The 2018 NFL Fantasy Football season is closing in on us. Throughout the next eight weeks, we’ll be going through all the fantasy options for teams by division. This is the second installment and we’ll be going over the AFC West which in my opinion is going to be a highly competitive division this year with every team having a chance to win it.
AFC West Fantasy Outlook
Kansas City Chiefs
Additions: WR Sammy Watkins, RB Kerwynn Williams, RB Damien Williams
The Kansas City Chiefs who were once the favourite to win this division by a landslide will undoubtedly be coming into the season with a question mark looming over them as they will run with second-year QB Patrick Mahomes II.
QB: Patrick Mahomes the second year QB out of Texas Tech will be under centre for the Chiefs going forward as they have now traded away Alex Smith. Mahomes played one game last year, a Week 17 game against the Denver Broncos and went 22-35 for 284 yards and an INT. He’s one of the only question marks on this Chiefs team heading into 2018. It’s hard to gauge his fantasy value due to not knowing how he’s going to perform.
RB: Currently #1 on the Chiefs depth chart is All-Rookie RB Kareem Hunt, he will be their star running back for the foreseeable future and will be one of the coveted picks in fantasy drafts going forward. There is still value at other spots in the Chiefs lineup, Kerwynn Williams has always been a good pass catching RB and should find some value in PPR format leagues.
WR: Newly acquired Sammy Watkins currently sits #1 on the depth chart for the Chiefs. I don’t see him putting up as much production as Tyreek Hill when it comes to fantasy though and if I was drafting one of the Chiefs WR’s I’d take Hill first. Both Watkins and Hill should be good fantasy options this season barring their QB plays decently. After Watkins and Hill, the WR core for the Chiefs falls off and isn’t worth drafting.
TE: Starting tight end for the Chiefs is 2nd team All-Pro Travis Kelce who is one of the “big three” when it comes to fantasy tight ends, he will go early in your draft but has the potential to put up WR1 numbers. I’d draft Kelce with confidence if he slides down the board a bit. However, currently sitting at an ADP of 28, I wouldn’t take him that high.
Defence: The Chiefs defence last year finished in the middle of the pack, exactly. They finished 16th last season after ranking among the top four in three of the four previous years. They should not be a defence that gets drafted on draft day but should be a viable streaming option going forward.
Additions: QB Case Keenum.
The Denver Broncos are coming off a season where they just couldn’t get it right at QB and in today’s NFL if you don’t have a good QB you aren’t going to win many games. Add in Case Keenum who is coming off a crazy year with the Vikings and you have yourself a Broncos team that can once again compete.
QB: Case Keenum will be the starting QB in Denver for the 2018 season, after coming off a career-best season in 2017 with the Vikings. Keenum finished 14th in fantasy scoring last year (eighth in games he played) and I wouldn’t expect him to finish that high this season. He simply doesn’t have the weapons he had in Minnesota on this Broncos team. Keenum should not be drafted and should be a good streaming option.
RB: I’m excited to see how Devontae Booker does with a full season of starting reps under his belt, I’ve always felt like he’s an RB with good potential. He will have competition in camp though as newly drafted Royce Freeman is sure to get some looks. It’s too early to tell if Royce Freeman will have significant fantasy value because his role isn’t defined yet. Currently, Freeman is being drafted at an ADP of #81 while Booker is going #120, so early drafts indicate people believe Freeman will have more fantasy value.
WR: The Broncos WRs are always an interesting read for me. Emmanuel Sanders played 12 games last year and finished 41st in scoring in those 12 games. Demaryius Thomas finished 16th in scoring despite both WRs having a terrible QB throwing them the ball. Both Sanders and Thomas will be drafted. I’m interested to see how Courtland Sutton fits into the lineup, more than likely won’t be fantasy relevant this year as he doesn’t play the slot.
TE: The Broncos tight ends are a complete question mark going into next season. Currently, Jeff Heuerman is the #1 TE on the depth chart, but most experts predict Jake Butt to be the starting TE out of camp. The Michigan product would’ve likely been picked in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft if he had not suffered a torn ACL right before the draft. I wouldn’t draft a Broncos TE until we get a better idea of who’s going to be starting.
Defence: The usually elite Broncos defence has appeared to have fallen from grace. After posting back to back seasons where they finished top two in defensive scoring, they fell to 13th last season, the worst since 2011. I don’t think they’ll find their elite status again, but they are a team that might be worth drafting still.
Los Angeles Chargers
Additions: TE Virgil Green, QB Geno Smith.
Ahh the Chargers, the team I once loved. I believe they have a shot to win the division this year as their roster is well rounded, obviously the loss of Hunter Henry for the year is a blow and will have to replace his production for 2018 but they should still be able to be one of the teams to beat in the AFC West.
QB: Philip Rivers finished 8th in fantasy scoring last year, which is odd as he’s getting older but it’s his first finish better than 12th since 2013. He has an amazing receiver core around him that provides him with many options to move the ball downfield as well as a good running back in Melvin Gordon to keep the balance. I expect Rivers to have another good year and I’d draft him in the later rounds.
RB: Melvin Gordon finished 5th in fantasy scoring last year setting career-best marks in carries, rushing yards, targets, receiving yards and of course fantasy points. His touches have increased every year since joining the league. One red flag is his efficiency, he only averages 3.9YPC which isn’t terrible but with the emergence of Austin Ekeler being a viable #2 it’s worth monitoring if Gordon’s touches go down.
WR: The Chargers receiving core is spearheaded by Keenan Allen who finished 3rd in fantasy scoring last season after missing a combined 23 games due to injury the prior two seasons. He’s by far Philip Rivers favourite target and if he can remain healthy will be a top WR again. The rest of the Chargers WR’s (Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams) all have fantasy value whether it be through a late draft pick or streaming options.
TE: Hunter Henry was supposed to be the guy this year after eventual Hall of Famer Antonio Gates wasn’t resigned, but after tearing his ACL he’ll be out for the entire 2018 season. Virgil Green is currently the #1 man on the depth chart but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Antonio Gates sign with the Chargers on a one-year contract. I wouldn’t draft Virgil Green.
Defence: The Chargers defence finished 5th in fantasy scoring last year and they’ve only gotten better, I truly believe they’ll be the best defence in 2018 despite there being other fantastic fantasy defences in the NFL. Draft the Chargers defence, win your league and come back and thank me.
Additions: WR Martavis Bryant, QB E.J Manuel, RB Doug Martin, WR Jordy Nelson
The Oakland Raiders are coming into 2018 after a terrible 2017 based on their expectations, they’ve cleaned house as they’ll come into 2018 with an entirely new coaching staff.
QB: Derek Carr finished 19th in fantasy scoring last year despite looking like he could be on his way to being one of the better quarterbacks in the year after his first two seasons. Everything went down in 2017 for Carr compared to 2016. Completions, percentage, yards, TD’s. The only thing that went up was his interceptions. Don’t draft Derek Carr, but he’ll always be a viable streaming option.
RB: The one positive to having an offence led by Jon Gruden is it instantly makes the value of Raiders running backs go up. Marshawn Lynch is currently listed as 1st on the depth chart and I imagine will stay there despite the acquisition of Doug Martin. Both running backs will see lots of play and both will be fantasy relevant to an extent.
WR: Despite losing Michael Crabtree the Oakland Raiders receiver core got better, adding both Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant. Bryant clearly wasn’t happy in Pittsburgh but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Amari Cooper is listed 1st on the depth chart but in all reality, all three of the Raiders WR’s are going to get the ball and be productive. It’s worth drafting all three of them, the hard decision will be finding which one is going to go off every game. There’s not enough football to go around for all of them to reach their fantasy potential.
TE: Jared Cook had a pretty good 2018 campaign, finishing 12th in fantasy scoring despite only catching 2 TD passes all year. If he can find a way to get more touchdowns in Gruden’s offence he has the potential to crack into the top 10 next season. There is a worry though that with the receivers around him he might get lost in the passing game. There is no other quality competition at TE.
Defence: The Raiders defence finished 32nd last year, dead last in the NFL. From a fantasy perspective they are not worth drafting, nor streaming unless it’s a good matchup. They added some talent and have a new defensive coordinator, but I’d wait until we see them actually play.
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