Ah, the AFC West. One of the more competitive divisions in football, and finally after two duds, some real free agent movement here. Granted, they aren’t all studs, but in case you didn’t hear there is a new quarterback in Denver. Yeah, they decided to make an upgrade from Tim Tebow. Imagine that! There is also one more signing in Denver that could be just as significant and it was a guy who was already on the team. You’ll have to read further to find out who that is. We also have a ton of movement on the offensive side in San Diego, and a crowded backfield in Kansas City. I know, I know, you can’t wait to read this article, so go ahead and dig right into the AFC West.
Drafts are going on NOW!!! Check out our 2012 Fantasy Football Player Rankings today!!
Questions about your pre-draft strategy? Have you drafted already and want advice on your team? You can email me at email@example.com for answers to those questions. You can also hit me up by following me on Twitter @ryanhallamFA or if you just want to read some of my incoherent babbling in 140 characters.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos. It was an epic moment in the history of the NFL when one of the league’s great quarterbacks of all time was available in free agency. Perhaps the only thing more epic was his United Way skit on Saturday Night Live a few years ago, which is pictured here. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and look that up online. Manning missed all of last season with multiple neck surgeries, but I see no reason now why he isn’t fully rested and healthy and motivated and ready to go. I absolutely love Peyton Manning this year as a top five to seven quarterback and with the weapons around him he should have a typical Peyton season. I see no reason why he can’t surpass 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs. This one I’m not quite so sure on. He looked great in the preseason opener and his style complements Jamaal Charles perfectly, but I was just never a fan of Hillis and I’m not sure that I ever will be. The guy is just a straight line runner, no jive, no finesse, and I’m not sure that he has what it takes to survive long term in the NFL. If you have him at your flex that’s not a bad place to play him, but please don’t draft him in the first five to seven rounds or you will be greatly disappointed. He will likely serve goal line duty in Kansas City so his TD numbers stand to be pretty good and he is a decent receiver out of the backfield, but he is just not a player that I feel comfortable putting great faith in.
Robert Meachem, San Diego Chargers. A former first round pick, Meachem has dealt with injury problems throughout his career, but when he has been healthy he has shown flashes of what makes him a very dangerous receiver. Many may think that leaving New Orleans might diminish his fantasy value, but he has found a new home, with an offense with a similar philosophy that loves to pass. Unfortunately for him, this one also has a ton of talented receivers, so a huge breakout is likely not on the horizon. The good news is though that the Lightning Bolts pass enough that chances are he will still score five to seven touchdowns and he is worthy of being a WR3 on your fantasy roster. I really like Meachem and think in the right situation he has a chance of being a high tiered fantasy receiver, but in San Diego I think he will continue to be one of a nice group of receivers.
Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers. Royal broke on to the fantasy scene in 2008 with 91 catches and took the fantasy world by storm. He’s only had 115 catches in the three years since then, and he still hasn’t matched the five TDs he’s had in his rookie season in the last three years combined. I actually like Royal in this situation in San Diego. He looks to be the slot receiver which means he could have a linebacker or safety on him and I’m not sure any of those will be fast enough to keep up with him. If used correctly, Royal could be PPR gold this season, but in standard scoring leagues I don’t think he will catch enough touchdowns. He also needs to stay healthy this season, something he has struggled with lately, but all in all he could be worth a late round flier and a place on your fantasy bench and a bye week replacement.
Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos. He has been far from the picture of consistency in his short NFL career, but Andre Caldwell has had some pretty explosive times in the past couple of seasons. Now, he goes to one of the best passing offenses in Denver with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Demariyus Thomas is going to be the number one receiver in Denver, and it appears that Eric Decker will be second, but I still believe that there will be some room for other receivers to step up, and I do like Caldwell to perhaps make an impact in 2012, especially if there are any injuries to the receivers. He could be worth a late to last round flier and just camp him out on your bench.
Oakland Raiders—Da Raiders went out and bolstered their backup quarterback situation by bringing in former first round draft pick Matt Leinart. I know most of you wrote him off by now or even forgot who he was, but if something were to happen to Carson Palmer (and that is a good chance), Leinart could definitely be fantasy relevant in the offensive scheme in Oakland. Mike Goodson had some good moments in Carolina where he was third on the depth chart in front of two oft-injured runners. He probably remains third in Oakland, and Darren McFadden isn’t exactly known for his durability. Keep Goodson in mind if lighting strikes again in Oakland, and he could get some carries around the goal line even with McFadden around. Lastly, Owen Schmitt came over and should help open holes for McFadden. The fullback had become a lost art in the NFL, but running backs who have had some of these guys who specialize in blocking always succeed. This is a good note for Darren McFadden.
Kansas City Chiefs—There’s a new offensive lineman in Kansas City who hopefully will make running lanes bigger for Charles and Hillis and that is Eric Winston. Winston was a surprising victim of the salary cap in Houston, and now is a happy member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Regarded as one of the best tackles in the league, Winston should have an immediate impact in KC. Behind Matt Cassel is now Brady Quinn as he continues to try to find his way to a team that will give him a chance. Honestly, I’m not much of a Quinn fan as he has looked completely lost and awful any time that he has been given a chance to take snaps. Even if Cassel goes down, I wouldn’t go right out and grab Quinn. Make him impress you first. Lastly, the Chiefs gained some tight end depth when he added Kevin Boss. Boss had a great career with the Giants before seemingly being lost in Oakland. He has good hands and can help the team, provided that they throw him the ball. Tony Moeaki looks ready to return, so Boss’ opportunities may be limited.
Denver Broncos—As if adding Peyton Manning wasn’t enough, the Denver went out and made a handful more moves as well. The most important likely being the resigning of kicker Matt Prater. For all of the attention Tim Tebow received last season, he should be kissing Matt Prater’s ass for all of those long field goals that he hit at the end of games. Prater was money from 50+ yards last year and deserves every dollar he received. Caleb Hainie will backup Manning, and he proved in his limited time with the Bears that he isn’t a scared backup QB, and could be worthwhile if he is pressed into duty. But the Broncos did well at adding some weapons for Manning. They brought in Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen at tight end, either of which could be fantasy relevant, although I give the edge to Tamme if you are looking to draft one. And they also added Jason Hill at wide receiver, who is best known for talking smack with Darrelle Revis last year, but Hill has a little bit of talent. He will be a bit buried on the depth chart to start the year, but if he gets his chance, he is definitely someone to keep your eye on.
San Diego Chargers—Wow, did the Chargers shop around or what?!?!?!?!?! To bolster their running game they brought in Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, and Le’Ron McClain to back up Ryan Mathews. There’s a possibility that McClain could vulture some touchdowns, but it seems like the league is starting to move away from that kind of back. It is more likely that Ronnie Brown would be fantasy worthy in case of injury to Mathews, oh which by the way has already happened! Given the fact that Mathews was going in the top five in many fantasy drafts, Brown becomes a very important handcuff. I see Battle on the depth chart behind Brown, although I’m not sure I could count on Brown to tote the rock 20 times a game if Mathews does miss extensive time. Behind Philip Rivers are now Kyle Boller and Charlie Whitehurst. Forget you read the name Charlie Whitehurst. He will never have fantasy value……..ever. If the NFL consisted of one team and he was the only living quarterback, you STILL shouldn’t pick up Whitehurst. Boller could be a nice pickup if something were to happen to Rivers. He never got the credit he deserved, and with the weapons in San Diego, I think he would be successful. Dante Rosario was brought in as a third tight end, but I think it would be a cold day in hell before he should be on fantasy rosters. Michael Spurlock and Roscoe Parrish were both brought in as well as Meachem and Royal at wide receiver. Parrish could have some fantasy value in leagues that reward for return yards if he does indeed draw those duties, but I don’t see Spurlock contributing enough to make a difference.
Listen to The Fantasy Alarm Show Saturday & Sunday from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST and Wednesday 10:00 PM EST to 1:00 AM EST on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio XM channel 87/Sirius 210.