Here is a look at how each team in the AFC West currently shapes up prior to the NFL Training Camps.
Kyle Orton: Orton proved once again that he is a winning QB with Denver in 2009. He is not the flashiest player and doesn’t put up huge statistics. Come the end of the day though, his team usually finds itself on top. Overall Orton usually avoids the stupid mistakes that can kill a team. He should benefit from another season of tutelage under Josh McDaniels.
Knowshon Moreno: Moreno seemed to fatigue as the season wore on. Perhaps the time missed in training camp really hurt his conditioning. He needs to prove he can carry the load for a full season.
Correll Buckhalter: Buckhalter is a capable backup and role player. He could never be an every down back, but provides solid support to the running game.
Demaryius Thomas: Thomas has huge shoes to try to fill with the departure of Brandon Marshall. The Broncos just better temper their expectations from Thomas for his rookie season.
Eddie Royal: McDaniels disappointed me last year with the lack of use of Eddie Royal in the offense. Royal had a superb rookie season in 2008 but seemed to be on the outside looking in on the offense in 2009. Hopefully McDaniels wakes up and doesn’t waste such a talented player on his roster.
Daniel Graham: Graham will play the TE role in McDaniels offense. He will see limited action if any as this offense is more receiver and running back driven.
Matt Prater: It seems as though the Denver kicker always finishes in the top third of the fantasy kickers. I would imagine 2010 should not be an exception to that rule.
The defense lost its coaching guru Mike Nolan in the offseason to the Dolphins. I can’t imagine that “Wink” Martindale has near the qualifications that Nolan has. I see a decline in the Denver defense back to the bottom third of the fantasy pack.
San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers: You don’t get any better at a position than having a young stud player like Rivers to drive the team. He is a top five QB talent in this league today. There will be no need to address the QB position in San Diego for years to come.
Ryan Mathews: This is the player San Diego jumped up all those spots in the first round to get. He is a steal if you can get him in the fourth round of your draft. He should have the best opportunity for fantasy points of all the rookie running backs.
Darren Sproles: He is a great role and special teams player. A full time starting back in the NFL he is not. Sproles will fit in nicely again complimenting Mathews.
Vincent Jackson: Jackson has steadily become one of the top receivers in the game today. His one lack is his total receptions which always seem on the low end considering he is a No. 1 receiver. Perhaps his totals will increase in 2010 as the team continues to become a more pass oriented offense.
Malcom Floyd: Floyd is a decent WR2 in the offense, but he still is the third target overall considering Antonio Gates is in San Diego.
Antonio Gates: Gates is still an elite TE option in the NFL. The Chargers won’t replace him anytime soon with all the holes they have on defense.
Nate Kaeding: Even though he tends to choke come playoff time, Kaeding is a top third fantasy kicker in the regular season.
This defense has always had such talent yet underperformed way too often. They had some key offseason losses in Jamal Williams and Antonio Cromartie. They are a middle third defense.
Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel: Cassel was who I thought he was in 2009. He was merely an average QB that benefited from a system and stellar receivers in New England. Now the Chiefs have so much invested in him they have to keep him as the starter to save face.
Jamaal Charles: Charles had skyrocketed all the way up into many people’s top 10 overall fantasy draft picks for 2010. Then the team signed free agent Thomas Jones. It burst that bubble in a hurry. Charles will still get some yards. But I think down by the goal line it will be TJ time in Kansas City.
Thomas Jones: I initially had the Chiefs going after Stanford’s Toby Gerhart in the upcoming draft. They fooled me and signed the wily veteran Jones instead. He will remain an option as a change of pace and goal line back.
Dwayne Bowe: I have heard more positive news on Bowe already this offseason than I did the entire training camp and preseason last year. Maybe he finally woke up and realized he could be a great talent in the NFL if he just put the effort into it.
Chris Chambers: The Chiefs resigned Chambers for 2010. He proved to be a valuable receiver down the stretch especially during Dwayne Bowe’s suspension. Hopefully he can play a solid role in the offense again.
Tony Moeaki: Moeaki represents an upgrade at the position for the Chiefs. I would project him as a decent fantasy backup TE.
Ryan Succop: 2009’s Mr. Irrelevant in the draft is also fairly irrelevant for fantasy scoring and will finish in the bottom third of fantasy kickers in 2010.
Even though they did draft Eric Berry to bolster the defense, this unit has a long way to go. Bottom third of the fantasy defenses for you.
Jason Campbell: While Campbell isn’t a superstar he does represent a significant upgrade over JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski from 2009. Maybe now we can truly evaluate the young talent the Raiders have at running back and receiver with a professional QB in town.
Darren McFadden: With Justin Fargas gone, McFadden finally gets his chance to show the world he is the back that the Raiders expected when they took him in round 1. It could be do or die for McFadden, as he has Michael Bush nipping at his heels for playing time.
Michael Bush: Someday a RB is going to step up and be the leader. The Raiders hope Bush or McFadden can be that back.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Last year’s first round draft bust (seems like a recurring theme in Oakland doesn’t it) needs to step up his game and contribute in some fashion on offense. Maybe he can develop some chemistry with Campbell after a full offseason of workouts.
Chaz Schilens: Schilens may actually be the top WR option on the team. He played well in a few games late in the year. He was set back most of the season due to an ankle injury. It will be interesting to see how well he does in a full season of work.
Zach Miller: Miller is a very sneaky sleeper candidate at the TE position. Campbell used Chris Cooley and Fred Davis frequently in his Washington days. He should have no trouble finding Miller open in the offense.
Sebastian Janikowski: Janikowski is a decent kicker, but the Raiders don’t get in the red zone enough to make him fantasy effective. I would project bottom third of the fantasy kicker pack for him.
The Raiders defense is an excellent unit in stopping the pass, it’s the run that kills them so much. Hopefully first round draft pick Rolando McClain can help rectify that situation. I predict a middle third of the defensive teams fantasy finish for them.
Here is how the teams project to finish in 2010:
- San Diego Chargers
- Oakland Raiders
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Denver Broncos