AFC West Fantasy Outlook

August 27, 2020

They gave the Broncos fan the AFC West to attempt breaking down the fantasy outlook for 2020. Always remember – I’m just giving you my opinions. Enjoy the ride.

Kansas City Chiefs

Player I’m Drafting: Travis Kelce.

While I’m usually a “punt tight end” kinda gal, if I’m sitting just at the right spot in a draft that I can snag Kelce, I’ll do it every time. In redraft, this sweet spot is around the 2.12/3.01 turn. We’re talking about a tight end that has a chance to be the number one in targets for the generational talent that is Patrick Mahomes. According to Player Profiler, Travis Kelce is the number one tight end in the following categories: targets, receptions, receiving yards, completed air yards and fantasy points per game. Kelce was the most targeted Chief in 2019, leading the way with 136 passes coming his way. The two closest to him were Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill with 90 and 88 targets, respectively. Hill missed some time in 2019, certainly hurting his target share total, but word from camp is that Hill has again tweaked his hamstring. Hamstring injuries are notoriously finicky. It isn’t out of the realm of question that Kelce is once again the most targeted player on the high-scoring KC offense.

Player I’m Avoiding: Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Hear me out before you all start yelling at me. CEH is a dynamic running back that landed the prime team for his skill set. Couple that with Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 season due to the unknowns of COVID-19, CEH should see plenty of field time and touches to produce high fantasy production. That being said, his ADP has gotten absolutely out of hand. Some of the running backs I’d take over Edwards-Helaire in redraft that are currently going after him, according to FantasyPros, are Kenyan Drake, Josh Jacobs and Aaron Jones. I know rookie fever can take over, but when that’s the case – give me proven talent over potential touches every day.

Sleeper:

Mecole Hardman. His target share is, well, to put it frankly – atrocious. In 2019 he was thrown to only 41 times. He never saw more than six targets a game, and both times he did see six was because Tyreek Hill was sidelined. What Hardman did with those targets, though, is the impressive part. In the weeks Hill missed, Hardman produced: six targets for four receptions and a touchdown, five targets for two receptions and a touchdown, a down week of five targets for two receptions and zero touchdowns with only nine yards this particular week, and six targets for four receptions and 79 yards; 16.1, 18.4, 0.9, and 11.3 fantasy points, respectively. The thing about Mecole is his touchdown upside. He’s liable to break off for a touchdown anytime he gets the ball. If he sees an uptick in targets this year, he could be capable of being a WR3 or flex spot player for your fantasy teams.

Bust: All I can think to say here is if Tyreek Hill’s hamstring injury sidelines him for too long, draft capital could have been wasted on him. But I’m not calling him a bust, so put away your torches and pitchforks.

Denver Broncos

Player I’m Drafting: Courtland Sutton.

Courtland has done everything to prove he is a fantasy WR1. He’s undoubtedly the number one wide receiver on the Denver Broncos. Even with the addition of Jerry Jeudy, Sutton is the guy in Denver. He does it all – separation, contested catches, drawing pass interference. Sutton put up fantastic numbers in 2019 despite playing with three different quarterbacks. Should Drew Lock pan out, the connection and chemistry between him and Sutton should only grow. Sutton saw double-digit fantasy points 10 games last year. Now that Jeudy has joined the wide receiver room, defenses will have to pay attention to him, thus leaving Sutton with plenty of one-on-one opportunities to take advantage of.

Player I’m Avoiding: Drew Lock.

Let me be clear – this is strictly for redraft. Broncos Country: Please don’t be mad at me. Lock brought a lot of excitement to the end of last season. Broncos fans, myself included, are ready to believe again. However, the sample size we got from Lock on a fantasy level last year was minimal. I am wholeheartedly looking forward to being wrong on this take. Lock was given weapons all over the place this offseason. The team around this kid should fuel his success – he’s got no excuses. When it comes to redraft, though, there are a handful of quarterbacks who have proven themselves. Especially in one quarterback leagues, give way to proven talent and if, (hopefully when), Drew starts lighting it up, snag him off waivers if necessary for a plug and play.

Sleeper: Phillip Lindsay.

I know, SHOCKER. This comes down to character. Lindsay is not going to roll over and submit. He is a beast, he’s got a chip on his shoulder and more to prove than most, if not all, Denver Broncos. The Colorado Kid continues to impress, and we keep tossing him by the wayside. Lindsay has the patience it takes to break off double-digit runs, bounces off big boy collapses and can be slick in between tackles. As I state below, I don’t think the difference in Gordon and Lindsay’s touch share is as drastic as ADP suggests.

Bust: Melvin Gordon III.

I’ve made my stance on this already, but I can always keep talking. I simply cannot stomach MelGo at his current ADP. “Denver paid him,” “he’ll be the goal-line back,” “he’s a pass-catching running back” – I know. I just don’t see Gordon and Lindsay’s touches having a huge gap between them. Based on the reality that Lindsay has now had two consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons and the coach talk from Vic Fangio coming out of camp that they’ll be sharing the lead running back role, the touch percentage looks a lot like 55-45%. The gap between Gordon and Lindsay in ADP is too large. I still see a PPR world where Lindsay finishes ahead of Gordon in fantasy points, so I can’t bring myself to touch Gordon at his current value.

Los Angeles Chargers

Player I’m Drafting: Austin Ekeler.

For starters, in 2019, Ekeler only had one game where he didn’t produce double-digit fantasy points. His pass-catching ability is what ultimately tips the scale in favor of drafting Ekeler. We’ve all seen the offseason photos of Ekeler (if you haven’t, please search those out), he looks built and ready. With the Melvin Gordon days behind the Chargers, Ekeler is primed for the RB1 spot. When Gordon sat out from the Chargers at the beginning of 2019, Ekeler was electrifying. Through the four games that Gordon sat out, Ekeler put up an average of 26.75 fantasy points per game. Redraft leagues should be all over this cat, his potential for 2020 is astronomical for an arguably low ADP.

Player I’m Avoiding: Tyrod Taylor.

There’s not a whole lot for me to say here. Ideally, TyGod starts all season so Justin Herbert can learn the ropes. There’s no guarantee that happens, though. In all likelihood, we could see Herbert by halfway through the season. Taylor has the ability to game manage, but one mistake too many, and he’s liable to get benched in favor of the rookie. While Herbert has much to hone in on in the skills department, giving the rookie playing time could take priority.

Sleeper: Mike Williams.

This one comes with a little footnote. Williams’ separation is less than ideal, and Tyrod Taylor isn’t known for throwing into tight windows. BUT Williams’ yards per reception and yards per target are ranked #2 and #5 among wide receivers, respectively. His average target distance of 17.4 ranks first in wide receivers. If Williams can give confidence to whomever the quarterback is, be it Taylor or Herbert, to throw in tight windows, Williams could blow his ADP out of the water. Of course, after writing this particular section, news out of camp is that Williams has sprained his shoulder. Not ideal as he may miss the first few games to start the season, but I’m not worried enough to back down.

Bust: Hunter Henry.

It’s as simple as this – all of the Chargers pass-catchers should have seen a dip in ADP this year. Phillip Rivers and his heavy bottom lip have taken themselves to Indianapolis, and the Chargers look to be honing in on a run-heavy offensive on the back of Austin Ekeler. Henry could still produce this season, but drafted at his ADP of TE7 (FantasyPros), Henry is subject to underperform his draft capital in 2020.

Las Vegas Raiders:

Player I’m Drafting: Josh Jacobs.

Firstly, JJ’s ADP is criminally low for PPR Redraft. He’s currently being drafted as the RB12. The list of running backs going before Jacobs that I’d pass on in favor of him, according to FantasyPros: Joe Mixon, Miles Sanders, Nick Chubb, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The recent signing of Theo Riddick does not shake my belief in Jacobs. It’s impossible not to root for the guy who has overcome so much to get to where he is. Some JJ metrics to help persuade you – he finished 3rd in runs over 15 yards, 7th in total rushing yards, 11th in red-zone touches at 44, and 8th in evaded tackles with 81. The overall hope is that Jacobs gets used more in the receiving back role this year. If that were to happen, the sky is the limit for this kid.

Player I’m Avoiding: Tyrell Williams.

We’ve now learned Williams has a torn labrum he’s hoping to play through this season. It wouldn’t be the first time this wide receiver played through that particular injury. In fact, it isn’t even the second time. This is the third season in his cumulative college and professional careers he’ll be playing through a torn labrum. The Raiders took this off-season and draft class to amp up their offense. New rookie wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards appear to be performing well at practice and should see instant playing time. I don’t trust Derek Carr to feed a multitude of wide receivers this season, and the easy fade for me is the one who’s injured.

Sleeper: Hunter Renfrow.

Renfrow caught a hot streak in the fantasy community this off-season, but that hype seems to have died down since Bryan Edwards hype took flight. Renfrow’s current ADP is WR72, according to FantasyPros. He’s likely to be on some of your redraft waiver wires this season. In my Cris Collinsworth’s voice: Now, here’s a guy who is headed into year two with the same quarterback and coach. A guy who, at the end of last year, tore it up. Tyrell Williams is now hurt, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards come in as rookies, in an obscure season, and Nelson Agholor is coming into a new team and scheme (plus his issue with actually catching). Renfrow was starting to build that rapport with Derek Carr in 2019, and now he has no choice but to prove it. He should be a solid late-round flyer to plug in during your starting wide receivers’ bye weeks.

Bust: Darren Waller.

For the same reasons Hunter Renfrow is my sleeper, Waller is my bust. He’s currently going in drafts as the TE5, according to FantasyPros. In the second half of the season, when Renfrow wasn’t sidelined with the rib and lung injury, Waller’s fantasy production took a hit. After the Raiders added the two wide-outs in the 2020 draft, I can’t imagine Waller’s targets go up any. Waller could still finish as a top 10 tight end, but when I’m weighing cost with production, I’d rather throw a dart on one of the late-round tight ends.