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AFC West Player Analysis
Joshua Simmons, FantasySharks.com, Staff Writer

Denver Broncos (vs Indianapolis Colts)

QB Peyton Manning: As Wes Welker advances through the league's concussion protocol between now and Denver's opener, you have to like the fantasy upside for Peyton that his presence in the lineup would mean. Even in the event Welker is inactive though, hosting the Colts defense isn't exactly a daunting task. Count on several passing touchdowns from the future Hall of Famer, to kick things off. ( 308 yds pass with 3 TDs and 1 Int )

QB Brock Osweiler: ( 10 yds pass )

RB Montee Ball: Although its personnel was bolstered with the signing of D'Qwell Jackson in the offseason, the Colts run defense remains vulnerable. With a healthier O-line blocking for him and Knowshon Moreno having moved on, Montee is up for the task. Don't be surprised when this team executes more balance offensively. ( 79 yds rush and 1 TD; 4 catches for 25 yds )

RB Ronnie Hillman: Relegated to a 'change of pace' role, Ronnie fortunately has the skill set to do more with less touches. You could do far worse in the way of running back depth, in deeper fantasy leagues. ( 34 yds rush; 2 catches for 12 yds )

RB C.J. Anderson: Would probably only have legitimate fantasy value in the event of a significant injury to Montee Ball. ( 13 yds rush )

WR Demaryius Thomas: Although Eric Decker will be missed in this offense, Demaryius is poised to benefit from an increase in targets downfield. Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Darius Butler are decent enough, but have another thing coming if they intend to shut Denver's primary receiving weapon down in Denver's home opener. ( 6 catches for 95 yds and 1 TD )

WR Wes Welker: Check back closer to gametime, as his injury status (concussion) is currently up in the air. If he does play, Welker is a safe WR2 play in PPR formats. ( 5 catches for 52 yds and 1 TD )

WR Emmanuel Sanders: All eyes are on Emmanuel, thus far a middling NFL receiver when healthy. He's the sort of early-to-mid round pick in fantasy drafts -- on the rise since Wes Welker's preseason injury -- who could pay off handsomely for those bold enough to pay the going pricetag. ( 5 catches for 60 yds )

WR Andre Caldwell: Given his experience within the offense and veteran craftiness, Andre would seem to have the advantage over rookie Cody Latimer -- for now. We're talking Peyton Manning's fifth or sixth receiving option, however. ( 2 catches for 23 yds )

WR Cody Latimer: ( 2 catches for 17 yds )

TE Julius Thomas: Has proven to be quite the matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, when healthy. Clearly in line for an expanded role going forward, which fantasy owners are drafting him early in anticipation of. ( 5 catches for 52 yds )

TE Jacob Tamme: It isn't size or athleticism that earns Tamme snaps, as much as his experience and reliability within the system. ( 2 catches for 17 yds )

TE Virgil Green: ( 1 catch for 3 yds )

Def Denver Broncos: As injury-riddled as the Colts offensive is, the team's ground game ineffective in preseason action, Denver's front seven matches up well here. Andrew Luck isn't normally the prescription for what ails your fantasy defense, however, meaning handle with care. ( 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )



Kansas City Chiefs (vs Tennessee Titans)

QB Alex Smith: Not that he was lighting the world on fire, but Dwayne Bowe being absent from the lineup tears the top off Smith's upside as a fantasy quarterback. Despite transitioning to a different defensive scheme and Alterraun Verner departing via free agency, Tennessee poses a formidable challenge for Alex. ( 189 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 31 yds rush )

QB Chase Daniel: ( 4 yds pass )

RB Jamaal Charles: More often than one might think, games are won or lost depending on whether Jamaal Charles is featured in your lineup or that of your opponent. For all the nuance inherent to fantasy football, sometimes the reality is as simple as that. This foot injury appears to be minor. don't over-think it as you prepare for Week 1 ( 97 yds rush and 1 TD; 4 catches for 31 yds )

RB Knile Davis: Exceeded the expectations of fantasy owners late last season -- along with the Chiefs coaching staff, more than likely. While not the versatile peer of a Jamaal Charles, get the ball into Knile's hands and he has the speed and rugged determination to keep a defense on its heels. ( 23 yds rush; 2 catches for 10 yds )

RB Cyrus Gray: Becomes an interesting back to own if Jamaal Charles goes down. not otherwise fantasy relevant. ( 4 yds rush; 1 catch for 8 yds )

RB De'Anthony Thomas: ( 1 yd rush )

RB Joe McKnight: ( 2 yds rush )

WR Dwayne Bowe: Seeing as he'll be serving a one-game suspension and has a troublesome hand injury to boot, Bowe should be nowhere your lineup.

WR Donnie Avery: Becomes interesting as an end of the lineup sort of play, with Dwayne Bowe out, albeit only in extremely deep leagues. Not a favorable matchup in Week 1, if based on last season to some degree. ( 1 yd rush; 2 catches for 31 yds )

WR Junior Hemingway: The organization seems to have uncovered a worthwhile prospect who can contribute in this offense, based on the talent Hemingway has demonstrated in limited duty. This is more than can be said about former first-round picks Jon Baldwin or A.J. Jenkins, both involved in last year's trade with San Francisco. ( 2 catches for 14 yds )

WR Frankie Hammond: Interestingly, reports indicate that Hammond is the newbie in line to start for Dwayne Bowe. Check back closer to gametime, however, as depth chart news is subject to change. Hammond flashes impressive 'straight line speed,' and could stick. ( 1 catch for 4 yds )

TE Anthony Fasano: While not as huge and uber athletic as second-year teammate Travis Kelce, ol' reliable isn't a liability as a pass catcher and doesn't blow blocking assignments -- which of course has value in Andy Reid's scheme. ( 3 catches for 22 yds )

TE Travis Kelce: There will be formations that get Kelce onto the field with starting tight end Anthony Fasano, but keep in mind that 2013 was essentially a redshirt year for Kelce. Come November he could well be targeted nearly as often anyone in this offense, but patience is in order. ( 2 catches for 26 yds )

PK Cairo Santos: ( 3 XPs, 3 FGs and 1 missed FG )

Def Kansas City Chiefs: Given the myriad of changes Tennessee's franchise has undergone already, you have to like the fantasy prospects of the established Chiefs defense playing host. It should be no surprise if K.C. is pacing the league in turnovers, heading into Week 2. ( 1 TD, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Fumble )



Oakland Raiders (vs New York Jets)

QB Derek Carr: Held off Matt McGloin for the backup job with relative ease. It's only a matter of time until Carr takes over as the starter, which Matt Schaub has done little to seize despite the team trading for and investing guaranteed money in him. Of note: Carr finished out the preseason slate with a bang, playing his best football to date. ( 204 yds pass with 1 TD and 1 Int; 19 yds rush )

QB Matt Schaub: Schaub's elbow isn't right but more importantly, rookie Derek Carr affords the offense a better chance to score points -- not next season, not in three months, but immediately. ( 52 yds pass; 2 yds rush )

QB Matt McGloin: ( 16 yds pass; 1 yd rush )

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: The lone bright spot among Oakland's acquisitions on offense, Maurice has shown explosiveness and his trademark ability to make defenders miss. He appears to have plenty left in the tank, so to speak, both as a runner and receiving option. Of note: although the Jets secondary is pretty banged up, their front seven will likely prove difficult to pound the ball against. ( 41 yds rush; 3 catches for 19 yds )

RB Darren McFadden: MJD may be the headlining running back, at this juncture, but McFadden has reportedly looked good in camp as well. The problem is, his counterpart's skill set has translated well to live action, McFadden not to the same extent. ( 32 yds rush; 3 catches for 20 yds )

RB Latavius Murray: The biggest running back in Oakland, not counting fullback/tweener Marcel Reece, Latavius will have a role in short-yardage and goalline packages. Until injuries disupt the depth chart ahead of him -- which does happen with regularity, around here -- the second-year figures to play sparingly. ( 27 yds rush; 1 catch for 8 yds )

RB Marcel Reece: ( 6 yds rush; 2 catches for 15 yds )

WR James Jones: A notable free agent signing for this team, Jones has benefited from a concerted effort by to get him the ball. Oakland's passing attack by & large has a ways to go, and it remains to be seen whether Jones can handle the extra defensive attention that accompanies WR1 duties. ( 5 catches for 71 yds )

WR Rod Streater: Has not been all that involved in preseason action, but does have the benefit of logging more playing time over the past several seasons than any other offensive skill position player in Oakland (by a long shot). This means something, when you pause to consider the reserve cornerbacks New York will be trotting onto the field in Week 1. ( 1 yd rush; 4 catches for 61 yds )

WR Andre Holmes: Much like Denarius Moore, who's been around a little longer, Andre possesses a lot of what NFL coaches want in a receiver. He just doesn't seem to have developed enough yet to be of help winning ballgames. ( 2 catches for 24 yds )

WR Denarius Moore: Isn't a lock to make the team's final 53, then again he's as talented as any among Oakland's receiving corps. Maybe this is the year Denarius puts it altogether? ( 3 catches for 32 yds )

WR Brice Butler: ( 1 catch for 3 yds )

TE Mychal Rivera: Hands-down the best tight end on this roster, but that probably isn't saying much. Mychal has looked the part in camp, but like many of his teammates is held back by lackluster offensive line and quarterback play. ( 3 catches for 28 yds )

PK Sebastian Janikowski: Don't expect a ton of extra point kicks. it remains to be seen whether Oakland has the quarterback to exploit the Jets broken down secondary. But a few field goal attempts on the part of Janikowski is probable. ( 3 XPs, 3 FGs and 1 missed FG )

Def Oakland Raiders: There has been little to applaud the Jets offense for, in recent memory, but Geno Smith is developing nicely as the regular season beckons. Oakland's defensive personnel has been infused with veteran talent, particularly along the line. Although it may take some time for this defense to gel, their opener in New York will be revealing. ( 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )



San Diego Chargers (vs Arizona Cardinals)

QB Philip Rivers: Picks up where he left off last season, when Rivers revitalized his career with the installment of Mike McCoy's much more balanced system. Doesn't hurt that Malcolm Floyd is healthy, Keenan Allen's more experienced, and both tight ends are excellent pass catchers. ( 239 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 4 yds rush )

QB Kellen Clemens: ( 28 yds pass; 1 yd rush )

RB Ryan Mathews: A year ago this would have been a fiersome matchup, but gone from Arizona's defensive lineup are Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby and (probably) Tyrann Mathieu. Then there's the every year rule of thumb that, considering you burned an early pick to acquire Mathews, when he's healthy he belongs in your lineup. Seems to fit, despite traveling to Arizona. ( 59 yds rush; 2 catches for 12 yds )

RB Danny Woodhead: Not only gets his as a pass catching weapon, but is handed the ball in key situations as well. Now locked down for a few more years, Woodhead will be a fixture of this offense over the foreseeable future. ( 24 yds rush; 4 catches for 26 yds )

RB Donald Brown: Not likely to get double-digit touches while Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead are healthy, even as often as San Diego runs the ball. If his improved play in Indy is any indication though, Donald will help the offense with quality touches when called upon. ( 15 yds rush; 1 catch for 6 yds )

RB Branden Oliver: ( 1 yd rush )

WR Keenan Allen: Following his scintillating rookie campaign, Keenan squares off against one of the league's cover corners, on the road in Week 1. You needn't slide him so far down the rankings that he's no longer in the fantasy WR2 range. just saying this isn't when fantasy owners oughta ask for the moon. ( 5 catches for 68 yds )

WR Malcom Floyd: The enormous veteran has been the talk of camp, balling as well as some beat writers have seen. If Eddie Royal can have multi-touchdown games in this offense, why can't Malcolm follow suit? ( 3 catches for 47 yds )

WR Eddie Royal: There were basically four games in which it profited fantasy owners to play Royal last season, which you have to figure would be a rosy outlook for 2014. ( 2 yds rush; 3 catches for 35 yds )

WR Dontrelle Inman: ( 2 catches for 16 yds )

TE Antonio Gates: Although his fantasy production waned as the months went by, in 2013, Gates experienced a career resurgence in the same vein of longtime teammate Philip Rivers. This offense plays to Gates' strengths, which in the case of this soft matchup can help your fantasy team. ( 5 catches for 48 yds )

TE Ladarius Green: Doesn't log quite as many snaps as Antonio Gates, although you better believe this coaching staff is committed to getting Ladarius the football downfield. Probably the stash-away component of your tight end by committee approach, if that's how you roll. In other words, we wouldn't recommend rushing him into your lineup just yet. ( 3 catches for 47 yds )

TE John Phillips: ( 1 catch for 5 yds )

PK Nick Novak: Effective last year, if not one of the more consistent fantasy kickers from week to week. Stands a solid chance at double digits in Week 1, given the enormous step back the Cardinals defense has taken. ( 3 XPs, 2 FGs )

Def San Diego Chargers: The Cardinals offensive line appears improved on paper, but remains a work in progress. Advantage: San Diego. This defense had its share of rough moments versus the pass, last season. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd will test 'em early & often in Week 1. ( 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )



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