Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the closing seconds of Thursday's game against the Eagles, I watched as Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe wrapped his arms around coach Andy Reid in a celebratory bear hug.
And in that moment I realized, that was the first time I had seen Bowe all night.
The former LSU Tiger was nowhere to be found Thursday in Kansas City's 26-16 win at Lincoln Financial Field. It's like he was playing a game of hide and go seek and we never found him.
You win, Dwayne. Now stop hiding behind the bushes and help us out with our fantasy teams, would ya?
Seriously though, when is Bowe planning on showing up this season? It's Week 3 already and he's only been slightly more involved in the Chiefs' passing game than I am right here at my computer.
Through three contests, Kansas City's so-called "top receiver" has collected just nine catches for 90 yards. That puts Bowe on pace to finish the year with 480 receiving yards, a figure that would have been good for 99th in the NFL last season.
That's not exactly top-shelf quality, though perhaps it was our fault as fantasy owners for elevating Bowe to a stratosphere he never belonged in. Aside from his breakthrough 2010 campaign (career-high 1,162 receiving yards and a league-leading 15 touchdown receptions), Bowe has never been anything more than slightly above average.
Indeed, Bowe has many of the same qualities seen in fellow flash in the pan wideouts Braylon Edwards and Miles Austin (Brandon Lloyd is another good one if you're looking to start a "one-hit wonder" fantasy league). Just like Edwards and Austin, Bowe rose to the top quickly, but never got asked back.
For anyone who has ever owned Bowe in fantasy, this disappearing act is all too familiar. Bowe wasn't even targeted in a loss to Cincinnati last year. In fact, dating back to last season, Bowe has been targeted three times or fewer in five of his last 11 contests.
Try and compare that to his robust 2010 season when he captured 72 catches and was getting over eight targets a game. It's almost like we're talking about two completely different players.
Bowe did treat his owners to a touchdown in Week 2, but if last year is the new normal, it's going to be a while before his next one. After piling on three scores in his four outings of 2012, Bowe went scoreless over the final nine games of the season.
Still, the most startling drop-off we've seen from Bowe has been in his yards per catch. Beginning at 2010's high water mark of 16.1, Bowe's average has fallen each season and now sits at a paltry 10.0 yards per reception. The numbers suggest that Bowe has either lost some of his explosiveness or he's drawing tighter coverage than he did earlier in his career.
But many of these issues seem to be linked to a bigger problem. And that's Alex Smith.
It's not Smith's fault that Bowe is usually matched up with the other team's best defensive back. But the fact that Smith won't even look at Bowe when there's another defender in his vicinity is perplexing to say the least.
While Drew Brees and Eli Manning are thought of as gunslingers, Smith has gained a reputation as one of the most cautious quarterbacks in football. He's been so risk-averse that only 10 of his passes have been picked off in the last three seasons, an average of roughly one INT every 77 passes (39.1 for Brees, 32.0 for Manning).
As a result, the turnover-phobic Smith has mostly favored short five- and 10- yard dump-offs to Donnie Avery and Jamaal Charles, while hanging Bowe out to dry. That would probably explain why Bowe ranks just 90th in targets per game (5.67).
The other problem is that Kansas City's defense has actually been too good. The Eric Berry-led secondary has been playing at such a high-level that Kansas City really hasn't had to play from behind all season.
With that being the case, Smith has been content to hand the ball off to Charles and kill clock rather than stretching the field. Hence the 23 touches per game Charles has averaged this season.
So it would seem that only part of Bowe's drop in fantasy value is self- inflicted. The rest is circumstantial.
Regardless, if there was ever a gimme for Bowe it should have been Thursday night. If he can't get open against an Eagles defense that allowed 400 yards to Philip Rivers of all people, I don't see much hope for him.
I'm not sure how it happened, but the Chiefs have never looked better and Bowe has never looked worse.