AFC West Preview
Looking at offseason changes
Now that camps are opening and we have finished our rookie rankings, we thought it was a good time to start rolling out our team reports, which are being released by division. Old Rotobahn readers know the drill, but for you newbies, the goal here is to get you back up to fantasy speed. If you’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping baseball, we’re here for you. Let’s play a little catch-up. The key things on the docket are coaching changes, rookies and key free agent moves.
The Broncos have a new OC in Adam Gase. He’s young at age 34, but his quarterback is 36 and is a virtual OC on the field, so we assume Gase will do just fine in his first go round as an NFL coordinator. The rest of the Broncos staff remains largely intact. It’s still HC John Fox’s team and we expect the same kind of hard-nosed football that his teams are known for.
On the field, Denver made a few big additions. The high profile move was bringing in Wes Welker from New England. Welker should bring a glue element that Peyton Manning hasn’t had since his days in Indy. I anticipate Welker being a guy that really helps Indy move the chains and create positive down-and-distance situations, which leads to big plays. The other big positive add was tailback Montee Ball, whom they drafted out of Wisconsin in the 2nd round. Ball is a mature back that played a whole lot of college snaps. He should be the primary back in Denver this year. The other skill players the Broncos added in the draft were WR Tavarres King out of Georgia and QB Zac Dysert from Miami (OH.) Two nice selections, but we don’t see much immediate impact from King and Dysert will compete with Brock Osweiler in a year or two once Manning is on ESPN in a suit and tie.
The Broncos’ defense could take a temporary hit with the suspension of Vonn Miller, but there are rumblings that it could get overturned. For confident GMs, that could turn Denver into a bargain on draft day--knowing that you’ll have them back at full strength for the fantasy playoffs. And, in the fantasy playoffs, the Broncos have the Titans and the Chargers at home plus a trip to Houston in Week 16. Not bad.
The Raiders are quite an odd mess. Clearly there is still a hangover from the end of Al Davis’ rule. Al got more than a little kooky down the the stretch and that’s dangerous when you already have an outside the box style. Still, the Raiders have made some good picks in recent years and they’ve had some tough luck with injuries. Trades, like the Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer deals, have really gutted the talent core because of all the high picks lost.
On the coaching front, there is a new OC. Greg Olson, who coached the QBs in Jacksonville last year will take over the offense. This should be good news for Darren McFadden, who did not adapt well to Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme. Olson's scheme will be a much better fit for the oft-injured but highly talnted tailback.
Oakland’s draft, though we liked a lot of their players, was long on projects and risks. Not the kind of draft we’d have gone for if we were in their shoes. On the plus side, they showed an appreciation for their situation by moving back three times and adding a extra selection with each deal. Overall, I’d call it a good long term sign, but a major white flag for 2013. This is going to be a really bad football team this season.
The QB situation is a mess, with Matt Flynn at the helm and no NFL-ready options in case he plays like a career backup, which he is. We like the rookie class on offense.
- OT, Menelik Watson
- QB, Tyler Wilson
- TE, Nick Kasa
- RB, Latavius Murray
- TE, Mychael Rivera
- WR, Brice Butler
- WR, Conner Vernon
- WR, Sam McGuffie
Other notable additions include RB Rashad Jennings, who will compete with small school freak Latavius Murray for the backup role behind Darren McFadden. Murray was one of the unknown guys we liked heading into the draft. So were Brice Butler and UDFAs Conner Vernon and Sam McGuffie. Mark my words, the Raiders nondescript receiving corps are underrated. There will be some surprises from this group. Rookie QB Tyler Wilson is a gamer with NFL skills, but with some things to work on as well. Keeping him off the field this year is a very good idea.
Good times for Chiefs’ fans. The arrival of new HC Andy Reid is great news for this struggling franchise. Reid has brought in former NFL QB Doug Pederson to help coach the offense while former Jets DC Bob Sutton will coach the defense. Sutton is nothing to get excited about if his past as a DC is any indication, but he’s a good football man with a deep resume that includes a long stint as the HC at Army. He won’t be overwhelmed, but he’s not a dynamic guy that’s going to shake things up.
On the field, the Chiefs have made some changes and they drafted a few very exciting skill players. In free agency, and the trade market, Reid targeted the guys he wanted and beat the market for their services. Smith, Daniel and Fasano all cost a pretty penny considering their past achievements, but they all fill needs and provide stability in the near term.
- QB, Alex Smith
- QB, Chase Daniel
- TE, Anthony Fasano
In the draft and subsequent rookie signing period, K.C. went after solidity in round one and upside later on. It worked well.
- OT, Eric Fisher
- TE, Travis Kelce
- RB, Knile Davis
- QB, Tyler Bray
Fisher will be an anchor on the line for years and Kelce could be a huge play-maker in Reid’s offense. Davis has a crazy combo of size and speed and is a very intriguing handcuff option for Jamaal Charles owners. Tyler Bray was a nice UDFA addition and has the strongest arm on the roster by a large margin. Bray is a solid project with legit NFL potential. Well worth adding for free. Reid imported enough quality to make large strides with the offense in year one. The OL was never bad and, with Fisher on-board, it could be a legit strength in 2013. Good news for Charles owners.
New HC Mike McCoy has seen his star rise in recent years as he has adapted his offense to fit both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning. It is pretty impressive. And we like that one of his first moves was to bring in Ken Whisenhunt as his OC. The Chargers now have two very qualified and adaptive minds. If they can get the offensive line cleaned up, things could turn around quickly in San Diego. We are not as down on Philip Rivers as the rest of the world seems to be. They just need to protect him. On defense, DC John Pagano was retained from Norv Turner’s staff.
The draft was good, and they absolutely had to go after an offensive lineman first given the condition of their OL in 2012 and the loss of OG Luis Vazquez to Denver. The adds for the offense in the draft were as follows.
- OT, D.J. Fluker
- WR, Keenan Allen
- QB, Brad Sorensen
Fluker will get a year to learn on the job as the Chargers rebuild. That’s a good thing. Keenan Allen as a guy we thought was a bit overrated, but that was when he was projected in round one. In the third, he was a potential steal and well worth selecting, since the Chargers can take it slow with him if need be. Allen was banged up in 2012 and that hurt his senior season and his work for scouts and NFL evaluators. In addition to Allen, the Chargers will get WR Vincent Brown back after losing him for the entire 2012 season to an ankle injury. That’s a good thing, because Brown is a player with a potentially bright future. As we said in his 2011 scouting report, he’s a “natural receiver.” Sadly, with all the talent SD has at the receiver position, they can’t protect the passer well enough to maximize said talent. The new coaches will be put to the test in 2013. The last thing to mention is new tailback Danny Woodhead. His value is tied to the health of incumbent starter Ryan Mathews. If Mathews gets injured, Woodhead could get his first and probably last crack at a lead role. He’s a savvy late pick, especially in PPR leagues. Still, it’s wise to remember, that despite Woodhead’s ability, he is going from the NE offense to the SD offense. Apart from maybe having a bigger role, there’s not much positive about that switch.
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