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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - AFC West
David Dorey
July 16, 2007

This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2007.

Denver Broncos
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 60 215 1 522 303 58% 4089 13.5 27 20 7 9
2005 56 204 3 464 279 60% 3373 12.1 18 7 20 21
2006 48 130 1 454 256 56% 2995 11.7 20 18 27 16

- While there are no new receivers in the same old scheme, second-year quarterback Jay Cutler needs all the time he can get. Cutler managed to throw for two scores in each of his first four games, but like so many raw quarterbacks, he had problems connecting with his wideouts and relied more on tight ends. It all worked in the end, but for the Broncos to get back to the playoffs this year Cutler's development needs to continue. It will, no doubt, but how quickly will directly impact the fantasy value of Javon Walker in particular. Cutler has the talent, he just needs the experience and should get some significant playing time in preseason games just to move him father down the learning curve. That'll be valuable to help determine what to expect from those Denver receivers this year.


RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 459 2060 4.5 12 84 58 69% 535 5 5 5 13
2005 474 2235 4.7 22 85 58 68% 510 6 3 2 3
2006 426 1887 4.4 10 86 63 73% 385 1 7 17 18

Running Backs
- The normally stout Denver rushing attack took a downturn last year and ended up only middle of the road in total yards and touchdowns from the running back position. Mike and Tatum Bell turned in one of the worst rushing attacks in recent history for the Broncos and that led to Tatum leaving for the Lions and Travis Henry coming to town. Henry is going pretty high in most drafts already, sometimes even top ten. How much playing time the veteran runner will get in preseason games remains to be seen but he should manage to get at least enough to make a very educated decision on him. While the Broncos tried promoting from within since Clinton Portis left, that failed. Now the Broncos have gone outside the team to specifically obtain a running back that can end the RBBC situation of the last couple of seasons. If Henry looks strong in week three when the Browns visit - and he should - then be assured someone in your league will make him a top ten pick. And probably rightfully so. This area has been a weakness for a team that loves to run and Henry is there to make it a strength again.


TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 109 66 61% 805 12.2 7 8 10        
2005 104 60 58% 673 11.2 2 14 22        
2006 82 43 52% 518 12 6 19 13        

Tight Ends
- While the position overall seems to have a down year in most categories, the reality is that Jake Plummer did not use the position much while Jay Cutler used it too much if anything. Of the six touchdowns caught by tight ends last year, five of them came in the final five weeks with Cutler playing and over 200 yards in the final month. Assumedly, Cutler will progressively be weaned from the tight ends and into wide receivers as he continues to grow into the starting role but his chemistry with Tony Scheffler is bound to remain in some measure. Scheffler broke a bone in his foot mid-May but is expected to be available in training camp. Denver also added Daniel Graham and still have Stephen Alexander. Cutler will have plenty of tight ends to use if he chooses, but that's not going to increase this year since it cannot come at the expense of the wide receivers.


WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 314 178 57% 2738 15.4 15 9 13        
2005 272 159 58% 2187 13.8 8 18 28        
2006 281 150 53% 2092 13.9 13 17 18        

Wide Receivers
- Like the tight ends, the wide receivers had two different parts of the season in 2006 when they - and mostly just Javon Walker - were turning in big numbers with Jake Plummer but then took a back season for the final five games with Cutler. Walker needs training camp to mesh better with Cutler and a few preseason games certainly wouldn't hurt either though reasonably Walker won't get overused in meaningless games. Rod Smith returns but he's not even a sure starter this year though training camp should make that clear. It's highly unlikely that Smith remains the full-year starter in any case and in fantasy terms, the best that can happen here is for Brandon Marshall to take the start outright in week one. Training camp is very important for Cutler to get on the same page with these wideouts and regardless what is seen in August, rest assured that Walker and Marshall will figure more heavily into the game plans this year than they did at the end of 2006.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Camp needs to give Cutler confidence throwing to the wideouts and that comes from repetition. This is the primary area of need for Denver to start the season out strongly. Travis Henry will be given the critical eye by most fantasy owners since he is in the best situation of his career. The most important aspect to watch here will be how well Cutler hits his wide outs in preseason games. There are no significant players that are new other than Travis Henry, it's just a case of everyone getting on the same page and expanding the playbook out for Cutler.

Camp starts July 28th; Preseason Games: 1-@SF, 2-@DAL, 3-CLE, 4-ARI


Kansas City Chiefs
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 26 89 0 560 370 66% 4627 12.5 27 17 3 8
2005 37 80 0 507 317 63% 4014 12.7 17 10 5 23
2006 31 65 0 449 272 61% 3243 11.9 18 12 21 20

- Few teams need training camp for their quarterback more than the Chiefs. The departure of Trent Green and the move to more youth in the line-up means that the Chiefs are going to give second-year player Brodie Croyle every opportunity to win the starting job away from career back-up quarterback Damon Huard. Playing in ten games last year, Huard had 1878 yards and 11 touchdowns and did exactly what he was hired to do. But the 35-year old journeyman is the exact sort of player (AKA "old") that the Chiefs are trying to wean themselves from. Croyle must gain the confidence of the Chiefs' coaching staff to become the week one starter. That should be likely to happen but only a good camp and a few preseason games can make it so. The downside here is that regardless of which player becomes the starting quarterback, it was more than a little obvious last year that Herman Edward's new tenure as head coach has ushered in a new era where the Chiefs will play better defense and there will not be as great a need to throw as in years past under Dick Vermeil. Trent Green's numbers plummeted in 2006 here and an inexperienced quarterback like Croyle in this offense hardly promotes confidence that the Chiefs will be top ten in passing any time soon.


RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 451 2069 4.6 31 115 85 74% 827 4 4 2 1
2005 468 2242 4.8 26 101 67 66% 646 4 2 1 2
2006 465 2030 4.4 17 86 53 62% 512 2 4 11 6

Running Backs
- The improved defensive play mean plenty of rushing last year but in reality it wasn't any more than it had been in years past and actually the team rushing rankings fell last year compared to the rest of the league. Granted - Larry Johnson had a tremendous fantasy year but no other runner helped out while LJ was the hardest working tailback in the league. And in history too since his 416 carries blew away the old NFL single season record. What was a little disappointing in fantasy terms was that the yards per carry fell (though still healthy to be sure) and the number of passes to running backs also declined. Throw in that the Chiefs offensive line is likely to be no better than last year and more likely a little worse and this area of supreme strength will have to fight to maintain what happened last year. Having a new quarterback like Croyle could certainly increase the passing to tailbacks as a quick and easy outlet though. What training camp needs to produce here is either Michael Bennett remaining healthy so he can give more support to LJ, or at least having the rookie Kolby Smith show enough skills that he can be relied on if needed.


TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 174 119 68% 1378 11.6 10 1 3        
2005 133 85 64% 985 11.6 2 4 21        
2006 138 92 67% 1072 11.7 8 2 3        

Tight Ends
- After a down year in 2005, Tony Gonzalez improved his touchdowns back up to a more normal five scores after only managing two in 2005. He's been consistent around 900 yards each year and the decline in passing of 2006 did not effect him. With a new quarterback in Croyle likely, Gonzo should maintain his role as a primary receiver since he'll be a big target much closer than any wideout. Nothing needed here in training camp other than give Croyle reps with the stud Gonzo.


WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 268 166 62% 2426 14.6 13 17 17        
2005 273 164 60% 2377 14.5 11 13 21        
2006 226 125 55% 1665 13.3 8 30 28        

Wide Receivers
- While the Chiefs spent three years with great passing numbers overall, they largely went to Gonzalez and the running backs with only Eddie Kennison stepping up as a wide receiver. Even then Kennison was topping out with around 100 yards. But in 2006, Kennison returned to a more typical level for his career when he only had 876 yards and five scores. Samie Parker has never proven to be an adequate #2 and the Chiefs nabbed Dwayne Bowe out of LSU in the draft to become the #2 and eventually the #1 since Kennison is quickly aging. But a Herman Edwards team never has great wide receivers and the presence of Gonzalez makes that even less likely. Training camp will give Bowe his first chance to impress and he was taken with the 1.23 pick to be a contributor this season. Unfortunately he will be learning his job as Croyle is learning his and he is in an offense that won't be setting any passing records (good ones anyway) but they want him to be the man as soon as he can. Training Camp will help determine if 2006 is going to be a productive one for the rookie or just a standard first year for a wideout.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The Chiefs are into a youth movement and getting practice time for Brodie Croyle will be extremely important. Larry Johnson is a lock for being the only running back here to matter but all else will rely on the development of Croyle or if the Chiefs opt to stick with Damon Huard which would likely produce better numbers early in the season. Dwayne Bowe is the one to watch for receivers and he'll really need to shine in order to become a viable fantasy option. It's unlikely to happen, but it is possible.

Camp starts July 26th; Preseason Games: 1-@CLE, 2-MIA, 3-NO, 4-@STL


Oakland Raiders
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 22 61 0 581 330 57% 4019 12.2 24 22 8 11
2005 20 57 1 591 316 53% 3883 12.3 21 14 9 14
2006 40 183 0 481 263 55% 2850 10.8 7 23 30 32

- The new Raiders have tilled the soil and planted Jamarcus Russell, AKA the first pick of the 2007 NFL draft and otherwise known as the planned franchise savior. Russell goes against the recent trend of smaller quarterbacks excelling and big guys just getting hurt since Russell is bigger than any other starting quarterback. There's zero doubt about Russell playing this year and it should be in week one - there's nothing to salvage from last season. A new offensive scheme, all new head coaches and a new rookie quarterback is not what fantasy dreams are made of but it is a necessary step towards where the Raiders want to be - and that's out of the black hole they dug last year.


RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 303 1233 4.1 10 154 116 75% 778 0 31 26 20
2005 337 1261 3.7 10 130 84 65% 683 2 27 25 19
2006 352 1328 3.8 5 80 53 66% 356 0 28 31 30

Running Backs
- Lamont Jordan was a big fantasy surprise in 2005 when he turned into a big-time receiving back but Art Shell thought otherwise and Jordan struggled last year as a runner, mightily so, as he remained in synch with the rest of the offense. Jordan eventually tore his MCL and missed the rest of the year and now in 2007, he returns to find a whole new offense and a backfield mate - maybe two. The Raiders acquired Dominic Rhodes who can work out with the team in training camp and then wave them a find adieu for a month as he serves out his four week suspension for violating the league's drug policy (which is that you are not supposed to take them). But training camp will be critical here to establish what the running game will look like and who will actually participate in it. Unfortunately, this is such a rebuilding year that the roles and responsibilities could well change as the season progresses. No big need to integrate Rhodes into the offense much in training camp when he won't be able to play until week five. The Raiders also made what could be a very shrewd draft pick when they tabbed Michael Bush with the first pick of the second day (4.01). Maybe all that talk about how Bush was not drafted yet made it to the Oakland war room. Of the group, Bush is the most interesting guy in fantasy terms because he's huge (6-3, 253) and was wildly productive in Louisville until he broke his leg to open the 2006 season and ruined what would likely have been a high first round draft selection. Bush is the one to watch in this offense since reports vary on him from being ready for camp to being placed on IR for the year and then showing up in 2008. He certainly had the most success in college of the group. The Raiders will need to establish a running game and while Jordan could produce average numbers here, Bush has the upside for some nicer stats - if he is healthy.


TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 85 49 58% 619 12.6 5 16 17        
2005 89 43 48% 504 11.7 3 22 18        
2006 121 64 53% 724 11.3 3 12 24        

Tight Ends
- The new offense may use tight ends more than in the Raiders' recent past if only because they used their second pick in the draft (2.06) to grab Zach Miller from Arizona State who was not taken for his blocking skills. The Raiders already have Courtney Anderson and Randall Williams (the converted wideout) but using the second pick of a new era says that the team is not willing to stand pat on tight end. And considering the many needs of the Raiders, using that pick says that Miller should get at least some playing time this year. Since new quarterbacks often love their tall, nearby tight ends when they pass, Miller could be a mild surprise but he'll have to work through the depth charts in training camp to get there. Courtney Anderson is a serviceable tight end and Williams is nothing but a receiver, so the best chance here lies in no tight end being a fantasy star this year but Miller is the one worth watching if only for next year.


WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 331 165 50% 2622 15.9 19 11 7        
2005 370 189 51% 2696 14.3 16 6 8        
2006 280 145 52% 1761 12.1 4 26 32        

Wide Receivers
- The good news here is that none of these wideouts will be able to outrun a Russell bomb, but the bad news is that this is not exactly a crew that inspires fear to NFL secondaries. Randy Moss is gone and Jerry Porter has made nice with the Raiders once again. But the depth chart here remains to be determined. Porter seems a lock to start if only because of his experience and past success (well... not counting last year), but beyond him the door is open for someone, anyone to step up and remain healthy. Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel remain and should be in the mix but Mike Williams comes over from Detroit to reunite with his old college coach Lane Kiffen. Knowing the new head coach by first name and having him specifically acquire you is never a bad thing. Of course the entirety of Williams NFL career so far has been a bad thing but it's a new day and a new opportunity. Adding even more to the mix is Travis Taylor who was the top receiver (relative term) in Minnesota last year and the Raiders drafted Johnnie Lee Higgins with their 3.36 pick. That's six different wideouts all competing for playing time and none have that big a lead on another. Let's be realistic here - the Raiders are going to have to throw a lot this year and Russell is so big that he won't go down with the first touch by a defender like Brooks or Walter did last year. There is definite fantasy value here that will not be clear until training camp.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - This is an entirely new offense and a lot of new players in it from last year. Training camp here is critical to get everyone reading the same playbook and determining what the depth charts will look like for all three non-quarterback fantasy positions. Along with Tennessee, training camp is more important here than almost any other team. Jordan needs to show he will keep his starting job but Michael Bush is the one to really watch to see if he can be a factor this year. Zach Miller could be a nice addition as a tight end up but Randall Williams and Courtney Anderson are in the way. And the wideouts all have upside and more than a little risk but at least two of them will have fantasy value this year. And training camp is where that will become apparent.

Camp starts July 26th; Preseason Games: 1-ARI, 2-@SF, 3-STL, 4-@SEA


San Diego Chargers
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 60 123 4 446 287 64% 3468 12.1 29 7 18 6
2005 22 48 1 522 335 64% 3691 11 24 16 12 7
2006 52 63 1 462 285 62% 3391 11.9 22 9 16 12

- The Chargers need to come roaring back in 2007 after squandering a golden opportunity to make noise in the playoffs last January. But - there's a new head coach in town with Norv Turner and that should play well for the offense since that's where Turner's strengths lie. Phillip Rivers had a genuinely impressive first year as a starter and should be better. Training camp is just to get reps in the new offense that shouldn't bee too different anyway.


RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 449 1910 4.3 20 97 75 77% 558 1 7 8 2
2005 434 1949 4.5 21 116 78 67% 525 3 8 5 4
2006 462 2482 5.4 31 110 76 69% 637 3 1 1 1

Running Backs
- LaDainian Tomlinson is probably safe to remain a starter this year. He is also pretty safe in the sense that he won't do anything more in training camp than is minimally required. August will be another chance for Michael Turner to show what he has so he can sign a nice contract in the spring of 2008 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.


TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 145 96 66% 1129 11.8 16 2 1        
2005 160 100 63% 1139 11.4 11 2 1        
2006 141 85 60% 1015 11.9 12 4 1        

Tight Ends
- LaDainian Tomlinson is probably safe to remain a starter this year. He is also pretty safe in the sense that he won't do anything more in training camp than is minimally required. Period.


WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 216 116 54% 1781 15.4 12 28 23        
2005 245 160 65% 2074 13 13 22 17        
2006 214 126 59% 1759 14 9 27 26        

Wide Receivers
- The Chargers let Keenan McCardell go and while he will be replaced initially by Vincent Jackson, the bigger change here will eventually be Craig Davis challenging under performer Eric Parker for a starting role. Davis was the first pick by the Chargers in April (1.30) and is expected to get playing time this year. This will be a different set of receivers than in recent years for the Chargers since Jackson brings more upside to the outside and if Davis can show enough in training camp, he'll likely steal some time from Parker (not that fantasy fans would miss it). The Chargers offense has the best running back and tight end in the NFL but their wideouts have always lagged. There are only so many passes to throw here so it would be a shock if any wideout had a 100 catch year for the Chargers, but 2007 should be an upgrade of sorts and with new players to use, there is optimism that Rivers job gets easier and more productive. Jackson should look good in camp but Davis is the one to watch to see if he can dislodge Parker at any time this year.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The depth chart is pretty set here other than wide receivers. Jackson gets to be a starter for the first time in his career and the #2 is where some mild interest lies. Parker is the obvious front runner to start again this year but the Chargers did not spend their first round pick on a wide receiver because they were happy with Parker. Davis deserves a watch in August.

Camp starts July 23rd; Preseason Games: 1-SEA, 2-@STL, 3-@ARI, 4-SF

Related Articles

State of the AFC East
State of the AFC North
State of the AFC South
State of the AFC West
State of the NFC East
State of the NFC North
State of the NFC South
State of the NFC West
a d v e r t i s e m e n t