Denver Broncos Team Preview by Nick Busch

Congrats, you get to read my first WATOFFB Team preview. We’re traveling through the AFC West and taking a look at the Denver Broncos. The Broncos will be better than last year…thanks for coming out!

 

Ok, so there is a little more to the story I guess I should cover. A Lot of Viking fans were hurt when the team let Keenum walk away after such a successful season. I on the other hand was not on that ship and it was hard for me to see Keenum reproducing the magic he had in 2017 for the Vikings. I was happy to see him land in Denver and get the starting job. Although he will be an upgrade over what Denver has had at the QB position in years, I don’t see him putting up the numbers he did in 2017 for the team. You probably aren’t drafting Keenum in any leagues with only one QB, but he could provide some matchup bye week help as he has the 9th best schedule for QBs. 

 

Wideouts:

 

We’re moving on to the more notable fantasy assets in Denver and that is the WRs. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Courtland Sutton are the guys to own in Denver. This is the year we see Thomas and Sanders finally get to play with a competent QB again and I look for both to be fantasy relevant out of the gate. 

The current ADP for both WRs scream value and I look to scoop them up if they remain at their current spots. Thomas is currently being draft as the WR 18, going after guys like Amari Cooper, Brandin Cooks, and Adam Thielen. Last year Thomas finished with 83 receptions, 949 yards, and five touchdowns. How he did that with the QB play he had is amazing to me. Thomas will be a solid WR2 for your team and offers low end WR1 upside and I’m taking him over guys like Cooks and Thielen. 

 

Emmanuel Sanders’s ADP is even better! This guy has slipped all the way to WR35 and is being taken after guys like Devin Funchess, Will Fuller, and a hurt Alshon Jeffery. His production has dropped off the last 3 seasons but so has his QB play. Keenum showed last year that he was more than capable of producing multiple fantasy relevant WRs. Sanders has looked great in camp and is healthy. I feel like his game pairs well with the type of WRs Keenum likes. I look for Sanders to be a solid WR3 and has low end WR2 upside.

 

The final WR I’d like to talk about is a very talented and BIG athlete. Courtland Sutton is a rookie that was drafted by Denver in the 2nd round.  Hyped as one of the best if not the best WRs in the draft class, I look for Sutton to get some looks in the RedZone in his rookie season. In their first pre-season game vs the Vikings, Sutton ran with the first team as the WR3. The first play of the game, Keenum targeted Sutton on a sideline route but Denver couldn’t get much going against that Viking Defense. He doesn’t offer the best speed at the WR, but he has the build to jump and catch contested balls all over the field. Currently being drafted as the WR 69, Sutton is worth a flier late in drafts. 

 

Running backs:

 

The running back position in Denver comes down to a name we already know and a rookie we haven’t seen. Davonte Booker is the returning vet in the Denver Backfield that is currently slated as the starter. Royce Freeman is a big back that Denver that is lined up to become one of the rookies that can be the true starter week 1. We have seen what Booker can do and let’s face it, he’s not the guy. Freeman is a rookie RB I’m targeting in my drafts and I wouldn’t be afraid to reach on him. He is currently being drafted as the RB25, going after guys like fellow rookie Ronald Jones. Freeman looked great against the Vikings and he was one of the lone bright spots in the Denver Offense. Freeman rushed four times for 38 yards and one touchdown, while Booker failed to do anything worth writing home about. I look for Freeman to get the first crack at the starting job and have him as a solid RB2 this season. 

 

Tight End: 

 

You aren’t drafting a TE in Denver, unless you accidentally put one in your queue and your WIFI takes a crap on you and you automatically get one. The days of Manning to Julius Thomas are gone but Jake Butt is a real person and could be streamed against defenses shaky against the TE. 

It will be an interesting AFC West race this season, but Denver has some fantasy relevant pieces that can help your team out. 

 

Bold North Prediction: Royce Freeman is this year’s Kareem Hunt!

Oakland Raiders Team Preview by Matt Higgins

After waiting years on the sidelines and working one day a week, John Gruden left MNF and handpicked the  Vegas Raiders’ Head Coach job to mark his return to the national football league.  Why would he choose a 6 win team, heading the wrong direction, who has only had one winning season in the last 15 years?  Well, this is also a team with pro-bowlers throughout out the offensive line, a QB that is one year removed from becoming the highest paid QB in the league, and the Raiders are also only a season removed from a 12-4 record.  Cleary management has allowed Gruden to put his touch on the roster, and it’s the Raiders’ hope that bringing in veteran winning players and coaches will turn the momentum in a positive direction this season as they prepare to head into the Las Vegas Raiders era.

 

QB

Last year Derek Carr missed a game do to a back injury, and now fans are hoping that the injury is convenient excuse for a horrendous season.  In 2016 Carr got paid and was being drafted as QB#4 in fantasy drafts.  In 2017 he got Michael Crabtree kicked out of town, a coaching staff fired, and nearly derailed the career of Amari Cooper.  He didn’t get a lot of help from a highly touted offensive line that disappointed.  Also, Beast Mode waited until the season was lost to become productive.  It’s hard to say what version of Derek Carr we will get, but John Gruden can only help the quarterbacks progress.  Who didn’t love to watch John Gruden sit down with all the QB’s in the draft and look at film?  Derick Carr has been quoted as saying that John Gruden is turning him into a QB robot.  Anyone who can win a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson has to know how to coach up quarterbacks, and I am a believer that Gruden will get the very best out of Derek Carr.  Carr is currently going as a quarterback you could stream and claim off waivers, but keep in mind that his schedule is good, this is a new offensive system, and he is playing with new WRs.  Don’t draft him but feel free to stream him if needed. 

 

WR

Amari Cooper went from positing back to back 1000 yard seasons to putting up 680 yards last year.  It gets worse, he put up 210 of the yards in one game, and letting down fantasy teams in the other 15.  Fantasy owners should know that he is one of the most inconsistent players in football catching less than 50% of the passes thrown his way last season.  Also, in far too many games he went missing seeing 5 targets or less instead of the consistent 10 targets that you would want out of your number one WR.  Also, he’s put on 15 pounds or so in “alleged muscle” this off season.  You never want to see a speed WR with suspect hands put on a bunch of weight in the off season.  He doesn’t have the hands to go up and make contested plays.  Also, Cooper is not the WR garnishing all the praise in Raiders training camp and it’s hard to justify his #36 ADP given his fall off in production last year. 

 

Jordy Nelson is the WR you want to own in Oakland.  You might be thinking “why would I draft a 33 year old WR who only put up 500 yards for the Packers last year?”  Well, this 33 year old WR was coming off injury and not playing with Aaron Rodgers.  Also, in the previous two seasons he put up at least 1250 yards.  Most importantly, it’s the comments that are coming out of Raiders camp.  “I can’t believe the Packers let him go” -John Gruden.  The word is that he is one of the fastest players on the field, he’s catching everything, he’s the best route runner, blah blah blah.  The love for Jordy Nelson in Oakland is running out of control, and this love is not being reflected in his fantasy ADP of #95.  Please reach a round or maybe even 2, and draft this man.

 

Martavis Bryant comes over as a malcontent from Pittsburgh.  No one is denying his talent, but the same complaints he received from Steelers coaches and Rothesberger are popping up in Oakland.  Bryant lacks the effort to be a trusted member of an NFL franchise or fantasy roster.  Gruden has made it clear that his roster spot is not guaranteed,  adding that they need more effort and focus from Bryant.  It seems unlikely that Bryant wouldn’t at least get a chance to start for the Raiders considering that the team gave Pittsburgh a 3rd round pick to acquire him.  His current ADP is in the 12th round where it’s hard to find people of his ability, but the cards seem to be stacked against Bryant in Oakland.  Also, there are rumors that the Raiders are trying to shop him.

 

RB

Marshawn Lynch is being reunited with his old coach Tom Cable who comes over from Seattle to coach the offensive line in Oakland.  He brings with him the zone blocking scheme that has allowed Marshawn to excel in the past.  Also, the strength of the Raiders offensive line is the interior that favors Marshawn’s “pick a hole and go” style.  Last year Marshawn fought ol’ Father Time and quietly piled up almost 900 yards on the ground.  It used to be that age of 30 was the magic number where RB’s went to pasture, but Marshawn is a different kinda guy in every aspect.  He is a spectacle on and off the field, but still, he seems like a safe bet to see the volume and out preform his current ADP of #72.  Last year he only got better as the season went on.

 

Doug Martin comes into Oakland with hopes of reviving his career.  Last year he put up 2.9 per carry in a Tampa Bay offense where no member excelled.  He is one of only a hand full of people in the league who have racked up multiple 1400 yard seasons, but those seasons seem like a long time ago.  Marshawn is listed as the clear cut starter on the depth chart.  However, Doug Martin is a player that Lynch owners should target.  Lynch has a history of missing games with back issues and Martin has proven he can do great things in the past.

 

TE

Last year Jared Cook caught 54 passes for 688 yards.  Now he gets players like Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant to take the top off the defense.  Still, there are younger TE’s with more upside, but you could do worse than Jared Cook if you wait on TE.  

Take Aways

John Gruden hand picked the Raiders.  They have a great offensive line, a talented QB, a WR with a chip on his shoulder, and some aging veterans that still have some football left in the tank. 

The AFC West is a tough division, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that Oakland will bounce back.  John Gruden is reason number one, two, and three.  He  knows how to get the most out of veteran players and turning locker rooms around.  

 Lynch and Jordy Nelson feel like good bets to out perform their current ADP.

The Kansas City Chiefs Team Preview by Matt Higgins

The Kansas City Chiefs are not getting the national attention that a 10-6 team deserves.  The Chiefs lost by one point in the playoffs and they are returning all of their offensive weapons except an aging quarterback that the Chief faithful never embraced anyways.  Gone is Alex Smith and the time is now for Patrick Mahomes.  Andy Reid is no stranger to quarterback talent and he convinced management to move up in last year’s draft to take the Kansas City Native Mahomes.  Andy Reid is a consistent winner in this league and one of the best offensive minds the NFL has ever seen.  There is no doubt that Andy Reid believes in the talent of this strong armed and athletic phenom.  Despite having a first year starter QB, the Chiefs are still favored to win their division and this should be a team that all fantasy players want to have a piece of.

 

QB

Patrick Mahomes II has an arm that is drawing comparisons to Brett Favre, Jonn Elway, Aaron Rodgers, etc.  He will start week 1, possibly having the strongest arm in the league.  His dad was a professional baseball player and Tyreek Hill says that he has never caught a pass that whistled until he played catch with Patrick Mahomes.  Last year, Alex Smith was able to throw for over 4000 yards in this offense.  This year the Chiefs add Sammy Watkins.  Currently Mahomes is going at pick #105, QB 15, which is far too late for a guy with his skills and situation.  This guy has the athleticism, arm, and talent to be a difference maker and potentially win fantasy championships. He is a huge value at his current ADP.

 

 

RB

Kareem Hunt is another guy not getting the love that he deserves.  After leading the league in rushing last year and winning rookie of the year, one has to wonder, “what else does a guy have to do?”  He enters this year as a NFL star, he is the clear cut starter in an Andy Reid offense that ALWAYS produces fantasy stars.  Still, fantasy owners expect a slump from Hunt because of the return of a healthy Spencer Ware.  If Hunt has any issues running the ball this year it will be due to play of his center and left guard, not the play of Spencer Ware.  Draft Kareem Hunt in the first round with confidence.  It’s a shame that his name isn’t mentioned with the David Johnsons and Ezekiel Elliotts of the world.  

 

WR

The Chiefs added the sure handed and often injured Sammy Watkins to play in the slot.  They gave him 50 million dollars to do it and he is currently being drafted with an ADP of #74.  Watkins in the 7th round would feel like a value compared to having to draft Tyreek Hill in the 2nd round.  Hill was in the perfect situation with Alex Smith last year and there is no guarantee that Hill will share the same connection with Mahomes.  Also, Watkins, Kelce, and Hunt are sure to dig into his target share this season.  It should be mentioned that Hill is a freakish talent who led the NFL in yards per reception by a long shot last season.  Also, he possesses higher upside than almost any other player in the league thanks to his game changing speed.  However, it feels too early to draft a player with increased competition for targets playing with a rookie QB.  I would take Sam in the 7th and pass on Hill in the early 3rd

 

TE

There is a case to be made for Travis Kelce going as the first TE off the board.  Over the last two seasons, Kelce has out produced Gronkowski in several statistics.  Granted, a lot of this is because Gronkowski can’t stay on the field, but seriously though, do we have any reason to believe this trend won’t continue?  Kelce catches far more balls than Gronk and this should be considered if you’re playing in a PPR format, but Gronk catches the TD’s and the deep passes.  Gronk is a player than can win you your week or your league and Kelce is consistent producer on a winning team.  The upside of Gronkowski still gives him a slight edge over Kelce as the top TE in football

Take Away’s 

The fantasy impact of players like Kelce, Hunt, Watkins, and Hill rest on the strong right arm of Patrick Mahomes.  

Andy Reid believes in Mahomes, Vegas believes in Mahomes, and you should too.  The upside of what this kid can do makes all of the fantasy options values at their current ADP with the exception of Tyreek Hill.  

The Los Angeles Chargers Team Preview by Garret Grev

The San Diego Chargers…sorry. This is going to take a couple years. Ahem. 

 

The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t have a great 2017 season. They got off to a rough start. The best thing to come out of their first four games was more GIF material thanks to quarterback Phillip Rivers’s facial expressions. I’d like to personally thank Phil for providing me the perfect material to send to co-workers when I’m annoyed, frustrated, or let down by other’s performance or messed up situations. 

 

Going 0-4, with a less than packed stadium, was not exactly the start the franchise was looking for upon relocation. There may have been a little solace in the fact that three of those games came down to a field goal or less, but a loss is a loss is a loss. The Chargers got their stuff together eventually, but it was too little too late as far as the playoffs were concerned. They wrapped the season at 9-7, but their divisional record kept them home watching other teams from the AFC play in their place in December. 

 

So why, pray tell, have NFL experts and our own Nick Busch been so bearish on the Chargers for 2018? Simply put, they are a better team than their last season record would leave you to believe. The team won the 6 of their 7 last games. Veteran QB Rivers had a particularly strong campaign for fantasy, tying Tom Brady and Russ Wilson for percentage of top 12 finishes at the position. The have a strong o-line that projects to improve in 2018. Vegas loves them for the division and, as evidenced by Nick, they are on more than a few prediction lists for the Super Bowl. 

 

Quarterback

Philip Rivers enters his 14th NFL season as the 12th QB getting taken off the board with an ADP in the 120’s. In a world where the top quarterbacks get taken off the board IN THE THIRD ROUND this simply should not be possible. We already mentioned his consistency last season sharing the most consistent QB1 honors with Brady and Wilson who are going in the 6th and 5th rounds respectively. Rivers is a fantastic late round QB option and, just like Big Ben, he’s a perfect example why you need to wait on quarterback. Odds are Melvin Gordon gets more involved in the pass game but we would have rather seen the targets going to a health Hunter Henry from a scoring standpoint for Rivers. 

 

Running Back

You might remember Austin Ekeler, the change of pace back who was starting to hit his stride before breaking his hand late in the season. Fine, but are familiar with Justin Jackson or Russell Hansbrough? Yeah, we thought so. 

 

Melvin Gordon is going to be the only show in town for the Chargers,  making him worth his late first round draft day price tag. Gordon has paid off big for his fantasy owners in each of the last two seasons, finishing as a top 6 back in PPR leagues. He is a volume monster and gets top 5 level touches per game while staying on the field for the vast majority of the teams offensive plays. Gordon is a back with no real competition at his position, making him a trust worthy option and a good example of avoiding risk in the first round. 

 

Ekeler will again serve as a change of pace back and probably get some 3rd down work, but doesn’t present a challenge to Gordon anywhere near the level of making this a timeshare situation. The other RB’s on the squad are purely depth plays barring injury.

 

Wide Receiver

So…how about that Keenan Allen? Allen finally played his first full season in his entire career in 2017. More impressively, he caught 100 balls and ended the year as the WR3. They crazy thing about this is he only scored 6 touchdowns! That’s a number we expect Allen to improve upon in the upcoming campaign. Players need to remember that the first half of the season last year was fairly mediocre, but the Chargers figured out what to do with Allen and defenses had a very hard time covering him through the back half. Impressive stuff. With a price tag in the first half of round two we say go grab Keenan Allen. 

 

Mike Williams was a top pick in last year’s NFL draft but he never had the chance to pay off for the team due to a back injury. Williams is healthy for his sophomore debut and will almost assuredly be much more involved. Williams is also probably going to get more looks in the red zone, when involved, due to Hunter Henry’s absence. 

 

The same can be said of Tyrell Williams, probably more so than Mike. Tyrell had a solid 2016 season filling an expanded role with Keenan Allen was injured. Unless you owned him that year you probably don’t realize that he finished as a top end WR2. Also like Mike, he was a top First Round NFL draft pick, and in his third year in the league, it’s a fair bet that the Chargers will be looking to get him involved as it relates to their future plans. 

 

We expect this ball to stay fully in Allen’s court, with this wide receiver corps brothers looked at WR4 type numbers. 

 

Tight End 

Well, it’s officially the worst kept secret in the NFL that Antonio Gates will resign with the team and continue his hall of fame career. Not many site's get that kind of inside information straight from Gate's supposed agent at the gym (see episode 3 of the podcast for me details!) Until that’s official, the lead Tight End in this offense is former Bronco Virgil Green. Green has never been a standout TE, and he’s never scored more than two touchdowns in a single season. Unless Gates is brought back from retirement as expected, you’d be best to avoid the position with this team. 

 

Take Away’s 

Phillip Rivers in a great late round QB and exactly the type of player we target when waiting on the position. 

Melvin Gordon is consistent producer and his inefficient YPC should scare you away

Keenan Allen is a wider receiver you want on your team.