Home > Uncategorized > AFC West Fantasy Preview: It’s Safe to Own Raiders Again!

AFC West Fantasy Preview: It’s Safe to Own Raiders Again!

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers’ offense was extremely explosive last season … probably because their defense kept imploding. With the (hopefully) healthy return of linebacker Shawne Merriman and less risks taken by cornerback Antonio Cromartie, San Diego probably won’t be forced to throw the ball all over the field. I couldn’t find a statistic for it, but Philip Rivers had to have led all NFL QBs in second half fantasy points in 2008.

But with a better defense, Rivers will probably see his attempts and overall numbers decline a bit. He’s still a great

At the No. 7 pick, I love me some LT

At the No. 7 pick, I love me some LT

quarterback; I’m just wary of using a fourth-round pick on him.

With everyone doubting LaDainian Tomlinson as he reaches the age of 30, I absolutely love the value that he presents as a seventh or eighth pick this season. He is never going to be the Tomlinson of 2006 again, but how about something like the Tomlinson of 2007? I think it’s very possible.

Darren Sproles is a game-changer and a must-add if you have Tomlinson. He only needs about 10 carries to compile a full day’s worth of stats. He was overrated as we entered the summer, but as we approach the fall, Sproles’ average draft position holds a lot of value. I would certainly want Sproles more than Julius Jones, Felix Jones or Donald Brown.

Antonio Gates is fine, but he has turned into an injury concern and — I can’t stress this enough — there are A LOT of quality tight ends available in later rounds. Vincent Jackson is nothing flashy, but he should be consistent and is a quality No. 2 receiver for your team. He is also the only WR you want from San Diego right now.

Oakland Raiders: For the last few years, I’ve held this thinking about all Raiders: They will be useless in fantasy because they are Raiders. It just seems as if the Black Hole sucks all of the talent out of players who would have succeeded elsewhere. So I usually stay away.

But this year, I don’t know what it is, but I kind of like some Raiders.

JaMarcus Russell? No. I’d rather have Ken Stabler today.

Darrius Heyward-Bey? No. But at least he signed a contact. (cough) Crabtree (cough) (cough)

Specifically, there are three Raiders that I wouldn’t mind owning. First, Darren McFadden.

It looks like an obvious choice because McFadden just seems to have too much talent to be dragged down by the epic fail that has been the entire Raiders organization for the past six years. But in his rookie season, McFadden looked like another Oakland bust as a turf toe injury zapped him of his tremendous speed and agility.

McFadden hasn’t had a great preseason, but he should be fully healed and ready to go. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas will get some carries as well, but McFadden’s ability towers over the rest of the Raiders’ backfield. You have to love getting a possible 20-carry-per-game back with McFadden’s skills in the fourth round.

Remember what I said a second ago about there being a lot of good tight ends available in the later rounds this year? Maybe no tight end shows the truth of that statement more than Zach Miller.

Miller only had one touchdown last season, but he had the seventh-most receiving yards of all tight ends. As he and Russell develop more chemistry, he should get more red zone looks. With the uncertainty of the Raiders’ wide receivers and Russell still learning, Miller is an absolute steal in the ninth round of a 12-team draft.

Chaz Schilens will be the only Raiders wide receiver that I consider this year (sorry, Javon Walker. You’ve run out of knees). Schilens scored a touchdown in each of the final two games last season, his first in the NFL. He then opened the preseason as the team’s No. 1 WR and proved why with a good opening game against Dallas (five catches, 52 yards in a half).

Unfortunately, Schilens broke his left foot on Aug. 18 and he will be out until the end of September. But it’s obvious that Schilens will get the opportunity to play often when he returns, and at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he just looks like a big-game receiver. His injury has certainly lowered his value, so he is someone you can add with little notoriety in the late rounds.

Kansas City Chiefs: It is getting really sad in KC. The team fired its offensive coordinator two weeks before the season. They gave $63 million to Matt Cassel and now he may not even start in week one. Backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen was almost traded, but now the Chiefs have to keep him around and he’s not healthy, either. Larry Johnson looks finished. The offensive line is a shell of itself from a few years ago. Tony Gonzalez is in Atlanta. Dwayne Bowe, the team’s top wide receiver, began camp as a third-stringer, and the team’s No. 2 wideout, Devard Darling, is out for the year with a torn ACL.

Good start for Mr. $63 million

Good start for Mr. $63 million

So what’s good? Well, I guess I would give Johnson a chance if he were to fall into the sixth or seventh round. He could be a nice goal-line back. Maybe.

Maybe not.

Bowe will almost certainly be a starter once the season begins, and while he has the talent to be a third-round pick, who knows who will be throwing him the ball? A gimpy Cassel? Thigpen, who must breathe in pain? Brodie Croyle? The lack of a solid second option in the passing game means that Bowe should get used to seeing multiple defenders often.

Cassel has bust written all over him. One year of success leads to a gigantic contract. He’s behind a crumbling O-line with little running game to save him and just one solid receiving option. And, like I said, he’s already hurt. You could draft him as your team’s second or third quarterback, but I would much rather have a Matt Hasselbeck, Brett Favre or even David Garrard instead of Cassel.

Simply put, this is probably a good year to just avoid all Chiefs.

Denver Broncos: You probably watched Jay Cutler’s return to Denver on Sunday night. While that was the main storyline, did you take a gander at Kyle Orton? It’s obvious that a much-needed change of scenery has done absolutely

It's probably going to be a nasty season for the Broncos

It's probably going to be a nasty season for the Broncos

nothing to improve him. And then he had a knuckle dislocate and pop through the skin. It was just bad.

There will be booing this season from the home crowd toward Orton. There will be calls for Chris Simms, but he has to make sure he can stay healthy. He is currently nursing a high-ankle sprain, which has him questionable for the start of the season.

All of this is bad news for any Broncos wide receiver, such as Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, Jabar Gaffney. You know, the team’s top options.

Brandon Marshall? Don’t fool yourself. He is absolutely untouchable right now. Don’t go anywhere near him. He may get traded. He may stay suspended. He may just stop playing. Why would you want to burden your team with a fifth-round pick who could become a castaway at any minute?

Royal is the only considerable receiver, but I obviously have no faith in Orton to help him out. I also doubt Royal’s ability to handle the rigors of being a team’s true No. 1 wideout.

I do like rookie Knowshon Moreno. Much like with McFadden, I’ll always love getting a skilled running back with a starting job after the third round. Denver always seems to turn out solid running backs, but how many will they use this year? Dr. Shanahan is gone, but we don’t know if his philosophy of using a trillion running backs over the course of a season has stayed with new head coach Josh McDaniels. Correll Buckhalter makes for a nice pick in the late rounds. And maybe LaMont Jordan does as well. Peyton Hillis is set in as the Broncos’ fullback, but he might steal some goal-line touches. That all takes away from the value of Moreno, who is probably the best offensive playmaker in Denver if you consider Marshall to be a lost cause.

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