With the Summer Sleeper series at its conclusion and the preseason underway, it’s time to review what we’ve learned since the beginning of camp and take a closer look at position battles, emerging players or roster surprises. With that in mind, we’re going to fire up the DLF RV and go division-by-division with some news and notes. While we won’t mention every single player (we have our player news feed for important news), we’ll take some time to run down some important dynasty information for each team. If you have a question on a particular player, ask below and I’ll do my best to answer it as well. If you missed a previous report, just click on it below.
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC East
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC West
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC North
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC South
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: AFC North
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: AFC South
We continue with the AFC West.
The Broncos attempted to make it through a season with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch but that failed miserably. They didn’t land Kirk Cousins or trade for a big name signal caller this off-season. Instead, they signed Case Keenum and are clearly hoping last year’s performance by Keenum in Minnesota was no fluke. With a relatively conservative investment (two years and $36 million), the Broncos will have plenty of time to evaluate Keenum and determine just how long he can lead the team. If he fails, his contract won’t sink the franchise. The backup job was supposed to go to Lynch, but Chad Kelly is outplaying him in camp and looks determined to make his mark in the NFL. Keenum is the starter and will have a very long leash. However, if something happens and he falters, don’t sleep on Kelly – he may just make Lynch expendable here in the next few weeks.
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This depth chart is one of the most fascinating in dynasty leagues and it really wouldn’t be fantasy football if things were settled in Denver. Those who have been around for any amount of time in dynasty leagues will roll their eyes when they think of the revolving door in Denver with running backs. In fact, I looked back at one of my longer running leagues and found a list of Denver running backs who have been rostered over the last decade or so. That list included the likes of Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Terrell Davis, Reuben Droughns, Clinton Portis, Quentin Griffin, Garrison Hearst, Tatum Bell, Cecil Sapp, Ron Dayne, Mike Bell, Cedric Cobbs, Travis Henry, Selvin Young, Ryan Torain, Michael Pittman, Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Willis McGahee, CJ Anderson, Montee Ball, Juwan Thompson, Devontae Booker, Kapri Bibbs, Justin Forsett, Jonathan Williams and De’Angelo Henderson. In short, the running back carousel in Denver looks like the quarterback carousel in Cleveland.
This year’s depth chart includes Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman and De’Angelo Henderson, who are all vying for the lion’s share of snaps for the Broncos. Camp reports have been solid on Freeman but Booker is currently the RB1 on the initial depth chart. However, it sounds like he’s been put there based based on his experience, not because he’s been the most dominant player in camp. Regardless, there are lots of questions about Freeman and he’s not just going to be handed this job as some expected. I fully expect Booker and Freeman to start in some type of committee unless Henderson really shows well in the preseason and muddies things up or Freeman simply runs away with the job. Don’t ingore Phillip Lindsay, who has had a great camp thus far as well. In short, this is just typical Denver and the preseason will matter greatly.
The battle for the third receiver spot behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders was supposed to rage for the next month. Instead, it seems Courtland Sutton has already seized it with a camp many are describing as “dominant.” Sutton dropped in a lot of early rookie drafts after falling a bit in the 2018 NFL Draft and landing on a team boasting a lot of talent at the position already. He may prove to be a bargain and looks like a future dynasty star already, though his owners will need to be patient. Meanwhile, the rest of the depth chart is interesting. DaeSean Hamilton is looking good but so are two young receivers named Tim Patrick and River Cracraft. Patrick is easy to root for as he suffered a leg injury so gruesome in college that he actually had to learn how to walk again. Jordan Leslie, Isaiah McKenzie, Bryce Bobo, Mark Chapman, John Diarse and Corey Brown are currently on the outside looking in. Hamilton is being forgotten in a lot of dynasty leagues and while he’s certainly no better than fourth on the depth chart at the moment, you can see a path to real relevance in the future. Meanwhile, Carlos Henderson is simply AWOL.
The Broncos have listed Jeff Heuerman as their starter but all eyes are on Jake Butt, who essentially redshirted last year as he recovered from his injury. Butt has the potential to rise up dynasty ranks in short order. Troy Fumagalli is also intriguing and could ascend all the way to the top of this depth chart if Butt fails to do so. In short, this will be fun to see unfold.
Kansas City Chiefs
There may be no more intriguing player in dynasty leagues than Patrick Mahomes. Possessing both monster upside and massive bust potential, Mahomes has spent the past year learning the Kansas City offense and will now be given his opportunity to shine. His practices have been as expected and feature some spectacular plays and some really horrifying interceptions. Mahomes could come in and make an impact similar to Deshaun Watson from last year or the Chiefs fans may actually miss the sound decision making of Alex Smith. Regardless, this is going to be fascinating to watch.
Kareem Hunt was a revelation last year and established himself as a player to build around in dynasty leagues. While it seemed he hit the rookie wall early, he ended the season strong and should be ready for the grind of a full NFL season now that he knows what to expect. Spencer Ware’s injury opened the door for Hunt to emerge and he should be back to full strength soon as Hunt’s backup. Beyond that, Damien Williams (third down back) and Darrel Williams (short yardage back) have both had good camps and Charcandrick West is now clearly on the roster bubble.
The top four receivers for Kansas City will be Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Conley. Beyond that, there’s a big group of players vying for two spots. Jehu Chesson is popular in dynasty circles but he’s had a pretty poor camp thus far. I’m keeping a close eye on a converted tight end named Blake Mack, who has turned heads so far in camp and is drawing physical comparisons to Trey Burton.
This Travis Kelce guy might just make the team.
Los Angeles Chargers
Did you know Philip Rivers has more passing yards than Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, Drew Bledsoe, Dan Fouts, Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas? Well, he does and he’ll now look to add to those 50,348 career passing yards, which ranks ninth on the all-time list. While a QB2 on most teams, Rivers is a dependable option and could surprise this season as the Chargers look be one of the league’s most improved teams. Cardale Jones and Geno Smith are likely battling for one spot behind Rivers and I’m really not that intrigued by either of them.
The top of the depth chart is owned by Melvin Gordon, who continues to be one of the most polarizing players in dynasty leagues. Gordon’s yards per carry average continues to be pedestrian but he scores touchdowns and catches a lot of passes, so owners don’t mind too much. The only competition he has for touches is likely from Austin Ekeler, who has had another fantastic camp. Justin Jackson is intriguing as well, but he needs to get back from his hamstring injury in a hurry if he wants to really make a case for a regular season role.
Keenan Allen is the lead dog here but there’s drama behind him as Tyrell Williams is currently ahead of Mike Williams on the depth chart. Tyrell was great again last year and has proven to have real ability. Mike Williams, much like Corey Davis, had a totally lost season as he struggled to get healthy. The good news is the Chargers are likely going to feature a lot of three receiver sets with Hunter Henry out for the season. Regardless, this is a huge season for Mike as he quickly needs to show something or risk being labeled as a possible bust. By all measures, he’s looked great so far and caught two touchdowns in the first team scrimmage, for whatever that’s worth. When you add in Travis Benjamin, this crew is pretty solid in fantasy and reality. Unfortunately, there’s not much room for anyone else to make too much noise.
I still expect Antonio Gates to return at some point in the next few weeks. If not, Virgil Green is the best bet for production with Henry out for the year. However, I’d expect the red zone looks to go more towards their receivers instead of Green. If Gates comes back, he’d be a touchdown dependent option as his physical gifts have simply started to diminish.
Derek Carr is said to be fully healthy and over the back woes that dogged him most of last season. With Jon Gruden now at the helm, Carr will look to have a bounce back season. At this point, Carr has looked great and reportedly didn’t throw a single interception in camp until Tuesday this week in a joint practice with Detroit.
The Raiders seem to be going veteran heavy with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin on top of the depth chart. I have reservations about both in dynasty leagues as their best days are behind them. Lynch is the starter and has more appeal for sure, though you really never know what you may get with him at this point. Martin, on the other hand, has really struggled since 2015 and perhaps a change of scenery has helped. By all accounts, he’s looked fine thus far. As for the rest of the depth chart, I’ve washed my hands of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard as it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen for either of them. To me, the most intriguing running back on the roster is Chris Warren II, who I’m excited to see as it’s been reported he’s simply running people over in practice – sounds like Gruden’s type of player, doesn’t it?
Love him or hate him, this offense is going to run through Amari Cooper. Last season was a hot mess for Cooper as he posted a 48/680/7 line that was actually made worse when you consider he had a 11/210/2 game in there. The Raiders are dedicated to getting him the ball this year and dynasty owners are hoping he responds. Jordy Nelson should bring a veteran presence, Seth Roberts is solid and Ryan Switzer seems like a sleeper. The real news from Raiders camp has been the struggle of Martavis Bryant, who is squarely in the Jon Gruden doghouse at the moment because he can’t figure out the playbook and has failed to be consistent at practice. There’s no need to panic but owners of Bryant clearly want to see a return on their investment this year after dealing with nothing but untapped potential and headaches for far too long. Marcell Ateman is a name to watch at the position over the next few weeks as well.
The coaching staff seems really high on Jared Cook, who set career highs with 54 catches and 688 receiving yard last year. Cook is being overlooked because of his lack of touchdowns, but those are tough to predict and he could surprise this year as a high-end QB2 as the Raiders seem intent on involving him heavily.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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