IDP Fantasy Preview: AFC West

IDP Fantasy Preview: AFC West

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IDP Fantasy Preview: AFC West

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Every year there are new faces in new places – not just players, but coaches too.  With those changes come scheme changes, and value changes with regard to fantasy football.  Which is why drafting off stats from the previous year isn’t a wise thing to do. However, reading each divisional IDP preview update would be a wise thing to do. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at gallo@thehuddle.com or find me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL.

Denver Broncos

HC: John Fox
DC: Jack Del Rio
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No


Defensive Line
Last year between fax-gate and an impending suspension, the Broncos pass rush looked like it was going to be a major liability. What a difference a year makes. The big addition is DeMarcus Ware landing in Denver where he’ll man the right DE spot opposite of Derek Wolfe. Ware severely underperformed last year but he also battled injuries so his struggles made sense. This year I like Ware, especially with Von Miller getting after the QB with him. With an ADP of DL10 he’s not coming at much of a bargain but he is someone that I think you’ll be able to plug and play week in and week out this year. If you are in a DT mandatory league keep an eye on Sylvester Williams as I expect to see him put up solid fantasy numbers this year.

Linebacker
Last year the Broncos found out they’d be without Von Miller to start this season due to a league imposed suspension. This year they’ll be without WLB, Danny Trevathan until sometime between weeks 4-6. Trevathan suffered a left medial tibial impaction fraction. In layman’s terms…a fractured knee. Reports are that his ACL and MCL are fine. Brandon Marshall, not that Brandon Marshall, is expected to fill in while Trevathan recovers. If you are in need of early season LB help, Marshall is a guy you should be able to pluck off the waiver wire. Miller can be an electric and dominating player, just as he can be in fantasy, but the biggest issue with him is inconsistency. Unless you’re in a big-play or best-ball league, I’d avoid him.

Secondary
The Broncos didn’t just add talent to the DL this year, they also added veteran Aqib Talib to their secondary. Don’t look for Talib to be fantasy relevant. However, his presence should be a slight boon for Chris Harris. Harris suffered a torn right ACL against the Chargers in the playoffs last year but he is on pace to be ready for week 1. In CB mandatory leagues he has top-10 CB upside with Talib playing across from him. Another addition to the Broncos’ secondary is former Browns safety, T.J. Ward. Ward finished as DB56 last year, but he’s sporting an ADP of DB6. As far as value goes he’s a poor one in drafts. I do think he’ll put up solid numbers, but DB is a deep position and I’d rather not reach for Ward.

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Kansas City Chiefs

HC: Andy Reid
DC:  Bob Sutton
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: No


Defensive Line
Fantasy wise, there’s no value to be had on the Chiefs DL. Yes, that includes Dontari Poe too.

Linebacker
Derrick Johnson finished as LB9 last year, marking his fourth consecutive year finishing as a LB1. This year, expect more of the same. The one thing that limits Johnson’s fantasy ceiling is playing eight home games at Arrow Head Stadium where the Chiefs’ home stat crew rarely doles out assisted tackles. In big-play and best-ball leagues both Tamba Hali and Justion Houston are must owns, but in tackle neutral/heavy formats their fringe depth at best.

Secondary
Eric Berry finished as DB8 in 2013. Pre-bye he was DB21 and scored in single digits in six of nine weeks. Post-bye he was DB3 and was 6 for 6 on double-digit scores each week. With an ADP of DB4 it looks like people are expecting Berry to pick up where he left off last year. I think it’s totally possible that he does, but turnover at the DB position is high from year to year and if it were me I’d be targeting other positions with where Berry is being selected in drafts. Outside of Berry there’s no one else worthwhile for fantasy purposes in the Chiefs secondary.

Oakland Raiders

HC: Dennis Allen
DC:  Jason Tarver
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No


Defensive Line
With Justin Tuck and Lamar Woodley in tow for the Raiders at their two starting DE positions there should be some decent fantasy value for IDP owners. Neither was being drafted as starting DL but if you want to stream the position each is a candidate to make multiple weekly starts for you.

Linebacker
The big acquisition at LB for the Raiders is rookie Khalil Mack. Mack, like fellow rookie, Jadeveon Clowney, is a difference maker on defense, but for fantasy purposes his upside is limited due to his SLB designation. In dynasty leagues with taxi squads Mack is worth stashing because at some point I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him end up playing DE. At that point his value could easily vault up into the DL1 range. Nick Roach was a solid fantasy option last year, finishing 19th among LBs in fantasy scoring. This year I expect at worst LB3 production with LB2 upside. Considering he’s not being drafted inside the top-40 LBs he’s a nice value play this year. Another value play at LB on the Raiders is WLB, Sio Moore. Moore is someone that has LB3 upside and can be had after 40 LBs are off the board. Moore played in just over 50% of the Raiders defensive snaps last year and if he can push his playing time to 60% he end up a viable fantasy option, especially in deeper leagues.

Secondary
Tyvon Branch suffered a broken leg in week 2 that ended his 2013 season. Branch is 100% healthy and I’m expecting him to fully bounce back to a DB1. With an ADP of DB18 he actually presents nice value for those that hold off reaching for a DB earlier in their drafts. Charles Woodson finished as DB14 last year, but with Branch back on the field I’m expecting a falloff in his fantasy production. DB3 numbers is what I see as a best-case scenario for him.

San Diego Chargers

HC: Mike McCoy
DC:  John Pagano
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: No


Defensive Line
Nothing to see on the Chargers DL for fantasy purposes, and yes, that includes Corey Liuget.

Linebacker
Last year I wrote, “Donald Butler, I can’t quit you” and you know what, I still can’t quit him. Once again, in 2013, Butler missed time due to injury and finished 53rd among LBs in fantasy scoring because of it. Butler played in just under 70% of the Chargers defensive snaps last year. If not for injury that number will be much closer to 100%. HIS PPS (Points/Snap) of .235 would project him to 211 fantasy points in 2014 if he hits 900 snaps played. That would put Butler in the range of a LB2 and if he can get to 1000 snaps a low level LB1 isn’t out of the question. With an ADP of LB30 you can get Butler at a bit of a discount this year. Manti Te’o, sorry but I’m not a buyer of his very limited fantasy upside.

Secondary

At a position that has a ton of turnover, a player like Eric Weddle is unique in that he’s pretty consistent.  Weddle has finished 5th (2013) & 7th (2012) in DB scoring the past two years and since 2008 hasn’t finished any lower than DB26. With an ADP cost of DB5 landing Weddle’s upside and consistency doesn’t come cheap. He’s not in my top-5 but I do have him as a DB1 this year. Fantasy wise, Weddle is all there is to look at in the Chargers’ secondary.

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).

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