The AFC West is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. Every single team in the division has enough firepower to make the playoffs. Last year the Kansas City Chiefs won the division with a 10-6 overall record. The Los Angeles Chargers finished just one game behind the Chiefs while barely missing the playoffs. Both the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos looked good on paper but couldn’t put it together when it came to actually playing the games. Don’t let last season fool you, 2018 is a new year and all four of these teams have what it takes to win the division. Let’s run through just what kind of improvements they made through the draft and how that could affect our dynasty teams.
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Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs didn’t select one offensive skill player in this year’s draft. However, they added Sammy Watkins to their receiving corps this off-season and they hope that was enough to make a big splash in their offense that puts them over the top. They are also holding strong at both the running back and tight end positions. After signing Watkins, the team really didn’t have a need at any of the skill positions which allowed them to focus on building the defensive side of the ball.
Los Angeles Chargers
By analyzing their decisions from this year’s draft, the Chargers told us they feel good with what they currently have on offense. They waited until the sixth round to select their first and only wide receiver and Dylan Cantrell is a very interesting prospect. He has the size and athleticism of a prototypical WR1 which could help him land a role in Los Angeles’ offense. The waters are a little bit murky at wide receiver for the Chargers considering there are a few talented receivers fighting for playing time, including last year’s #7 overall pick, Mike Williams. With that being said, if the ball bounces Cantrell’s way and he plays well in training camp and preseason, he could possibly work his way up the depth chart. We could see him play meaningful snaps if a few injuries occur. Due to his athletic specs alone, he’s a solid stash on the back-end of your roster if you’re in a deep dynasty league.
The Chargers finished their draft by utilizing their final pick on Justin Jackson. At Northwestern, he posted four straight 1,000-yard seasons and finished his career third all-time in the Big Ten in rushing yardage. In every season he played, he caught at least 20 passes as well. He’s a dependable receiving option out of the backfield and his ability to catch the ball could allow him to carve a role with the team early in his career.
Incumbent starter Melvin Gordon is set to hit free agency in 2020, which could open the door for Jackson or another running back to take over if the Chargers decided not to re-sign Gordon. If anything, Jackson has the talent to work his way up the depth chart and solidify himself as the team’s backup running back. Even though he’s a seventh-round pick, there is actually a lot to like about his stock in dynasty.
Marcell Ateman, WR Oklahoma State (Round 7, Pick 228)
The Raiders spent the majority of their draft rebuilding their offensive line and working on the defensive side of the ball. In the seventh round, the team decided they needed to bolster their receiving corps by drafting Marcell Ateman. During his senior season at Oklahoma State, he caught 59 balls for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns. The depth chart is log jammed with talent at wide receiver, but Ateman should get the opportunity to compete for one of the last spots on the 53-man roster this off-season.
Courtland Sutton, WR SMU (Round 2, Pick 40)
Royce Freeman, RB Oregon (Round 3, Pick 71)
DaeSean Hamilton, WR Penn State (Round 4, Pick 113)
Troy Fumagalli, WR Wisconsin (Round 5, Pick 156)
David Williams, RB Arkansas (Round 7, Pick 226)
The Broncos are preparing for Demaryius Thomas’ inevitable departure after the 2018 season by selecting Courtland Sutton in the second round of this year’s draft. He will be the prime candidate to take over Thomas’ old role in a few years. Sutton has the potential to be a WR1 in fantasy and should be the team’s future target hog. Considering his 10.20 rookie ADP, Sutton could be a screaming buy in rookie drafts due to his potential and upside.
Royce Freeman’s rookie draft value is all over the place. In some drafts, he’s a top eight pick and in other drafts, he’s being selected in the back half of the first round. There’s a chance that he could walk away from his rookie season as the lead back for Broncos. The running back situation in Denver definitely adds some curb appeal to Freeman’s dynasty stock. Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson are the only running backs that stand in his way from seeing a full workload. When factoring his athletic ability, college production, draft capital and his chances of being the team’s lead back early in his career, Freeman is an enticing option in rookie drafts.
The Broncos’ offense is currently experiencing a transition period. In a few years, both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be playing for other teams. Denver drafted DaeSean Hamilton with their fourth-round pick and he’s already slotted to take over as Sanders’ replacement. Hamilton is arguably the best route runner in this year’s draft class and projects as the perfect option to play on the opposite side of Courtland Sutton. Hamilton currently has an ADP of 34.30, making him a third-round pick in rookie drafts. There’s a very good chance he’s going be playing a large portion of the snaps for the Broncos in the near future. Considering where he’s going in drafts, Hamilton is definitely worth a look due to his long-term outlook.
Denver addressed a position of need by selecting Troy Fumagalli, tight end from Wisconsin, with their fifth round pick. He will compete immediately for snaps and there’s a chance that he could be the team’s main tight end within a few years. Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman will be his toughest competition. If anything, he can carve out a role in two tight end sets. If Butt struggles to return to his pre-injury form, Fumagalli could be a late round rookie draft gem.
With their last pick in the Draft, the Broncos decided to add depth at running back by selecting David Williams. He’s a bigger back who can run with a little bit of power between the tackles. Williams will compete for a spot on the depth chart this off-season. I highly doubt he ever develops into a usable fantasy asset.