AFC West Divisional Podcast Recap for 2023 (Fantasy Football)

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Continuing our march through the AFC brings the Ballers to the AFC West. As a reminder, this is a general overview of the teams heading into the 2023 season. Andy, Mike, and Jason discuss the offseason changes to remember for each team (i.e. players, rookies, coaches) and how that could affect the fantasy pieces for the upcoming season.

A reminder that we are up to three shows a week now –  tune into The Fantasy Footballers Podcast on any and all of your devices!

To take an even deeper dive into fantasy players in the AFC West, make sure to check out the full array of the UDK’s tools available to make your fantasy team a champion!

Let’s Get Divisional – AFC West

The AFC West was the offseason hotness in 2022, mainly thanks to big moves made with the Denver Broncos adding Russell Wilson while the Las Vegas Raiders traded for Davante Adams. In fact, there were betting props about all four teams from the division making the playoffs, which seems silly now. Instead, only the Chiefs and Chargers made the postseason while the Raiders and Broncos flamed out.

Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

Player Additions: WR Richie James
Player Subtractions: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Offensive Rookies: Round 2 (No. 55): WR Rashee Rice

2022 Offensive Ranks

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Pace of Play PPG Total Yards Pass Att Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TD
16 1 1 5 1 1 24 20 7

What is there really left to say about the defending Super Bowl champs? Just when many people were willing to hand control of the AFC West to someone else, the Chiefs made a definitive statement in 2022.

Kansas City’s ability to stay competitive every season will always begin with Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes spent a record 15 weeks inside the top 12 of QBs last season aided by his 34 TDs inside the red zone. Any potential drop-off in production for the Chiefs due to trading Tyreek Hill is a thing of the past as long as they have Mahomes healthy.

Possibly the only assured fantasy asset outside of Mahomes for the Chiefs heading into 2023 is Travis Kelce. Kelce was a cheat code in 2022, even with his 1st round ADP, outscoring the overall TE2 by nearly 100 points in half-point formats. 

Unfortunately, this high-powered offense has little certainty outside of the Mahomes-Kelce connection. The RB room is crowded with Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all returning for the Chiefs. Pacheco is the highest draft value fantasy managers have to decide on, currently going in the 7th round of redrafts, but his lack of receiving work is concerning. Meanwhile, McKinnon and CEH seemingly split the receiving work whenever they were both healthy. Fantasy managers will have to decide whether McKinnon’s late-season surge in scoring – he averaged 20.6 fantasy points per game from Weeks 13-17 – is something that will stick around or if Edwards-Helaire can regain his hot start when he was the RB4 through the first month of 2022.

The Kansas City WR room is just as confusing for where fantasy managers should be putting their faith. Much has been made of the 2022 midseason addition of Kadarius Toney, who Jason named as a wildcard just last month. In fact, Caleb Leach argues there’s a path to Toney finishing inside the top 12 WRs this season. However, behind Toney, there are plenty of capable WRs who could prevent the big season many in the fantasy landscape are hoping for. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore return for the Chiefs, while Kansas City spent a 2nd round pick on rookie Rashee Rice. All of these WRs can be grabbed as the WR40 or later in drafts ahead of 2023.

2023 Vegas Projected Win Total: 11.5

Los Angeles Chargers (10-7)

Player Additions: – – – –
Player Subtractions: RB Sony Michel
Offensive Rookies: Round 1 (No. 21): WR Quentin Johnston; Round 4 (No.125): WR Derius Davis; Round 7 (No. 239): QB Max Duggan

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2022 Offensive Ranks

Pace of Play PPG Total Yards Pass Att Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TD
5 13 9 2 3 12 28 30 16

Are fantasy managers ready to be hurt again? We all remember that classic playoff collapse after being up 27-0, right?

The Chargers’ offense left much to be desired from Justin Herbert in 2022, despite having a better outcome on the field and making the playoffs for the first time since 2018. There is optimism around the addition of new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, whose offenses finished 1st and 4th in points scored over the last two years in Dallas. If Herbert can find the magic from his 2021 season when he finished as the QB2 overall, he could be a screaming value as the QB7 off the board currently.

It seems the threat of RB Austin Ekeler moving from LA this season has subsided, so fantasy managers are hoping to run it back again. Ekeler has finished as a top-6 RB or higher in three of the last four seasons, including RB1 and RB2 finishes in 2022 and 2021. Possibly the only concern for fantasy managers investing in Ekeler at his current draft price would be any TD regression that could be coming. Ekeler has scored 25 rushing TDs and 13 receiving TDs over the last two seasons, which is well above the league average.

A bet on an improved season from Justin Herbert has to be a bet on the receiving options for the Chargers as well. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen have been great fantasy options for managers over the last several years whenever they’re on the field. The duo combined for 11 missed games last season, but also combined for 13 finishes in the top 24, including four finishes from Williams in the top 12. The addition of rookie Quentin Johnston could prove to be a valuable stacking piece for Herbert, especially if Allen or Williams misses time again.

We can’t leave out Gerald Everett in the Chargers conversation. Everett was a strong TE option for fantasy managers, finishing inside the top eight of TEs four times. Half of those finishes came when either Keenan Allen or Mike Williams didn’t play and Everett’s production could take a hit with any emergence of Johnston throughout the year.

2023 Vegas Projected Win Total: 9.5

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Las Vegas Raiders (6-11)

Player Additions: QB Jimmy Garoppolo; QB Brian Hoyer; WR Jakobi Meyers; WR DeAndre Carter; WR Phillip Dorsett; TE Austin Hooper; TE OJ Howard
Player Subtractions: QB Derek Carr; TE Darren Waller; TE Foster Moreau; WR Mack Hollins
Offensive Rookies: Round 2 (No. 35): TE Michael Mayer; Round 3 (No. 100): WR Tre Tucker; Round 4 (No. 135): QB Aidan O’Connell

2022 Offensive Ranks

Pace of Play PPG Total Yards Pass Att Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TD
29 12 12 12 11 9 21 17 22

Despite their terrible end to the season, the Raiders’ 2022 offense actually had elite fantasy producers. Las Vegas finished 8th in points per drive and 6th in yards per drive, and return with what PFF ranked as the 10th-best offensive line at the end of the season.

The highlights for fantasy managers are 2022’s WR3 and RB3 that this offense produced in Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. Adams has finished as the WR3 or better in four of the last five seasons with two different starting QBs. Jacobs meanwhile currently hasn’t signed his franchise tag after leading the league in rushing in 2022. The biggest question for both of those players is whether or not they’ll be able to reproduce those results with the change at QB.

In classic Raiders fashion, there is still some uncertainty about whether Jimmy Garoppolo will be playing in the Silver and Black since he still hasn’t passed his physical. There is some familiarity in Josh McDaniels’ system since Jimmy G. was in New England for the first three years of his career while McDaniels was the offensive coordinator. Still, it’s unclear how Garoppolo will translate to Las Vegas, though he has shown the ability to maintain top-24 receiving options during his time in San Francisco.

Outside of Adams, there are some interesting WRs in Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow, both of whom have posted at least a top-30 fantasy finish in the last two years. What’s uncertain is how much production there could be alongside the Raiders’ WR1.

A dart throw at TE may be the Raiders’ rookie TE Michael Mayer. Las Vegas took Mayer in the 2nd round of the 2023 draft. Mayer was viewed by many to be one of the best receiving TEs in this draft class and with little competition in front of him, could be someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

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2023 Vegas Projected Win Total: 7.5

Denver Broncos (5-12)

Player Additions: RB Samaje Perine; TE  Adam Trautman; WR Marquez Callaway; QB Jarrett Stidham
Player Subtractions: RB Mike Boone; RB Latavius Murray
Offensive Rookies: Round 2 (No. 63): WR Marvin Mims

2022 Offensive Ranks

Pace of Play PPG Total Yards Pass Att Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Att Rush Yards Rush TD
9 32 21 16 19 23 18 21 28

Disappointing is the first word that comes to mind for what fantasy managers got out of the Denver Broncos in 2022. Everything that could go wrong for the fantasy options in Denver went wrong. Russell Wilson stunk. Javonte Williams got hurt. A bad offense wasted a dominant defense that held teams to less than 20 points 10 different times in 2022 but had a record of just 4-6 in those games.

Looking forward to 2023, Sean Payton’s addition as head coach symbolizes new life for the fantasy pieces in Denver, and it starts with Russell Wilson. Wilson was terrible in 2022, completing just 61% of his passes with a 3.3% TD rate. The end of the year for Wilson was encouraging when he posted three top-five QB finishes in his last four games. Wilson is currently being drafted in the 11th round so any return to form could pay off for fantasy managers.

One of the biggest questions of the summer revolves around the health of Javonte Williams. Andy and Jason are the highest on Javonte’s return, ranking him at RB32 and RB33 respectively. However, there’s still concern about Williams returning to full strength and Samaje Perine cutting into his workload. Fantasy managers may be willing to bet on either direction for Javonte’s return based on his current ADP of RB26.

Denver’s WR room seems to have a favorite target in Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy made the most of a down season from Wilson and finished as the WR21 in 2022 with three top-15 finishes in three of the Broncos’ last five games. Outside of Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton will be competing with rookie Marvin Mims in what is expected to be an improved passing attack for 2023.

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Maybe the most interesting fantasy option in Denver is Greg Dulcich, who’s been deemed the “Joker” by Sean Payton. Typically this role is filled by an RB or TE to create mismatches on the field. Former “Jokers” for Payton have included Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles and Alvin Kamara. This makes Dulcich an interesting dart throw as he is currently listed as the TE15 on the board.

2023 Vegas Projected Win Total: 8.5

Ballers Predictions

Andy Jason Mike
Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City
LA Chargers LA Chargers LA Chargers
Denver Denver Denver
Las Vegas Las Vegas Las Vegas

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