The AFC West is quite possibly the most revamped division in the entire NFL. The division has the most star power at QB and should be one of the most competitive. Going from the AFC South last week to breaking down this division was a nice palate cleanser. It’s likely the AFC West has at least two teams representing it in the playoffs this season. With all of this star power, there are bound to be undervalued and overvalued players. Let’s see how this division shakes out.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will have a lot of new faces at wide receiver, but this offense should be just fine. The division got much tougher with the additions of Russell Wilson in Denver, Davante Adams in Las Vegas, and Khalil Mack in Los Angeles. Kansas City winning the AFC West for the 7th straight season is not a foregone conclusion. However, they still have plenty of fantasy assets worth covering.
Travis Kelce (14th Overall, TE1)
Not many places to go but down from number 1 at your position. While Kelce finished last year as the TE2, he didn’t disappoint you if you drafted him at the back end of the first. In fact, if you drafted him near that position since the Chiefs run of dominance in the division began, you would be just fine. Kelce was the TE1 every season from 2016 – 2020. But he turns 33 this season and usually that’s when players start to show their age, if they haven’t already. That’s the thing – he hasn’t shown his age yet.
Kelce is an absolute outlier at the position and I could see him being the top TE for the next 5 years somehow. But if I had to make a decision between him and Mark Andrews this season, I would pick Andrews to repeat as the TE1. Building around tight end is not something I want to do this season with the plethora of good RBs & WRs at the round 1/2 turn, so at this ADP I am passing on Kelce.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (76th Overall, WR32)
The good news: Patrick Mahomes has never had his top WR finish outside the top 12 at the position (except in 2019 when Tyreek Hill got hurt and only played in 12 games). The bad news: JuJu is not Tyreek Hill. But I don’t think he has to be in order to return value at this draft slot. The Chiefs lost 340 targets last season, good for second-most in the NFL. There will be a lot of love to go around. Those targets coming from one of the best quarterbacks on planet Earth certainly doesn’t hurt. All JuJu has to do is beat out Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Mecole Hardman, which should not be hard. While you have to pay up a bit, JuJu is the safest option at WR to draft for the Chiefs.
Plus, Jackson Mahomes and JuJu have most likely been doing some siiiick TikToks together, so he’s probably been hanging out with his QB more. Is it this year’s version of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp’s breakfast dates?
Las Vegas Raiders
Remember that crazy Sunday night game to end the season? Hard to forget if you’re a Chargers fan. Sorry. The Raiders definitely improved their offense with the acquisition of Davante Adams and hiring of Josh McDaniels. Well… assuming his stint in Vegas goes better than his last attempt at a head coaching gig did in Denver. He went 11-20 and was fired half way through his second season. But that was a decade ago. I mean the Raiders still played on a baseball field in Oakland back then!
Josh Jacobs (44th Overall, RB21)
I don’t think I’m more “out” on any other running back this season. Josh Jacobs was RB14 last year in half point PPR scoring which is fine, because he was drafted as the RB17. Beat his ADP, which is what I’m trying to find in this series. He was a top 24 RB in 80% of the games he played in. He’s still just 24 years old! His offense should be even better this season with the additions they made. So why am I out on Jacobs?
Because he hates fantasy football! Just kidding, that’s not why. The peripherals are what scares me away. The Raiders did not exercise his 5th-year option. Kenyan Drake missed half of last season with an ankle injury and should be back this season. Vegas drafted two running backs in May. The team brought in a true alpha number 1 in Davante Adams and Ameer Abdullah who looks primed to fill that James White role from the McDaniels offense. All of these factors heading into this season means less targets for Jacobs. He will have to rely on running the ball efficiently and touchdowns. The only problem with that is the Raiders project to have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL this season. In this range I can’t bring myself to take Josh Jacobs.
Derek Carr (102nd Overall, QB14)
This is mostly because I am obligated to write a name for this section and the Raiders offense should see an uptick in 2022. It’s important to note that Carr has never finished as QB12 or better in his career. But he has never had this much talent around him. His lack of rushing limits his upside and really puts stress on those passing numbers. However, he is more than capable of putting up those numbers in what should be a high scoring affair most weeks his team plays another AFC West team. The only other “draftable” pieces from this offense (Adams, Waller, Renfrow) are all pretty fairly ranked, so they were excluded from consideration here.
Los Angeles Chargers
Remember that crazy Sunday night game to end the season? Hard to forget if you’re a Chargers fan. Sorry, just realized I repeated myself from up above. But seriously, that must have stung. The Chargers are always super talented but seem to lose in unimaginable ways. Is this the season that’s all turned around?
Keenan Allen (28th Overall, WR11)
Look, if he wore sleeves the entire season, he would be my number 1 WR, maybe first player overall. That seems to be when his TD production goes up. In all seriousness though, Allen is one of the most consistent wide receivers you can take in your drafts. Dating back to 2017, he has finished WR3, WR12, WR8, WR14, and WR14. He’s averaging 210 points per season over that time. He plays with Justin Herbert in one of the best offenses in the league. All that being said, I’m out on him mainly because of the emergence of Mike Williams.
It seems that Williams figured it out last year, at least in stretches. He outscored Keenan (barely, but still) in half point scoring in 2021. He is more likely to win you a week by himself with outrageous stat lines. Mike Williams finished as the WR1 on a week twice, while Allen never cracked the top 5. That being said, Big Mike is more likely to hurt you with his inconsistencies. He finished outside the top 40 WR in a week eight times last season. Allen only did it four times. It just depends how you build your roster but at his current ADP, I would probably look elsewhere than Keenan Allen.
Gerald Everett (187th Overall, TE20)
We are in late round tight end territory here, folks! Last season, Everett was TE20 and this season he’s being drafted as such. The fantasy community sure is precise sometimes. Everett now has a new team, moving from the NFC West to the AFC West, and a more fantasy friendly offense in Los Angeles. Still just 28 years old and the starting tight end for Justin Herbert, why not take a flier? He will probably be your last positional pick and has just as good a chance at 8+ TDs as any other tight end in this range.
Broncos Country… Let’s Riiiiide. How awkward was that video from new Denver QB Russell Wilson? It took over my Twitter feed for what felt like weeks. But it begs the question: How far will the Broncos ride in the AFC West this season? With a solid defense and a future HOF QB at the helm, this team is hoping to bring home the Lombardi trophy next February. Sounds a lot like the team in 2012… this organization really does have a blueprint.
Javonte Williams (20th Overall, RB12)
Maybe I’m still feeling the sting from drafting Royce Freeman with my 3rd round pick in 2018. Broncos running backs, man. Williams is an absolute stud, and while he makes this section of the post where I note who I am “down” on, it’s only because of the timeshare with Melvin Gordon. I’ve seen everything from “it’s a 50-50 timeshare” to “it’s Javonte’s backfield, 70%-30%”. I don’t know what to believe, but I have to think it’s somewhere in the middle, at least to start the season. How long that lasts is what gives me reason to think it’s possible he finishes outside the top 12 at the position this season. It’s painful to write too, because if Melvin Gordon wasn’t on this team, Williams would probably be a top 5 back for fantasy.
Courtland Sutton / Jerry Jeudy (56th & 57th Overall, WR20 & WR21)
The injury to teammate Tim Patrick vaulted these two up draft boards. Where they both landed is pretty interesting to me, considering their running back teammates from last season finished as RB17 and RB18. Ambiguity – it’s what Denver does! Both of these wide receivers are obviously talented, it’s just been poor QB play and injuries that have plagued them both. Now they have a QB who can throw the deep ball with the best of them. Russell Wilson throws the prettiest deep ball in all of football in my honest opinion. Didn’t think you would see the word “prettiest” in an article about fantasy football, did ya???
A consistent top deep ball thrower, Wilson should have no trouble finding either one of his top 2 WRs downfield for big plays. Who this favors more is anyone’s guess, but if I had to pick one, I probably lean more towards Sutton. It’s been 2 full seasons, but we have seen him put up decent numbers in the NFL. The same cannot be said for Jeudy as he’s been a top 20 WR just twice in his young NFL career. I don’t think you can go wrong here, but Sutton is the play for me at this ADP.
Side note – Brandon McManus at Kicker 12 for those of you in kicker leagues is an absolute steal. The guy plays half of his games in altitude and now plays for a good offense in a high scoring division. Kicker content, another surprise!
Well that was the AFC West! Am I too high on a player you don’t like? Too low on a player you do? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!