Sparknotes: AFC West
Over the next few days, we’ll publish a series entitled Sparknotes, each article will take a birds eye view into each NFL division and it’s most important fantasy players.
Turnover amongst the skill positions is a constant concern for Fantasy owners, but no division embodies this in the AFC as completely as the AFC West. Denver looks like it will continue to toil at the bottom of the division with the Chargers looking improved and the Chiefs and Raiders set to slug it out again for the division title.
Kansas City Chiefs
Notable Fantasy Stars: Travis Kelce (TE2)m Spencer Ware (RB19), Tyreek Hill (WR29), Alex Smith (QB 23), Chris Conley (WR75),
Synopsis – This ain’t your grandfathers Chiefs team now that Maclin and Charles are both gone. Sliding into the starter roles are Tyreek Hill and Spencer Ware, both who should be drafted with confidence as the methodical KC offense is very consistent. Chris Conley gets the largest bump (from WR115 to WR75) and could see even more attention as the season gets closer. Of course, Travis Kelce is the defacto #1 in this passing offense, and could see a bump into the Gronk range with even more responsibility. Ware may not be as flashy a name as Charles was, but he has a firm grip on the starting gig, and I expect him to man all three downs at least until he proves he can’t handle it.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Amari Cooper (WR10), Derek Carr (QB12), Marshawn Lynch (RB15), Michael Crabtree (WR21), Jared Cook (TE24) DeAndre Washington (RB66)
Synopsis – While it appears Derek Carr is making a full recovery following his season ending leg break, wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree would both take a major hit if Connor Cook (or god forbid E.J. Manuel) was forced to start. Jared Cook will likely be targeted as a third option again this year so he’s no more than a late round flier. The biggest question mark in Oakland remains it’s running game as the team parted ways with Latavius Murray and added the un-retired Marshawn Lynch to the roster. Will Beast Mode return to form? If not, DeAndre Washington is an intriguing handcuff for Lynch owners as he could have mid to late season value.
Notable Fantasy Stars: Damaryius Thomas (WR17) C.J. Anderson (RB17), Emmanuel Sanders (WR23), Paxton Lynch (QB28), Jamaal Charles (RB45)
Synopsis – I hardly think I’m going out on a ledge by ranking Paxton Lynch over Trevor Semien in my rankings; I can’t see Denver not giving Lynch a chance after trading up to pick the young QB at this point, so take the depth charts with a grain of salt. Regardless of who is under center, Demaryius Thomas is going to be the focal point of the passing game. Sanders will see his fair share of targets, but he may fall short of the season’s we’ve grown accustomed to. With the addition of Jamaal Charles, the backfield gets a little murky. Anderson should still handle the lion’s share of carries, but Charles will more than likely steal the passing downs, and if Anderson struggles, Charles could very easily jump him on the depth chart.
Los Angeles Chargers
Notable Fantasy Stars: Melvin Gordon (RB8), Hunter Henry (TE11), Philip Rivers (QB14), Keenan Allen (WR19), Mike Williams (WR53), Tyrell Williams (WR59)
Synopsis – New home; same old gunslinger in Philip Rivers. The biggest concern coming into the season is whether or not Keenan Allen can stay healthy. Despite his absence, Rivers put together a decent season, and the Charger’s rewarded him by adding Mike Williams in the draft. I’d expect Tyrell Williams to come back to earth a bit if Allen is healthy, and all signs point to the affirmative. With the added weapons, last year’s breakout star Melvin Gordon is in line for some big numbers. His value suffers a bit in PPR leagues as he’s TD heavy but should return most 2-3rd round investments.