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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - AFC West
David Dorey
July 24, 2008
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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.
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Denver Broncos
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 46 211 1 515 326 63% 3759 11.5 21 15 13 15

Quarterback - The Broncos are certainly set at quarterback and now that they understand that Jay Cutler has diabetes, they can treat it with the care it needs. The fact that Cutler was tiring out and losing weight as the season progressed last year is remarkable since the second-year player actually performed rather well. Enough so that his third year is expected to be a big leap up now that his health is back and there is no reason not to expect a better season.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 375 1698 4.5 9 81 59 73% 423 1 11 19 21

Running Backs - As always, welcome to fantasy hell. At least in the sense of trying to correctly pick which running back to draft or start each week. Travis Henry was released after one monumentally bad year and Selvin Young remains as the under-sized starter that the Broncos do not think can carry a full load. That means that new acquisition Michael Pittman will figure in though he is in the waning years of his career and also is not likely to take a full-time load. The Broncos also drafted Ryan Torain and have Andre Hall. Training camp could produce some runner who appears head and shoulders above the others but just remember that the last couple of years started the seasons with either Travis Henry or Mike Bell as the starting running back.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 272 159 58% 2187 13.8 8 18 28
2006 281 150 53% 2092 13.9 13 17 18
2007 333 188 56% 2502 13.3 14 12 16

Wide Receivers - The departure of Javon Walker was amply replaced by a free agent spree which netted Darrell Jackson, Keary Colbert, Samie Parker and Edell Shepherd to add to Brandon Stokley and Glenn Martinez and the rookie Eddie Royal. Complicating matters even more is that Brandon Marshall badly cut his arm in the offseason, has some nerve damage, and he is the main player of interest in training camp. Marshall had a breakout season in 2007 and has great chemistry with Cutler. Training camp is very important to determine who the #2 is going to be - early reports have Colbert in the lead as remarkable as that is - and that Marshall has not lost anything to his injury. Cutler is a good and improving quarterback and these wideouts will produce some fantasy points.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 104 60 58% 673 11.2 2 14 22
2006 82 43 52% 518 12 6 19 13
2007 109 81 74% 891 11.0 8 7 8

Tight Ends
- For the second year in a row, Tony Scheffler has battled foot injuries though this year he is expected to be in camp as opposed to 2007 when he was nursing a broken foot for all of August. But he did return to play well enough to rank in the top ten in yards and scores among NFL tight ends.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The Broncos will actually have one of the more closely watched training camps since there is so much to see and prove. Cutler now is treating his diabetes while Brandon Marshall has some nerve damage to his arm. Both players can calm fantasy fears by being healthy in camp. The running backs as always are of interest and mainly from what Torain can do. With some big preseason games, he could really help screw up any forecasting of the Denver backfield. And no less important is finding a #2 wideout who may be Keary "you gotta be kidding me" Colbert. Lastly, can Scheffler stay healthy? Every fantasy position in Denver has some questions to answer in camp. They even have a new kicker after 15 years - when Elam drove to his first training camp in Denver, gasoline was only $0.98 per gallon.

Kansas City Chiefs
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 16 17 0 562 335 60% 3525 10.5 17 20 19 24

Quarterback - In two years under HC Herman Edwards, the Chiefs passing offense has fallen on hard times. The departure of Trent Green in 2007 was never compensated for by either Brodie Croyle - who they wanted to step up and didn't - or by Damon Huard who ran the offense far better than Croyle but he's too old to be considered as the future. This year training camp will likely make Croyle the starter again because that is who the Chiefs want to win the job though Tyler Thigpen is also in the mix. Standing in the background is Huard who could easily end up stepping in during the season again this year. The passing game is surprisingly sub-par given that Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe bring so much to the table. The offensive line also did no favors in protecting the quarterbacks last year.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 339 1159 3.4 6 93 63 68% 407 1 32 32 30

Running Backs - Larry Johnson is supposedly completely recovered from his fractured foot bone that robbed him of half of the 2007 season but the reality was that Johnson was not particularly effective before the injury. There were major problems with an offensive line that no longer is stocked with Pro-Bowlers and the team that ranked #1 in rushing yards and #2 in rushing scores just two seasons previous ended up 32nd - the worse in rushing yards and 3rd worst in TDs. There are dives off the high board and then there is the demise of the rushing game in Kansas City. Kolby Smith did not prove to be any savior last year so the Chiefs drafted Jamaal Charles who will almost certainly take the #2 spot by the end of training camp. The new offense under Chan Gailey will want to establish the run of course and will likely use more relief work by Charles to keep Johnson fresher. The days of 350+ carries by Johnson are likely over.

Johnson remains the unquestioned starter but Charles could work his way into some significance with a good camp and in doing so devalue Johnson more than the offensive line problems already have.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 273 164 60% 2377 14.5 11 13 21
2006 226 125 55% 1665 13.3 8 30 28
2007 240 135 56% 1707 12.6 8 29 28

Wide Receivers - The Chiefs wide receivers may have produced some of the lowest numbers of any NFL team but it is far worse than that. There was the rookie Dwayne Bowe who caught 70 passes for 995 yards and five scores and then four other wide receivers COMBINED for just 65 catches and 712 yards with three touchdowns. Jeff Webb was tops with only 28 catches for 313 yards. Those are tight end numbers from a team that doesn't like their tight end. The lack of a strong quarterback spells a disaster for this group and spawns the question - "how good would Bowe have been on a good passing offense?" The Chiefs have brought in Devard Darling as the most likely #2 despite his four seasons in the NFL only totaling 20 catches for 331 yards. This has "Bowe and no one else" written all over it. Will Franklin was drafted with the 4.06 pick and has some promise, but mainly because there is so little potential in the rest of the non-Bowe wideouts.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 133 85 64% 985 11.6 2 4 21
2006 138 92 67% 1072 11.7 8 2 3
2007 207 125 60% 1361 10.9 6 1 11

Tight Ends
- Tony Gonzalez turns 32 this year but he led the team with 99 catches last year - the second best showing of his long career. The biggest problem the Chiefs have to face is that their best receiver is an aging tight end who managed to lead the NFL in tight end yardage last year but who had almost all his good games playing with Huard - not Croyle. No reason to expect to see much of Tony in August since he shouldn't be exposed to any unnecessary risks but he is going to have to learn the new offense being installed by Chan Gailey.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Installing a new offense is always a chore and on this team it may be nearly insurmountable. There is no starting quarterback yet other than the team wanting (still) for Croyle to turn into something he hasn't been. The best receiver is a tight end who turns 32 this year and there is apparently no wideout beyond Bowe of note. Will Franklin is worth a watch if only because he has not yet proven to be sub-standard. Lastly, the offensive line has to come together better and give Larry Johnson more room to run. But the glory days of leading the league in rushing is a very tiny dot in the rear view mirror. And it is only getting smaller.

Oakland Raiders
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 54 187 3 450 260 58% 2893 11.1 17 20 29 25

Quarterback - This will be a very important training camp. JaMarcus Russell takes the reins this year and will need all the time he can get with his offense - both in camp and more importantly in preseason games. After the last two seasons, the bar has been set pretty low for him to exceed his predecessors and the team horribly overpaid Javon Walker to be the #1 wideout and somehow erase the memory of watching Randy Moss setting the NFL scoring record in his first season out of Oakland. Remember too that Russell did not sign until the regular season started last year so this is his first training camp.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 448 1887 4.2 8 121 89 74% 671 1 6 7 22

Running Backs - The Raiders - at least on paper - have a very formidable stable of runners this year. Justin Fargas was a pleasant surprise last year when he played all the way to week 15 before getting his normal season ending injury. He was re-signed and would be expected to resume his role except for two factors - Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. Bush was allowed to season on the bench last year as he recuperated from a badly broken leg in college and the Raiders expect him to turn into a 245 pound wrecking ball in short yardage. Darren McFadden won the Doak Walker award for the last two years as the best running back in college and now brings his speed and open field magic to Oakland. There is the potential for a very good rushing attack here - very good. The offensive line has improved and now has three runners who can all contribute.

Camp will be useful to see McFadden and Bush actually playing, but the ratio of sharing will be conjecture. Bottom line is that the Raiders did not draft McFadden without the intention of getting all they can from him. They just need August to determine what that will be.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 370 189 51% 2696 14.3 16 6 8
2006 280 145 52% 1761 12.1 4 26 32
2007 225 112 50% 1586 14.2 12 30 20

Wide Receivers - The Raiders showered Javon Walker with money during the offseason and he rewarded their faith by getting rolled in Vegas. Walker is said to be good to go for training camp but he has a long way to earn the guaranteed $16 million of his contract. Ronald Curry will be the starting flanker and he too is returning from surgery to remove a bone spur. Jerry Porter has left so the Raiders should be clear of malcontents at least until they can produce a new batch. The offense is in its second season under Greg Knapp but with a new quarterback and #1 wideout, there is plenty to work on in camp. There could be some fantasy value here, but that all depends on how quickly Russell develops.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 89 43 48% 504 11.7 3 22 18
2006 121 64 53% 724 11.3 3 12 24
2007 81 52 64% 546 10.5 4 19 23

Tight Ends
- While the Raiders did not rank highly in tight end production last year, there is plenty of reasons to expect an improvement this year. In the final two games of 2007 when JaMarcus Russell played, he connected with the rookie Zach Miller 11 times. Most tight ends break out in their second season and most first year quarterbacks love to rely on their tight ends. With a rushing game that should be respected, there is every reason to expect that Miller will improve and the only question is how much?

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - This is a camp that has JaMarcus Russell finally getting some playing time as the starter since he missed camp last year. Darren McFadden brings what should be an exciting weapon to the offense and Michael Bush will finally get a role. Add in a new receiver corps with Javon "my mother gave me that watch" Walker and there is plenty to track in Oakland this year. IN fantasy terms, the most important is McFadden as a runner and a receiver and how well Walker appears to fit in.

San Diego Chargers
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 40 26 1 470 280 60% 3158 11.3 21 16 26 16

Quarterback - The first year with Norv Turner and Philip Rivers had a near mirror season to 2006. His rankings fell thanks to other quarterbacks getting hot in 2007 but Rivers just replicated his first year as a starter. The addition of Chris Chambers in week seven had a positive effect to the wideouts but it just came at the expense of Gates and Tomlinson. Nothing was really added in this offense that scores very well and then bombs in the playoffs. In fairness, Rivers is coming back from a torn ACL and is ahead of schedule in his recovery. Training camp should prove that he is 100% again.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 440 1987 4.5 18 120 83 69% 550 4 4 8 1

Running Backs - LaDainian Tomlinson returns from his strained knee of 2007 that ended his season with a whimper and still at the age of sub-30, he is on a mission this year knowing that his window is likely to close within a few seasons or so. Michael Turner has left for Atlanta and training camp will help determine if the rookie Jacob Hester or Andrew Pinnock will be the #2. Tomlinson has won the rushing yard title for two years in a row and wants to make it three.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 245 160 65% 2074 13 13 22 17
2006 214 126 59% 1759 14 9 27 26
2007 401 210 52% 2940 14.0 12 7 19

Wide Receivers - The addition of Chris Chambers helped this unit to finally produce at least to the level of most teams (of course most teams do not feature the #1 RB and TE in the league). More than anything, Chambers ruined what was hoped to be a breakout season for Vincent Jackson who ended with only 623 yards and three scores. This unit will never be a top producer thanks to other weapons but at least the addition of Chambers has boosted the numbers. Most encouraging was that Chambers was at his best in the playoffs where he averaged 93 yards per game and scored once. No changes here this year other than Chambers should be even more comfortable.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 160 100 63% 1139 11.4 11 2 1
2006 141 85 60% 1015 11.9 12 4 1
2007 132 85 64% 1070 12.6 10 5 4

Tight Ends
- While Antonio Gates never missed a game last year, he played with an injured toe that left him with one of his worst seasons in the NFL. Still better than all but a few, but a disappointment nonetheless. And that could continue since the status of his toe remains up in the air and he may not be ready by the start of the season. Sadly it will be hard to gauge since they will not expose him to any undue risks and he already knows the offense. Gates needs to reclaim his title as tight end uber-stud but he needs a healthy toe to get back.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - More than anything, this training camp is needed just to ensure that everyone is back healthy this year since Rivers, Tomlinson and Gates all ended 2007 with various ailments. Not much will come out of camp that is notable other than Jacob Hester needs to show that he is worthy of being the #2 running back and Gates needs to be healthy. But that will not be answered in August, at least not fully.

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