Studs and Duds: AFC West preview

By Ali Guidoum

Sports Blogger

@aliguidoum_

Denver Broncos

Linebacker Von Miller and the Broncos are crushing other teams’ chances at a Super Bowl title.
(Larry Rosa, Flickr)

Stud: Broncos D/ST

The Denver Broncos defense and special teams has ranked in the top two fantasy defenses over the past three seasons. With DeMarcus Ware’s retirement, the Broncos defense is still one of the most perennial defenses in the league and 99.5 percent of fantasy players own it. The Broncos defense had 42 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 14 interceptions in 2016. This is a no-brainer during the later rounds of a draft.

Dud: Jamaal Charles, running back

Jamaal Charles; same division, different team. As a new member of the Broncos, Charles is a dud on my list for one reason only: proneness to injury. Charles has yet to play a full season since 2012. Charles, a now 30-year-old running back, has missed 24 games in his past two seasons because of an abundance of injuries and he is coming off the second ACL injury of his NFL career.

Oakland Raiders

Stud: Marshawn Lynch, running back

After taking a year off from football, Marshawn Lynch has returned to the NFL but is now a member of his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders. Lynch is going to have a field day, week in and week out. The Raiders’ offensive line, which could arguably be one of the best units behind the monstrous line of the Dallas Cowboys, now have one of the best running backs in years. Lynch is going to produce much of the heavy loads at running back and will soon be a top fantasy player for this upcoming season.

Dud: Jared Cook, tight end

Fantasy owners should be cautious while drafting at the tight end position. Jared Cook is one of those players you may want to stay away from drafting to your team. Over the past three seasons, Cook has had only 1,492 receiving yards and hauled in four touchdowns. Cook played in only 10 games during the 2016 season because of injuries. Coming off a season with the Green Bay Packers, Cook had only 377 receiving yards and one touchdown while having arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. If you can stay away from this tight end, do so. If not, well good luck.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

Stud: Keenan Allen, wide receiver

Keenan Allen, who has been a fantastic fantasy asset over the past years, is coming off a torn ACL he suffered last season. With the acquisition of Clemson receiver Mike Williams, the Chargers receiving core looks to be threatening on paper, but with a nagging back injury that has kept Williams out of action, expect Allen to be heavily utilized this season.

Dud: Philip Rivers, quarterback

Philip Rivers, now entering his 14th NFL season, has been the centerpiece of the Chargers franchise for a long time. Although Rivers threw for more than 4,000 yards and had 33 passing touchdowns last season, he also threw a career-high 21 interceptions. Rivers has tended to be a turnover machine in late-game situations over the past seasons and could cost your fantasy team games if you rely heavily on the quarterback position. You might want to look thoroughly at other quarterbacks before drafting Rivers.

Kansas City Chiefs

Stud: Travis Kelce, tight end

Travis Kelce was one of the best fantasy tight ends by the end of 2016 with 1,125 receiving yards. Although he recorded six games with more than 100 receiving yards, Kelce had only four touchdowns last season. Kelce, a 6-foot-6 tight end. will be a nightmare for opposing teams and will be one of the key focuses of the Chiefs offense this season. Kelce is a must-have player and will produce tons of fantasy points.

Dud: De’Anthony Thomas, wide receiver

With the mid-season emergence from Tyreek Hill last season, Thomas struggled to become a focal point in the Chiefs offense. With Kelce and Hill seeing much of the workload on the offensive unit, Thomas has been left out and is a risk drafting, especially since Hill took his place on the special teams unit. Thomas had a mere 35 receiving-yard season as he battles for a spot on the 53-man roster. Avoid drafting Thomas at all costs.

ozone@ocolly.com

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