2024 Dynasty Division Outlook: AFC West IDP

Jason Abbey

Last year, we brought you a new series covering each NFL division’s IDP dynasty fantasy football outlook. We are back at it again this year. We’ll bring you an overview of each team, highlight the best and worst positional groups, and make some cool predictions for the division as a whole. Let’s jump into it!

Denver Broncos

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

The Broncos’ defense struggled in 2024. They performed poorly in almost every key metric, and while they improved slightly following their defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins in week three, it was a season to forget for Vance Joseph’s unit.

Patrick Surtain II was arguably one of the best cornerbacks in 2022, and if the Broncos are to improve on defense, they need a bounceback year from the former first-round pick. He’ll lead a very different-looking secondary following the departure of Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, and Fabian Moreau, who accounted for over 2,000 combined snaps in 2023. New arrivals Brandon Jones and Levi Wallace should step into full-time roles, and youngsters P.J. Locke and Ja’Quan McMillan will undoubtedly feature more heavily.

There are reasons for optimism in the front seven. Zach Allen had another productive year, and Jonathon Cooper, Nik Bonitto, and Baron Browning, who contributed 23 sacks between them, are joined by third-round pick Jonah Ellis. The addition of John Franklin-Myers went under the radar, but he could be IDP-relevant if he retains his DT designation in DT-premium MFL leagues.

Despite being dreadful in coverage, Alex Singleton remained an IDP monster after compiling a career-best 177 tackles. The signing of Cody Barton makes him the favorite to replace Josey Jewell and also spells trouble for Drew Sanders, who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Kansas City Chiefs

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

The Chiefs’ defense was excellent in 2023. They finished in the top three in the fewest yards allowed, fewest points allowed, and first downs allowed per game, and they did so despite recording relatively few takeaways.

The departure of L’Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans begs the question of whether the Chiefs can repeat their performance in 2024. The emergence of Trent McDuffie softens the blow somewhat, but someone else will need to step up. Jaylen Watson and Jaylen Watson both played well toward the end of the 2023 season, and it will be interesting to see if they can sustain that level of play over an entire season.

Justin Reid has one safety spot locked down and was an IDP star in his first season, but the jury is out on Bryan Cook. He may be on a short leash following the arrival of Jaden Hicks – whom the Chiefs somehow managed to land in the fourth round of the draft.

Up front, Chris Jones is unquestionably the star of the show.

George Karlaftis has earned rave reviews after compiling 15 sacks in his second season, but there are question marks over the other edge spot. Mike Danna played more snaps than he deserved last season. The presence of Charles Omenihu, and maybe even Felix Anudike-Uzomah, may mean more of a rotation at the position in 2024.

Nick Bolton returned to reclaim his full-time role toward the end of last season, but the Chiefs clearly like what Drue Tranquill brings to the table after signing him to a three-year, $19m extension in March.

Las Vegas Raiders

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Maxx Crosby is the jewel in the crown of this Raiders’ defense and will remain so, but with the arrival of Christian Wilkins and the emergence of Malcolm Koonce, there’s reason to believe Crosby may not have to carry the defensive line quite like he has in the past. Tyree Wilson had a quiet rookie season, but as the seventh overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, he carries the weight of expectation going into his second season.

Robert Spillane’s spot should be secured – he played in the lone full-time role for long periods of last season.Β Divine Deablo should once again line up alongside Spillane on most snaps, but the Raiders may want to see what they have in Tommy Eichenberg before the end of the season, as neither Spillane nor Deablo are under contract beyond 2024.

Nate Hobbs should once again handle the nickel role, and Jack Jones deserves a shot at one of the other cornerback spots after playing well toward the end of the season. At safety, it will be Tre’Von Moehrig and Marcus Epps once again.

Los Angeles Chargers

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

The Chargers defense has a point to prove after finishing in the bottom five among all NFL defenses in most yards allowed, most passing yards allowed, and bottom eight in points allowed per game in 2023.

Unfortunately, there are not many reasons to think a quick turnaround will occur. A healthy Joey Bosa can be a difference-maker, but even the most optimistic IDP manager has lost confidence that he can avoid injuries. Khalil Mack and Tuli Tuipulotu were productive, but it would be unreasonable to expect them to combine for 26 sacks again. Justin Eboigbe could work his way into a rotation at defensive tackle as Poona Ford and Otito Ogbonnia offer little.

Denzel Perryman returned to the Chargers to help replace Kenneth Murray and Eric Kendricks. Still, IDP managers should be more excited about the arrival of Junior Colson – who reunited with his Michigan head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. Daiyan Henley hasn’t been forgotten, but at this point, it would be a surprise if he earned a significant role in 2024.

The secondary remains a weakness. Derwin James is a star, but there are many questions about his supporting cast. Alohi Gilman and Asante Samuel played well in coverage, but Samuel missed too many tackles. There are many unproven options and little depth at cornerback.

Positional Group Rankings

Interior Defensive Line

  1. Kansas City Chiefs A-
  2. Las Vegas Raiders B-
  3. Denver Broncos B-
  4. Los Angeles Chargers D+

This was the easiest position group to rank. In Jones, the Chiefs have the best interior defensive lineman in the division, and he has 158 million reasons convincing him to continue his stellar play. If Jones was younger or Steve Spagnuolo utilized odd fronts more often, the team would deserve an A+. However, Jones will be 30 at the start of the season, and Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton combined for almost 1000 snaps last year.

The Raiders made significant strides to upgrade their defensive interior by signing Wilkins, and the Broncos have the underrated Allen, who will likely spend a little more time at DT, given their depth at the edge position. Unfortunately, the Raiders and Broncos lack capable depth on the defensive interior.

I have little faith in Poona Ford or Ogbonnia for the Chargers. Ford was a capable run-stuffer earlier in his career and could recapture that form, but Ogbonnia has struggled in every respect. Their hopes at DT may rely on fourth-round selection Eboigbe.

Edge

  1. Los Angeles Chargers B+
  2. Las Vegas Raiders B+
  3. Kansas City Chiefs B-
  4. Denver Broncos C

This was a tough group to rank. On paper, the Chargers boast an excellent group of edge rushers in Bosa and Mack, backed up by Tuipulotu and Bud Dupree. But Bosa is 28 and is often injured, and Mack is 33. That hurts their grade slightly in this category.

Maxx Crosby is the best edge rusher in the division, and he alone vaults the Raiders into my number two spot. If Koonce proves his 2023 performance was no fluke, and Wilson becomes the player the Raiders envisioned, they could quickly surpass the Chargers as the best edge unit in 2024.

I may catch some flak for my ranking of the Chiefs’ edge rushers, but I’m not as high on Karlaftis as the consensus, and while I like Omenihu, I think Danna is a poor player, and we’ve seen very little of Anudike-Uzomah yet.

The Broncos are ranked within one grade of the other teams because, despite lacking a stellar name at the position, they have three capable players and may have added a fourth in Ellis. The relatively young age of their edge rushers also worked in their favor.

Linebacker

  1. Kansas City Chiefs B+
  2. Los Angeles Chargers B-
  3. Denver Broncos C+
  4. Las Vegas Raiders C-

Another tough position group to rank. I expect the linebackers of the Broncos and Raiders to combine for more fantasy points than those of the Chiefs simply because the Chiefs utilize fewer linebackers. However, Bolton is my highest-ranked dynasty linebacker in the division, and he helps the Chiefs achieve the top rank in this category.

Tranquill probably won’t earn the same snap share as Deablo on the Raiders or Barton on the Broncos, but I’m far more confident that he will remain in the AFC West beyond 2024.

Drew Sanders is a wildcard. He was woeful in 2023 and faces a difficult path to earn a more significant role in 2024, but I was high on him ahead of his rookie year, and I’m not ready to give up on him yet.

I am not a big Perryman fan, but I love Colson and believe it will be a matter of time before he is the top dog at linebacker for the Chargers. Henley has demonstrated the potential to grow into the role alongside or behind Colson.

Cornerback

  1. Kansas City Chiefs B-
  2. Denver Broncos C+
  3. Las Vegas Raiders D
  4. Los Angeles Chargers D-

The gap between these four teams narrowed this offseason following the Sneed trade. McDuffie and Surtain II are the top two corners remaining in the division, and while the Chiefs and Broncos lack proven players at the other cornerback spots, they deserve the top two spots in my rankings.

Nate Hobbs could keep pace with and potentially surpass Surtain II in fantasy points from the nickel spot, and for that reason alone, he would have earned the Raiders a better grade were he under contract beyond 2024.

I would have scored the Chargers even lower were it not for my belief that opposing teams would pick on their corners. Expect plenty of tackles and pass breakups from Samuel and Co. in 2024

Safety

  1. Los Angeles Chargers B+
  2. Kansas City Chiefs C+
  3. Denver Broncos C
  4. Las Vegas Raiders D-

James trails only Antoine Winfield and Kyle Hamilton in DLF’s dynasty safety rankings. Gilman had a better season than expected in 2023, but his improvement was so remarkable that I want to be sure it was not an outlier.

Justin Reid had a very productive season but has yet to recapture his form in coverage from earlier in his career. Still, if Jaden Hicks leapfrogs Bryan Cook, Reid and Hicks could become a capable safety duo.

Thanks to several big plays, P.J. Locke became an IDP favorite in 2023, but the truth is he was inconsistent. Nevertheless, he’s earned an opportunity to prove he can become a viable starter in a full-time role. Brandon Jones has a chance to resurrect his career after joining in free agency, and could be a sneaky late-round or waiver addition in IDP leagues.

I rate Moehrig, but he’s never been productive in Patrick Graham’s defense, and Epps has been even more disappointing. They need to get lucky with big plays in coverage to score significant fantasy points.

Divisional Predictions

MVP: Maxx Crosby, EDGE LVR

It’s predictable, but this was a toss-up between Crosby and Jones. Both are stellar performers who consistently produce at a high level, irrespective of the talent level surrounding them. Crosby gets the nod.

There’s every reason to expect Crosby’s otherworldly high snap share to remain among the highest at the position, and with that, I assume his production will be consistent with what we’ve seen in previous years.

LVP: Denzel Perryman, LB LAC

Perryman may be penciled in as the starter and earn the largest snap share among the Chargers’ linebackers to start the season, but he’s a limited player with only one productive season on his resume. As I’ve mentioned, he has a talented rookie familiar with the new scheme waiting to take his job. The writing is on the wall for the veteran.

Most Improved: Brandon Jones, S DEN

This was incredibly tough as there are very few players in the division who performed poorly and who I expect to make a significant jump in production. Jones is not a trendy pick by any means, but assuming he remains healthy, it’s highly likely he’ll dwarf his 54-tackle effort from 2023 with the Miami Dolphins.

Biggest Steal: Zach Allen, DT DEN

I was torn between Franklin-Myers, Gilman, and Allen here. However, I’m still uncertain what Franklin-Myers’ snap share will be, and everyone knows Gilman will be starting, so Allen wins. He’s ranked as the DT18 or DL61 in the DLF Dynasty Rankings, yet consistently outperforms those expectations. It’s time to give him his dues.

Biggest Bust: Mike Danna, EDGE KCC

I don’t think many are expecting big things from Danna. In 2023, he helped IDP managers in need of edge rusher help by producing beyond expectations, earning eight sacks and 53 tackles. Unfortunately for him, I believe his role will be reduced in 2024, and his production will decrease. Omenihu is a better pass rusher, and Anudike-Uzomah will likely earn a more significant role.

Wait for it: Junior Colson, LB LAC

Hicks was a candidate here because I believe he will leapfrog Cook at some point. However, Colson deserves the nomination, and we may not have to wait that long before he becomes the Chargers’ leading linebacker.

Colson is the LB2 in the DLF dynasty rookie rankings because he has talent at his disposal, and the Chargers represent the ideal landing spot.

jason abbey