We made it to the end of our divisional fantasy previews. Just in time, as the heart of fantasy re-draft season starts and preseason games begin. Keep in mind, our valuation of players and teams change constantly as new information is received. Rudy is on top of his weekly projections, constantly updating them when things change. A couple of weeks ago we were drafting Hill in the 6-8th round, and now you can’t get him cheaper than a 2nd round pick.

Today we take a look at the AFC West, starting with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Later this week the finale will be posted, finishing with the Los Angeles Charges and Oakland Raiders

Completed Previews: AFC NorthNFC North – NFC East Part INFC East Part II – AFC East Part I – AFC East Part II – NFC South Part I – NFC South Part II – AFC South Part I  – AFC South Part II – NFC West Part I – NFC West Part II

2019 projections referenced below are based on razzball.com 2019 projections managed and updated by our very own @RudyGamble . ADP, and strength of schedule referenced below are based on fantasypros.com consensus data.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

QB Joe Flacco

2018 Recap

  • QB32
  • Played the first 9 games of 2018 (benched for rookie QB Lamar Jackson the remainder of the season)
  • Beat weekly projections 5 out of 9 games
  • 12 TD / 7 TO (1 FUM)
  • 379 pass attempts
  • 15.2 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 27th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs (#6 hardest)
    • Brutal overall schedule with no attractive stretches. Only 3 matchups, the whole fantasy season, against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest (weeks 1 -16)

Elite QB, Joe Flacco finds himself in the Mile High City after spending his whole career in Baltimore. The Ravens gave up on Joe halfway through the 2018 season, benching him in week 10 because of a “hip injury,” inserting their rookie QB Lamar Jackson and never looked back. Surprisingly, Joe started off the season 4-2 before going on a 3 game losing streak that eventually led to his dethroning. Denver touts new head coach, former Bears Defensive Coordinator, Vic Fangio and rookie NFL Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello, who has his roots planted under the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. We can assume some form of a west coast offense will be deployed in Denver. The West Coast offense is a passing offense but it is built from the play action game. In order for play action to be successful a team must be able to establish the run. Look for DEN to focus on running the ball and with a stout defense we can expect low scoring affairs from the Broncos this season. This limits the ceiling on Joe Flaccos passing attempts. After watching Drew Lock’s uninspiring NFL debut, in last weeks Hall Of Fame game, we can believe the rumors coming out Denver. Lock is a “project,” needs time to develop, and is not a threat to Joe’s claim to the QB throne in Denver for 2019. Even then, Joe will be found on your waiver wire 90% of the season. Rudy has Flacco projected to finish 2019 as QB31, making him undraft-able in almost all formats. His current ADP is 246 OVR / QB30.  In 2-QB leagues, or leagues with 20+ rounds, are the only formats that I can see why Flacco would end up on your bench on draft day. Nothing exciting to buy in to with his projected 2019 totals: 371 pass attempts, 2,635 yards, and 14.5 passing TDs. 

RB Phillip Lindsay

2018 Recap

  • RB13
  • Played 15 games (missed last game of season, wrist injury)
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out 15 games
  • 3 games over 100 yards rushing
  • 2.3 receptions per game on 3.1 targets per game
  • 5.4 yards per carry and 6.9 yards per reception
  • .67 TD rate/game
  • 14.9 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 11th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Up and down schedule, alternates weekly matchups against ‘easy’ and ‘tough’ fantasy defenses. No stretch of easy matchups or rough patches

Undrafted Free Agent, Phillip Lindsay bursted on to the scene in 2018 after usurping Bronco’s third round draft pick, Royce Freeman, as the lead back in Denver. Lindsay started the season as the 3rd RB on Denver’s depth chart and finished the season as the first ever undrafted free agent running back voted to the Pro Bowl. Lindsay is having to prove himself again to a completely new coaching regime . New OC, Rich Scangarello, hails from Kyle Shanahans west coast coaching tree. Like Shanahan, we can expect the Broncos to establish the run early and utilize both backs in this offense. Rich worked under Shanahan last season in San Francisco and previously in Atlanta when both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both toted the rock. New HC, new OC, new QB, and rumors that Freeman will get his shot at starting touches makes it difficult to confidently buy into Lindsay’s 2019 projections. This is why the 2018 RB13, that rushed for over 1,000 yards and posted a strong 5.4 ypc, is getting drafted as the RB21 in 2019 and 44th overall. Rudy has Lindsay projected slightly ahead of his current draft price, with a RB18 finish. Royce Freeman had the #1 job to start last season and lost it early to Lindsay, we can assume Lindsay has the #1 job this season until Freeman & DEN show otherwise. This is a backfield that needs monitoring throughout camp and during pre-season games. The uncertainty has me fading the DEN backfield. Not to mention the Broncos just signed pass catching veteran Theo Riddick to the roster. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll make the team after final cuts but if he does then we can project this to cut in to Lindsay’s pass catching shares. There are a few backs drafted after Lindsay with more ‘certainty’ around their role heading in to the season, i.e. Mark Ingram, Chris Carson, and Sony Michel to name a few. It depends on your roster build, if you pound top tier RBs early and feel confident with your starting RB’s, then taking a stab at Lindsay as your Flex/RB3 make sense.

WR Courtland Sutton

2018 Recap

  • WR49
  • Played all 16 games
  • 0 games over 100 yards receiving
  • Beat weekly projections 7 out of 16 games
  • 2.6 receptions per game on 5.3 targets per game
  • 16.8 yard per reception and .25 TD rate/gm
  • 8.5 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 31st easiest overall strength of schedule for WRS (#2 hardest)
    • Only 3 matchups the whole season against a fantasy defense ranked among the top 10 easiest for opposing WRs
    • Brutal stretch from week 4 – 16, 7 out of 10 matchups are against defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest for opposing WRs

After going through Denver’s fantasy assets, I think I’m fading all fantasy relevant players. Horrible strength of schedule and a projected low volume offense under new Head Coach Vic Fangio. Sure, for the right price, anyone is worth drafting but with Flacco only projected for 371 pass attempts and ~2,600 yards it’s hard to see a lot of fantasy fruit to bear from this receiving core. By default, Courtland Sutton will be the leading receiving option for Flacco to start the season. Sanders is still working his way back from a torn achilles and Demaryius Thomas is no longer on the team. After Thomas was traded mid-season, Suttons targets per game jumped from 4.6 to 5.9. His targets rose to 6.3 per game after Sanders tore his achilles in week 13. In those 4 games, without Thomas AND Sanders, Sutton failed to capitalize on the opportunity. He averaged an uninspiring 36.5 yards per gm, 3.5 rec per gm, and only 1 TD. Granted, he had journey man Case Keenum tossing the rock and a head coach that was soon to find himself relieved of his duties. Opportunity is the name of the game in fantasy. Sutton is projected to finish the season as WR34. His current ADP, 97 OVR / WR39, presents us with some value in the 8th round and later, albeit without much upside in this Denver offense. 

WR Emmanuel Sanders

  • WR23
  • Played 12 games (missed the last 4 games due to a torn achilles)
  • Beat weekly projections 5 out of 12 games
  • 3 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 5.9 rec per game on 8.2 targets per game
  • 12.2 yards per reception and .42 TD rate/gm
  • 16.5 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

See DEN WR strength of schedule highlight under Courtland Sutton above.

Sanders was on pace to finish as a true fantasy WR1 in 2018 before tearing his achilles in week 13. If you project his 16.5 fppg, over a whole 16-games, he would have posted 264 fantasy points. This would have been good for WR12 last season. Achilles injuries are a difficult injury to recover from and can take over a full year to return to 100%. By the time the 2019 regular season kick-offs, Sanders will be 9-months removed from his injury. Rudy has Sanders projected to finish the season as WR41 and is projecting him for 13 games. The projected passing volume in Denver scares me, will they be able to support both Sutton and Sanders in this new offense? I guess if you are “dying” to get your hands on a pass catcher in Denver then Sanders is the cheaper option, his current ADP is 11o OVR / WR44, early in the 9th round. If you follow @ProFootballDoc, he speculates that Sanders won’t be a full go until after the season starts…

Now time for a CHV…

DEN Quick Hits: Denver’s 2019 first round pick, TE Noah Fant, is projected to be the starting pass catching TE for the Broncos. He is a speculative add for now, at a shallow position, and has a projected finish of TE24. Again, not enough passing opportunities to support multiple and consistent fantasy relevant players in Denver. If you believe that Scarangello will produce an even split between these two running backs then Freeman will hold fantasy value this season. Rudy has Royce finishing 2019 as RB39, a borelind RB3/4 play. Royce does have a bigger frame compared to Lindsay and is built as your typical early down/goal line back. Let’s see how this works out in the preseason. After Thomas left and Sanders tore his achilles, Daesean Hamilton turned into an interesting PPR receiver. The last 4-weeks of the season, Hamilton averaged a leading 11.5 targets per game, 7.5 rec per game, and 2 TDs during this stretch. It’ll be interesting to see how Hamilton fits in to the offense when Sanders returns to the lineup. Hamilton will be the default WR2, IF Sanders is unable to start the season. When Sanders returns, he’s merely the 3rd/4th option, if you include Noah Fant. Rudy has Hamilton projected to finish as WR82. Predicting which weeks Hamilton will be fantasy useful will be a headache. Hamilton is more of a best ball or deeper league play for now. If Sanders does start the season on the PUP list then Hamilton will be upgraded. In an offense not projected to score a lot of points, a defensive minded head coach and a stout defense, temper your fantasy expectations for this offense. Of course, now time for a few DEN CHVs…

…clearly looks like Sanders replacement.

…uh-oh, is Flacco to Riddick a real thing, Hide yo Lindsay- Hide Yo Freeman.

….Flacco is definitely elite, did Sutton hurt himself on that catch? 

Noah Fant alert!!

Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes

2018 Recap

  • QB1
  • Played all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 11 out of 16 games
  • 52 TDs (2 RUSH) / 14 TO (2 FUM)
  • 272 rushing yards (QB11) on 60 attempts (QB9)
  • 580 pass attempts (QB7)
  • 26.1 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 32nd easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs (#1 hardest)
    • Yikes! Two matchups, the whole season, against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easeist (week 2 & 13 against OAK)

I won’t waste your time with a long blurb about the undisputed QB1 heading in to 2019. Mahomes’ record setting 2018 was one for the ages and it will be difficult for him to live up to the hype. Regardless, Tyreek Hill avoids suspension, Travis Kelce is still at TE, Damien Williams showed plenty down the stretch after Hunt’s departure, and most importantly Andy Reid is still calling the shots. Rudy has Mahomes projected to finish 2019 as the QB1 and he is currently going at the tale end of the 2nd round, 21 OVR / QB1. If Mahomes is your must have this season, I doubt anything I’ll say will sway you, but keep in mind QBs are DEEP this year. A lot of value deep too. Matt Ryan, finished 2018 as the QB2, is getting drafted in the 6th round and QB6 off the board. Rudy projects less than a 14% increase between Wentz’ projected QB7 and Mahomes at QB1, a difference of 37.4 points. Wentz is going 83 OVER / QB7, at the end of the 6th round. To put this in perspective, there is ~56% increase from RB7 (Conner) to RB1 (Barkley), a difference of 138.8 points. Getting an RB early is more valuable. You can get QBs late, but non of this matters to you Mahomes Die-hards!

RB Damien Willams

2018 Recap (weeks 13 – 17, after becoming KC starter)

  • 1 game over 100 yards rushing
  • 4.6 receptions per game on 4.8 targets per game 
  • 9.4 carries per game and 5.4 yards per carry
  • 13.6 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule
    • 31st easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs (#2 hardest)
    • Only 4 matchups the whole season against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest. 7 matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest

Damien Williams might be the most divisive player at his position this fantasy season. You’re either all in on him and the Andy Reid/Mahomes led offense or you’re not buying the opportunity hype. I get it, it’s Patrick Mahomes and fantasy RB guru-Andy Reid, of course Williams will eat. One thing we know for certain, Williams is the named starter heading in to the season by both his OC and head coach. Williams suffered a minor hamstring injury in camp recently, which has left him sidelined and allowed Carlos Hyde valuable reps with the ones. IF you’ve been following me since last year, you know how I feel about hamstring injuries…they linger, man..they’re a linger-er. Granted, we are a month away from the start of the season and I’m sure the Chiefs are taking extra precautions with their #1 back. It’s something to store as a mental note heading into draft season. Rudy has Williams projected to finish 2019 as the RB10. His current ADP is 28th OVR / RB13, going in the front end of the 3rd round. Williams has never exceeded 50 carries in his 5-year NFL career and did not reach over 13 touches in the 5 games down the stretch last season. Reid is going to give him the opportunity and it is his to lose. Reid was recently quoted saying,“We’re asking him to be the full-time starter for the year.” If Williams is able to stay healthy and is productive then it’s easy to see a RB1 finish for him in this offense.

WR Tyreek Hill

2018 Recap

  • WR3
  • Played all 16 games
  • 6 games over 100 yards receiving (1 game over 200 yds)
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out of 16 games
  • 8.6 targets per game and WR12 in total targets (137)
  • 5.4 receptions per game and WR10 in total receptions (87)
  • 17.0 yards per reception and .81 TD rate/gm
  • 20.5 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 32nd easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs (#1 hardest)
    • Ouch, 1 matchup against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest. 9 matchups against fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 hardest

Hill’s ADP shot up like a firework since the NFL announced they would not suspend him for the 2019 season. His current ADP is 14th OVR / WR6. Even with the #1 hardest fantasy WR schedule, Tyreek possess game breaking speed that is nearly impossible for a defense to contain for a full 60-minutes. Rudy has Hill finishing 2019 as WR10. Depending on your draft position, you might have to use your 1st round pick to secure Hill if you are dead set on getting him on your roster. I’ve seen him fall to the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd in recent best balls but you won’t get him any cheaper heading in to redraft season. His current ADP has him going with the 2nd pick the in the 2nd round. 

WR Sammy Watkins

  • WR63
  • Played 10 games (missed multiple games due to a foot injury)
  • Beat weekly projections 5 out of 10 games
  • 2 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 4.0 receptions per game on 5.5 targets per game
  • 13.0 yards per reception and .3 TD rate/gm
  • 11.5 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

See KC WR strength of schedule highlight under Tyreek Hill, above.

Watkins’ ADP has come back down to earth now that Hill is back in the picture. The last time Watkins played a full season was his 2014 rookie season in Buffalo. His injury woes date back to his college days, and still haunt him heading in to his 6th season. Watkins finds himself as the 3rd receiving option in one of the leagues most explosive offenses, behind Hill and Kelce. Rudy has Watkins projected to finish the season a WR37. Sammy’s ADP is still slightly inflated from the pre-Hill suspension decision. His current ADP sits at 76 OVR / WR31. Sure, just last like season, there will be a couple of games where Sammy explodes with decent stat lines. The issue is figuring out when to start him on a weekly basis and will he finish the game healthy. Sammy is a better play for best ball leagues and should only be considered in re-draft if you’re able to get him at a discounted price, relative to his projected WR37 finish. 

TE Tracis Kelce

2018 Recap

  • TE1
  • Played all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 9 out of 16 games
  • 5 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 9.4 targets per game and TE2 in total targets (150)
  • 6.4 receptions per game and TE2 in total receptions (103)
  • 13.0 yards per reception and .63 TD rate/gm
  • 18.4 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 8th easiest overall strength of schedule for TEs
    • Sweet start to the season, doesn’t face a top 10 hardest fantasy defense until week 9 vs MIN
    • 4 matchups the whole season against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 hardest

Travis Kelce = the model for consistency, TE1 in fantasy the past 3 seasons in a row. We don’t expect anything to change in 2019, with a projected TE1 finish. His current ADP is 16th OVR / TE1. There is a big cliff at the TE position, after the “big 3” (Kelce/Kittle/Ertz), and if you want to get this one you’ll have to spend an early 2nd round pick. The other two are going in the 3rd round. No need to waste your time breaking down the obvious with Kelce. He’s a BALLER!

KC Quick Hits: If Damien Williams proves to be ineffective with a true #1 RB workload, then Carlos Hyde will get the first shot at taking over. If you draft Williams, you might want to take Hyde as an insurance policy. His current ADP is 130 OVR / RB 47 – towards the end of the 10th round. If the Chiefs fear wearing Williams down, over the course of the season, they might be included to sprinkle in Hyde. Keep in mind Williams is already limited in camp with a hamstring injury. Rudy has Hyde projected to finish the season as RB52. The Chiefs traded up, in the 2019 draft, to secure their insurance policy on Tyreek Hill before the NFL made their decision. Rookie WR Mecole Hardman’s pre-season value solely relied upon Hill’s availability. Now that Hill is back in the picture, Hardman is merely a dynasty stash, or deep-deep league bench warmer. Rudy has Hardman projected to finish the season as WR110. I’m sure we’ll see a few specific plays over the course of the season to get the ball in Hardman’s hand, but it won’t be enough to warrant a roster spot if the main players in KC stay healthy. Rookie, RB Darwin Thompson is an interesting name to keep on your watch list, or deeper league handcuff. If Williams were to get injured and Hyde proved to be ineffective, then Thompson might find himself in the driver seat at RB in an Andy Reid offense. 

Next Up: AFC West Part II – Los Angeles Chargers  &  Oakland Raiders

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