. They fortified that attack even further with the addition of veteran tackle Eric Winston, coming over from Houston.

Even though there's a lot of ability at WR, with Jon Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe, but both lack discipline and don't give the Chiefs the consistency they need at the position. At the time this was written, Bowe still had not reported to camp. The staff hopes that rookie WR Devon Wylie (Fresno) can add the much needed element of speed to the unit. Wylie is a Wes Welker replica and should thrive in the slot. He might be worth a flyer in late fantasy rounds - especially in dynasty leagues.

The real strength of the team is on the other side of the ball. With one of the better defenses in the league, the acquisition of former first rounder and veteran Stanford Routt, from rival Oakland, really fortifies the defensive backfield. And, though some say drafting NT Dontari Poe (Memphis) was a reach at number 11 overall, his formidable size will quickly help shore up the run defense.

The bottom line is that Kansas City brings a load of talent back to the playing field. They finished 7-9 in 2011 with a good part of their roster on IR. With the much-respected Crennel back in charge, we expect the Chiefs to compete for the division title.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Parsons is the owner of http://www.MaximumFantasySports.com and a rabid fantasy sports participant. He began creating his own football and baseball fantasy leagues at the ripe old age of seven; tracking stats and standings on paper. Bill decided to create a real-time fantasy football league website that includes all of the best features and some of which have never been attempted at any other website. Maximum Fantasy Sports offers Free Fantasy Football leagues, Free Survivor Pools, Confidence Pools, Pick 'em Pools and Squares Pools as well as Public Fantasy Football Leagues and Pools with cash payouts.