Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2013 Draft Prep: AFC West Fantasy breakdown

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Outside of the Broncos, the AFC West is pretty much one of the worst divisions in football. It is not much different in the Fantasy world, but there is some talent that you can use to bring home a Fantasy title.

The impact of Wes Welker in Denver

Welker leaves New England where he had 145 or more targets and 110 or more catches in five of the last six seasons. Welker also produced at least 1,300 receiving yards in three of the last four years as well.

FREE Draft Kits!
Mike Tolbert
Get everything you need to dominate on Draft Day in one convenient place with our Downloadable Draft Kit, complete with projections, rankings and outlooks for 2013!
Download your Draft Kit now!

Those numbers will be hard to match in a new offense, but fortunately for Welker, he joins a Denver passing attack led by Peyton Manning and should not see as much of a dropoff as would otherwise be expected. Peyton piloted the most efficient Fantasy passing attack in the NFL last year, with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley all ranking in the Top 10 in terms of Fantasy points per target. Stokley was a 36-year old slot receiver who averaged a career best 9.4 yards per target in 2012 and finished eighth among those with at least 50 targets by averaging 1.46 Fantasy points per target. Stokley also had the best catch rate of any receiver in the NFL (77.6 percent) with at least 50 targets in 2012, so clearly Peyton knows what to do with his slot receiver in this offense.

It should also be noted that Manning completed 71.6 percent of his passes overall to players in the slot, which was the best mark in the NFL. Welker is a massive upgrade over Stokley in terms of talent and should thrive in this offense. I do not expect Welker to see another 170 targets in 2013, but he should increase his overall efficiency over last year (7.7 yards and 0.98 Fantasy points per target). With defenses very worried about Thomas and Decker out wide, Welker should even have more room in the middle of the field than he enjoyed in New England, where the primary focus of the passing attack was in the middle of the field with Welker and the two tight ends.

Look for Welker to see about 130 targets this year and severely cut into the looks for Eric Decker (133 targets in 2012) and tight ends Jacob Tamme/Joel Dreessen/Julius Thomas (143 targets). I really expect Welker to cut into Decker's red zone production as well. Decker led the NFL with 25 red zone targets and 12 red zone touchdowns a year ago, but I expect more than a few of those looks and scores to go to the heady Welker, who will be dynamite with Peyton's adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Manning has a knack for getting slot receivers in the end zone and in his last two seasons, Manning has thrown 13 touchdowns to slot receivers Austin Collie and Brandon Stokley on a combined 130 targets (best slot receiver touchdown rate in the NFL).

I think his overall targets, catches and yards will be down, but Welker will have a great shot at his first 10-touchdown season with Manning under center. That should yield a season of 80-plus catches for 1,100 yards and 8-10 touchdowns for Welker in 2013, which will keep him as a solid No.2 receiver in Fantasy Football despite his new team. Peyton Manning is now my No. 3 quarterback on the board with the addition of his new toy and Decker has fallen to top No. 3 receiver status. The physical freak on the outside -- Thomas -- remains a strong No. 1 receiver for your team and should be one of the first eight receivers taken on Draft Day.

Only take him if he falls in your draft: Antonio Gates

Antonio Gates currently has an ADP in the seventh round, where he has been the sixth tight end taken on average. At that spot I am passing on Gates, who seems to be on the downside of his career, but I have seen some drafts where Gates was available in the 10th or 11th rounds and at that spot, I'd take the plunge on the aging tight end.

In 2012, Gates saved his season with a strong performance in the red zone, where he scored six times on 11 targets, en route to a season with 49 catches, 538 yards and seven total touchdowns. However, Gates really seemed to lose a step as he averaged career lows in terms of yards per target (6.7) and yards per catch (11). He really seemed to disappear between the 20s and it should be noted that Gates was held to fewer than 50 yards receiving in all but three games a year ago. He even ended the season with a streak of seven straight games without 50 yards receiving, which is a far cry from what we have come to expect from the former Pro Bowler.

The good news is that Gates is fully healthy heading into 2013 and with all of the injuries to the Chargers wide receivers, he will be a primary target for Philip Rivers. He is a solid starting option as long as you get him late on Draft Day, but I am not drafting him earlier on Draft Day than alternate options like Brandon Myers, Jordan Cameron and Tyler Eifert.

For the third straight year, there will be a new No. 1 receiver in San Diego: Vincent Brown

Injuries have kept Vincent Brown out of the limelight as he enters his third season, but injuries have also paved the way for him to be the top target for Philip Rivers in 2013.

Danario Alexander, who had been plagued by injuries himself prior to his breakout 2012 campaign, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Malcom Floyd also suffered a knee injury and will likely miss some time at the beginning of the season, so Brown has been elevated to the top spot in this passing attack. In his young career, Brown has averaged a very healthy 17.1 yards per catch, 8.2 yards per target and most importantly 1.17 Fantasy points per target. If he can stay on the field in his third season, Brown has No. 2 receiver potential with a No. 4 receiver price tag (47th at the position). He is a great gamble to snag later in your drafts as many I have talked to -- including his former head coach Norv Turner -- think Brown is a future star.

Now that he has a quarterback, Dwayne Bowe will live up to his potential

Poor quarterback play has really limited Dwayne Bowe the last few seasons and he was on the verge of being someone to go out of your way to avoid on Draft Day.

Last year, Bowe was the clear No. 1 receiver for the Chiefs and averaged a very healthy 8.8 targets per game. Despite that high target volume, Bowe was extremely inefficient and was held to just 59 catches for 797 yards and three scores for the season. Bowe had just a 52 percent catch rate and averaged 6.9 yards and 0.86 points per target, which ranked 60th, 52nd and 60th respectively among the 70 most targeted receivers in the league. This was not just a 2012 problem either, as Bowe has scored only four touchdowns and produced two games with 100 yards receiving in his last 24 starts combined. Bowe even closed out the 2012 season with nine straight games without either a touchdown or 100 yards receiving.

Things will be looking up for Bowe in 2013 now that the Chiefs have Andy Reid as their head coach and Alex Smith as the new quarterback.

Montee Ball is still the back I want to own in Denver

Second year running back Ronnie Hillman worked extremely hard this offseason and became the starter for the Broncos over the first two weeks of the preseason.

Play Playoff Challenge!
Player Challenge
NEW Playoff Challenge Championship Edition offers one more way to play postseason Fantasy Football and compete for cash prizes. Join now before time runs out!
Join a new league!

Even if Hillman plays a substantial role this year, the back I want to own for my Fantasy teams is the rookie Montee Ball. Ball is a big, punishing back with a great nose for the end zone, as evidenced by the NCAA record 83 touchdowns he accumulated while at the University of Wisconsin. At the very least, Ball should get half of the team's carries and all of the goal line work (Hillman fumbled at the goal line in Week 2 of the preseason) for a Denver offense that should be among the highest scoring in the league.

In 2012, the Broncos running backs produced 1,825 yards rushing and punched in 12 touchdowns. If Ball can get half of the yards and the bulk of the scores a season of 900 yards and 10 touchdowns is not out of the question. If he can become better in pass protection, which is a must if you want to play with Peyton Manning, Ball could take over this position full time on the first two downs and near the goal line. You can grab Ball as your third runner given his current ADP as the 25th runner taken and I think he has the potential to provide a very nice return on that investment in the middle rounds of your draft.

Walk, don't run to get Darren McFadden on your team

Darren McFadden has only rushed for 710 or more yards and finished as a Top 24 Fantasy running back just once in his five years in the NFL.

He won't be in the zone blocking scheme of 2012 that limited him to a career worst 3.3 yards per carry, but there is plenty to still be worried about headed into 2013. Outside of the fact that he has finished in the Top 24 in just 20 percent of his seasons, McFadden runs behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. The preseason injury to the team's best linemen -- Jared Veldheer -- is a big blow to a line that cannot afford many to begin with.

It should also be noted that McFadden also set a career low in terms of yards per catch (6.1) and yards per target (4.1). Run DMC was also the worst red zone scorer among runners with at least 13 chances with a 3.2 percent scoring rate and was also dead last inside the five-yard line among those with at least five opportunities with a 12.5 percent scoring rate.

The only positives about McFadden headed into 2013 is that the team has gone back to a power running scheme and that suits his game very well. "Obviously he never felt comfortable in what we were doing last year," coach Dennis Allen said. "That led to some questions about him, but if you watch practice, the guy's still explosive. He's still a threat to take it all the way. And he feels more comfortable. If you don't quite trust it, there's always that doubt."

The other positive for McFadden is that he has a chance to get paid at the end of the year if he has a big season. That is a powerful motivator and cannot be completely discounted. Still, DMC has never been able to stay healthy and live up to his Top 10 (heck, even Top 24) talent outside of his magical 2010 season. You can take the plunge on DMC as a late No. 2 runner and hope he can stay healthy to exceed his draft spot. I'd rather have Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles and David Wilson over DMC this year just to name a few comparable No. 2 runners. If you do take him as your second runner, I think you must turn around and grab a quality third runner very quickly to prepare your team for the inevitable games that it will have to play without him, since he has played just 32 of his last 48 possible games in his professional career.

Quick hit sleepers: Ryan Mathews, Rod Streater, Julius Thomas

Raise your hand if you want to draft Ryan Mathews in 2013.

No one? Not one person?

To be honest, I am not surprised. I just traded the rights to Mathews and one of his jerseys in my personal JFFL league just to get the guy off my team in exchange for a late draft pick. I also think that Mathews seems to be made of glass and continually fails to live up to lofty expectations. The good news is that this year, the young back has no expectations in the Fantasy world despite having a very healthy and productive offseason that has really caught the attention of his new coach Mike McCoy.

Danny Woodhead will likely work on third downs and in obvious passing situations, but Mathews should be the primary ball carrier. Based on his current ADP as the 26th running back taken and the fact that the majority of your leaguemates will refuse to draft him, Mathews is actually looking like a solid value as a flex option in the middle rounds of your draft. Don't forget that Mathews was the No. 8 overall Fantasy back just two years ago and while I would not even think of insinuating that he still possesses that kind of upside, Mathews could easily outplay his draft position. The disdain for Mathews and his injury risk have already been factored in to his ADP, making him a reasonable value when he falls into your lap as a backup for 2013.

In 2012, Streater led the Raiders with an 8.0 yards per target average and was second on the team with a 1.02 Fantasy points per target average. He hauled in 53.4 percent of his targets as well, which was also tops on the team among all wide receivers. In other words, he was the most efficient receiver on the Oakland roster and enters the 2013 season as a full time starter opposite Denarius Moore.

Unlike Moore, Streeter is not reliant on the deep ball for the majority of his production, which is good given that new Oakland quarterback Matt Flynn has one of the weaker arms in the league. What Flynn lacks in arm strength he makes up for with accuracy and quick decision-making. Streeter has been the go-to guy for Flynn in Raiders camp and will be a very sneaky receiver to grab late in your drafts (especially in PPR leagues).

Thomas is a former basketball player turned tight end who has everything you look for in terms of raw athletic ability and size. With the injuries to Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme, Thomas has gotten the chance to work with the first team this offseason in Denver and has seized his opportunity. He adds a vertical dimension to Peyton Manning's offense that did not exist with Tamme or Dreessen.

In limited preseason action, Thomas has been targeted just eight times and has caught all eight of them for 105 yards. He is averaging a very solid 13.1 yards per catch (and target since he caught them all) as well as 1.3 Fantasy points per target. It should also be noted that Thomas is second among all tight ends in the preseason, averaging 4.2 yards per route run from the slot.

Thomas jumps out at you on tape and looks like an upgraded weapon for Manning relative to Dreessen and Tamme. At best, he would be the fourth target in this offense, but Thomas looks like a nice deep sleeper to file away as a potential early season waiver wire add if he carries his preseason momentum into the regular season and retains the job as the receiving tight end.

Declarations

Jamaal Charles will be a Top 3 Fantasy back this year as a perfect fit for the Andy Reid offense

Alex Smith will make some quality starts for your teams and is a solid No. 2 quarterback in the Andy Reid offense

Danny Woodhead will be a great flex option in PPR leagues this year

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Nathan at @nathanzegura .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Aaron Dobson inactive after 'mouthing off'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:07 pm ET) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson has been inactive the past two weeks after he "mouthed off" to Josh McDaniels, according to the Boston Globe.

Dobson was thought to be one of the team's main receivers coming into the season, but has found himself inactive the last two weeks. If the report is true, it could explain why the Patriots have been willing to keep one of their more talented wideouts on the bench.


Report: Justin Blackmon enters treatment facility
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:00 pm ET) Jaguars suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon has voluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility, according to ESPN. 

Coach Gus Bradley said Blackmon was "doing very well," according to the report. Bradley cannot speak to Blackmon due to the suspension, and has been getting updates from his agent. Blackmon was suspended for at least a year after repeated violating the substance abuse policy. Though he's currently unable to play, Blackmon is still a member of Jacksonville's organization. 


Jamaal Charles limited Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was limited in practice Wednesday.

Charles is dealing with an ankle injury, but was able to play Week 4. As long as he continues practicing he should be good to go Week 5. Charles scored three touchdowns Week 4 despite the injury.


Ladarius Green limited in practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was limited in practice Wednesday. 

Green did not play Week 4 against the Jaguars. He's dealing with a hamstring injury. Green was limited in practice last Thursday, and did not practice last Friday due to the issue. 


Dwight Freeney limited in practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:35 pm ET) Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney was limited in practice Wednesday.

Freeney is dealing with a knee injury. Freeney was probable Week 4 due to non-injury reasons. Freeney started the game, but was seen receiving treatment from trainers during the second half of the contest. 


Colts involving their wide receivers more
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:26 pm ET) While running back Ahmad Bradshaw's role in the passing game has diminished the last two weeks, wide receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton have both been more involved. Each had his best performance of the season Week 4 against Tennessee, with Wayne catching eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and Hilton catching 10 passes for 105 yards.

Hilton seems to be the more reliable of the two -- he's had double-digit targets in three of the Colts' first four games -- but Wayne's best games have been better. Both figure to remain involved in Week 5. The Colts, who have relied much more on their passing game this year, recognizing the limitations of their running game, have every incentive to stay the course against Baltimore. The Ravens rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game, but 24th against the pass, allowing 260.3 yards per game. They've given up the ninth-most Fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both seem to prefer Wayne to Hilton this week -- especially Dave, who ranks him 18 spots ahead -- but they're about on equal terms for me. I'd treat them as low-end No. 2 wide receivers, which means I'd be starting them unless I was just loaded at the position.


Texans bring in Charles James, Kendall James
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) The Texans have signed cornerbacks Charles James and Kendall James to the practice squad. 

Charles James was undrafted, but did make an appearance with the Giants in 2013. He recorded two tackles and induced a fumble. Kendall James was drafted by the Vikings this year, but did not make the 53-man roster. 


No sense choosing between Colts tight end duo
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:16 pm ET) Torn between Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener? It's easy to see why. Both scored a touchdown for the second straight game Week 4 against the Titans, but neither stands out between the 20s. Allen had 64 receiving yards in Week 1, but otherwise, neither has topped 50 in a game.

Well, the good news is that in Week 5 against the Ravens, you probably don't want either. Through four games, the Ravens have allowed the fewest Fantasy points per game to tight ends and have yet to have one score on them.

Maybe one of Allen and Fleener reverses the trend this week, but which one? And what happens if he doesn't? I don't know about you, but I don't like the thought of getting two measly points from my tight end spot.

Owners in 12-team leagues can do better. With the emergence of Larry Donnell, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce, Heath Miller and even Clay Harbor, tight ends aren't exactly in short supply.


Andre Ellington limited in practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:10 pm ET) Cardinals running back Andre Ellington was limited in practice Wednesday.

Ellington has been dealing with a foot injury all year, but has managed to play through it. With the team on a bye last week, Ellington should be a bit healthier entering Week 5. 


Status quo for Trent Richardson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:07 pm ET) Prior to Week 4, you probably weren't the least bit excited about starting Trent Richardson in Fantasy. But then he scored a touchdown, which, combined with an uncharacteristic 52 receiving yards, led to a 15-point showing in standard CBSSports.com leagues.

But here's what he still didn't do against the Titans: run the ball effectively, which is saying something considering they rank 22nd against the run, allowing 127.0 yards per game. On a daring 20 carries, Richardson picked up only 47 yards for an average of 2.4 yards per carry.

I don't see him doing any better against the Ravens in Week 7. They rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

No one can predict whether or not Richardson will get a carry at the goal line -- for some reason, the Colts keep going back to him -- but if he doesn't, just like the first three weeks, you won't like what he does for your Fantasy team.


 
 
 
Rankings