Must, Bust, and Lust for the AFC West
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Welcome to the wild wild west, where the Champs are here! There has been an infusion of young talent injected into the AFC West this offseason, which was specifically generated from the NFL Draft. There are plenty of targets to draft this season and a few players to avoid, but overall hopefully this stop on the tour will show fantasy managers that " This is the Way" to a fantasy championship at season's end. Without further ado, here we go!
- The Must: Jerry Jeudy - Oh my, did the Denver Broncos hit the jackpot in the draft. Jeudy fell into the Broncos' lap with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The collegiate phenom from the University of Alabama has been one of the best wide receivers over the last two years. The Crimson Tide product compiled 145 receptions for 2,478 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. Jeudy is an adaptable receiver, that can play on the outside with his 4.45 (40-yd dash) speed, as well as in the slot. There are plenty of targets to be had in the Broncos offense with only Courtland Sutton being a consistent fixture in the target share. Jeudy has an ADP of 118.7 and is WR47 coming off the board. He has the chance not only being WR1 on his own team but if Drew Lock can improve on last season's rookie season Jeudy might have a chance to be a low-end WR2 or WR3 for your fantasy teams this fall.
- The Bust: Courtland Sutton - Though tempted to place Melvin Gordon in this spot due to his price and timeshare with Phillip Lindsay, but Sutton is the one with the dubious honor on the bust list. The wideout had a very nice season last year for the Broncos. He led the Broncos with 124 targets that produced 74 receptions for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. Last season's target share got a little inflated after the Broncos traded away Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers, but is sure to take a serious hit with the arrival of Jeudy, fellow rookie KJ Halmer and the further development of Noah Fant. He is currently WR17 in drafts, with an ADP of 43.7. I would rather have Calvin Ridley, Robert Woods, D.K.Metcalf, or Tyler Lockett that are all going after him in drafts.
- The Lust: Phillip Lindsay - Even though the Broncos signed Gordon this off-season, the third year running back isn't going anywhere. This will be some kind of a timeshare no matter where these two running backs are drafted. Lindsay is still being drafted as an RB3 or RB4 with an ADP of 94. That's currently four to five rounds later than Gordon which is an excellent value. In each of his first two seasons, Lindsay has had two 1,000+ yards rushing campaigns. The running back is also effective in the receiving game averaging 35 receptions a year with a catch rate of 73.7 percent, which is in the top 50 of all pass catchers. Not too shabby of a bargain in the seventh or eighth round.
- Dynasty Nugget: KJ Halmer - Not only did the Broncos add Jeudy in the draft but they selected Halmer in the fourth round. Over his two seasons at Penn State Halmer totaled 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns in 26 games. As an added bonus he's a factor in the return game. In 44 kick-off returns, Halmer's accumulated 1,036 yards while averaging 23.5 per attempt. The wideout will be quite a fixture in Denver's offense as he is rumored to be used in various positions, especially in the slot. Halmer can be drafted in the late second to early third rounds of rookie drafts. Another player to grab in deep dynasty leagues is Albert Okwuegbunam who's an athletic tight end that was Lock's teammate a couple of years ago when they both played at the University of Missouri.
- The Must: Patrick Mahomes - If there is a quarterback that is acceptable to be selected early in fantasy drafts, it is without question Mahomes. The generational talent is worthy of fantasy managers' attention in any draft as he is a difference-maker at his position. Two years ago Mahomes lit up the NFL for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns, which kind of felt like he did it with ease. Even last year when he was touched by the Madden curse by leaving the seventh game of the season early and missing the following two games due to a knee injury, Mahomes still threw for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in nearly 100 fewer attempts from his previous season. The phenom should hover around 300 yards and three touchdowns per contest this season and that friends is a set it and forget player. If Mahomes is still miraculously lingering around in the later second or early third round press that draft button ASAP.
- The Bust: Sammy Watkins - It's very difficult to find a chink in the Cheifs armor, but the ultimate bust in this offense is Watkins. He had an excellent opportunity last season to show the world that he can be an X-factor when Tyreek Hill went down with an injury early in the first game of last season. Watkins teased fantasy owners in that same game that Hill got injured with nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns. After that Watkins dropped a deuce the rest of season by only producing 43 receptions for 475 yards and never returning to the end zone for the rest of the season. Let someone else gamble on Watkins once-promising career with an ADP of 156 and draft Breshard Perriman, Michael Pittman Jr., and Brandon Aiyuk who are all getting drafted after him.
- The Lust: Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Well no-one has seen their ADP rise more this summer than CEH. After Damien Williams decided to opt-out for the season due to COVID-19, Edwards-Helaire has been soaring up draft boards like a SpaceX rocket. CEH got drafted to the best possible situation when the Cheifs drafted him with the last pick of the first round this year. One of the NFL's best offenses plus high draft capital equals RB1 for your fantasy team. The running back blew up in his last season at LSU when he rushed 215 times for 1,414 and 16 touchdowns while grabbing 55 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown. CEH has a current ADP of 16.3 middle of the second round but will be a late first-round pick by the time draft season has concluded.
- Dynasty Nugget: Byron Pringle - The Cheifs are smothered with offensive talent and Mecole Hardman is an obvious dynasty pick but I want to dive a little deeper and mention Pringle. When he had a chance in this offense and was given eight targets in game five while Hill was still out with his injury, Pringle exploded for six receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Let's face it if any player in this offense is given the opportunity they should be able to produce when called upon. Pringle would need some injuries to happen in front of him to become relevant but for now, is a nice stash in super deep dynasty leagues.
Las Vegas Raiders
- The Must: Josh Jacobs - Jacobs was used as the centerpiece of coach Jon Gruden's offense during his rookie campaign. Though he missed three games in his rookie year he still produced like a low-end RB1, as he averaged 14.7 fantasy points per game. Jacobs did indeed prove that he can be a true workhorse by pounding the rock 242 times for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. The running back manufactured with those numbers even with stacked boxes. Now that there are more weapons on offense in the passing game it will only open up more lanes for Jacobs to run through this season. With an ADP of 17 and RB13 off the board, Jacobs will be a fine value in the middle of the second round.
- The Bust: Darren Waller - Waller broke out last season as many experts predicted with a career-year by catching 90 balls for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. The tight end was Derrick Carr's number one option a year ago. After Tyrell Wiliams went down with an injury early in the season, there was no-one that competed with Waller for targets. Waller was targeted 117 times last season with Williams being a distant second with 64. Now enter Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Nelson Agholor, second-year wideout Hunter Renfrow and a healthy Williams and there is no way that Waller will reach that target share this season. You can pass on Waller who currently sits with an ADP of 56 and select Evan Engram who is being drafted almost a round and a half after.
- The Lust: Bryan Edwards - Edwards saw his draft stock take a terrible tumble due to a late-season collegiate knee injury and suffering a broken foot while preparing for the NFL Combine. The former Gamecock compiled 234 receptions for 3,045 yards and 22 touchdowns in four seasons. The Raiders got the first-round talent in the third round. Reports out of camp have Edwards standing out and could be in play for a productive role right from start with the Raiders. The rookie should be in consideration as a late-round flier in deep leagues and definitely be on the watch-list and be on auto-speed dial for shallower leaguers.
- Dynasty Nugget: Lynn Bowden Jr. - Can someone say swiss army knife? Well, that's what Mr. Bowden Jr. is. The rookie running back was used in multiple positions at the University of Kentucky last year. The Wildcats lined-up Bowden Jr. at running back, wide receiver, and even under center as a quarterback. In his final season, Bowden Jr. rushed 185 times for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns, caught 30 balls for 348 yards with a touchdown, and added 403 passing yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He's also a return specialist contributing in both kick-return and punt-return game. Coach Gruden is in his office right now devising different schemes to insert Bowden in. Word out of camp has Bowden even attending quarterback meetings from time to time, so the offensive future of the Raiders might be pretty interesting Las Vegas.
Los Angeles Chargers
- The Must: Austin Ekeler - In PPR leagues Ekeler was fantasy gold last year, despite splitting touches with Melvin Gordon. The running back had an incredible catch rate of 85.2 percent last season. Now he will have all that receiving work for himself, with Gordon moving on to the mile-high city. Ekeler brought in 92 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns last year while rushing for 557 yards and three touchdowns. The work-out warrior is primed for another productive year and should be an easy mid-second round selection for fantasy managers this draft season. His current ADP is 16th overall as RB12. Ekeler is an excellent option for drafters who will be drafting running back robust this year or for someone who took a wide receiver in the first round.
- The Bust: Keenan Allen - What hurts Allen's game the most this year is the departure of Phillip Rivers during the offseason. The old gunslinger mainly only had eyes for Allen in the Chargers offense. Other than the two seasons that Allen played in eight games or less due to injury, he has averaged 134 targets over the other five seasons. Over the last decade Rivers has averaged 567.7 passing attempts. New Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor, has never come close to those passing attempt totals. Taylor's career-high in passing attempts for a season is 436, and he only has three seasons in nine years where he has even attempted at least 380 passes. Just on passing attempts alone as a whole, there will be fewer targets available for Allen. The Chargers defense is rock solid and should keep them in every game this season, so the running game will be key for Lighting Bolts this season. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are being drafted after Chargers WR1 and are more appealing options than Allen
- The Lust: Joshua Kelley - The rookie from UCLA is currently battling Justin Jackson in training camp for back-up honors behind Ekeler. In two season playing in the Pac-12 for the Bruins, Kelley produced 2,303 yards on 454 attempts and 24 touchdowns in 22 games. With those numbers, Kelley proved he can be a bell-cow back if needed and will have a role for early-down work. Kelley opened training camp with the third-stringers but by week's end was already taking reps with the first team. The rookie running back can be taken in the double-digit rounds and might be a nice lottery ticket that can pay huge dividends on the way to a championship.
- Dynasty Nuggett: Justin Herbert - The Chargers' future starting quarterback is already waiting in the wings. Herbert was selected sixth overall by the Lightning Bolts in the 2020 NFL Draft. With stopgap quarterback Taylor already entrenched as the opening day starter for the Chargers, this could be a sit and learn year for young Herbert. The rookie quarterback compiled 10,541 career passing yards and 95 touchdowns for the Oregon Ducks over four seasons. Herbert was expected to leave school early in 2019 but decided to stay for his senior season and it appears that it paid off with high NFL draft capital. Expect Herbert to be inserted at some point this season. Herbert should be drafted in the late first round of super-flex rookie drafts or in the second to the third round of rookie drafts this season for QB needy fantasy teams. When Herbert is finally thrust into action at least he will have plenty of weapons to work with.
The next stop on the tour will be the NFC East.
For ADP determination: Fantasy Pros ADP
NFL Stats: Pro Football Reference
College Stats: Sports Reference CFB